With the NFL Draft and free agency having come and gone, we’ll break down all sorts of fantasy-relevant questions entering the 2018 season. Here we’ll look at who will benefit most from Jarvis Landry’s departure from the Miami Dolphins.
As fantasy players, the most predictive stats we have are those related to volume. Miami has a lot of it available after Jarvis Landry was traded to the Cleveland Browns, opening up 161 targets from last season.
Who will lead the Dolphins in targets this season and reap the fantasy production that comes along with?
Here are the candidates, ordered from least to most likely:
RB Kenyan Drake
Drake was used as a three-down back in the final five games of the season. He averaged 18.2 carries over this stretch and 5.6 targets. This speaks to his bell-cow status in 2017 but wouldn’t have come close to leading the Dolphins in targets. And the addition of Kalen Ballage, who totaled 82 receptions for 684 yards in his collegiate career, makes it increasingly likely that Miami is planning on a committee approach.
TE Mike Gesicki
Delaine Walker, Evan Engram, and Travis Kelce were the only tight ends to lead their team in targets in 2017. Both Engram and Walker had a leading receiver or potential leading receiver miss multiple games due to injuries in Odell Beckham Jr. and Corey Davis, respectively.
That is to say: A tight end leading his team in targets is rare.
Gesicki finds himself on a team lacking a receiving talent like Beckham, but tight end is notoriously hard to excel at as a rookie (Engram’s 722 receiving yards is the most by a rookie in the past 15 years). There’s room in the offense for Gesicki, but he’s best left as a weekly streaming option.
WR Danny Amendola
Amendola has a history with high volume after being targeted over 100 times twice while in St. Louis and also averaging at least 4.5 catches per game twice while in New England. Despite that volume, he’s maxed out at 689 yards and four touchdowns in his nine-year career. Even if he does find a way to command the bulk of the Dolphins targets, he’s got a history of underperforming his volume numbers due to low yard-per-catch and touchdown totals. With an unclear role and sans Tom Brady, you can almost forget about Amendola for fantasy in 2018.
WR Albert Wilson
Wilson has less of a resume than Amendola, peaking at 62 targets, 554 yards, and three touchdowns in 2017. But he’s also been much more efficient, averaging 7.8 yards per target to Amendola’s 6.6. Wilson will have to earn Landry’s slot role convincingly to get a large portion of those vacated targets, but of the two, he’s the one to monitor as a late-round flier.
WR Kenny Stills
At 6 feet and 194 pounds, Stills’ size doesn’t profile as that of a lead receiver, but he’s led the team in Air Yards in each of the last two seasons, totaling 1,574 in 2017. The Dolphins are comfortable giving him volume through the air with deep passes, and even in a limited role, he’s been able to outproduce expectations. This has been especially evident in DFS, where he’s averaged a +1.46 Plus/Minus and 2.4% ownership in his career with the Dolphins, per our NFL Trends Tool.
Deep passes have boosted Stills’ average depth of target to 15.0 over his tenure in Miami, but Landry’s career average depth of target is just 6.6; the vacated targets in Miami are on short-yardage passes, the opposite of Stills’ role in the offense. The Dolphins will likely ask more of Stills now, and a potential uptick in targets makes him an easy buy late in drafts, but don’t expect him to be the league’s next dominant fantasy receiver.
WR DeVante Parker
Parker looks the part of No. 1 receiver. He stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 209 pounds, and posted a 92nd-percentile College Dominator Rating (a metric that measures the percentage of a team’s yardage and touchdowns a player is responsible for), per Player Profiler.
After being taken with the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Parker has been nothing short of a bust. He’s started just 24 games since being drafted and is yet to hit 800 yards or 60 receptions in season, battling through injuries and inefficient play throughout. He’s been dreadful in DFS as well, posting a -0.62 average Plus/Minus on DraftKings.
Parker certainly carries risk — he may simply be a bad receiver — but his average target depth of 12.6 is a step in the right direction compared to Stills. Moving into a potential lead role with the college profile he has screams upside, especially since his ADP tends to approach the double-digit rounds. Parker is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward play for 2018.
Pictured above: Ryan Tannehill (17) and DeVante Parker (11)
Photo credit: Timothy Al Diaz – Miami Herald