Jarvis Landry Is a Risky Proposition This Year in Fantasy Football
As a fantasy asset, Landry has been remarkably reliable, and he put in another good campaign last season, checking as the WR17 in standard formats and WR13 in PPR leagues, per Football Database. That followed up a 2015 campaign in which he was the WR11 in PPR and WR16 in standard leagues.
But despite his superb track record, there are a variety of concerns surrounding Landry's fantasy outlook coming into 2017.
At the top of the list is a quarterback change as Landry will be playing with Jay Cutler due to Ryan Tannehill's season-ending knee injury. Landry has been a safety blanket for the conservative Tannehill, but Cutler is a passer who no one has ever labeled as conservative. Additionally, questions regarding Landry's role in the offense have emerged. Not only have there been some Landry trade whispers, which the Miami Dolphins have denied, the Fins became increasingly run heavy down the stretch in 2016.
All these question marks have bogged down Landry's value. A top-20 receiver in standard leagues in each of the last two years, Landry is coming off the board as the standard-league WR30 in the back half of the sixth round, per Fantasy Football Calculator.
At that price, is Landry worth the risk, or is he still a player to avoid despite his cheapened price tag?
According to our signature metric, Net Expected Points (NEP), Landry has been a below-average wideout in his career, although his role as a slot weapon dings his ability to make big plays, weighing down his per-catch numbers.
For those of you who are new to numberFire, NEP uses historical down-and-distance data to determine what is expected of a player on each individual play. Positive NEP is earned when a player performs above expectation, and vice versa. You can read more about NEP in our glossary.
Below, we can peep Landry's yearly NEP numbers and compare them to each season's league-average clip for both Reception NEP per target and Reception Success Rate, the latter of which is the percentage of his catches that positively impact NEP.
|Season||Reception NEP Per Target||League Avg.||Reception Success Rate||League Avg.|
Again, when it comes to these metrics, Landry has the odds stacked against him due to his role as a slot receiver. Landry's average depth of target (6.6) ranked 106th in the NFL last season, according to PlayerProfiler.com, and it's a clip more reflective of a running back than a receiver. Inherently, low-depth targets will not be as valuable, which is reflected in NEP.
But despite his poor production by our metics, Landry has been a good fantasy producer due to volume, which has given him a sturdy weekly floor, especially in PPR formats. In his first three seasons, he received 111, 165, and 135 targets, respectively, allowing him to sustain nice fantasy production.
However, Landry's role in the offense began to change in the latter half of 2017, and that could spell trouble for a receiver who is so dependent on volume.
A Changing Offense
Starting in Week 5 last season, when Jay Ajayi became the feature running back for the Dolphins, Landry's targets dropped from 10.6 targets per game over his previous 20 games to 7.1 looks per contest during the next nine games (before Tannehill got injured).
As a receiver who does not provide much touchdown production -- 17% red zone market share and 4 touchdowns in 2016, giving him a mere 13 scores in 48 career games -- Landry isn't likely to repeat his past fantasy production on such low target totals if the Dolphins carry those run-heavy ways into 2017.
Together, Landry's decrease in targets and lack of touchdown upside only compound the issues stemming from his low depth of target.
To make matters worse, Miami ran one of the slowest offenses in the NFL in 2016. Their attack slotted in 31st in pass attempts and 32nd in overall play volume rank. While some of this may be the result of the Dolphins killing the clock in their 10 victories last season -- a win total they probably won't reach this year, with our models pegging them for 7.6 wins -- Miami remained focused on the run even while behind as only four teams ran the ball more when trailing last year than the Dolphins did.
With Adam Gase seemingly firmly committed to the rushing attack, it's certainly fair to wonder if Landry can be a useful fantasy asset with Ajayi dominating on the ground.
Another worry for Landry this season is the quarterback position, with Cutler taking over for the injured Tannehill, a passer who had a nice rapport with Landry.
Looking at NEP data, both quarterbacks underwhelmed last season. Tannehill and Cutler each finished below the league average in Passing NEP per drop back (0.12) and Passing Success Rate (47.02%).
|Name||Passing NEP per Drop Back||Success Rate|
While both quarterbacks performed poorly in 2016, Cutler was a lot worse than Tannehill. Coming out of retirement for the 2017 season, it's not unreasonable to think Cutler doesn't have much left in the tank, although he's shown well this preseason and previously performed serviceably under Gase in Chicago in 2015.
The problem for Landry, however, is that a lot of Cutler's connections this preseason have gone the way of DeVante Parker. This falls in line with Cutler's past tendencies, preferring big-bodied receivers like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
With that said, how Cutler will perform with the Dolphins -- and who he will target most -- is still very much up for debate, and we won't know how Miami's passing game will look until we see them in regular-season games.
The endgame here is to assess the risk and question marks around Landry to determine if he's worth his cost as WR30 (6.09).
Other wideouts in that range are Jamison Crowder and Parker, his aforementioned teammate. After the departures of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, Crowder appears poised for a solid role in a good offense, one that ranked seventh in pass attempts a year ago, making him a safe option with fewer red flags. Parker, thanks to his build and gig as an outside receiver, has more touchdown upside than Landry, and he may be a better pick, as well, particularly in standard leagues.
In short, while WR30 may be a fair price for Landry, he doesn't have the ceiling of some other receivers going in that part of drafts, and his floor isn't as high as it used to be with his target volume in question due to the loss of Tannehill and Miami's transition to a run-heavy offense. It's probably best to let someone else take the dive on the Dolphins' fourth-year slot receiver unless his price dips even more.