Fantasy Football: Can Davante Adams Be the Top Receiver in 2020?
That's the entire list of players who have been top-15 wideouts in half-PPR leagues in each of the last four seasons.
That's quite an accomplishment for Adams, considering that he missed four games in 2019 and was catching passes from Brett Hundley in 8 of his 14 games in 2017.
Adams' highest finish was WR3 in 2018, but he was just 10.4 points behind Tyreek Hill for the top spot.
All that begs the question, just how high can Adams fly in 2020?
In the 10 days since the draft concluded, Adams has an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 12.42 in Best Ball leagues on BestBall10s -- third at the position. His ADP is just 0.18 lower than Tyreek Hill's (12.24) and 0.15 higher than that of DeAndre Hopkins (12.57).
With the running back position being as deep as it is, I'd feel comfortable taking him in the latter half of the top 10.
I've already written extensively about the Green Bay Packers' refusal to add to their wide receivers corps. While that "philosophy" is a detriment to their offense and team as a whole, it is a godsend to Adams' fantasy value.
Allen Lazard's coming-out party didn't prevent Adams from averaging 11.4 targets from Weeks 9 through 17 -- that's 182 looks when extrapolated to a full season. Devin Funchess is more likely to garner the targets left behind by Geronimo Allison and Jimmy Graham than he is to steal looks from Adams.
Many point to Green Bay drafting running back A.J. Dillon and H-back Josiah Deguara as indicators that the team will emphasize the run more, but the fact that this emphasis already took place last year cannot be overlooked. In 2018, the Packers averaged 1.92 passes for every run attempt -- they had the highest pass percentage in the league. That number was down to 1.39 in 2019, which put them outside the top 15 in pass percentage and was their first time outside the top seven in four seasons.
Sure, there's room for a bigger shift. The New Orleans Saints shifted from a 1.67 pass-to-run ratio in 2016 to 1.21 in 2017, but even that team attempted 536 passes. Coincidentally, the fewest passes the Packers have attempted in any season in Aaron Rodgers' career is 536. Projecting them to be below that number by any sizable margin is unwise. As much as Matt LaFleur wants the run game to be the offense's identity, they will still need to lean on Rodgers' right arm to win games.
Adams' target share for the season in 2019 was 29.13 percent. However, from when he returned from injury in Week 9, that number upped to 31.74 percent (including the two playoff games).
Given that target share, even if Green Bay's pass attempts were -- hypothetically -- cut by 5 to 10 percent, he could still be looking at upwards of 160 targets. That's an attractive number for fantasy owners.
Including the postseason, Adams played 48 games from 2016 through 2018. He scored 37 times in those games, averaging 0.771 touchdowns per. In 2019, Adams played 14 games in total and scored 7 times -- averaging 0.5 per contest.
The breakout campaign of Aaron Jones -- who totaled 19 touchdowns -- surely had a hand in that. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that each of Adams' 7 scores came in the final 10 games, resulting in an average much closer to what he posted in the prior three seasons.
Adams has caught at least 62 percent of his targets in each of the last four seasons, and he's averaged between 12.0 and 12.5 yards per reception in each of his last three. His Net Expected Points (NEP) have hovered between 89.5 and 127.3 in each season since 2016. In fact, Adams, Thomas, Julio, DeAndre Hopkins, and Mike Evans are the only wideouts to total at least 85 NEP in each of the last four years.
Adams was historically consistent in 2018 -- posting double-digit fantasy points in half-PPR formats in every single game -- but a larger sample size paints a similar picture.
Including the postseason, the 27-year-old has produced at least 12 fantasy points in 30 of his last 35 games. That's an 85.7 percent rate -- significantly higher than any of Thomas (68.6%), Julio (65.7%), Hopkins (65.7%), or Evans (51.4%).
In fact, during that span, Adams' rate of scoring 15-plus (68.6%) is equal to or higher than any of the aforementioned player's rates of posting 12 or more.
You're not necessarily ceding upside, either. The only player to post more outputs of at least 18 points during that stretch was Julio, who had 16 to Adams' 14.
The biggest knock on Adams is availability -- he's played 16 games just twice in six seasons. However, he has never missed more than four contests, and he's played in at least 14 games in four of his six campaigns.
Had Adams played 16 games last year, his pace would've had him finish 2.7 points behind Chris Godwin for the WR2 spot, though he still would've lagged behind Michael Thomas by 69.7 points (nice) for the WR1 crown. When extrapolated to a full season, Adams' post-injury pace would've had him net 241.8 points -- good enough to finish as a top-three wideout in two of the last four seasons.
Our Editor-in-Chief, JJ Zachariason, projects Adams to catch 100.2 passes, totaling 1,285.4 yards and 9.0 scores.
Would he be my first receiver off the board? No. However, if you're looking for the best blend of consistency and upside, the only wideout I'd draft ahead of Adams is Thomas. New Orleans adding Emmanuel Sanders could take a small bite out of Thomas's 31.8 percent target share, but it's unlikely to enough to completely bridge the gap between he and Adams.