Caleb Wilson was the 2019 NFL draft’s Mr. Irrelevant, but shouldn’t be ignored in your dynasty league.
The Arizona Cardinals’ new rookie tight end is a deep dynasty league target and stash who may even prove to be relevant in 2019.
I’m going to shoot straight, I only recently started paying some amount of attention to college football a few years ago after joining a college fantasy league (side note: I HIGHLY recommend doing this if you’re planning to be a serious dynasty player). There’s a handful of players who have been good to me on my college fantasy rosters who I am sweet on. Caleb Wilson is one of those players. This is pretty much the sole reason I am touting him to you. I will attempt to shine him up nicely with as many facts as I can below.
Wilson was a bit of a late bloomer in college, only breaking out at age 22. This could be because he began his career as a walk on QB at USC, where his father was a defensive line coach. Quickly changing positions to TE, he transferred to UCLA shortly after his father was let go. In his first season seeing real playing time, Wilson compiled 38 receptions for 490 yards and 1 TD in 5 games in 2017 before succumbing to a foot injury. That included a 15….I’ll say again FIFTEEN catch game (yeah, won me that week in college fantasy) for 208 yards as the apple of Josh Rosen’s eye.
A beauty from Rosen last night, one of 15 passes TE Caleb Wilson caught: pic.twitter.com/OAPAGTG67g
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) September 4, 2017
2018 was an incredible bounce back year as Wilson stayed healthy and amassed 60 receptions for 965 yards and 4 TD’s. He finished his college career sporting a 14.7 average yards per catch and a dominator rating of 32.3% (91st percentile). At the NFL combine, Wilson ran a 4.56 40-yard dash and scored a 110.4 (87th percentile) speed score. He reminds me of a poor man’s Evan Engram. From a speed perspective I think that is a fair comparison. Also, he is taller (6’4″ vs 6’2″) and faster than Irv Smith Jr who the Vikings drafted in round 2.
UCLA TE Caleb Wilson was on a tear before injury in 2017, and still finished with our highest grade among all tight ends. pic.twitter.com/OphqBbNDqL
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 7, 2018
Landing with the Arizona Cardinals
When I saw tight end after tight end being drafted this year and no Caleb Wilson, my heart sank. This is “my guy” after all, what the heck was going on!?!?? Finally, with the very last pick of the draft, the Arizona Cardinals made him this year’s Mr. Irrelevant. And you know what, that’s OK. Last year’s last pick, Trey Quinn, is now a relatively hot/rising sleeper in not only redraft but especially dynasty leagues. I’m hoping for the same with Caleb Wilson!
Strictly for this 7th round tight end’s potential, boy do I wish the Cardinals did NOT trade Josh Rosen. What an ultimate boost for a guy with almost no draft capital to have the ability to play with his old college QB who massively targeted him while they were at UCLA together. But that slight advantage was ripped away earlier in the draft. So, ultimately not the best landing spot. HOWEVA….there are still a few bright spots Caleb Wilson has going for him!
For one, Ricky Seals-Jones, Charles Clay, and newly signed JAG (just a guy) Maxx Williams appear to be Wilson’s primary competition. VERY beatable. How many late-round fliers have you wasted on RSJ the past couple of years? As many as me? OK good so we’re over him now, I assume, as I hope the Cardinals will be too. Charles Clay is SUPER old and always injured. I believe his past production was more a result of a connection with Tyrod Taylor, along with being the only competent pass catching target in Buffalo for a few years.
Secondly, enter a brand new coaching regime and 1st overall pick QB Kyler Murray. Murray has no rapport or connection with anyone yet, as he has not thrown a pass in an NFL uniform. And the coaching staff shouldn’t really have much loyalty to anyone or preferences, especially at the tight end position. The Cardinals are in rebuild mode and likely (hopefully) will be giving guys at some of the murkier depth chart positions, like tight end, a shot to show what they can do. This is where I believe Caleb Wilson may have his only chance to break through in the NFL.
Lastly, he just looks and feels like he has the ability to be a productive NFL TE. No, he doesn’t block. But these TE mismatching pass catching specialists generally don’t, so who cares. Thinking about some of the randos that have been top 12 fantasy TE options over the past few years, fantasy tight end predictability seems comparable to that of QBs at the actual on-field NFL level. Professional NFL teams stink at predicting which players coming out of college will be good actual NFL QBs. Much like fantasy gurus are not great at predicting who will be top scoring fantasy tight ends each year, outside of the obvious 3-4 guys. Were many analysts on guys like Cameron Brate or Jack Doyle when they broke out? Or saw Chris Herndon coming last year (I sort of did, drafted him in an incredibly deep dynasty startup, 😉 no big deal). Why not Caleb Wilson?
Wilson is basically free in most leagues. His draft capital has likely sunk most people’s opinions on him, even if they liked him coming out of UCLA. This is when you pounce! Depending on the depth of your league and length of rookie drafts, you can easily score him. In a 4 round rookie draft, grab him in the 4th or off waivers. Even if he doesn’t get an opportunity this year, he’s a great taxi squad stash candidate.
Since we all know tight ends generally take time to develop and produce, don’t give up on him beyond his 1st year. He’s already an older rookie at 22, and that may actually benefit him in the pros. Although this is not a terribly sexy player to be writing all of these words about, at the very least keep a nook of your fantasy brain devoted to him. Also keep your ears and eyes open during Cardinals training camp and preseason as the tight end battle should be intriguing.
Follow me on Twitter @OnJawn for lots of spicy fantasy football takes, drunk tweets, and random thoughts about life that happen to pop into my head. Click here to view my past articles.