Fantasy Football: The Case for Terrelle Pryor
This article is part of The Fantasy Court series, be sure to check out The Case Against Terrelle Pryor by Matt Okada (@FantasySensei).
Check out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have Terrelle Pryor ranked.
Fortune favors the bold. No guts, no glory. No risk it, no biscuit. These are the things that run through my mind when I’m about to draft Terrelle Pryor. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, he’s currently being taken in the third round as the 13th receiver off the board. I’m here to make the case for why that’s totally acceptable.
The fact that 2017 will only be Terrelle Pryor’s second full season as a legitimate NFL WR is not lost on me. I admittedly did not buy into his upside going into the 2016 fantasy draft season. Partly because of the team, but mostly because we simply hadn’t seen him do it yet. He flashed some in the preseason, but basically only on go routes, where he was streaking straight down the field, using his height/speed advantage to come down with occasional huge plays. You might remember that this skill set earned him the nickname “the human 9 route” since that seemed to be the extent of his skills as a WR, at least as far as any of us had actually seen on film. At that point, I, like many others, viewed him as a one-trick pony who would likely be “boom or bust” on a weekly basis. However, as the season wore on it became evident that he was much more dynamic, and further along in his development than I think any expert would have expected.
According to Matt Harmon’s reception perception profile in the Ultimate Draft Kit, Terrelle Pryor’s performance scored well within the average range of NFL receivers with his success rate vs both man and zone coverage. A very encouraging sign given that his athleticism has really never been in question. His 6’5’’ 230 lb. frame compares very closely that of Mike Evans, despite the fact that he’s been clocked with an astounding 4.38 40-yard dash. Evans who is a freak of nature in his own right runs a 4.53. It’s this size that makes it no surprise that he excelled last year against press coverage with an above average 68.8% success rate.
There is an argument that the Washington offense has gotten worse, at least on paper. After all, it’s very rare that an offense loses 2 of its top 3 WRs and either stays the same or gets better. When it comes to the question of whether or not Washington will return to form again in 2017, as it relates to Terrelle Pryor, I think that it matters more for his ceiling than his floor. To me, as long his target share is safe, which I intend to prove, then his floor should also be perfectly safe, even if the offense turns out to be worse than last season. After all, we’ve already seen Pryor perform well on one of the worst offenses in football.
There is no doubt that he benefited from being, by far, the most viable weapon in the passing game once Corey Coleman broke his hand. However, you would be hard-pressed to sell me on the idea that Terrelle Pryor’s situation has gotten worse. He finished as a top 20 receiver in all major scoring formats despite being subjected to the nauseating play of 5 below average QBs.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Pryor is a better WR at this stage in his career than Pierre Garcon who lead the team in targets, at least in terms of his upside. That’s Garcon, who finished as the #23 WR in fantasy, just four spots behind Pryor in PPR scoring. So to me, there are really only 2 questions that I think we need to ask:
1. Will 2017 Terrelle Pryor demand a target share at least equal to that of 2016 Pierre Garcon?
Last year, Terrelle Pryor drew 140 targets of the Cleveland Browns 558 pass attempts. That’s 25% of their entire passing target share. Meanwhile, Garcon led the Redskins in targets with 114 out of the entire offense’s 593. That’s just over 19% of their entire passing offense in terms of target share. Now that Garcon is gone, along with DeSean Jackson who accounted for just under 17% of targets, there should be more than enough passes going Pryor’s way. I’m not suggesting that you can automatically assign those 214 targets to any one player. I’m merely pointing out that even if Jordan Reed is healthy, even if Josh Doctson is in the mix, and even if Jamison Crowder takes a step forward, Pryor’s target share in the 110-130 range should be secure.
2. How much better is a Kirk Cousins target than the targets from a horrendous platoon of inept Browns QBs?
Last season, Kirk Cousins completed 407 passes for 4917 yards and 25 TDs. Meanwhile, the 5-headed-catastrophe of Cleveland’s QB past, managed 338 completions for 3693 and 15 TDs. To help put that into perspective if you gave the difference of 1224 yards and 10 TD’s to one WR, it would have been enough to outscore the #7 PPR WR Michael Thomas.
Generally speaking, players don’t normally switch teams and get better. Also, generally speaking, NFL QBs do not convert to WR and remain in the NFL. They certainly don’t normally finish as a top fantasy option despite playing on a team offense that finished ranked 31st out of the possible 32. There is nothing normal about Terrelle Pryor, even by freakishly athletic standards. I’m willing to throw caution to the wind and draft him as my 2nd WR in the 3rd round, provided that my roster construction and draft spot make that possible. I view him as a relatively “safe” option with a WR2 floor and the potential to finish top 10 at his position if the overall offense performs well this year.