After years of frustrating fantasy owners after being the 14th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, DeVante Parker finally broke out in year five. Over 1200 yards and nine touchdowns propelled Parker into top-12 wide receiver status in PPR leagues in 2019, and now has fantasy owners wondering who is the next late bloomer. Could that perhaps be Corey Davis, also a high-first round selection in the NFL Draft who up to this point has disappointed?

Pointing Spider-Man Gif

Through their first three seasons, Davis and Parker produced similarly pedestrian statistics in many metrics.

Player
From Year
To Year
Receptions Per Game
Yards Per Game
Touchdowns Per Game
DeVante Parker
2015
2017
3.3
45.4
0.1
Corey Davis
2017
2019
3.4
44.5
0.2


While the raw stats were less than stellar, Parker had at least seen his targets per game, receptions per game, and yards per game increase in each of his first three seasons. 

Then in year four, Parker saw his progress from years 1-3 disappear. What caused this drop in production, after it appeared Parker had started putting it all together? A couple of factors contributed to Parker’s fourth year fallout:

  1.  The Dolphins threw the ball 150 fewer times in year four with Parker, compared to year three
  2.  Adam Gase put Parker in his dog house, phasing him from the offense

After being left for dead in 2018, Parker exploded in 2019, benefiting from a new coaching staff, a more aerial offensive game plan (Miami ranked 7th in the league in pass attempts), and more opportunities (a career-high 21.1% target market share). 

Corey Davis Lives?

Yes, I do think Corey Davis can experience a mid-career resurgence. However, similar to Parker, he will need a few things to go in his favor for this to occur:

  1. A new offensive game plan - Tennessee has finished no higher than 28th in the league in pass attempts throughout Davis’s career, and it is unlikely that will change in 2020. Coming off an AFC Championship game appearance and with a workhorse running back that is playing on a freshly signed 4 year, $50 million contract, the Titans will probably look very similar to their 2019 team, thus limiting the opportunities in the passing game.
  2. An increase in touchdowns - again, playing in a non-prolific passing offense is not conducive for racking up lots of receiving touchdowns. Davis’s red zone opportunities dipped considerably in 2019, falling from 15 in 2018 to 3. Without touchdowns, Davis would need to rely on lots of receptions and yards to be fantasy relevant.

In and of themselves, a more aerial-centric offense and additional red zone looks are not extremely difficult to achieve. However, this will not occur as long as Davis is in Tennessee. Playing out the final year of his rookie contract, it is nearly a guarantee that Davis will be playing elsewhere in 2021. With a depreciated value as it is (currently WR65 in DLF ADP), you could attempt to buy low now and stash him for the time being. However, this takes a roster spot which could be precious in a COVID NFL where depth may be more important than ever, in fantasy and in real life. Additionally, some still hold out hope for Davis after seeing Parker emerge last season. 

In my opinion, the correct play here would be to wait until during the season where it is clear he will not be a major fantasy factor (yet again) and then buy for peanuts. Come 2021, we may all finally receive the Corey Davis breakout we have long been waiting for.

Find me on Twitter @_TaylorCornell