Nico Collins 2021 Fantasy & Dynasty Outlook with Texans
Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images. Pictured: Nico Collins
Nico Collins Fantasy Profile
Nico Collins Fantasy Fit with Texans
After Brandin Cooks and I guess Randall Cobb, the Texans have little at the receiver position, so Collins should enter the 2021 preseason as the frontrunner for the No. 3 wide receiver job, and that role could have under-appreciated value given that the Texans don’t have a proven tight end and Cooks and Cobbs are perpetual injury concerns.
But it’s hard to know right now how to evaluate Collins because of the uncertainty in Houston with quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Because of Collins’ talent, draft capital and projected role in three-wide sets, he has upside as a late-round flyer in redraft and best ball. In dynasty, he’ll be an option in Round 2 of rookie drafts, although he will likely be someone I avoid at cost, given the situation in Houston with Watson and Collins’ mediocre college production.
Dynasty Fantasy Analysis
Note: The following was written before the NFL Draft.
Collins is this year’s Donovan Peoples-Jones: A guy who went to Michigan as a hyped prospect and then got entirely Harbaughed. If everything had gone well for Collins in college, he could have been a Round 1 selection. Instead, he could slide to Day 3.
Collins has the athleticism of a premier prospect.
.@lbg_nico7 grabbed the attention of scouts with a big performance today#ProBlue 〽 pic.twitter.com/BFlbNDjNKs
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) March 26, 2021
He has elite speed, explosiveness and agility for his size. I love his top five physical comps (per MockDraftable).
- Tee Higgins: 84.3%
- DeVante Parker: 84.2%
- Denzel Mims: 81.2%
- Travis Fulgham: 81.0%
- Marques Colston: 80.9%
Of all the receivers in this class, Collins is probably the one with the freakiest physical profile, given all of his attributes.
His athleticism translates to the field, where Collins is a big-play contested-catch artist.
Nico Collins can go up and get it! pic.twitter.com/obaGuOVxMs
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) March 4, 2021
The problem with Collins is that he failed to develop as a receiver in college. He has little nuance to his game. His routes are stiff and simple, and his tree is limited. When he can bully a cornerback, Collins looks unstoppable, but against better defenders he lacks the well-rounded skill set to succeed.
And his college production was mediocre. As a freshman, he was a benchwarmer. As a sophomore, he played behind Peoples-Jones. And then as a junior he overtook Peoples-Jones but himself was overtaken by sophomore receiver Ronnie Bell. At no point in college was Collins a No. 1 receiver or a notable producer.
- 2017 (4 games): 2-27-0 receiving
- 2018 (13 games): 38-632-6 receiving
- 2019 (12 games): 37-729-7 receiving
And then he opted out of the 2020 season, for obvious reasons: 1) Head coach Jim Harbaugh, and I suppose 2) COVID.
For all his athleticism and physicality at the catch point, Collins is notably unproductive once he has the ball. On 78 receptions he had just eight broken tackles in college (per Pro Football Focus). His 4.8 yards after catch per reception is a decidedly below-average mark (per 2021 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook).
But this class is light on big-bodied receivers with elite athleticism, and Peoples-Jones flashed enough last year as an NFL rookie to suggest that the production problems for Michigan wide receivers over the past several years might have more to do with the system and less to do with them.
With his athleticism and expected draft capital, Collins could become an NFL starter with volatile fantasy relevancy.
NFL Prospect Comp: Miles Boykin with less draft capital and college production
Matthew Freedman is 1,018-828-37 (55.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
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