DeVante Parker Presents Perfect Upside in the Late Rounds of Fantasy Football Drafts
Here's one thing we know for sure about the Dolphins wide receivers this year: Jarvis Landry will run the majority of his routes from the slot, where he ran 77.2% of his routes in 2014.
Everything else is up in the air.
As our own Dan Pizzuta mentioned, of the six receivers who saw at least eight percent of the Dolphins' targets in 2014, just two are returning (Landry and Lamar Miller). While Miami's pass-catching corps is a bit convoluted and messy to try and figure out on the surface, DeVante Parker may just stand to benefit from the randomness.
With the departures of Mike Wallace, Charles Clay, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson, Miami has a gaping 313-target void in their offense. To fill the holes, the Dolphins' front office gave fourth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill some high-octane upgrades by trading for Kenny Stills, adding free agents Jordan Cameron and Greg Jennings, as well as arguably the biggest enhancement: spending their 14th overall pick on DeVante Parker.
First off, Kenny Stills was not a high-volume receiver in New Orleans. He saw 50 and 83 targets, respectively, in his first two seasons in New Orleans, and was essentially just a lid-popper in his Saints role. Per Matt Harmon's Reception Perception methodology, a whopping 30.8% of Stills' routes last year were go-routes (nine routes). That could change with new horizons in Miami, but Stills just may always be a low-volume, high-efficiency player.
Next is Jordan Cameron, who has never played a full NFL slate of games in his four career seasons, and has suffered four known concussions in the last three years. Charles Clay is leaving behind 84 untapped tight end targets from 2014 -- but with such an unfortunate injury history, Cameron soaking up that entire opportunity share of 14.1% of team targets over a full season is a bit of a tough bet to make.
Finally we land on the final non-draft addition Greg Jennings, who turns 32 years old in late September. Over the past two seasons, Jennings saw at least 90 targets in Minnesota -- and has ranked 27th (out of 43 qualified receivers) and 19th (out of 54) in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target. While those numbers are decent, Jennings is more than likely just quality depth at this point in his career.
We've gotten this far without mentioning DeVante Parker is still recovering from having the screw replaced in his foot that he broke back in August of 2014 while at Louisville. On the bright side, all signs are pointing towards Parker being available Week 1, even if he doesn't play a snap this preseason.
Still, there isn't much downside risk priced into Parker's average draft position right now. He's the WR48 off of the board while Landry is the WR27, Stills is the WR51, and Jennings is the 80th wideout taken.
Just last year, Ryan Tannehill supported the WR20 (Wallace) and WR30 (Landry) in PPR-leagues, and both combined for a total of 11 "usable" WR2 (top-24) scoring weeks (Wallace had six while Landry posted five).
This is all to say that, on paper, the Dolphins receiving group is a bit messy and tough to figure out. Fantasy footballers hate what we can't project into nice discernable roles, so we just avoid them altogether. In this instance, that's a mistake.
Sure, DeVante Parker's role is certainly unknown at the moment and we're also not quite sure how his foot injury will shake out in the end. That is fine. He's cheap enough and has more than enough available opportunity to make a splash in fantasy this year though, even if it isn't right out of the gate.