Breshad Perriman Will Build on His End-of-Season Fantasy Breakout in 2020
Breshad Perriman was the 26th pick in the NFL Draft back in 2015, but he was unable to put it together with the team that drafted him, the Baltimore Ravens. His elite speed and draft pedigree are likely to credit for him receiving looks since flopping in his first home, and his tantalizing finish to the 2019 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be the tip of the iceberg of him putting it together. Not all prospects develop linearly, and his new team, the New York Jets, have a need for what he brings to the table. The opportunity is there for Perriman to help the Jets and fantasy squads, and I'm buying in.
Perriman set new -- albeit, modest -- career-high marks in numerous categories serving as the Bucs' number-three receiver last season. His new personal-bests included 69 targets, 36 receptions, 645 receiving yards, 6 receiving touchdowns, and 46.1 receiving yards per game, per Pro-Football-Reference. Perriman's raw totals last year aren't particularly eye-catching, but his efficiency paints a more exciting picture.
Among qualified pass-catchers, Perriman tied Michael Thomas and Calvin Ridley for 22nd with 9.3 yards per target. He also tied for fourth with 17.9 yards per reception. Additionally, he ranked tied for 34th out of 81 receivers targeted a minimum of 50 times with 0.38 Target Net Expected Points (NEP) per Target. Not too shabby when factoring in a poor start to the season that included just three receptions for 16 receiving yards on 16 targets through Tampa Bay's first seven games -- five games played for Perriman.
Perriman occasionally flashed from Week 9 through Week 13, bookending that five-week stretch with four receptions, 42 receiving yards and one touchdown on eight targets on the road against the Seattle Seahawks and five receptions for 87 receiving yards on six targets on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Things took off the following week for him, though, at home against the visiting Indianapolis Colts.
Mike Evans played just 18 snaps (23 percent of the Bucs' offensive snaps) against the Colts before suffering a season-ending injury that paved the way to Perriman ascending to number-two receiver status. Perriman parlayed his new role into three receptions for 70 yards on five targets as well as a touchdown snag that can be seen in the following tweet.
#Bucs take the lead!
Jameis connects with Breshad Perriman #INDvsTB
— PFF (@PFF) December 8, 2019
Perriman entered Week 15 on the road against the Detroit Lions as the sidekick to Chris Godwin, but he received a defacto bump up the depth chart for the second week in a row after Godwin suffered a season-ending injury and was limited to 61 percent of the team's offensive snaps that week. Having said that, Perriman didn't meekly climb the ladder, he kicked the door in torching the Lions for five receptions for 113 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions on six targets as well as a three-yard rush. The third of his three touchdowns came on the following play barbecuing man coverage.
Breshad Perriman HAT TRICK! @B_Perriman11 #GoBucs #TBvsDET
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/ALWDCpltog pic.twitter.com/sElvJ1aU5B
— NFL (@NFL) December 15, 2019
As the team's number-one receiver in Week 16 against the Houston Texans, Perriman was targeted a dozen times and caught seven passes for 102 receiving yards. Included in his seven receptions was an impressive contested catch against cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr..
Breshad Perriman snatched it off the top of his helmet @B_Perriman11 pic.twitter.com/ZHVlXtiSbp
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 21, 2019
Perriman culminated his 2019 with his third-straight 100-plus receiving yard effort, torching the Atlanta Falcons for five receptions for 134 receiving yards and one touchdown. He added a couple more highlights to his highlight reel, too. The first featured him making an adjustment on a deep pass for a long reception along the sidelines.
Jameis going deep to Breshad Perriman down the sideline! #GoBucs
: #ATLvsTB on FOX
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/HYJhHN7b2Y pic.twitter.com/riE3QRkiFx
— NFL (@NFL) December 29, 2019
The second was an absurdly difficult reception along the back of the end zone while being interfered with. In addition to fighting through the interference to make a contested catch, he has the awareness of the end line and body control needed to get both feet in before his hand comes down on the out of bounds line.
Breshad Perriman in Baltimore: Couldn't catch a cold
Breshad Perriman in Tampa Bay: pic.twitter.com/a00A865f6G
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) December 29, 2019
Perriman was nothing short of a fantasy stud during the final four weeks of the 2019 NFL season. From Week 14 through Week 17, he ranked third among receivers in fantasy points in point per reception (PPR) formats. Among qualified receivers during that four-week heater, he also ranked tied for 13th in targets (31), tied for 14th in receptions (20), fourth in receiving yards (419), first in touchdown receptions (five), and third in yards per target (13.52). Further, he amassed 0.73 Target NEP per target, which, put into perspective, would rank second to Godwin's 0.76 Target NEP per target among receivers targeted at least 50 times during the full season.
2019 Usage and 2020 Potential Role With the Jets
Perriman was one of the game's top field-stretching options. His average depth of target of 16.0 yards was the second-deepest depth out of pass-catchers targeted at least 60 times last year, per Sports Info Solutions (SIS). Unsurprisingly, he ranked highly in targets of 20-plus air yards per route run, as fantasy researcher and analyst Michael Florio pointed out on Twitter.
Most targets of 20+ air yards per route ran
— Michael Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) May 14, 2020
The usage makes sense for Perriman given his elite wheels. Perriman didn't attend the NFL Draft Combine for his 2015 NFL Draft class, but Player Profiler adjusted his hand-timed 40-yard dash time at his pro day to a still blistering 4.30 seconds, putting him in the 100th percentile. Factoring in his height and weight, Perriman's speed score at Player Profiler is in the 99th percentile as well. He's a one-of-a-kind burner.
The Jets lost another burner in free agency with Robby Anderson signing with the Carolina Panthers. As you can see on his Player Profiler page, he also possesses elite speed. Like Perriman, he was used as a field-stretching option for the Jets. Anderson's average depth of target of 15.1 yards last year was the fifth-deepest depth out of receivers and tight ends targeted at least 60 times.
If Perriman's asked to fill Anderson's vacated role, it can be a fantasy-friendly gig. From Week 6 -- when Sam Darnold returned from mononucleosis -- through Week 17 last year, Anderson ranked 30th at receiver in PPR fantasy points. Previously, Anderson flashed even more upside working with Darnold after the latter returned from injury during his rookie season. From Week 14 through Week 17 in 2018, Anderson ranked sixth at receiver in PPR fantasy points.
Gamers aren't fully buying Perriman's finish to last year. His best-ball average draft position (ADP) of 155.5 between MFL10 and RTSports combined amounts to WR57, according to FantasyPros. The pundits are a bit more bullish, but not much. According to the expert consensus rankings at FantasyPros, Perriman ranks 136.4 overall and is WR53.
Perriman's struggles prior to 2019 -- and even to start last year -- shouldn't be completely hand waved away. Having said that, it would be unwise to label his explosive finish to last year as a fluke as well. Add in his elite speed and the previously held belief of what Perriman could become when he was nabbed in the first round back in 2015, and it would be downright foolish to dismiss the possibility of a full-blown breakout in his age-27 season this year. numberFire projections have Perriman going for 669 yards, on 46 receptions, and 4.10 touchdowns.
I'm dumbfounded by Perriman ranking outside the top-50 receivers in expert rankings and barely sneaking into the top-60 receivers in best-ball formats currently. I have him ranked inside the top-45 receivers in best-ball formats presently and view him in the same range in standard-scoring and PPR traditional season-long formats. Additionally, I'd prefer him to teammate and slot wideout Jamison Crowder. Perriman's the rare low-risk, high-reward option at his present cost.