A fifth round rookie who stuck to his initial team’s roster for a year? A player with epic college production? Yes, I like Rashard Higgins, of course I do.
The Browns are a different team now. While there was still some mocking of the “cursed team” this off-season, it seems less than usual. While the team is no playoff contender this year, their rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer has been promising, especially compared to the career backups and below-average players a few of teams are strutting out.
Now that it’s been confirmed that Corey Coleman has broken his hand, we should have interest in the player who took over as the target leader in week two.
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Corey Coleman was finally starting to gain some momentum. Kenny Britt, the hope of many in the later rounds due to his efficiency stats, seems to be uninterested in the opportunity. When Coleman went out, the target share was decidedly not in the veteran’s favor.
*I used 4for4’s target App to isolate these numbers
It’s only a one game sample, but all of the relevant receivers for week three were active. It was Higgins who ran away with the targets and the fantasy points they created. Cleveland also lost DeShone Kizer for a while in their week two game to a migraine, so it’s not going to be typical game moving forward.
However both Kevin Hogan and DeShone Kizer heavily targeted Higgins over other pass catchers. While a week to organize may change the game plan, the data we have suggests that Higgins is a strong add.
Bad news first. Rashard Higgins is a terrible (by NFL standards) athlete. His highest athletic metric is an 84.6 Height Adjusted Speed Score (19th percentile.) This thanks to his 6’1” 196 pound frame and 4.64 (18th percentile) 40 time. He doesn’t rank outside the tenth percentile in any other category.
So that sucks.
But wide receivers can out-produce their athleticism argument – Jarvis Landry, Willie Snead, DeAndre Hopkins and Keenan Allen. We don’t need Olympians, we need great players. What’s more, his production in college, despite poor athleticism, actually points to advantages he has over other members of the depth chart.
On the Field
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) September 18, 2017
Matt Harmon, who Evan Silva references above, knows a good route runner when he sees one. He’s the the best source for understanding a player’s route running ability. I won’t try to summarize it or add to it,there’s nothing to add. I just suggest you read it. Higgins can simply run the heck out a route.
*Trivia time: Crockett Gilmore also played for Colorado State in the MWC.
Higgins didn’t just “beat” his combine athleticism in college, he played like it wasn’t true. We can see this in the statistics and production numbers he achieved. Higgins managed a 43.6% College Dominator at Colorado State and an 18.9 (91st percentile) Breakout age. You have to be good, no matter what combine numbers you put up, to do that.
I should note that Higgins was an “old 18 year old” in his freshman year. He turned 19 very early in the season, but his breakout age is still impressive at 18.9 years old. So, Higgins was able to dominate production at Colorado and it continued until he declared for the draft at age 20.
He is now a 23-year-old prospect with a year of experience on the team. He is probably entrenched as the target leader in Cleveland. He just put up significant fantasy numbers in week two. I think he is a player to be excited about in dynasty.
Sometimes, I wonder if graphs really emphasis the importance and context of college production. Comparing his numbers to the “average” production of NFL successful WR’s drafted in the second and third round can only do too much. So, just for context – and in no way a comparison of the two players – here is every analyst’s favorite wide receiver, Corey Davis, next to Rashad Higgins.
Rashad Higgins production is impressive. Put another way, without being able to outrun, outjump out cut (or out anything) he dominated older players in college.
So, no, I’m not worried about his athleticism. Week two can’t prove (but suggests) that he will get the bulk of Cleveland’s targets, but it did prove he is able to transfer the same skill set he used in college into the NFL.
*I use Pro Football Reference to collect raw data
Rashard Higgins is a prime target in dynasty leagues. I think he could be on the upswing of a volume-driven, dependable PPR season. What’s more, if he can establish himself this year, I think he could carve out a permanent role on the team. Corey Coleman will be back (hopefully!) but the Kenny Britt experiment seems, at this point, to have failed and the team has seen enough promise to keep him around even when he was buried on the depth chart.
I don’t think there is more you could want in the profile of a secondary target, than Rashard Higgins.