Nico Collins’ Best Ball Fantasy Outlook: Should We Buy the Breakout for the Texans WR?

After a third-year breakout leading to a fantasy WR1 season, is Houston Texans WR Nico Collins worth his early-round price tag in 2024 Best Ball drafts?

The arrival of QB C.J. Stroud propelled Houston Texans WR Nico Collins to a rather unexpected third-year explosion. After going from bench fodder in fantasy football to a weekly WR1, Collins’ 2024 price tag has skyrocketed. Should fantasy managers pay up to select Collins in 2024 Best Ball drafts?

Nico Collins’ 2024 Fantasy Outlook

On the list of players I had zero interest in drafting last season, Collins was right at the top. After falling short of reaching 500 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons, I didn’t see much hope for Collins to emerge into a productive fantasy asset. I certainly didn’t see WR1 in his range of outcomes.

With that said, outliers exist. Statistical thresholds produce probabilities of certain outcomes. Nothing is 100%. Fewer than 10% of receivers with that rough of a start to their career end up mattering in fantasy. But fewer than 10% is not 0%.

When wide receivers start their careers this slowly, it’s often due to a lack of talent. In Collins’ case, that was exactly the reason … except it wasn’t his lack of talent.

Collins dealt with some pretty abysmal quarterback play over the first two years of his career. He primarily caught passes from QBs Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills, with a sprinkle of Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel. You will be hard-pressed to find a bigger upgrade than going from those guys to Stroud.

Stroud immediately established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league and turned the Texans’ offense around. After scoring 29 and 27 total offensive touchdowns in 2021 and 2022, respectively, the Texans scored 37 touchdowns in 2023. Whenever an offense is better overall, that’s good for all fantasy players.

There’s no sense in stubbornly holding onto preconceived notions. We saw the 2023 season. It’s time to adjust expectations as to what Collins can do. For those of you who were already in on Collins from last season, I tip my cap.

Last year, Collins caught 80 passes for 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged 17.4 fantasy points per game, finishing as the overall WR7. He was one of the best values in 2023 redraft leagues.

Collins is going to have to compete with fellow receiver Tank Dell for targets going forward. But Stroud is more than capable of supporting not just two fantasy-relevant receivers but a WR1 and a WR2 with WR1 upside. Which one is which? I’m not sure it matters.

Interestingly, Collins actually averaged more points per game in his 10 games playing with Dell (18.2) than in his five games without him (15.6). I don’t think there’s anything actionable about that fact, but it’s good to know nonetheless. It’s just another reason for fantasy managers targeting Collins to not be worried about a target squeeze.

Collins was able to put together his fantastic 2023 campaign on just a 22.7% target share. That’s pretty low for a team’s WR1.

However, due to Stroud’s rapid ascent to the ranks of the elite, Collins was able to average 3.24 yards per route run, second in the league. His 11.9 yards per target was third. It was this level of efficiency that propelled him to a WR1 season.

It’s fair to project Collins to be less efficient in 2024. It’s also reasonable to expect an uptick in volume. A 25% target share is well within reach for Collins.

Should You Draft Collins in 2024 Best Ball Leagues?

It’s always interesting to see how the fantasy community reacts to surprise breakouts. Sometimes, we see those players valued lower than their previous season’s finish. In Collins’ case, he’s pretty much being drafted as the player he was in 2023.

Fantasy managers shouldn’t completely dismiss Collins’ disappointing first two seasons, but the most recent one with Stroud should hold much more weight.

KEEP READING: Nico Collins Dynasty Value

The Texans are unlikely to make any major additions at pass-catcher, leaving Collins and Dell as the clear top options with minimal competition. If you want to take Collins in the second round of Best Ball drafts, I won’t stop you.

My main issue with Collins at his ADP is how much I like the receivers going after him. That’s not to say he can’t be better than them. Rather, it’s that I don’t see a meaningful difference between him and guys like New Orleans Saints WR Chris Olave and Indianapolis Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr., both of whom go a full round later or more. As a result, I would likely look to other positions when Collins’ name is at the top of the available player list.

With the fantasy football season behind us, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.

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