Fantasy Football: Can Terrelle Pryor Rebound With the Jets?
Pryor endured a frustrating 2017 campaign with Washington, and assuming he is healthy following ankle surgery that cut his season short a year ago, he could be one of the main pass-catching options on the Jets. Does that mean Pryor is destined to return to fantasy relevance?
The Best of Times
A former quarterback, Pryor broke out as a wide receiver during the 2016 season with the Cleveland Browns, exploding to the tune of 77 receptions for 1,007 yards and 4 touchdowns.
He was a solid producer in both real life and in fantasy.
We can peep his real-world value by using our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. NEP is the metric we use to track the efficiency of both teams and players, with the team side being adjusted for strength of opponent. A three-yard reception on 3rd and 2 is wildly different than a three-yard receptions on 3rd and 4, and NEP helps account for that by tracking the expected points players add to their team's total over the course of a season. You can learn more about NEP in our glossary.
In 2016, Pryor's 0.68 Reception NEP per target ranked 32nd among the 60 receivers who saw a minimum of 80 targets. His Reception Success Rate -- the percentage of his catches that resulted in positive NEP -- of 85.71% ranked 26th among the same subset. For reference, the league average for wideouts in 2016 was Reception NEP per target of 0.66 and an 83.91% Success Rate, so Pryor was -- barely -- an above-average producer.
In fantasy, Pryor finished as the WR19 in PPR formats in 2016, with his 13.3 PPR points per game good for the 23rd-most. It was a solid season, for sure, but Pryor's upside was capped by a lack of touchdowns. Only one player who had more PPR points than Pryor scored less touchdowns than he did, and that was New England Patriots slot man Julian Edelman, who had three scores on his way to a WR15 finish.
All in all, considering the 2016 campaign was the first we'd seen of Pryor as a full-time receiver, things were looking up.
The Worst of Times
The breakout season did not encourage the Browns to nail down Pryor to a long-term contract. Instead, they chose to sign Kenny Britt to a four-year, $32-million deal, allowing Pryor to hit the open market, and he ended up inking a one-year, $6-million pact with Washington.
Things did not go well.
Pryor ended up playing only nine games for Washington, starting just two. He saw 37 targets, which he converted into 20 receptions for 240 yards and a single touchdown. He mustered a meager 5.6 PPR points per game, and 16 of his 50 season-long PPR points came in a single game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
It was a disaster, and it resulted in Pryor having to take another one-year deal this offseason.
A New Start
Pryor joins a Jets receiving corps that far out-performed expectations in 2017. Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse saw 114 and 102 targets, respectively, last year. Out of the 27 wideouts to see at least 100 targets, Anderson ranked 14th in Reception NEP per target (0.72), while Kearse wasn't far behind in 17th (0.68). They benefited -- and also contributed toward -- a breakout season from quarterback Josh McCown.
McCown passed for 2,926 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2017, both career highs. Among the 27 quarterbacks with at least 400 drop backs last season, McCown's Passing NEP per drop back of 0.09 ranked 14th. He was legitimately good.
While McCown will be returning in 2018 -- and he's coming back as the starter if reports are to be believed (although Teddy Bridgewater and a possible early-round draft pick could be in the mix, as well) -- the returns of Anderson and Kearse are not so certain.
Anderson could be facing league discipline after the latest in a string of off-the-field incidents. The Jets are not likely to release Anderson, per reports, but he may miss playing time once the legal situation is played out. As for Kearse, there has been some speculation by beat writers that his non guaranteed salary could make him a cut candidate, especially if Quincy Enunwa is fit to return.
On paper, these situations could open the door for Pryor to see meaningful volume with the Jets, and that may put him in position to make some fantasy noise. He currently has an average draft position of WR77, per My Fantasy League, but that will likely rise if Pryor is expected to go into the season with a significant role.
While McCown was good last year, there is one possible fly in the ointment for Pryor.
Remember that 2016 breakout with the Browns? That season, Cody Kessler averaged 8.25 adjusted yards per attempt when targeting Pryor, but there was a quarterback on that Browns roster who did not enjoy such a healthy connection with Pryor, averaging 2.98 yards per attempt when throwing to him.
His name was Josh McCown.
Volume is king in fantasy, so if things with Anderson or Kearse go in a way that opens up meaningful targets for Pryor, he'll be worth having on your radar on draft day. If Kearse and Anderson return to their high-volume roles, Pryor probably won't be on the redraft radar.