As Raymond Summerlin pointed out recently, when it comes to the game of waxing lyrical regarding their own players, no team on earth can hang with the Miami Dolphins.
The 2017 team is already the “best offense” quarterback Ryan Tannehill has played on, despite no games being played. The most improved player on the team, Jay Ajayi, is preparing for an even bigger workload after coming on as a receiver during the offseason. Of course, how could we forget Julius Thomas, the ten touchdown guy? But the team has saved some of its most outrageous praise for third-year wide receiver DeVante Parker.
After beginning the offseason by hinting at professionalism concerns (turning up on time is generally regarded as good practice in workplaces across the globe), the Dolphins spin machine kicked into overdrive. In May, Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen expected a “gigantic year” out of Parker, while coaches were telling the media that they expected him to “dominate” going into his third season. It’s a lovely story, but I have to write an unhappy and preemptive ending to this particular fairytale. It is not going to happen.
As a Prospect
Coming out of Louisville, Parker’s career year had been as a junior. In 12 games, he posted a 55 catch, 885 yards, 12 touchdown campaign. His senior year began late, as he missed the first seven games. But he did record 43 receptions for 855 yards and six scores in the six games he did play in. Using the RotoViz Box Score Scout, we can look back and see how he stacked up as a prospect. Let us marvel at the list of names who foreshadowed his possible range of outcomes in the pros.
OK, so not exactly a long line of Canton ready players. But there are not many flat out scrubs on the list either. However, if we remove the measurables and focus merely on his college production, it’s a completely different story.
Genuinely, there are players on the list that I have never heard of.
As a Pro
His time in the NFL hasn’t been uneventful. He missed six weeks after foot surgery as a rookie. He has managed to strain his hamstring, his back, and his foot at various times during his two professional seasons. With these ailments, he has amassed just 82 receptions for 1238 yards and seven touchdowns. Using the RotoViz Screener, here are a few WRs who have enjoyed similar two-year beginnings to their career.
On a side note, the Jaguars have swung and missed at WR since Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, haven’t they?
That list is not exactly full of players that inspire excitement. If we forgive Parker his injuries, things look somewhat better.
Still, “frequently useful WR2” is probably not what Parker enthusiasts are hoping for.
Parker is, according to the latest depth charts over at RotoWorld, the WR3 for the Dolphins. This status was certainly born out during the 2016 season. Parker played on 77.5 percent of the offensive snaps, some way behind Kenny Stills (83.9 percent) and Jarvis Landry (94.1 percent). The Dolphins re-signed Stills to a four-year, $32m contract1 this offseason. So one would assume they plan to use him.
One player of whom coaches have not gone out of their way to praise is Landry, who jointly holds the NFL record for the most receptions in the first three years of a career.2 Landry is out of contract following this season, and he has (or his agent has, let’s be honest here) set Week 1 as a deadline for negotiations. Could it be that the Dolphins brass wants to ease back on Landry’s use so they can make DeVante Parker the number one guy? Could this be the great hope for Parker’s prospects? Even if it happens, so what?
The Dolphins showed last season, the first under Adam Gase, that they want to run the ball. And maybe run it some more. Given that this approach propelled them into the postseason for the first time since 2008, and given that in Ryan Tannehill they have an ordinary quarterback at best, it would be safe to assume that this is what they want to do again this season. Below are my projections for the Dolphins pass and pace tendency for the 2017 season.
Pass Tendency: -0.045
Pace Tendency: -3
This jibes with Josh Hermsmeyer’s ARIMA model, which suggest a paltry 514 pass attempts for the 2017 Dolphins. That pace would have been 28th-best last year.
This is not a team that is going to propel any WR into fantasy superstardom. I do have Parker projected to be the team’s leading receiver in terms of yards, with 771 to Landry’s 747, but I give the edge to Landry in terms of receptions. Given his proclivity towards staying close to the line of scrimmage, he is still a safer option for Tannehill.3
These numbers will be good for WR42 in terms of PPR scoring, which I project to be Parker’s ceiling. Why MFL10 drafters are taking him at WR36, ahead of such players as Jeremy Maclin (WR39), Tyrell Williams (WR45) and even Quincy Enunwa (WR47) is beyond me.
DeVante Parker could end up as the number one WR on the Miami Dolphins. Someday. However, in terms of fantasy relevance, I place that on a similar level to being the best singer in One Direction. You may stand out from the rest of them, but ultimately it’s not that big a deal. 2017 will not be the year of Devante. Nothing to see here, please disperse.