What is the Fantasy Value of Devin Funchess in Indianapolis?
Indianapolis inked a deal with free agent Devin Funchess, where he can earn up to $13 million with incentives in 2019. He’s swapping out Cam Newton for Andrew Luck, which could lead to an uptick in his fantasy value and production this season. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.
The Devin Funchess Era in Carolina
In his four years as a Panther, Funchess’ output was a bit erratic, but so was the play and health of his QB. We did see the wideout’s best production in 2017 when Kelvin Benjamin was dealt to the Bills during the season. As the WR1, Funchess saw 111 targets, which he converted to 63 receptions for 840 yards and eight touchdowns.
Last year, he regressed to just 44 catches for 549 yards, but due to multiple injuries to himself along with a shoulder and leg issue with Newton, the WR only saw 11 targets in his last five games of the season. Healthy and wearing a new uniform in 2019, things should improve for the 24-year-old.
Have the Colts finally found their WR2?
Indy’s track record for signing wideouts via free agency is not good. They have been trying to find the ideal complement to T.Y Hilton and have come up short year after year over the past half of a decade. Here’s a table showing the output of the last five free agents they’ve acquired, all of whom have only made it one season with the team:
When looking at the Colts 2019 offense, Funchess could be a solid role player for the Frank Reich-led squad. They have Hilton to stretch the field and fill the slot often, leaving Funchess to grab a heavily-trafficked ball or bail out Andrew Luck under pressure. Last season, we saw Hilton finish as WR11 in .5 PPR fantasy points with 14.4 per game. His teammates didn’t crack the top 65, as we saw Dontrelle Inman as WR69, Chester Rogers’ 5.4 points per game check in as WR89 and Ryan Grant ended 2018 as WR110 with just 4.1 points per contest. With Funchess’ big 6’4”, 225-pound frame and his ability to use his body effectively against defenders, we could certainly see that WR2 spot filled this season, leading to elevated fantasy production.
In 2018, the Colts offense was second in the NFL in pass attempts with 644. The wideout position accounted for 53.1 % of the throws, which wasn’t spectacular, but still equaled 334 targets, the eighth-most in the league last season.
When it comes to the red zone, Eric Ebron was the king last year with 21 targets, resulting in 12 receptions and 11 touchdowns. That was good enough for third among TEs and 10th overall. If we compare Funchess to Hilton over the past three seasons, their work in the red zone is comparable. Hilton saw 41 targets, 17 of them caught for seven scores, while Funchess turned 41 red zone targets into 18 receptions for nine touchdowns.
With Luck ripping the ball as often as he did last year, there should be plenty of balls to go around in 2019. It’s still unclear if anyone else in the WR room will be a threat to Funchess’ targets this season, but for now, it appears that Deon Cain may be the only guy even with a pulse. He was Indy’s sixth-rounder from 2018, who suffered a torn ACL during the preseason. It’s too early to tell what his role will be, and the Colts could also draft another wideout to compete. Usually, young wideouts don’t tend to have an immediate impact on a team in both real life and fantasy, so Funchess’ targets appear to be safe.
What It All Means for Devin Funchess in 2019
Given his one-year $13 million contract, it seems that the Colts intend to give Funchess every opportunity to be the WR2 in this offense. He’s a larger-framed wideout, a weapon Luck really hasn’t had the chance to play with so far in his career. Given his prior success in the red zone, Funchess’ arrival could impact Ebron’s fantasy output in 2019, but Hilton should remain firmly planted as a top-10 fantasy WR.
With a solid O-line and a healthy Luck under center, Funchess should find himself among the top 45 fantasy wideouts at the end of this season. His current ADP in best ball drafts is hovering around WR66, with an average pick in the mid-14th round. Your league mates may shy away from Funchess due to the end of his stint in Carolina, but the 24-year-old makes for a solid later-round grab as a member of the Colts pass-heavy Reich offense.