Three things seem to happen when the calendar clicks over to July every year:
- People complaining about the heat.
- The DeVante Parker hype train starts chuggin’ along.
Parker has only been in the league for 3 years but people have been calling him a sleeper since 1997 (he was great at naps). With Jarvis Landry being traded to Cleveland, the Parker-truthers are clamoring over his ascension to the lead wideout spot. But not this year, DeVante. What if I told that the man who leads this team in TDs over the last 3 years is still on the roster? Would that be something you’re interested in? Guessing by Kenny Stills‘ 11th round ADP, I’d say the answer is no. But it’s Stills, not Parker, who is in a prime spot to become the #1 WR for the Dolphins and a WR1 in fantasy football. Let me tell you why.
A Look Back
Over the last 3 seasons, the Dolphins’ WR corps has been led by Jarvis Landry, Stills, and DeVante Parker. Let’s start by taking a look at the raw numbers:
|Stats 2015-2017||Jarvis Landry||Kenny Stills||DeVante Parker|
Clearly, Landry was top dog but it has been Stills, not Parker, giving the WR2 output in this offense, thanks in large part to his 18 TDs. Those 18 TDs rank in the top 15 among all WRs over the last 3 seasons, more TDs than Julio Jones over that span! Last year, the 105 targets Stills saw was the 2nd most by any team’s WR2 and his 91% snap count was one of the highest among all WR. Clearly, he has earned the trust of his QB and the coaching staff.
When looking at these stats, the biggest wart on Kenny Stills is his catch %. Over the 3 year span his catch rate is only 51% and, while improved, he only reeled in 58% of the balls thrown his way last year. For a guy who is and will remain his team’s primary deep target, it’s unlikely that we see much improvement in these numbers. I do think it’s his role, not his skills that is causing this subpar output. During his 2 seasons in New Orleans, Stills caught 95 out 133 targets for a staggering 71% catch rate. He has the hands, but he no longer has Drew Brees.
If you want to see Stills’ (and every other WRs) percentage of WR1-2 weekly finishes, be sure to check out the Consistency Charts in the Ultimate Draft Kit.
A Look Ahead
With Jarvis Landry, and his 27% target share, shipped to Cleveland, it is time for a change of the guard in Miami. The Dolphins brought in Danny Amendola to fill the role of slot WR that Landry vacated, which means Stills and Parker will resume their roles as the outside WRs. Amendola is a solid player but there is no way he is going to see the 161 targets that Landry demanded last season. Realistically, 40 of those targets are “up for grabs”. Even if Parker and Stills split them evenly, that is still going to increase the expected output for Kenny Stills in 2018. We’ll also see the return of Ryan Tannehill, and while usually, those aren’t inspiring words, after a season of Jay Cutler, Tannehill is a sight for sore eyes. Tannehill did play all 16 games in 2015 when Stills reeled in a career-best 9 TDs.
So with more targets on the table and a likely improvement in the TD category, here is my 2018 projection for Kenny Stills:
Those numbers are pretty similar to what AJ Green did last season and would be good enough for a back-end WR1 or high WR2 finish in fantasy football. Even if he falls short of my projections by a little, he’s still a solid fantasy WR2 that is currently being drafted as the 50th WR overall.
Over his 2 seasons, Stills has been drafted as the WR60 and WR61. He has rewarded his drafters with WR40 and WR27 finishes. This is a guy who outplays his ADP every year and is likely top of the pecking order in Miami moving forward so 2018 should be no different. There may not be a better value in all of fantasy football than what Kenny Stills brings to the table and even if I’m wrong, he’ll only cost you a 10th round pick. He is the lowest risk/highest reward lottery ticket in fantasy drafts this season.