DeVante Parker: Is the 3rd Year the Charm?

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Editor’s Note: Check out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have DeVante Parker and other WRs in their initial rankings for 2017.

It seems like every year about this time the hype train starts chugging along for DeVante Parker and 2017 is no different. When OC Clyde Christensen predicted “a gigantic year” for Parker, he set that train in motion again. It’s fair to say that DeVante has disappointed thus far as a pro and now we need to determine if that changes in 2017. To do so I will examine his 2016 season, his coaches’ past with WRs, and his QB to help us determine whether he should have a place on your fantasy roster come draft time.

2016 Season

If we’re being honest, Parker has been letting down fantasy owners since his rookie year. His career stat line plays out like this:

DeVante Parker Targets Receptions Yards TDs Fantasy Rank
2015 50 26 494 3 WR67
2016 88 56 744 4 WR49

With an ADP of WR47 in 2015 and WR39 in 2016, disappointing is the only way to describe it. The go-to statistics for explaining why a player may succeed or fail is “How did they finish last season?” With Parker, those numbers do not tell a kind tale. In November and December of 2016, he had as many games with fewer than 20 yards as games with more than 75 yards (3). Over the 2nd half of the season, he was the 3rd most productive WR on his own team, beaten by Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. The only silver lining here is that he scored 3 of his 4 TDs over the season’s last 7 games. All in all, his 2016 finish does not give me any reason to believe he will be great in 2017.

Second Year With Adam Gase

When Adam Gase came to Miami last year, the story wrote itself. He would improve Ryan Tannehill and Parker would be his “Demaryius Thomas” in this offense. Clearly, Gase/Tannehill/Parker all missed the memo. With Thomas being the best comparison to Parker in Gase’s offense, I decided to look at the jump DT took from year 1 to year 2 under Gase. To start, it should be noted that Thomas was a legit WR1 before Gase became the OC in Denver (though he was the QB coach before becoming the OC).

Getty Images Sport / Gregory Shamus

In fact, he put up an almost identical stat line his 1st year with Gase as he had the previous year:

Demaryius Thomas Targets Receptions Yards TDs Fantasy Rank
2012-Pre-Gase 141 94 1434 10 WR5
2013-Gase Year 1 142 92 1430 14 WR2
2014-Gase Year 2 184 111 1619 11 WR4

While we see a jump in yards from 2013 to 2014, it clearly resulted from a jump in targets and I just don’t see that happening for Parker. One difference is that Thomas only had one major competition for targets, Eric Decker or Emmanuel Sanders depending on the year. Parker is struggling to pass Kenny Stills in the pecking order and isn’t anywhere near overtaking Jarvis Landry. Without those targets, he becomes a marginal player who is very hard to trust week to week.

His Quarterback

While competition for targets is one difference of their time under Gase, the biggest difference between DeVante Parker and Demaryius Thomas is at QB. While Thomas was catching balls from the one of greatest of all time, Parker is relying on Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is averaging about 230 yards and 1.3 TDs per game for his career. He did seem to turn a page, throwing 13 TDs over his last 7 games in 2016, but Stills and Landry benefited far more than Parker. I’m not saying a good WR can’t overcome mediocre to bad QB play. What I am saying is 3 WRs and a new TE cannot. If Parker can’t entrench himself as this team’s WR2, he can’t be trusted.

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Time to Trust Parker?

With the re-signing of Kenny Stills and the addition of  Julius Thomas (who Christensen said should score 10+ TDs), I just don’t see Parker’s targets improving all that much. The emergence of Jay Ajayi means that the Dolphins will continue to be a run-first team, furthering limiting his opportunities. Those things make it hard for me to believe that Parker takes any big step forward.

If you listened to the “Explain Yourself” episode, you know the guys don’t exactly agree on Parker.  As with all things in fantasy football, his price will determine his risk. His current ADP is WR40, and that’s probably right around where he’ll finish. Just don’t buy into that preseason hype and overpay for a boom-or-bust WR4.