Jarvis Landry Shouldn't Be This Cheap in Fantasy Football

Here's what's not typical: A wide receiver finishes the season as the WR12 in full-point PPR scoring in fantasy football, claiming a fifth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, and then drops to the 70s in average draft position for the following season.

But that's where we are with Jarvis Landry, the Cleveland Browns' 2019 leader in targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Going by BestBall10's ADP data from July drafts, Landry is currently the WR31, coming off the board 71st overall.

So what's going on here? Is Landry a massive steal, or is there reason to be wary in 2020? Let's dive in.

JARVIS Version 1.0 vs. Version 2.0

With the Miami Dolphins, Jarvis Landry was a target monster and a PPR stud, particularly from 2015 through 2017, when he averaged 105.3 receptions on 152.7 targets per year. His average receiving yards over that three year span was a good-but-not-great 1,093.3 yards per season, never averaging more than 12.1 yards per reception in a campaign (for reference, DeVante Parker averaged 16.7 yards per reception in 2019).

In Cleveland, the stats show a different receiver, one who is working further down the field. Even with his game changing, his fantasy production has remained fairly stable as he's never finished outside of the top 18 in PPR scoring since his rookie season. Landry arguably had his best season in 2019, particularly by our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. He career highs in Reception Success Rate (89.2%) -- which is the percentage of his catches that resulted in an NEP gain -- and Total NEP (99.7).

Here's a comparison between his last three years in Miami and his first two seasons in Cleveland.

Stat Miami Cleveland
Receptions Per Season 105.3 82
Yards per Reception 10.4 13.1
Average Reception Success Rate 73.7% 82.9%
Average Total NEP 79.9 90.1
Standard Scoring Average Points Per Season 148 145
PPR Scoring Average Points Per Season 255.6 227.3
Average WR Rank (Standard Scoring) 15.7 18
Average WR Rank (PPR Scoring) 9 15

Landry has gone from a short-yardage wideout to a guy who offers a little more big-play juice while still maintaining a high level of fantasy production.

Why is this brief history lesson important? The 2020 NFL season already has plenty of uncertainty, and there are definitely questions about Landry and the Browns. So taking a
longer look at a player who has consistently produced year-in-year-out with quarterbacks such as Ryan Tannehill (not the 2019 version), Jay Cutler, Matt Moore, and a Jekyll and Hyde Baker Mayfield is a worthwhile exercise.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that may influence Landry's fantasy value for the 2020 season.

Off-Season Surgery and Durability

Landry underwent hip surgery this off-season to address an injury that was reportedly bothering him most of last season. Landry and the Browns expect him to be ready to go by Week 1, but with the lack of off-season, it may be difficult to get a sense of how his hip is progressing.

Despite the nagging injury, he was on the field for 94% of the team's snaps in 2019 and has yet to miss a game in his career. Any surgery adds risk to a player’s outlook, but one thing we learned about Landry from the Browns’ appearance on Hard Knocks -- if his leg is still hanging on his body, he’ll be playing.

Another New Coach in Cleveland

Former Browns coach Freddie Kitchens clearly never put his offense in a position to succeed in 2019. We can make some guesses as to how new Browns Coach Kevin Stefanski will utilize Landry based on his tenure as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator.

But Minnesota’s offense last season may not be exactly representative of what a Stefanski-led offense in Cleveland will look like this season. Cleveland’s skill position personnel does mirror Minnesota's group from last season fairly well, but keep in mind Adam Thielen -- the Vikes' slot man, which is where Landry does a lot of work -- missed six games last season and played less than 10 snaps in two others.

Stefanski led an extremely run-heavy offense in 2019. The Vikings produced the third-highest run percentage in the NFL, rushing the ball 49.1% of the time. More run plays mean fewer pass plays and fewer targets for receivers. That's obviously not ideal for Landry.

Per-Game Stats 2018 Before Stefanski as OC 2018-2019 Stefanski as OC
Kirk Cousins Passing Attempts 40.9 9.5
Thielen Targets 29.4 5.7

Stefon Diggs
suffered a similar decrease in targets. While the drop in passing attempts under Stefanski in Minnesota is concerning, its severity is somewhat due to such a high passing volume beforehand. Mayfield, who we’ll discuss in more detail shortly, averaged 33.4 attempts per game in 2019.

Stefanski clearly isn't a pass-happy coach, but he does add to his passing attack through the use of play-action. Stefanski used play-action on 29.3% of Kirk Cousins’ pass attempts, per Pro Football Reference, which was the third-highest rate if you group the Tennessee Titans' quarterbacks together. Additionally, 34.3% of Cousins’ passing yards came via play-action, and he averaged 1.96 more yards per attempt when using play action in 2019.

Pro Football Focus listed Landry as third-highest in receiving yards on play-action passes in 2019 (accompanied by Odell Beckham and Diggs). Stefanski likes play-action, and that suits Landry well. As a whole, Stefanski's passing attack was one of the more efficient in the league last season, finishing seventh-best on a per-play basis by our schedule-adjusted metrics.

A Better Baker

Mayfield undeniably struggled in 2019, especially when compared to his stellar rookie season. The offensive line and Kitchens were also big parts of the Browns’ offensive flop, but let’s focus on Baker.

One of the few positives from the Browns' 2019 campaign was improved chemistry between Mayfield and Landry as the season progressed. Comparing splits from the first and second half of that season show a dramatic uptick in overall usage and production.

2019 Season Games 1-8 Games 9-16
PPR Points 81.4 155.9
Targets 55 84
Receptions 30 53
Receiving Yard 504 670
Touchdowns 0 6

Landry led the Browns in first down receptions with 55, and he did so by a rather large margin (Beckham was second with 44). With a limited training camp and possibly no preseason, it wouldn’t be surprising for Baker to rely on Landry in 2020 as much as he did in the second half of 2019.

Landry has captured a high target share over the last two seasons: 26.4% in 2018 (8th in the NFL) and 26.6% in 2019 (6th). While the volume is great, those targets haven’t reliably converted to production. PlayerProfiler ranked his 2019 catchable target rate 89th (71.7%). Stefanski helped Cousins provide a catchable target rate of 81% for the Diggs-Thielen duo over the last two seasons. Time will tell if Stefanski can get Baker to that level, but Stefanski has shown he can run an efficient passing attack.

Returning to play-action for a moment, Baker was also quite successful using it in 2019, amassing 29.5% of his total passing yards in the split and finishing just two spots behind Cousins. Baker also saw an increase of 1.67 yards per attempt on play-action throws. So, yes, Landry may see a drop in overall targets this season in what might be a more run-heavy offense, but the efficiency gained from Stefanski’s offense and a better Mayfield could offset that drop.

Breaking Down Landry's Value

So let’s review -- Landry is as tough as they come; has not finished below WR22 in PPR scoring since his rookie season; will be in an efficient passing offense that will utilize his strengths; and has a nice rapport with Mayfield, who has realistic room for improvement.

Landry’s current ADP puts him at WR31. Over a full 17-week season from 2010 to 2019, that finishing slot averaged 187.3 PPR points. Expanding that to an interval spanning WR25 to WR33 (+/- four spots from WR29), the average total PPR points for a full season is 186.6 points. Landry’s PPR total over the entire season in 2019 was 237.4 points -- a difference of 50.8 points from the average WR25 to WR33 interval.

Will Landry be 50 points less productive in 2020 to warrant his current ADP? If Landry’s 2019 success was reliant on touchdowns, you could argue such a negative regression coming, but he found the end zone only six times last season. Assuming that touchdown total holds as well as his 2019 yards per reception (14.1), Landry would need 21 fewer receptions this season to get that 50-point drop. His production has been too consistent over the years for that to be very likely.

I see Landry outperforming his current ADP with the potential for a top-20 finish among wide receivers this season. While it may not be the most intriguing pick during your draft, grabbing Landry before your competition as a mid-to-late 20s wideout -- which is right where our model has him in PPR formats (WR28) -- will likely provide some excellent season-long fantasy value.