REWIND – Reviewing My Very Deep Sleeper Series from 2018, Quincy Enunwa
My wildly popular ‘Very Deep Sleeper’ series was brought back by FantasyPros for its fourth season. In celebration, and preparation, and review – I’m going to post last year’s series, 17 articles in all, daily with new commentary for 2019.
My concept of the VDS series was to take a look at a dozen or so players who were way off the grid (like way off the grid/very deep ADPs or not even showing in top 100-150+ positionally on FantasyPros) for the upcoming fantasy season and try and make a case for them as shocking breakouts that year. I hoped if just one panned out each year that would be pretty amazing…these are like taking half court shots in basketball.
Well, we have had that one-a-season success and then some. The VDS series gave birth to Tyrell Williams eons before most people knew who he was. Given-up-for-dead Tyler Boyd was a sweet hit from our VDS series last preseason. A number of players have emerged from the VDS series…even if it was a year or two later. My goal is to educate on the player, at a minimum, and then hope 1-2 of them really pop at some point.
Let’s look back at the 2018 season, in the order they were published…and I’ll add some commentary from ‘the now’ as I’ve re-read it.
My pitch for Quincy Enunwa was more that he is/was going to be the Jets #1 WR right away in 2018…BUT he was trading like he didn’t exist in the 2018 preseason for redrafts. All the momentum was with Robby Anderson, but right out of the gates in the regular season it was Enunwa getting the lead targets and actual game planning around him – 5.3 catches, 69.3 yards, 0.25 TDs per game the first four weeks…a WR2-2.5 option every week.
Then, in Week 5, Denver shut down the Jets and Enunwa…then Enunwa got hurt the following week and his season fell into disarray. He had a hand issue, among other issues, missed a few games, returned for a few games and was OK/battling the hand issue and then he was shut down after Week 14.
Enunwa was pacing for 80+ catches, 1,000+ yards, and 4 TDs out of the chute but then got dinged up and couldn’t use his hands as well 2nd-half – and everything fell apart.
Additionally, Sam Darnold was no help. It took teams a few weeks to figure out the nonsensical Darnold-to-Enunwa plan -- teams figuring out Darnold could only throw bubble screens and was terrible medium-deep, so the Enunwa short game was going to get shut-off via injury or opponent planning it appeared.
Enunwa was and is the Jets #1 WR right now, but the same issue exists – Sam Darnold. Enunwa can be a WR2-3 if he stays healthy because he can lead the Jets in targets, and mostly on simple targets. But a strong WR1-2 possibility is a farfetched until Darnold is exposed/admitted by the analysts for the problem that he is. Everyone is all-in on a Darnold uprising to his throne…they are in for a rude awakening. It has to play out because there’s no talking sense to pro-Darnoldites. They thought Baker Mayfield was a joke and Darnold was a Messiah…2018 exposed their terrible scouting real quick. 2019 will go on to prove the scouting community problem even more on their Mayfield error and Darnold group-think mistake – and it hurts/kills Enunwa ahead (and Robby A. as well).
What I wrote about a year ago on Enunwa:
How did it come to this? Quincy Enunwa is tracking as the FantasyPros expert consensus’s #76 ranked wide receiver in PPR for 2018, the #210 ranked PPR fantasy player overall, as of this writing. Just a year ago, Enunwa had a top 100 overall fantasy ADP. The assumed/projected #1 WR for the Jets for 2017; coming off his breakout 2016 season. He hurt his neck the first week of August 2017 at practice.
It was found he had a bulging disc and had surgery to repair the problem – a six-to-nine month recovery process and gone for the entire 2017 season just as the preseason started. I know what you’re probably thinking.
“Who cares all that much about the Jets’ passing game/wide receivers for fantasy? What about the emergence of Robby Anderson and the addition of Terrelle Pryor? What if his neck isn’t ‘right’ again?”
I’m going to address all those things, but first I want to get your attention for real. Because you aren’t anti-Jets (you’ll take fantasy opportunity wherever it lies), nor are you afraid of Robby Anderson or worried about the neck as much as you don’t believe Quincy Enunwa is all that talented to worry about for fantasy anyway. Allow me to convert you to Enunwa, and then we can talk about the peripheral issues.
I’m not going to type a scouting report or blast you with analytics – I want you to watch one play, just one play of Quincy Enunwa’s. It’s a play from 2016. It should change any blasé mindset you have on Enunwa. If it doesn’t, I can’t help you.
I want to preface this one play with a disclaimer. I’ve studied football for a living for many years now – as a handicapper, as a fantasy professional, and as an NFL Draft scouting service for NFL and CFL clients as well as for other handicappers and fantasy enthusiasts. I watch all the NFL preseason and regular season games live (on multiple screens if needed) and then go back and watch each game the following week to study the details.
I also watch hundreds of hours of tape in the offseason on draft prospects. I watch a lot of football. I’ve seen a lot of ‘plays’ in the past decade. I see so many plays that it’s often hard to ‘move’ me with outstanding plays.
My favorite thing about studying/observing football is watching plays where I know I see something I’ve never seen before or I am watching something that only an elite athlete/player can pull off. I love seeing something special.
This Quincy Enunwa play from 2016, as a professional who wants to downplay and contextualize every performance I see so I don’t get led astray, is one of the five most jaw-dropping plays I’ve ever seen. The player that can make this play in an NFL game is someone who can reach new heights of output.
It’s the first play on this YouTube highlight video (starting at the 0:10 mark). It may seem a bit of a simple play at first glance but watch it one or two times and then read my take and then watch it again.
There may not be more than a couple of other wide receivers in the league that could pull off that play result. First, most wide receivers won’t work the middle like Enunwa here – and it’s a credit to Enunwa because he can play wide receiver like a tight end. Short route, back to the defense, squats/sits down on the route, and makes a catch having no fear of what’s coming from behind him.
Secondly, from back turned and flat-footed, to a 180 spin and a 0-to-60, ‘shot out of a cannon’ burst with four defenders closing in – Enunwa hits the gas pedal and blows right past the surrounding defenders. Defensive backs try to come to the rescue to get him, but if you’ll notice – Enunwa accelerates past them all…a 6′2/225 man (the size of a small tight end), goes from flat-footed and surrounded by five or six professional football defenders zoned around him to just finding an angle and easily accelerating by them all.
You’ll see small, speedster players with a head of steam blow by or make moves to get past defenders. It’s rare that you see a bigger athlete with his back to the defense go from a standstill to turning around and then racing past everyone.
The reason Enunwa was the Jets’ #1 WR for the coaches was that he’s a supreme talent. He’s the guy on that one play. Big and tough like a tight end with breakaway speed like a smaller, speed-merchant-style receiver (a 4.45 runner at his combine). He’s dangerous both short and deep, and he’s challenging to bring down after the catch due to his size.
In 2016, Enunwa was a surprise #3 WR for the Jets in Week 1 – working alongside big names (back then) Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. Enunwa wasn’t even an afterthought with the Marshall-Decker #1-2 punch everyone knew at the top. Seven catches for 54 yards and a TD on Opening Day in 2016 caught some attention. Six catches for 92 yards in Week 2 on Thursday Night Football caught a lot more attention. 11 targets in Week 3 had him on a team in all fantasy leagues by Week 4.
It wasn’t so much the production, but you could see he was arguably better than Marshall or Decker. It was almost like Enunwa was the Jets’ best WR. How could that be with those big-name guys there? It’s because Enunwa is a major talent.
Yes, Robby Anderson emerged in 2017 in Enunwa’s absence – and that’s because Anderson is a very talented WR as well, but he’s no Quincy Enunwa. They are different animals. Anderson is fantastic outside of the short passing game, but too thin-framed to be a workhorse and take a beating.
Enunwa can take a beating, and he gives beatings too. Enunwa is the quarterback’s security blanket in times of trouble. Anderson is the secret weapon for big plays. Terrelle Pryor is more like Anderson and is no threat to Enunwa’s role.
And that’s all assuming Anderson and Pryor are playing Week 1. Anderson might be suspended, and Pryor has a foot issue. This is also assuming Enunwa gets cleared 100% with his neck issue.
Listening to Enunwa, he feels he’ll be cleared for training camp. The surgery he had, once healed 100%, is not a significant risk for recurrence any more than any other player taking a hit. Enunwa also just got a year off of football to refresh his body. It’s not like his injury was a knee, shoulder, etc., where his athleticism returning to form is in question. Enunwa has been working out with the team all offseason, but just not taking hits.
If Enunwa is back to 100%, he’s instantly the Jets #1 WR for 2018. Josh McCown has said as much. The coaches already knew it back in 2017.
There is no other known (as of today) #1 wide receiver for a team that trades as low in ADP as Enunwa. The next closest comparison would be Allen Hurns (DAL) and Marqise Lee (JAC), who are both ranked 20+ WR spots ahead of Enunwa. In our 2018 draft guide, we have Enunwa much higher than the expert consensus, and we’ll go even higher when he’s officially cleared medically.
It’s shocking, but I get to call a team’s #1 wide receiver a ‘Very Deep Sleeper’ right now. He’s a perfect late pick in the 14th or 15th round in redraft formats, and makes for an incredible ‘buy low’ in dynasty formats.
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