Does Terrelle Pryor Have Top-10 Upside in Fantasy Football?
For as long as I can remember, there has been at least one high-profile quarterback in college each year who ignites the discussion as to whether he could excel in the NFL at another position.
Some are willing to give it a shot right away, like former Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who has already spent time at running back and safety this offseason. And some refuse to try any position other than quarterback, and in the rare case, even choose to play low-level minor league baseball over attempting to line up away from the center.
But every now and then, a quarterback succeeds in making the switch to another position. And despite being on his fifth NFL team in his sixth season in the league, Terrelle Pryor broke out as the Cleveland Browns top wide receiver in 2016.
Coming from Cleveland
In his first full season as a wide receiver, the former quarterback caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards and 4 receiving touchdowns for the Browns. That was good enough to give him the 18th-most standard fantasy points among all wide receivers last season.
In order to get there, though, he was targeted 140 times, which ranked 12th among all wide receivers in 2016. That high target volume played a big role in his success, as, aside from Week 1, he failed to reach 50 receiving yards in any game during which he was targeted fewer than 10 times.
Of course, that lack of success without volume was due in part to the inefficiency of the guys throwing him the ball. One of our signature metrics here at numberFire is Net Expected Points (NEP), which measures the value added or lost on each play relative to expectation level. A 10-yard pass on 3rd-and-8 should mean a lot more to a player or team's statistics than a 10-yard pass on 3rd-and-20, and NEP accounts for that.
Among the 38 quarterbacks with at least 150 drop backs last season, two of the three qualifying Browns quarterbacks ranked among the bottom 20%, and none of them were nearly as efficient as Kirk Cousins, who will be throwing him the ball this season.
|Player||2016 Team||Passing NEP/|
As teams and once adjusting for opponent strength, the Browns ranked 26th in passing efficiency by our metrics. Washington was fifth.
Filling the Void in Washington
Pryor is expected to claim one of the starting outside receiver positions left open by the departure of both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Both of those guys hit the 100 target-mark last season, and Garcon topped 100 targets in each of his three seasons under Jay Gruden, averaging 19.38% of the team's total targets during that span.
Still with the team are Jamison Crowder, who accounted for 97 targets of his own last season, and Jordan Reed, who led the team in targets the previous season, before missing four games in 2016. Last year's first-round pick, Josh Doctson, who missed most of last year due to a foot injury, will be expected to play a bigger role on the outside.
During Gruden's first three seasons as the head coach in Washington, no player has seen more than 20.54% of the team's targets in a season, and the only player to even reach the 20% mark is Reed. So despite the openings on the outside, Pryor can expect to play a lesser role than he did in Cleveland last year, when he received 24.69% of the team's total targets.
And to account for the change in offense, just know that Cleveland dropped back to pass 633 times in 2016, and Washington did it 630 times.
So Can He Do It?
Only once under Gruden's tenure in Washington has a wide receiver cracked the top 30 in fantasy points at the position, that being Jackson in 2014, when his 153.6 fantasy points were the 16th most among all receivers. (It should be noted that Reed missed five games, which likely led to more opportunities for Jackson.) He still would have needed an extra 23.5 fantasy points to crack the top 10.
Our projections currently peg Pryor as the 19th-best fantasy wide receiver this season, forecasting him for just 4.53 more fantasy points than last year.
According to our Confidence Interval (CI), which estimates each player's most likely range of outcomes, Pryor's ceiling of 160.74 fantasy points would still leave him one spot shy of the top 10 players at his position. Yes, he has a better quarterback this year, but he's also surrounded by quality pass-catchers who will also see their fare share of targets.
Anyone hoping for a top-10 season from Pryor -- and even those drafting him at his current draft cost of WR14 -- should temper their expectations.