DeVante Parker let a lot of people down last year, myself included. While there was ample evidence to suggest a sophomore-year breakout for the young wideout, Parker failed to live up to the hype, posting a receiving line of 744 yards and four TDs. However, I don’t think you should give up on Parker just yet. That breakout could be coming in 2017.
Despite the lackluster raw production, Parker was a big part of the Dolphin passing attack, regardless of the starting quarterback.
Whether it was Ryan Tannehill or Matt Moore starting under center, Parker saw about 20 percent of the team targets. This is fairly close to the 19 percent mark he posted down the stretch of his rookie season and the 19 percent mark the RotoViz staff projected him for last season when he was our projected WR37.
So what happened? The Dolphins simply did not pass the ball as much as we expected. We had Tannehill projected for about 575 pass attempts, but Miami only attempted 477 passes in 2016. That’s almost 100 less than our projection and 31st in the NFL. If the Dolphins had even a league average number of passing attempts, Parker would have had a much better season.
Since targets are the lifeblood of fantasy scoring, any argument to buy Parker has to include his volume going up. Fortunately, there are a couple of avenues through which that could happen. For starters, the lack of pass attempts in Miami can probably at least somewhat be related to game-script. The Dolphins won 10 games in 2016 and leaned heavily on second year running back Jay Ajayi. Miami did not throw the ball much because they didn’t have to.
However, RotoDoc has already pointed out that the Dolphins were the third luckiest team in 2016 based on Pythagorean win expectation. Miami was really a seven or eight win team instead of a 10 win one. A moderate pass attempts bump seems like a reasonable expectation for 2017, which means more targets for Parker.
Additionally, the Dolphins are in position to lose Kenny Stills in free agency. Stills is reportedly Miami’s top priority, but they may get priced out. He accumulated 81 targets last season, good for about 17 percent of Miami’s total. Should Stills leave, that would open up more targets for Parker. Although the majority of them may go to Leonte Carroo, who the team drafted in the third round last year, it still benefits Parker, especially if Carroo stumbles.
Everything in fantasy football ultimately comes down to price. In the case of Parker, I am expecting the cost to be low relative to what it was last season. From August 24th on, he was going as the WR26 according to the Best Ball ADP app. MFL10s are just getting started, but Parker is the WR46 right now in early PPR drafts on Fantasy Football Calculator.1 That’s a tremendous discount if you expect his targets to surge.
Interestingly enough, that same discount does not exist in dynasty leagues. Parker was the WR22 in 2016 dynasty startups, per the Dynasty ADP app, and was the WR21 in January mocks at Dynasty League Football. Even if one or two of the incoming rookies jumps him in draft position, he will be drafted in about the same spot as he was last year.
Parker was a player who had a tremendous profile coming out of Louisville two years ago and came much closer to meeting our 2016 expectations than is currently being perceived. We will see if his price rises once MFL10s get fully underway and we move through the rest of a long off-season, but, at least early on, you should buy Parker in bulk in re-draft leagues.
- Based on 359 drafts from January 21st to February 21st. (back)