Connor Allen

By the Numbers

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Your Need for Willie Snead

Sunday, June 25, 2017

At only 24 years old, Willie Snead is an efficient receiver with elite route running skills in a pass-heavy offense. This lethal combination has led Snead to two solid WR3 seasons to start his career. This season, Snead is ready to take the next step into fantasy stardom.

Advanced player success metrics from show Snead was very efficient last year.


Top 16 /46 Players with 100+ Targets Ranked by Missed YPA


PlayerOffenseRank of Missed YPARank of Successful Play RateMissed YPASuccessful Play %
Michael Thomas NO 1 2 1.5 67%
Cole Beasley DAL 2 1 1.7 69%
Stefon Diggs MIN 3 3 1.8 63%
Pierre Garcon WAS 4 6 1.8 61%
Doug Baldwin SEA 5 7 1.9 59%
R. Matthews TEN 6 13 2 55%
Julio Jones ATL 7 4 2 61%
Jordy Nelson GB 8 8 2 59%
Larry Fitzgerald ARI 9 9 2.1 58%
Steve Smith BAL 10 12 2.1 55%
Randall Cobb GB 11 11 2.1 57%
Kenny Britt LA 12 27 2.1 50%
Anquan Boldin DET 13 10 2.1 57%
Brandin Cooks NO 14 19 2.1 52%
Dez Bryant DAL 15 26 2.1 51%
Willie Snead NO 16 5 2.1 61%


Among the 46 wide receivers with 100 or more targets, Willie Snead was fifth in “Success Rate” and 16th in “Missed Yards Per Attempt.”  These numbers indicate Snead was able to acquire enough yards each play to grade as the fifth-most “Successful” receiver in the league. When the play wasn’t “Successful”, he only missed by 2.1 yards, 16th-best in the league. It’s not always safe to rely on a player retaining his efficiency from season to season, but Snead is proving to be an exception.




Beyond being an efficient player, Snead has developed into an elite route runner. His Reception Perception scores from last year were incredible, showing he excelled at running every type of route. If you aren’t familiar with the project, Reception Perception is Matt Harmon’s research which quantifies a wide receivers ability to get open on different routes against different types of coverage.


Snead was above average at getting open on every route in the tree and ranked first in the league running the dig route. He ranked 10th in “Success Rate vs Man Coverage” (72.8%) and fourth in “Success Rate vs Zone Coverage” (87.2%). Snead’s incredible route running ability is what helps him “win” as a receiver.


WeekOpponentWillie Snead
1 OAK 52 (75%)
2 NYG 54 (87%)
3 ATL 0 (0%)
4 SD 49 (67%)
6 CAR 51 (70%)
7 KC 63 (84%)
8 SEA 56 (74%)
9 SF 52 (60%)
10 DEN 30 (59%)
11 CAR 50 (66%)
12 LA 41 (55%)
13 DET 49 (79%)
14 TB 48 (79%)
15 ARI 75 (87%)
16 TB 40 (56%)
17 ATL 37 (48%)


Another standout aspect of Snead’s game is his versatility. A high percentage of his snaps were on the outside his rookie year.  However, with the emergence of Michael Thomas he slid into the slot last year.


Now that Cooks is gone, Snead will most likely be in the slot on 3-WR sets and opposite Michael Thomas on 2-WR sets.  The addition of Ted Ginn Jr. is important for the offense as a deep threat, but Ginn should not play anywhere near the number of snaps Cooks did.


If the Saints play with only one wide receiver on the field, it will always be Michael Thomas. However, the Saints rarely ran single WR sets last year (2%) meaning Snead should be on the field almost all the time.


He played on 70% of the total snaps last year but the number of snaps each week was volatile. It ranged anywhere from 48% to 87% throughout the year. This wide range of play time led to a variety of fantasy scoring, but when Snead played more than 70% of the snaps, he was remarkably consistent:


WeekTargetsCatchesYardsTD'sFantasy Points
1 9 9 172 1 32.2
2 8 5 54 1 16.4
6 11 9 87 0 17.7
7 8 6 56 0 11.6
12 6 2 38 0 5.8
13 8 6 85 0 14.5
14 11 8 76 0 15.6
In Split Average: 8.7 6.4 81.1 0.3 16.3
Out of Split Average: 5.4 3.4 40.9 0.3 9.0


Out of the seven games he played over 70% of the snaps, Snead had only one game of less than 10 fantasy points. That game, against the Lions, was one of the Saints’ biggest scoring flops of the season. The other games in the split show his ability to remain efficient as a higher volume option in the Saints’ offense. Due to Snead’s versatility as a player and Cooks’ departure, he could be involved consistently in over 75% of the snaps every week.


Along with playing time, Cooks also left behind 112 targets. The common fantasy groupthink is that the majority of targets will go to Michael Thomas. That won’t necessarily be the case as Drew Brees has never targeted any player more than 149 times (Jimmy Graham) in a season. Moreover, no wide receiver has been targeted more than 143 times (Marques Colston) in a season. A career-setting 150 target season for Michael Thomas would be only 30 more than he had last year, leaving plenty of targets to be distributed elsewhere.


Another reason to be bullish on Snead is his strength of schedule of opposing cornerbacks. As Scott Barrett of PFF reported, “Willie Snead has the third-easiest SOS this season after one of the toughest last year.” Combining this with his snap and target increase has me swooning at Snead’s fantasy potential this year.


Willie Snead has finished as the WR30 and WR32 in PPR fantasy leagues his first two seasons. He did this playing 15 games each year while only receiving a measly 102 (2015) & 104 (2016) targets. His positional ADP is currently WR33, below his career floor. It’s possible he isn’t being drafted higher due to his lackluster athletic profile and Michael Thomas dominating the post-Cooks hype.


Despite not being a 6’5” red zone dominator or a 4.3 speedster, Snead is the type of “boring” player that will help you win your fantasy leagues this year.  His current overall ADP is 63rd or an early sixth-round pick at the moment. Towards August, I expect his ADP to rise into the late fifth round. You should still feel confident selecting him there with the high upside he provides.

You can find Connor on Twitter @ConnorAllenNFL.
Email :Connor Allen

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