Editor’s Note: As our coverage of the 2016 NFL Draft and its impact on fantasy football continues, we bring you our 2016 Rookie SWOT series. These articles will feature video highlights, combine reviews, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, short-term expectations, long-term expectations and rookie draft advice for over 30 of the best dynasty league prospects from this year’s draft. We’ll follow that up with team-by-team draft reviews because, you know, that’s kind of what we live for.
Make sure you’re ready for your dynasty league rookie draft by staying up on all these articles, checking out our rookie draft guide, rookie rankings, rookie draft cheat sheet and mock draft rooms. There are simply no better resources out there for dynasty fantasy football enthusiasts.
Weight: 217 LBS
Hands: 9 1/4”
Arm Length: 30 1/4”
Bench Press (225 LBS): 18 Reps
40-Yard-Dash: 4.59 Seconds
Vertical Jump: 28.5 Inches
Broad Jump: 113 Inches
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- Legs ALWAYS churning
- Physical, bruising back with excellent stiff arm
- While not blazing, enough speed to burn the second level of NFL defenses
- Great footwork
- Decisive, downhill runner
- Underrated agility
- Lacks explosiveness (vertical and broad jump at the combine were terrible)
- Lacks next-level speed
- Occasionally does too much dancing before hitting the hole
- Wasn’t used as a pass catcher much in college
- Ball security
Overall Skill Set
Alex Collins is a powerful back whose legs just don’t quit. He exhibits patience behind the line, has good vision, and gets small through the hole, finding his way through narrow spaces. While he doesn’t have great speed, he is fast enough to burn through the second layer of NFL defenses, which suits what the Seahawks like to do nicely. Collins’ agility is underrated, and the tape shows me footwork that is well above average. To me, what’s best about Collins is that he is a decisive, downhill runner who keeps his pad level low through the hole, and has a ferocious stiff arm for the first defender looking to take him down. Don’t believe me, have a look for yourself.
I will admit it. Before the NFL Draft, I was pretty excited about Collins, and loved that he seemed to be flying under the radar. I couldn’t wait to see where he landed, and knew—based on rookie draft ADP—that I’d likely be getting him at a discount. Well, now he is flying even more under the radar, but you can’t love his situation in Seattle. However, you can like it. Of course, in spite of the concerns over his ankle, we all figure Thomas Rawls to be the lead back in Seattle at the beginning of the 2016 season.
However, I envision the back picked earlier than Collins in this year’s draft (C.J. Prosise) being used in the Fred Jackson role of this offense, and not in the least pushing for early down work. As we all know, the Seahawks seem to hate Christine Michael, but if I had to pick one player currently on their roster (other than Rawls) who could be a threat to Collins’ opportunities early on, it would be C-Mike. He played pretty well for them down the stretch last season, and is of course familiar with their system. However, he’s Christine Michael, and after what we’ve seen over the past twelve months, it seems far likelier that the Seahawks cut him again than making him their second-string back.
The biggest threat to Collins has to be his ball security. Over the course of his three seasons at Arkansas, Collins put the ball on the turf a total of 16 times (with the team losing nine of those fumbles). While Collins did amass 692 total touches throughout his collegiate career, making this number seem less significant, that still equates to 2.3 fumbles per every 100 touches. Though there are certainly players with worse fumbling issues than Collins, we all know what happens when a back struggles with ball security—especially early in their careers. They are placed in the doghouse, and often times, are never the same. I am not concerned about Collins’ hand size, and do expect him to focus on ball security as a rookie back whose specialty is early down work, so I do not anticipate this being too big a threat for him to overcome.
The other threat to Collins is, frankly, the depth chart, and where he could fit into it if things don’t break right. Of those 692 total touches Collins had in college, only 27 of them were receptions… The most receptions he had in a single season was 13, which came in his final season as a Razorback. In today’s fantasy football world, not being able to contribute as a pass catcher out of the backfield limits a back’s value (Alfred Morris), and could limit his playing time (Knile Davis). However, because Collins has the size and strength to be a formidable blocker on passing downs if called upon, I am not overly worried about his not being a super PPR-friendly back.
My short-term expectations for Collins may surprise you. Because of the evolution of the game, most in the fantasy football industry are wrapped up in backs like Prosise, Duke Johnson, Dion Lewis, etc., and as a result discounting more standard, early down backs like Collins. Because of this, everywhere I look I keep reading about how average Collins is, and that he can’t do anything special, etc., etc., etc. However, somehow this “average” back was able to become only the third back in SEC history (next to Darren McFadden and Herschel Walker) to rush for over 1,000 for three consecutive seasons. As a junior at Arkansas, Collins rushed for 1,577 yards on 271 carries, and found the end zone for 20 touchdowns.
Not only did Collins show he is capable of handling an NFL workload last year for the Razorbacks, he did so with an average of 5.8 YPC. I fully expect Collins to be the Rawls handcuff right out of the gate this year. I do not think Collins will have any issue at all transitioning his game to the NFL level, and believe Collins is one hamstring or sprained ankle from first string work in Seattle at the running back position. And, even if Rawls does manage to stay healthy, I would not be surprised if he started to share a bit of the workload with Collins after Collins shows well through training camp and the preseason. However, I do not expect Collins to eat much into a healthy Rawls’ work, so it will take a Rawls injury for Collins to really give us any meaningful fantasy production in 2016.
Forecasting what a running back will be years from now in fantasy football is a fool’s errand, so I will be tempering my expectations for Collins. While I think he is a much better back than given credit for, opportunity—as it often does at this position—will dictate his value both in 2016 and beyond. In 2016, I envision him as the Rawls handcuff, only making much of a splash if Rawls goes down. Therefore, it is difficult to make much of a different conclusion as it pertains to 2017, 2018, and so on. For the time being, I believe it will be best to view Collins as a handcuff to Rawls. But, if Rawls goes down, it would not shock me at all if Collins were to supplant him as the lead back. Of course, if that happens this year, we’ll be viewing Collins the same way we view Rawls right now.
Just imagine, it’s week eight of the 2016 NFL season and Rawls goes down with a serious enough injury to limit him the remainder of the year. In his stead, Collins rushes like a mad man for the final eight games of the season, and continues that success into a Seahawks playoff run. Obviously, it would be pretty tough for the Seahawks to not enter the offseason with Collins in mind for first-string duties entering into the 2017 campaign. I do not think one should draft Collins anticipating he will be the lead in Seattle any time soon, but rather, as a Rawls handcuff who is fully capable of handling early down work in a lead back role if later called upon due to injury.
Chris Ivory comes to mind when I think of Alex Collins. Another player, already mentioned in this article that comes to mind is Knile Davis—though I think Collins is a better runner. If you take away the receiving component of his game, I see a bit of Devonta Freeman in Collins as well. Collins is underrated because of his vertical and broad jump at the 2016 NFL Combine, and I think at times we lose the forest for the trees when it comes to these measurables. For instance, as a runner, I think Collins has a bit of Tre Mason to his game, but because Mason “measured” out so much better, we dare not compare the two. But, let’s add this all up, and see what we come out with… Take a blend of Devonta Freeman and Tre Mason (as runners), add in Knile Davis’ inability to contribute on special teams (and his alma mater) and Chris Ivory’s physicality, and you have Alex Collins. If you ask me, that’s not too shabby a combination for a guy most people are writing off in the dynasty community.
Projected Range for a Rookie Draft
Because most people in the dynasty community are writing Collins off, his rookie draft ADP is pretty low. Recently, I did a video for Fantasy Pros discussing rookies I believed to be great values for 2016 rookie drafts. One of the players I talked about was Alex Collins. Currently, Collins is ranked 24th overall among the 2016 rookies. However, the ten Rookie Mock Drafts referenced here on our site show Collins’ June ADP at 22. This means, if you were to hold your rookie draft today, you should see Collins go toward the end of the second round in a standard, 12-team league. However, it would not surprise me in the least to see him taken earlier (in the middle of the second round) by a nervous Rawls owner. On that note, if you are a Rawls owner, especially because this is such an uninspiring draft class, I think it might make sense to reach a little to ensure you aren’t left scrambling if Rawls goes misses time this season. In conclusion, I believe one should not be afraid to take Collins as early as 14th overall if they own Rawls, and as early as 18th overall regardless.
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Yeah can’t argue his production just because his metrics are ho-hum. But people are sleeping on him. Got him at the 4.2 in my rookie 12t draft.
I got him at 4.01 in mine, I was amazed he was still there.
Just to add to the ADP, as the other posters above have, I am in a 14 team league with 3 rookie rounds, and 2 FA rounds, I picked up Alex Collins at 5.4 (55 overall, since 5 guys elected not to make picks in the last 2 FA rounds before my selection).
It’s amazing to see him available in the 3rd (drafted him there in two 16-teamers). His situation is better than most think, and – as you point out – he’s a better runner than people think. He has Freeman 2015 potential.