Puka Nacua King Fantasy Sports Rookie Profile

Puka Nacua - WR - BYU

Puka Nacua had a slow start to his collegiate career and was hampered by injuries for a lot of it. But when he was healthy, he was a dominant player on the field for both Washington and BYU. He flew under the radar all offseason and even into the NFL Draft as he wasn’t selected until the fifth round. But now that he’s able to get on the field with the team, he’s been the talk of the town during OTAs.

Measurables

Height: 6′ 2′”

Weight: 201 lbs

Age: 22

40-yard dash: DNP

3-cone drill: DNP

20-yard shuttle: DNP

Vertical Jump: DNP

Broad Jump: DNP

Bench Press: DNP

*age is at the start of player’s rookie year

College Stats

Receiving & Rushing Table
ReceivingRushingScrimmage
YearSchoolConfClassPosGRecYdsAvgTDAttYdsAvgTDPlaysYdsAvgTD
*2019WashingtonPac-12FRWR3716824.02000716824.02
2020WashingtonPac-12SOWR3915116.81000915116.81
*2021Brigham YoungIndWR124380518.761414810.605795316.76
*2022Brigham YoungIndSRWR94862513.05252098.457383411.410
CareerOverall107174916.314393579.25146210614.419
Washington1631919.930001631919.93
Brigham Young91143015.711393579.25130178713.716
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2023.

Notable Headlines

Puka Nacua was a high four-star prospect coming out of college and ranked the 8th wide receiver in his class per 247Sports. But to start his freshman year, he broke his foot just 3 games into the season and missed the remainder of the season. As a sophomore, Nacua played in 3/4 games during the 2020 season due to COVID restrictions, and was second on the team in receiving behind just Cade Otton.

Following 2020, Nacua decided to transfer to BYU where he played in his first double digit game season. In 12 games, he led the Cougars in receiving yards, tied the team for most receiving touchdowns, and even contributed nearly 150 yards on the ground. Despite battling injuries throughout his redshirt junior season with a “leg injury” and “ankle injury”, he still led his team in receptions, receiving yards, and once again contributed in the rushing game with over 200 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground.

Scouting Report

Positives

First off, Nacua has good size standing at 6’2” and 201 lbs. Additionally to his size, he provides lineup versatility, showing to be effective in college lining up on the outside, in the slot, and even in the backfield taking handoffs. In the open field, he shows solid speed, enough to create explosive plays on the ground or through the air.

What really stands out is his balls skills. His ability to contort his body, extend to his full wingspan, and show extreme concentration lends to some spectacular catches on the sideline and all around defenders on film. That paired with his size lends to a very impressive redzone threat that has a knack for getting both feet in bounds. Speaking of his size, he’s not afraid to use it and is willing to be physical at the catch point, after the catch, and especially when blocking for his teammates.

Negatives

The biggest con to Nacua’s profile is his injury history and health concerns. His injuries have been considered a broken foot, a “leg injury”, and an “ankle injury”. With what’s known, there isn’t a concern for the long term. On a film level, he could improve as a route runner. There are foundational pieces on film, but he needs to develop consistency in utilizing his leverage with his frame, and show consistent explosiveness at the breaking points in his routes.

Additionally, his speed is good enough to create explosive plays, but he won’t be a burner at the next level with his speed. He’s generally very impressive in contested catch scenarios and a natural hands catcher, but can occasionally let the ball into his chest. And in yardsa after the catch scenarios, he generally just gets what’s blocked in front of him, only occasionally picking up plus yardage.

Post Draft Analysis

Los Angeles Rams – Round 5, Pick 42

Landing Spot

The Rams went all in on the for their Super Bowl Championship in Super Bowl LVI, and they’re currently paying for it. They thought they could lengthen their competing window, but it started to crumble quickly last season, starting with Matthew Stafford falling to injury. This draft, they were still missing a first round pick, but was able to bring in a injection of youth all around that was sorely needed. Especially so at the receiver position as outside of Cooper Kupp, there is Ben Skowronek, Van Jefferson, Demarcus Robinson, and Tutu Atwell, all unproven players or players proven to be just a guy in the league. 

Fantasy Impact

If Matthew Stafford can come back healthy in his age 35 season, there is stability in this offense and this offense will run through Cooper Kupp and, to a lesser extent, Tyler Higbee. Outside of those two, there is plenty of opportunity to Puka Nacua to make an impact early and often this season and throughout offseason camps. It works into his favor that he is versatile enough to work in all the wide receiver position and he’s also a great blocker for his teammates, something that can earn him early time on the field. 

Puka Nacua was a fifth round selection for a reason, there’s holes in his game. But he has flashes of someone that can make an impact on the football field and on fantasy rosters. In Redraft leagues, there isn’t a reason to draft him at this point, but good to keep an eye on him in waivers. In Dynasty Superflex rookie drafts, he’s an excellent dart throw in the late third round, fourth round, or even off waivers post-rookie draft. He has upside, opportunity early, and clear traits that can translate. High potential for reward for minimal risk, especially compared to other players in that range.

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Image Credit: Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports