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Fantasy Football Making the Case

Making the Case Not to Draft DeVante Parker

The 2020 NFL season is hopefully just around the corner, and that means it’s time to get ready for fantasy football. Every year fantasy owners select players that either hit or turn into a bust. In this article, I will explain why fantasy owners should avoid Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver DeVante Parker. According to Fantasy Pros PPR ADP, Parker is being selected as the WR26 and 61st overall player off the board.

Make sure to check out all of our other Making the Case Fantasy Article here.

Everyone’s favorite draft darling turned “no chance in hell I draft him” player, Parker finally broke out last year. He finished the year as the WR11, averaging 15.4 fantasy points per game. However, did Parker really break out, or did he have a really good second half of the season? For the Parker truthers, now is the time to stop reading the article.

Before Parker had his great eight-game run in weeks 10-17, the undrafted rookie Preston Williams was the Dolphins’ better fantasy wide receiver. In eight games before tearing his ACL, Williams had 32 catches on 60 targets for 428 yards, three touchdowns, and averaged 11.4 fantasy points per game. By comparison, Parker had 28 catches on 52 targets for 400 yards, four touchdowns, and averaged 10.3 fantasy points per game. When Williams was healthy, neither Dolphin wide receiver had a major fantasy impact. However, once Williams got hurt, Parker took off. His production in terms of fantasy points and targets went way up as the Dolphins lacked other options.

 

With Williams (8 Games)

Without Williams (8 Games)

Games Over 20 Fantasy Points

0

5

Games Over 15 Fantasy Points

3

6

Games Under 12 Fantasy Points

5

1

Games Under 9 Fantasy Points

2

1

Games with Double-Digit Targets

1

6

Parker went from scoring over 15 fantasy points in less than half his games with Williams to 75% of his games without Williams. That includes week 14, where Parker left the game early after playing just 25% of the snaps and finishing with 4.8 fantasy points. In the seven games Parker played without Williams, and finished the game, he was a WR1 71.4% of the time, including the overall number one wide receiver in week 13. To further break down Parker’s amazing second-half success let’s compare the averages of his first four years in the league (53 games) to the first eight games and the last eight games of 2019.

 

Career Averages

Weeks 1-9 Averages

Weeks 10-17 Averages

Targets Per Game

5.3

6.5

9.5

Catches Per Game

3.1

3.5

5.5

Yards Per Game

41.8

50

100.3

Touchdowns Per Game

0.17

0.5

0.63

Fantasy Points Per Game

8.3

10.3

19.3

As you can see, Parker’s stats from the first half of 2019 is very similar to his career averages. While there is a slight bump up in touchdown production, which also explains the two-point jump in fantasy points per game, he was actually less efficient with the extra 1.2 targets per game. Furthermore, Parker had nine touchdowns last season (four in the first eight games, five in the last eight), but had just nine over his first four years in the league. Expect touchdown regression, especially with Williams back.

However, maybe the Dolphins will be a high passing team this season? Very unlikely. First off, the Dolphins dramatically improved their defense this offseason with the additions of Kyle Van Noy, Byron Jones, and others. While the Dolphins aren’t expected to win a lot of games this season, they won’t be blown out very often. This means the team won’t be passing as much or chasing points as often.

Secondly, the Dolphins ranked dead last in the league in rushing attempts (349), rushing yards (1,156), and yards per attempt (3.3). Furthermore, they ranked second to last in rushing touchdowns (six). Ryan Fitzpatrick finished third on the team in rushing attempts (54), but first in rushing yards (243) and rushing touchdowns (six). That won’t be the case this year with the additions on the offensive line and the new rushing duo of Jordan Howard and Matt Breida.

Kenyan Drake was traded to the Arizona Cardinals after week seven, and what little running game the Dolphins had turned into basically none. The team went to a pass-heavy play-calling as their attempts per game went up by 15% in the second half of the season. So did Parker really break out, or was his increased production a result of Williams’ injury, no running game, and one of the highest pass play callings in the league? To me, it’s simple, Parker had success because of the situation, and that won’t be the same in 2020.

 

Weeks 1-9

Weeks 10-17

Pass Attempts Per Game

35.5

40.9

Passing Yards Per Game

220.3

291.8

Passing Touchdowns Per Game

1.1

1.5

Not only did Parker not break out in the second half of last year but he has several other flags for this year. One, he has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. Last year was the first time in his career that he played in all 16 games (though he left week 14 early with an injury). In the past, he missed games and was ineffective in the others he tried to play through.

Two, his quarterback situation. How long will the Dolphins stick with Fitzpatrick before handing over the starting job to Tua Tagovailoa? Will Parker have the same success with Tua as he did with Fitzpatrick? Before you say, “well Tua is better than Fitztragic”, understand that not only does Fitzpatrick have a million times more experience than Tua, the rookie is also going to be behind the curve because of the weird offseason due to Covid-19.

Three, Parker had his “break out” season during a contract year. He signed a four-year deal worth up to $40 million dollars in mid-December. The team is tied to Parker through the 2021 season. There is a long history of players regressing after signing their second contract. Could Parker have less motivation to perform now that his deal is safe till the 2022 season? Very well could, especially given his injury history. In conclusion, fantasy owners who think Parker will return a WR2 production based on his second-half success are in major disappointment. Parker should be viewed at best as a high-risk WR3 and more likely a WR4.

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