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Rishard Matthews is a Breakout Candidate and He’s Practically Free

What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the name Rishard Matthews? If it’s not breakout candidate, underrated talent or a fantasy value then we have some things to discuss. Here’s four reasons I’ll be trying to draft or acquire the new Titans receiver in all formats.

1) HE WAS DAMN GOOD FOR THE DOLPHINS IN 2015

Kyle Pollock expressed his love for Matthews as a breakout candidate way back in March before he signed with the Titans. Below is an excerpt about his efficiency…

Rishard AYA (1)

Matthews blows his teammates out of the water in terms of AYA. He nearly doubles supposed deep threat Kenny Stills’ AYA, and is clearly an above average option in that facet of the game. Even though he looked elite next to his teammates, his overall efficiency when compared to the league is even more impressive.

And he’s 100 percent correct about that. Of players that received at least 50 targets last year only Doug Baldwin, Sammy Watkins and Tyler Lockett were better on a per target basis. Two of those play with Russell Wilson, one was the number one WR taken in an all time great class, and one was basically an unknown playing with the underwhelming Ryan Tannehill.

To drive the point home, Matthews ranked in the top 15 in all of PlayerProfiler’s efficiency metrics. Most notably he was top-3 for Target Premium and Production Premium, which measures how he compared to his teammates and the rest of the league.

2) HE’S ON A NEW TEAM THAT’S LOOKING FOR A TOP OPTION

Would you say that Dorial Green-Beckham is the Titans top WR right now? I don’t come to a conclusion on a player after one season but his performance last year didn’t exactly lock up his spot.

Green-Beckham caught an abysmal 47 percent of his targets and was outside the top 50 for red zone catch rate, which is the one thing you’d assume he’s good at. It’s possible DGB makes a big leap this season but he hasn’t looked like a dominant player to this point and that’s a bit concerning since he wasn’t really that guy in college either.

The team’s veteran receiver Kendall Wright has proven to be a trusted target out of the slot in the past but he’s never been a game changer and has only caught over 70 passes once in his four year career. Hard to expect things to be much different when his 2015 production per target (0.16) was on par with his career average (0.17).

The output from last year’s group was so underwhelming that it’s really no surprise Brian Malone thinks this receiving corps has nowhere to go but up.

3) HISTORY IS ON HIS SIDE AND IT SUGGESTS HE COULD BE A WR1

Prior to the NFL Draft Kevin Cole created a regression tree model for receiver prospects. According to his model, collegiate production was the most predictive thing we can look at in a player’s profile. While I personally believe measurables matter, the argument that “production is everything” puts Matthews into great company.

tree_wr_2012_2015_top

Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews represent the premier stud WRs that will lead dynasty squads for years to come. Marvin McNutt well…the ol’ swing and a miss happens. When three out of four production comps are some of the most prolific prospects we’ve ever seen, that’s a hell of a group to be listed with.

But wait there’s more.

Another tool we like to use to project the future is the Similarity Scores App. When looking at how Matthews performed last year, the app believes he could be heading towards a low end WR1 season.

rmatthewssimscore

What stands out the most to me is seeing Golden Tate in his list of comps. Tate was a productive player with the Seahawks but it wasn’t until he went to a new team that he became a household name. Same goes for Pierre Garcon when he went to the Redskins. The App doesn’t know that Matthews has changed teams so seeing comparable players that went on to have success on a new team is a really great sign.

4) HE HAS NO BUZZ SO HE’S EASY TO ACQUIRE

Recently I traded for Rishard Matthews in a dynasty league for a 2017 second round pick. Since I was working on this article at the time, I posted a poll on twitter to see what the masses were thinking. Here were the results about eight hours later.

As you can see there’s not a lot of love out there for Matthews. Over the last couple days I’ve been tweeting about him and based on the replies I’ve gotten he might even be on your league’s waiver wire right now.

With all the information on social media these days, there aren’t many opportunities to strike on a talented player headed for a breakout.

At age 26, Matthews is going into the apex years of his career and he gets to play with one of the up and coming QBs in the NFL. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because that’s what helped propel Emmanuel Sanders and the aforementioned Golden Tate to be top 20 fantasy receivers.

While I am playing up all the upside, I won’t act like there isn’t some downside here. Of course he could be very limited if Green-Beckham does emerge as a superstar. He could also just split up a small number of targets with all the other receivers while the team leans heavily on Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry.

The thing is, when he’s going outside the top 50 WR’s in both redraft and dynasty he’s cheap enough that none of that matters.

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