Editor’s Note: This article is part of a continuing series from our Fantasy Footballers writing staff highlighting the possibility of potential WR1 seasons for 2017.
The Path to a WR1 series has received glowing remarks and don’t quote me on this but a perfect 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. For a first time reader, this series highlights WRs currently ranked outside of the Ballers’ consensus Top 15 Wide Receiver PPR rankings, who could possibly finish as a WR1.
Our team of writers is NOT saying these players will finish as a top 12 for the upcoming 2017 season but rather giving you the statistical probability and high-end range of outcomes for a particular player. The path’s foundation is built on player’s history while also projecting the target share, catch rate, receptions, yards, and touchdowns for the upcoming season.
Terrelle Pryor had a breakout season in 2016 posting a stat line of 77 catches for 1,004 yards and four TDs on 140 targets. All of this was despite having to play with five different quarterbacks for the lowly Cleveland Browns. In fact, the quarterback situation was so bad for the Browns last season that Pryor himself had to actually take snaps at QB.
Also, this was the first season where Pryor was truly a wide receiver and posting those kinds of numbers in your first season on a team like the Browns was impressive. Pryor is now rescued from a rated R horror film in Cleveland and ready to be in a starring role in Washington.
For Pryor to become a top 12 WR, he will need to be able to pass certain benchmarks given below.
Target Share- As mentioned in my last Path to a WR1 article, 138 targets were the average amount of targets for WRs 7-12 from 2016. Pryor is stepping into a great situation with the Redskins since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are now on different teams. That’s a total of 216 targets left for Pryor. Even though there are plenty of targets up for grabs in 2017, Kirk Cousins has been great at spreading the ball to all receivers. In fact, the top receiving target for Cousins in 2016 had 116 targets which was Garcon and in 2015 it was Jordan Reed who was on pace for 128 targets before getting injured. I decided to split the difference and project Pryor to get 122 targets in 2017.
Catch Rate– In 2016, Pryor’s catch rate was 55 percent, but how much of that was Pryor’s fault? The Browns’ completion percentage was 59.6 percent last season or 24th in the NFL. He will now be catching the ball from Cousin’s who had the eighth best completion percentage in 2016 with 67.1%. Since Pryor’s catch rate was 4.6 percent worse than the Browns team average, let’s give Pryor a 4.6 percent decrease in completion percentage on passes to him from Cousins. That comes out to a 62.5 percent catch rate.
Receptions– If Pryor sees 122 targets and has a catch rate of 62.5, he would have 76 catches in 2017. This is realistic and only one less than he had last season. Last season, the only two wide receivers to finish as a WR1 with under 80 receptions were Brandin Cooks and Davante Adams. Cooks had 117 targets and Adams had 121 targets so it’s more than possible to be a WR1 with under 122 targets and under 80 receptions.
Yards– Washington ranked 2nd in the NFL with 8.2 yards per pass attempt compared to the Browns ranking 26th in NFL with 6.5 per pass attempt. Also, the Redskins led the NFL in air yards in 2016 with 2,939 yards. Pryor last season averaged 13.1 yards per catch but for a career, he has averaged 13.6 yards per catch. Since I am comparing last year, I bumped his 13.1 yards per catch up to 14.8 yards for projections since Washington averaged 1.7 more yards per reception in 2016. With 76 catches for an average of 14.8, he would finish with 1,125 receiving yards.
Touchdowns- The Redskins were the only team in the NFL who threw for over 4,198 yards who didn’t have 30+ touchdowns in 2016; in fact, the average for the other seven teams was 35 passing touchdowns. The Redskins and Pryor are due for positive touchdown regression and will both see an increase in touchdowns in 2017. Jackson and Garcon leave seven total touchdowns up for grabs. Last season wide receivers who finished with around 122 targets (Michael Thomas and Davante Adams) had nine and 12 touchdowns respectively. So projecting Pryor for nine touchdowns is fair considering his athletic build combined with opportunity.
WR1 Possibility: Very Low Chance (Below 10%)
The chances aren’t high for Pryor to finish as a WR1 but with his athletic build combined with his new opportunity with the Redskins make it worth the gamble. With that stat line of 76-1,125-9 leaves him 242.5 points in a PPR format, which would have made him WR12 in 2016.
If you are a gambling man, then I’d say roll the dice with Pryor. He has the physical build of a cheat code in Madden. Seriously the guy is 6’4” 233 pounds and runs a 4.3 40-yard dash. To paint a better picture, his size-speed combination is comparable to guys like Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones. With a great opportunity in Washington combined with his freakish athletic ability, there’s at least a small window open for him to finish as a WR1 in 2017.