Davante Adams Has Completely Turned His Career Around

Adams helped catapult the Packers to victory Thursday night with 13 catches for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns. How did he turn things around after an awful 2015?

The Green Bay Packers needed a savior. With an outpouring of injuries and a loss at home to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, somebody had to step up to lift the offense back to its levels of old.

They likely didn't expect Davante Adams would be that guy.

Adams gashed the Chicago Bears Thursday night with 13 catches for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns -- all career highs -- as the Packers took home a 26-10 victory. In a game where star wide receiver Jordy Nelson had just one catch and with running back Eddie Lacy freshly on injured reserve, the maligned Adams carried the team to victory.

Adams has spent the last year as the butt of countless jokes on Twitter for his immense drop issues in 2015. Now, he's the guy the offense is turning to when it needs saving. Where on Earth did this come from?

Let's take a deeper look at Adams to show why his performance Thursday night is no fluke and why his expanded role should be a permanent fixture in the game plan.

A Complete Turnaround

Adams wasn't just bad last year. He was one of the worst receivers in the history of numberFire's databases, which date back to 2000. We're talking Greg Little-, Keary Colbert-, and Chansi Stuckey-level bad.

This year, though, he has been reborn as the team's most efficient wide receiver. We can check this out using numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), which shows the points a player adds to or subtracts from a team's expected total on every play in which they're involved. Specifically with Adams, we'll be focusing on Reception NEP (which exclusively looks at expected points on receptions) and Target NEP (which includes expected points lost on incompletions and interceptions when the player is targeted).

Check out the table below, which compares Adams' numbers last year to this year.

Season Targets Reception NEP Target NEP per Target
2016 43 36.00 0.51
2015 95 35.09 -0.03

On 52 fewer targets, Adams has already surpassed his Reception NEP total from all of last year. Additionally, Aaron Rodgers' Passing NEP per drop back is 0.54 higher this year when targeting Adams than it was last year. He went from losing the team points to being a straight-up beast.

Adams isn't just comparing well to his old self, though. Entering Week 7, he ranked 25th in Target NEP per target of the 76 wide receivers with at least 25 targets. Randall Cobb was 40th, and Nelson was 46th.

Once we include Adams' exploits on Thursday night, his distance over the rest of the Packers' receivers gets a bit wider. Here's how he compares to the other players on the team who have seen at least 10 targets this season.

Player Targets Reception NEP Target NEP per Target
Randall Cobb 55 35.02 0.32
Jordy Nelson 51 32.33 0.23
Davante Adams 43 36.00 0.51
Ty Montgomery 25 11.06 0.30
Richard Rodgers 17 7.23 0.11
Jared Cook 11 2.51 -0.04
James Starks 10 1.28 -0.12

Even though Adams has just the third-most targets on the team, he easily leads everyone in Reception NEP. His Target NEP per target runs laps around the rest, even those who have seen less volume.

Basically, Adams is a radically different player than what he was last year. And when the offense is struggling as much as the Packers' was heading into Thursday, this seems like something they should be looking to build around.


With Adams, you're always going to run the risk of some drops. That's just who he is. But when the upsides of targeting him are this large, that seems like a downside the Packers should be willing to inherit.

Nelson is one of the most efficient wide receivers of the past decade, and Cobb has performed well the past two games. But with Nelson not playing like he did prior to his ACL tear, Adams should see a larger role in the offense. The Packers seemed to employ this strategy Thursday night by feeding him with 16 targets, but it shouldn't stop there. Even if an expanded role leads to a dip in efficiency, Adams is worthy of additional looks.

The Packers needed somebody to step up and turn the offense around, and Adams showed Thursday that he can do exactly that. We shouldn't dismiss Adams' efficiency simply because he struggled mightily in 2015. This is a guy who appears to have turned things around and could help light a crucial spark in the Packers' offense.