While the fantasy world seems to have moved on from Devin Funchess, the football world has not. The Green Bay Packers reportedly signed the ex-Panther this week, and while the contract details have not yet been publicized, it’s likely a team-friendly, one-year deal. Funchess signed a one-year, $10-million contract with the Colts last season, and I doubt he’ll be making more than that.
So will Funchess have a chance to return fantasy value this season? The Packers were hurting for help at the position last year, so he could have an opportunity to shine.
That said, none of Aaron Rodgers’ receivers put up convincing fantasy performances in 2019. Davante Adams finished as the WR27 after missing some games, but none of his primary backups — Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Geronimo Allison — finished higher than WR77. Let’s see what Funchess brings to the table.
UPWARD CAREER TRAJECTORY DERAILED BY INJURY
The Carolina Panthers took the 6-foot-4 receiver in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, one year after they took Kelvin Benjamin in the first. The team intended Benjamin and Funchess to form a big-bodied receiving duo, although they would only play 23 games together.
Funchess didn’t do much in his rookie season, and even though Benjamin missed the full year with a torn ACL, Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn led the Panthers’ high-powered 2015 receiving corps. Funchess didn’t do much in 2016, either.
But he turned things around in 2017. While Benjamin struggled with conditioning and got himself traded to the Buffalo Bills, Funchess posted a career-best season: 63 receptions on 111 targets, 840 yards, and eight touchdowns. He finished as the WR20 in half-PPR formats that season.
🚨ATTN #Packers fans🚨
Join me in welcoming the newest Packers WR, Devin Funchess.
In his last fully healthy season (2017), he recorded 63 receptions, 840 yards, and 8 TDs.
— Eli Berkovits (@BookOfEli_NFL) March 25, 2020
Unfortunately for Funchess, things were never quite the same after 2017. He started 2018 off well, as he caught 39 passes for 477 yards and three scores through Week 10 — and that was despite missing Week 4 with an injury. He ranked as the WR33 entering Week 11, ahead of guys like Demaryius Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald. But then the wheels came off for both Funchess and an injured Cam Newton, and both players would end the season on the bench.
Leaving for Indianapolis in 2019 looked like a chance for him to turn things around. But then Andrew Luck retired, leaving Jacoby Brissett to lead the offense, and Funchess broke his clavicle in his Week 1 debut. He ended the game (and the season) with three receptions on five targets for 32 yards.
GREEN BAY: ANOTHER CHANCE FOR FUNCHESS?
Funchess joins a depleted Packers receiving corps heading into next season. With Jimmy Graham leaving for Chicago and Geronimo Allison becoming a free agent, the Packers’ best receiving options are Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Yikes.
So there’s room for Funchess in Green Bay’s offense, as Graham and Allison combined for 115 targets last season. And while Matt LaFleur should continue to feature both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams a healthy amount in 2020, Green Bay attempted a solid 35.5 passes per game in 2019, and I wouldn’t expect that number to change much next year.
Funchess could finish as a high-end WR3 in 2020 — if everything falls the right way. He could also get cut by the Packers before the season starts. It’s still March, and it’s almost impossible to know how the rest of the offseason will play out.
For instance, he’ll probably have to compete with at least one rookie wideout. The Packers have 10 picks in this year’s NFL Draft, and experts anticipate that they’ll add depth at the position. Bigger guys like Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault Jr., Chase Claypool could all fall to them at various points, and they would have a chance to beat out Funchess for perimeter targets.
So if you’ve got a spot on your bench in dynasty, consider grabbing Funchess off waivers. He’ll have a better chance to return WR2 or WR3 numbers this season than most guys of the guys who are still available, although nothing is guaranteed.