What happened in 2019?
Andy Isabella had some hype surrounding him following the 2019 NFL draft after going two picks before D.K. Metcalf in the second round. Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, Isabella was getting Tyler Lockett comparisons last offseason, and rightfully so. The biggest concern for Isabella was his college competition while playing for the mediocre-at-best UMASS program. He may not have dominated elite competition in college, but he dominated nonetheless. After catching only two passes for seven yards as a rookie in college, the speedy receiver went on to set the school record for receiving yards in a season, receiving yards in a game, and total career receiving yards. His stock only rose at the combine after running a 4.31 40 yard dash, which ranks in the 100th percentile in the history of the combine (the kid is fast). After all this hype heading into the season, the rookie failed to play more than 37% of snaps in a single game all season.
Did we overrate production against easy competition? Was opportunity or talent Issue?
It makes sense to assume that talent has a large effect on opportunity. If a player is extremely talented, we can mostly trust NFL coaches (except Adam Gase, of course) to give them playing time. There still begs the question of “if” Isabella is talented enough to gain more opportunity in year 2. Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald are expected to stay in town, but the Cardinal’s number three receiving role is up for grabs.
Here is a list of Cardinals receivers who played more snaps than Isabella in 2019:
- Larry Fitzgerald
- Christian Kirk
- Damiere Byrd
- Trent Sherfield (yes, this is a real player, I had to look it up too)
- Pharoh Cooper
- Keesean Johnson
If Isabella can’t beat these receivers for playing time, his career could be reminiscent of his 40 time: fast.
While Isabella did disappoint as a rookie, hauling in only nine catches for 189 yards and a touchdown , he also showed some glimpses of upside. Isabella did not catch many passes, but when he did he made the most of them, leading the league with 21 yards per reception. He caught an 88 yard TD against a top ranked 49ers secondary in week 9 and went on to finish as a WR2 in week 9. We also saw flashes of his upside in the preseason with plays like this:
At the end of the day, the potential #3 or #4 receiver, with 100th percentile speed on a pass happy offense with one of the best quarterbacks in the league is free at the end of bestball drafts.
- Risk: His floor is as low as it gets, especially with the addition of Deandre Hopkins, but there is limited risk at his current cost.
- Upside: multiple WR2+ weeks with long touchdowns
- Target bestball ownership at current price: 10%