Second-Year Scouting Report: Nico Collins


There’s nothing quite like the allure of a promising NFL rookie. Their unproven nature oftentimes leads to ADPs being inflated with optimism, but that same optimism tends to vanish if the player doesn’t produce right out of the gates. This volatility is stressful for many, but it presents a golden opportunity for the savvy fantasy manager who can maintain a cool head amidst the hype (or lack thereof). 


After witnessing just one NFL season from a young player, fans and fantasy managers tend to believe they know what the future entails for a certain player. Even though second and third year breakouts are far from uncommon, players who didn’t burst onto the scene in year one quickly become afterthoughts. In this series, a few of the writers at FTN Fantasy will look back on some of the players drafted in 2021, determine what’s changed over the past year, and recalibrate their outlooks for 2022.

Nico Collins, WR, Houston Texans

The Texans selected Nico Collins with the 89th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Coming out of Michigan, Collins was an intriguing prospect who possessed some impressive physical tools, but he wasn’t viewed as a prospect who checked all the boxes. 

Many of the strengths listed on Collins’ draft profile on surround his impressive 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame. He had a knack for using his size to his advantage by imposing his will against opposing defenders and frequently coming down with 50-50 balls. For a player of his stature, Collins possesses surprising speed and boasts some impressive hands as well. It may be a cliché, but Collins oftentimes looks like a basketball player going up for a rebound when the ball is headed his direction.

The scouting profile wasn’t all rosy for Collins though. It’s harder to consistently win solely with physicality at the NFL level, and Collins’ lack of short area quickness and route running skills led to some skepticism about how well he’d hold up in the pros. The physical upside is there, but Collins wasn’t viewed as a player who could step on an NFL field and dominate right away.

Nico Collins Second-Year Scouting Report

What Went Right

There wasn’t much for Texans fans to be excited about last year, but Collins showed flashes that indicate he could turn into a solid contributor for multiple years. Despite not being a full-time player, during his rookie campaign Collins hauled in a respectable 33 catches for 446 yards and found the end zone once. These aren’t eye-popping numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re promising enough to inspire optimism moving forward. 

There weren’t many surprises in Collins’ rookie season. He didn’t enter the NFL with a suddenly crisp route tree, but it was nice to see that even against stiffer competition he found ways to win using his size and physicality. Many of his catches came as a result of him boxing out an opposing defender and winning above the rim, and he occasionally bulldozed through smaller defenders after the catch.

What Went Wrong

Unsurprisingly, many of the flaws that presented themselves at Michigan didn’t disappear during Collins’ rookie season. He still struggled with separation and has yet to show much improvement as a route runner. 

Luckily, route running is a trait that’s considered coachable, and Collins can certainly learn some of the nuances of the receiver position as he gains more experience. The hope is that with a full NFL offseason, Collins can develop that area of his game and evolve into a more complete receiver in year two. For a nice breakdown of what’s still missing in Collins’ game, check out the below tweet from @JetPackGalileo.

What to Expect: 2022

Collins likely won’t take the league by storm in 2022, but there’s still reason to believe he can take a sizable step forward. Outside of Brandin Cooks – who demanded a 25% target share last year – there won’t be much target competition in Houston. Collins quietly ranked second in target share last year with 11%, and it’s not unreasonable to think he can enter the 15-20% range in year two.

Predicting a step forward for both Collins and Davis Mills isn’t out of the question in 2022. If the QB/WR duo both experience some growth, a 15-20% market share could lead to Collins doubling the yardage and reception numbers he posted in year one.


Dynasty Outlook

In dynasty formats, Collins is the exact type of player you want to buy prior to a potential breakout. There’s a clear path to an improved sophomore season, and acquiring him likely won’t cost you much. His ADP last year had him going in the third round, and it’s hard to imagine his cost has gone up substantially since then. I’d gladly pay a third-rounder (and potentially a bit more) to acquire Collins before the buzz around him starts to get louder. 

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