DeVante Parker Has WR1 Breakout Appeal
On an annual basis, the fantasy football community attempts to identify potential breakout candidates at various skill positions. Last season, Allen Robinson was viewed as a popular breakout candidate among wide receivers. Fortunately, Robinson delivered on expectations, as he finished as the WR6 in full-point PPR scoring with an 80-1400-14 receiving line. Entering 2016, there are numerous players that could emerge similar to that of Allen Robinson, while making an immediate fantasy impact in the process. As the title of this article indicates, I believe that DeVante Parker offers considerable breakout appeal at the wide receiver position heading into this season. Below, I will outline three reasons that support Parker emerging as a WR1 this year.
Sure, DeVante Parker started off extremely slow during his rookie campaign in 2015. Over the first ten games of the season, he only collected 4 receptions for 49 yards on 8 targets. Of course, Parker was plagued by injury, as he faced an uphill battle recovering from offseason surgery to replace a screw in his surgically-repaired foot. Ultimately, Parker’s durability limited him to merely 8 games of action last year. However, when on the field, he was an absolute force to be reckoned with. Consider that between Weeks 12-17, Parker was the WR21 in PPR formats with 22 receptions for 445 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the process, he also earned a minimum of 5 targets in each game, while collecting at least 60 yards receiving in all but one contest. During that same time frame, Parker outpaced wide receivers such as Mike Evans, Amari Cooper and T.Y. Hilton in fantasy points scored. Perhaps even more enticing, Parker averaged 19.0 yards per catch last season when active. Based on his torrid pace to end the 2015 season, it is hard to believe that DeVante Parker has an ADP of 7.08 in 12-team PPR leagues. Despite being sidelined for portions of the Miami Dolphins offseason program with a hamstring ailment and losing snaps to Kenny Stills in the preseason, Parker carries WR1 breakout appeal at a substantial discount based on his current price.
The Presence of Adam Gase
Before ruling out a DeVante Parker breakout due to the inconsistency of Ryan Tannehill, remember that Adam Gase is now the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Under the direction of Gase in 2015, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler turned in a career-best 92.3 passer rating, which ranked 16th in the NFL. This certainly bodes well for Tannehill, who is coming off an underwhelming season after finishing as a top-ten option at his position in 2014 for fantasy purposes.
Regardless, DeVante Parker’s potential breakout appeal does not solely rely on Ryan Tannehill’s efficiency. Instead, being the beneficiary of filling the X receiver role in Adam Gase’s offense is more meaningful to Parker’s value. For a closer look at how productive the X receiver (otherwise referred to as the split end) is under the direction of Adam Gase, reference the table below:
As pictured above, wide receivers that previously occupied the X position in an Adam Gase led offense have produced at an elite level in fantasy circles. The lone exception to this trend is Alshon Jeffery’s production in 2015. However, Jeffery’s lack of output should be taken with a grain of salt, as he was limited to 9 games last season due to a variety of soft tissue injuries. There is obviously no guarantee that DeVante Parker will find the same level of success under Adam Gase in 2016, but there are very few coaches or offensive coordinators who maximize the talent of wide receivers in the NFL like the current head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
In the event that his 2015 production and new direction under Adam Gase are not convincing enough factors to warrant breakout appeal for DeVante Parker, consider his player profile before simply writing the sophomore wide receiver off. That being said, Parker stands at 6-foot-3, 218 pounds. He is also a former first-round pick (14th overall) from the 2015 NFL Draft. As a result, he owns the pedigree and prototypical body size at the wide receiver position to be a dominant threat at the NFL level. According to Rotounderworld, DeVante Parker’s best comparable peer from a metric and physical characteristic perspective in the NFL is A.J. Green. On tape, the comparison between Parker and Green’s skill set is quite noticeable. It is also worth noting that A.J. Green is 6-foot-4, 207 pounds, which is eerily similar to that of DeVante Parker. It is clear that Parker still needs to overcome multiple obstacles to reach a tier level similar to that of A.J. Green, but his tantalizing skill set and opportunity in Miami need to be taken into serious consideration. As it stands, DeVante Parker is being valued as a replacement level asset in redraft formats with an asking price of the late 7th Round. Even if Parker is eased into action to begin the regular season, he is a lottery ticket who could prove to emerge as a breakout player in 2016 with a WR1 ceiling.