I’ve seen Jarvis Landry described as a very safe wide receiver because of his role in the Dolphins offense. I’ve seen him described as being safe for fantasy owners as well as being safe from the risk of losing production to fellow teammates. However, I believe he is actually quite risky for the same reason people describe him as safe.
Jarvis Landry is a volume-driven WR. You may read that pejoratively, but it is simply the objective truth. He has 278 career targets but only nine touchdowns and just 9.9 yards per reception. For a player to be a top 24 PPR WR – Landry was the WR11 in 2015 – while not racking up many yards on a per reception basis and scoring few TDs, they have to be volume-driven. In fact, you would expect a WR with 166 targets like Landry had in 2015 to finish in the area of WR6 based on 2013 and 2014 data.1 Consider the following table, which contains the top 24 PPR WRs in 2015, their fantasy points, their receptions, and their fantasy points per reception. Note that all of the scoring figures are in standard to eliminate redundancy.2
|Odell Beckham Jr.||223.3||96||2.3260416666667|
If you sort by FP/R you’ll see that Landry ranks 23rd out of 24. The most obvious takeaways from this table are that both players at the bottom and the top are prime regression candidates. The players at the top seem likely to lose efficiency but gain volume. The players at the bottom seem likely to lose volume but gain efficiency. So why do I think Landry is risky if he is likely to gain efficiency even if he loses volume?
We’ve grown fond of saying that production isn’t everything, it’s the only thing for WRs. The idea being that size and athleticism measures don’t really give us much insight into whether or not a WR will succeed. Landry is a good example of that. But that doesn’t mean that size and athleticism measures don’t tell us how a WR can succeed. Consider this comparison of Landry and Allen Robinson from the Box Score Scout:
When you look at that stark difference in size and athleticism it’s not surprising that Robinson was almost twice as efficient on a per reception basis. So is it possible that Landry could meaningfully increase his per reception production? Of course it is. But I also think it’s fair to wonder if his limited athleticism might impede his ability to rack up yardage more efficiently. Note that taller and heavier WRs are better at scoring TDs, and Landry is not particularly tall or heavy.
So I have my concerns that the loss of volume will outweigh any improvement in efficiency. And that’s exactly what the WR Sim Scores predict. It predicts Landry will have about 130 targets for 83 receptions, but still only score around 6.5 TDs with 12.45 yards per reception. That works out to a median projection of 14.8 PPR fantasy points per game. That would have made Landry the WR25 in PPR FPPG in 2015.
All that being said, it is of course not a given that Landry will lose volume. And even if he does, it might not happen in 2015. But I think it’s fairly likely over the next two seasons. Kevin Cole predicts teammate DeVante Parker has about a 67 percent probability of having a top 24 season within the next two years. If Parker breaks out, then it seems likely that will affect Landry’s opportunity and scoring output. Only three teams managed to produce two top 24 WRs last season. The most targets any pair got were about 300. In the following table, I assume that Landry and Parker will combine for 300 targets, and then put Landry’s expected finish in the far right column. Expected finish is pulled from this article which uses 2013-2014 data.
Keep in mind that table both assumes they will combine for 300 targets and that Landry will do what the average WR would do with that many targets, which wasn’t the case in 2015.3 Despite those two very generous assumptions, it still contains some bad outcomes.
The Dolphins also drafted Leonte Carroo in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, despite most people not seeing it as a need for them. They even traded up to get him, giving up future third and fourth round picks in the process, and owner Stephen Ross said that he was the WR with the second highest grade on their draft board. Between that investment and there being an argument for Carroo as the best WR in this class, it would make sense to assume he will have a meaningful role in 2017. It is easy to see Landry ceding volume to a Parker breakout this season, and then losing even more opportunity to Carroo the next.
Per the Best Ball ADP App, Landry is currently being drafted as the WR17 for redraft purposes. While that’s higher than his WR25 projection, it’s also lower than his 2015 finish, so I don’t have a huge problem with him at that price. But per the Dynasty ADP App, he’s currently being drafted as the 21st player overall and the WR16. For dynasty that seems too bullish given his valuation is based on his past opportunity, and that his future opportunity could decrease with time. It’s not hard to imagine his opportunity staying stable in 2016, but if you have Landry on your team, I recommend using the Dynasty ADP App’s trade calculator to try to identify some potential trades.