Kenny Golladay Is an Easy Buy in Fantasy Football

It didn't take Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay very long to live up to the nickname "Babytron" -- a nicknamed coined, concocted, perpetuated, pummelled, stamped, minted, glued, welded, cemented, battered, thwacked, clobbered, cudgeled, bludgeoned, fermented, and hammered home by our very own editor-in-chief, JJ Zachariason. I'd share many more examples of JJ's incredible perseverance if my thesaurus didn't run out of synonyms.

Now, where were we? Ah, right. Back to Golladay.

In 2018, in just his second year in the league, Babytron compiled 70 receptions for 1,063 yards and 5 scores. And that was just the beginning.

Despite spending half of the 2019 season catching passes from a poor man's Blake Bortles and an even poorer man's Mitchell Trubisky, Golladay totaled 1,190 yards and 11 scores on an impressive 18.3 yards per reception.

After coming off the board as the WR22 in 2019, drafters will be forced to spend a much more premium pick if they want to roster Golladay this season. Is he worth it? Let's take a look.

Current ADP

Over at BestBall10s, Golladay has an average draft position of 24.96 for the month of July. That's seventh at the position.

The other wideouts going within 10 picks of Babytron are Julio Jones (16.04), DeAndre Hopkins (16.81), Chris Godwin (20.23), Mike Evans (26.68), Allen Robinson (28.91), D.J. Moore (29.44), Odell Beckham (31.83), Amari Cooper (33.88), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (34.61).

2019 Production

Prior to Matthew Stafford hurting his back in Week 9, Golladay was on a roll. Through eight games, the 26-year-old was on pace for 70 receptions, 1,280 yards, and 14 tuddys. Babytron indeed.

During that stretch with Stafford behind center, Golladay ranked first in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per reception (minimum 50 targets), fourth in Reception NEP per target, and sixth in Reception Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of receptions leading to an increase in NEP).

After Stafford's injury, Golladay experienced a sizable drop-off, though he was still a usable fantasy asset.

Stat With Stafford Without Stafford
Targets/Game 7.8 6.8
Receptions/Game 4.4 3.8
Yards/Game 80.0 68.8
Touchdowns/Game 0.9 0.5
Rec NEP/rec 1.76 1.66
Target NEP/target 0.53 0.38
Rec Success Rate 94.29% 83.33%
Half-PPR PPG 15.4 11.8

As expected, going from a stud to scrubs at quarterback had a negative effect on Golladay. Namely, his per-target metrics suffered the most, with his Target NEP per target dropping from 0.53 to 0.38 and his Target Success Rate falling from 53.23% to 46.30%. That makes sense considering the change in who the targets were coming from.

All that said, when he did catch his targets, Golladay was still quite impressive. His 1.66 Reception NEP per reception without Stafford would have ranked fifth at the position on the season (minimum 75 targets).

According to PlayerProfiler, despite ranking 71st in catchable target rate, Golladay averaged 10.3 yards per target -- sixth-best. His 54.2% contested catch rate was seventh-best in the league.

On the season, Golladay's 1.74 Reception NEP per reception marked just the 12th time since 2000 that a wideout posted a number of 1.60 or better on more than 115 targets. Not too shabby.

2020 Outlook

As is the case with every other elite fantasy receiver, Golladay's play is elevated by having a competent passer.

In his last 16 games with Stafford, Babytron has been targeted 137 times, catching 75 of them for 1,226 yards and 9 scores. That's a reasonable output, especially if you're expecting touchdown regression from the pace he posted in his first eight games last year. In fact, the line would have landed him just over 10 points shy of the WR3 spot last season (half-PPR).

Another jump from Golladay would not be unprecedented. A number of the league's top fantasy-producing wideouts over the last 15 seasons have seen bumps from Year 3 to Year 4.

PlayerYear 3
Year 4
% Increase
Jordy Nelson5.815.6169.00%
Tyler Lockett6.012.0100.0%
Vincent Jackson6.311.887.30%
Dwayne Bowe9.715.256.70%
Steve Smith9.814.851.02%
Antonio Brown11.115.842.34%
Larry Fitzgerald12.716.832.28%
Michael Crabtree9.913.031.31%
Adam Thielen10.212.421.57%
Stefon Diggs11.914.219.80%
Michael Thomas16.118.816.77%
Calvin Johnson12.114.116.53%
Roddy White12.314.013.82%
Jarvis Landry11.713.011.11%
Demaryius Thomas15.717.18.92%
Brandon Marshall14.315.15.59%
Eric Decker14.214.94.93%
Marques Colston11.812.34.24%
Randall Cobb15.115.63.31%
Davante Adams13.113.31.53%

It's worth noting that a good chunk of those guys were already established fantasy producers when their scoring rose in their fourth year.

Along those lines, in his article on how to find breakout receivers in fantasy, the aforementioned Zachariason notes that a majority of breakout wideouts since 2011 have been in Years 1-5. He also notes that they rarely come from nowhere -- those wideouts tend to already have an established target share.

Now, it'll be difficult for Golladay to fit JJ's criteria of a "breakout" wide receiver (i.e., players who outperform expectation by 100 or more fantasy points), but that's not to say that he won't exceed expectations at all. As a matter of fact, I'd bet that Golladay comfortably surpasses numberFire's forecast (more on that below). That's a feasible outcome, especially considering that 30-year-old Marvin Jones has missed 10 games since 2018 and Detroit didn't add any pass-game weapons that are expected to contribute much in 2020 (sorry, Geronimo Allison doesn't count).

Also working in Golladay's favor is the fact that, according to Pro Football Focus, the Lions have the second-easiest fantasy schedule for wide receivers. They note that Detroit has 10 top-12 matchups through Week 13. His fantasy playoff schedule (Green Bay, Tennessee and Tampa Bay) isn't as juicy, but it's not something to be overly concerned with.


numberFire's models have Babytron pegged for 130.8 targets, 80.0 receptions, 1232.8 yards, and 6.8 scores. That's a bit below what he posted last year.

Are you thinking that this is the part where I'll tell you to go get Golladay at the end of the first? Well...think again.

As I've already stated, I'd bet on Golladay eclipsing those projections. As a result, he's a receiver I frequently target towards the latter half of Round 2. He's one of those players whose ADP just...fits. That said, if you're sitting in the 20-25 range, and you're dilly-dallying between Golladay, Lamar Jackson (26.34), Evans, Leonard Fournette (26.94), and Melvin Gordon (28.30) -- go with Babytron. You'll thank me later.