Rishard Matthews was one of the breakout players this year both in the NFL and in fantasy leagues across the country. He went from a guy who was probably not even drafted in most leagues, to a guy who was likely an every week starter for most of the season. Unfortunately, he has suffered an injury that will keep him out multiple weeks. With him out, it appears as though it is rookie Devante Parker’s time to shine. Is he a suitable replacement for Matthews on the field and on your fantasy roster?
Talent and Measurable
The good thing with Parker is that you do not need to worry about a lack of talent. He was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft this year for a reason. The 6’3” wide receiver out of Louisville possesses a great combination of size and speed. He is a sharp route runner and also does a great job of high pointing the ball (jumping up to catch it at its peak height). Parker was dominant out Louisville, teaming up with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for an elite combination. Parker passes both the eye test, as well as the measurable numbers that people look for in elite wide receivers.
Parker on his own is an elite talent as has been established. Unfortunately, in fantasy, your situation is just as important as your talent. Know this: Miami’s offense will run though Jarvis Landry and Lamar Miller. Landry is an elite slot receiver who gets a lot of targets per game. Miller will see more and more carries these next few weeks as Miami has fired their offensive coordinator for not giving him enough touches. Then there is the question of Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is a very mobile quarterback and he throws a good underneath route (hence, the production of Landry); however, he struggles on deep passes which a receiver like Parker naturally excels at. Tannehill has one of the worst completion percentages in the NFL on throws of 20 yards or more. That will be a major obstacle for Parker.
Parker so far in his opportunity has been very inconsistent. His main problem has been efficiency. He is converting barely half his targets into completion so far. However, there is room for optimism. First of all, he is a rookie. Rookies tend to take a while to adjust to the better athletes of the NFL. Additionally, he has only been the primary outside wide receiver for two weeks now. It will take he and Tannehill time to build chemistry together. Again though, Parker is a tremendous talent and it is only a matter of time before he breaks out. We have seen flashes of this already. He has had two very impressive touchdowns in two weeks; one where he caught the ball and made two defenders miss before running fifteen yards into the end zone. The second was a great catch in the end zone with two defenders in the area. These are just flashes of the talent we will eventually see on a consistent basis. This is the path most talented rookies take. NFL odds predictions show it is only a matter of time before he is dominating the competition.
Both in college, and now in the NFL, Parker has had injury issues. This normally would be concerning but it is even more so with Parker as they were soft tendon injuries. NFL doctors will tell you that those injuries are very reoccurring which could spell trouble for Parker. Hopefully, he is able to put the injuries behind them but know you are taking a gamble with Parker.
If you are in a dynasty or keeper league where you keep a certain amount of players from year to year, you should be very happy if Parker is on your team. He appears to be on track for stardom if he can stay healthy. If you are using him as a fill in for Matthews for the rest of the year, he is a boom or bust play; he may break out next week or it may not be until next season. It is a good risk to take but it is a risk.