Nobody had more of an “out of nowhere” season than Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker. After years of failing to live up to his first-round draft pedigree, Parker finally put it all together in 2019. The wide receiver was one of the few bright spots during Miami’s season and earned a massive contract extension for his efforts. Is he in position to continue his success, or was 2019 a one-year outlier?
2020 Fantasy Football Profiles: DeVante Parker
DeVante Parker was the waiver wire steal of the year. After going undrafted in most leagues, Parker caught fire and ended the season with 72 receptions for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns. This made him the WR11 on the season, but even that doesn’t tell the full story. Early in the season, the Dolphins went back and forth between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. Fitzpatrick eventually earned the starting job for good and Parker turned into an elite fantasy option. From Week 7 onward, Parker was the WR6 on a per-game basis and the WR2 overall.
Part of the reason for Parker’s success was the complete lack of other options. The team traded away Kenny Stills before the start of the season, and Preston Williams tore his ACL midway through the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick had nobody else to target, and this definitely drove some of Parker’s production. That said, he still averaged 2.23 yards per route, good for 28th in the league. Yards per route tends to be a sticky statistic, so Parker’s impressive finish here bodes well for his future.
Another large reason for Parker’s success was the overall state of the 2019 Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were terrible in every way imaginable, and that includes their defense. Opposing teams could score at will, which means that the Dolphins had to throw early and often in order to keep up with the opposing offense. Even in neutral game scripts, Miami simply could not run the ball. The Dolphins had the worst offensive line in football last year, and their running backs were so bad that Ryan Fitzpatrick actually led the team in rushing yards. Parker was basically the only reliable weapon the Dolphins had, and his overall finish reflected that.
The Dolphins had a seemingly endless supply of cap space and draft picks at their disposal during the 2020 offseason. Since so much of Parker’s production was due to his situation, Miami could have completely destroyed his fantasy value depending on how their offseason went.
On the bright side, Miami didn’t add any competition at wide receiver. Preston Williams is coming back, and he will eat into some of Parker’s massive target share. However, outside of that, the Dolphins didn’t add anybody of note. No matter what happens, Parker will remain the starter and see the field.
On the downside, the Dolphins improved everything else. Miami invested in multiple starters along the offensive line and added running backs Jordan Howard and Matt Breida. The Dolphins should be able to run the ball more effectively, which means fewer overall passing attempts. Additionally, the team added several big-name defensive stars, including Kyle Van Noy and Byron Jones. Their defense will be better, which means fewer shootouts and fewer targets for Parker.
Last, and certainly not least, is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. By now, everyone knows that Ryan Fitzpatrick has an affinity for targeting his outside receivers, and his aggressive style of play is great for fantasy. Tagovailoa is a complete unknown in the NFL and will earn the starting job sooner rather than later. While Tagovailoa could very well end up targeting Parker just as much as Fitzpatrick, his presence does represent some uncertainty.
DeVante Parker Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Football Calculator currently has DeVante Parker going off the board with the 71st overall pick. This puts him off the board at the back of the sixth and in the same general tier as guys like Marquise Brown, A.J. Green, and Brandin Cooks.
Drafting Parker over guys like this comes down to personal preference. As discussed earlier, a decent chunk of Parker’s production was caused by a perfect storm of events, and the Dolphins have done a lot to ensure that storm doesn’t hit in 2020. He won’t finish as a WR1, but his target share should make him a safe bet for a WR2 finish. If you’re trying to minimize risk, Parker is a great pick at the end of the sixth.
However, if you’re aiming for upside, you should probably go for one of the other three. Marquise Brown is the top receiver in a high-powered offense and looked like a genuine stud when on the field. Now that he’s fully healthy, he has an outside shot at a WR1 finish. A.J. Green has all the talent in the world and, if healthy, is the top option in Cincinnati and should be better than Parker on a per-touch basis. Cooks, meanwhile, has a decent shot to be the top option for Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans. Like Green, Cooks has a long history of elite fantasy production but needs to prove that he can stay on the field.
Ultimately, Parker’s target share, new contract, and lack of incoming competition ensure that he’ll carry some fantasy value in 2020. However, the improved defense, running game, and new quarterback will probably keep him from repeating his WR11 finish from a season ago.
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