Fantasy Football: Jarvis Landry Is a Trap
The wide receiver with the seventh-most PPR points from 2014-2018 is currently going off draft boards in the fifth round and after 23 other players at his position have been taken. He is a member of one of the ascending offenses in the NFL, tethered to one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the whole NFL. Given all of this, you'd be forgiven for thinking this player will be the steal of the fantasy season.
But you'd be wrong.
Jarvis Landry is the player in question. After a prolific start to his NFL career, Landry now finds himself on potentially the most talented team he's ever played on. The Cleveland Browns offense, and team in general, have generated a whole heap of buzz this offseason, and taking Landry at his current ADP appears to be a low cost way of tapping into this supply of fantasy goodness. However, it is likely that the very thing that has helped Landry during his career is not likely to be so readily available in 2019. The Emperor may not be naked, but his "tailors" are in the process of measuring his new clothes.
Piling up the Numbers
Since being taken in the second round of the great wide receiver class of 2014 by the Miami Dolphins, Landry has been among the league leaders in commanding targets and receptions.
These numbers have all come in the first 80 games of Landry's NFL career. Only one player has more receptions in their first 80 games in NFL history than Landry, and that is Julio Jones. Jones had 501 grabs to Landry's 482.
Landry has been fortunate to be the leader of the receiving corps on whatever team he has played on since entering the NFL. After commanding a target share of only 19% as a rookie, Landry has not seen his share dip below 26% in any of his last four seasons.
Landry's ability to attract targets has fueled his NFL career and provided his main source of fantasy value. As you can see above, he's never been a frequent visitor to the end zone.
Nor have his catches lended themselves to amazing yardage totals. Jones racked up 7,676 yards on his 501 catches after 80 games -- with 40 touchdowns -- at a 15.32 yards per reception average. Landry's catches have come at 10.42.
As we have seen, Landry has benefited greatly from the fact that he has commanded a large number of targets throughout his NFL career. However, there are plenty of reasons to suggest that he will not have this luxury in the coming season. The Browns acquired Landry's former Louisiana State team mate Odell Beckham from the New York Giants this offseason, and all indications are that Beckham will be the guy for the Browns and especially Baker Mayfield.
This leaves Landry in a secondary role, and without a hefty volume of targets coming his way, he will need to rely on his efficiency to produce big numbers, both in reality and in fantasy. This is where Landry begins to look less like a bargain and more like a player you should be ignoring until many rounds later.
According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Landry has been one of the most inefficient wide receivers in the NFL over the course of his career. The table below shows his Target NEP per target points and rank among all wide receivers with at least 100 targets since 2014. It does not make for pretty reading.
|Year||Target NEP per Target||Rank|
His performance does not significantly improve when he actually has the ball in his hands, either. In 2015 and each of the last two seasons, Landry has finished dead last in Reception NEP per target.
In 2018, Landry led the Browns with 81 receptions for 976 yards and 4 touchdowns. His 6.6 yards per target was 88th among all wide receivers, according to PlayerProfiler, while 70 wideouts averaged more than his 12.3 yards per reception.
Most people expect the following things in 2019. The Browns will be good, as evidenced by their current win total being set at 9.5, and that Odell Beckham and Baker Mayfield will make sweet music together. These factors make it possible that the Browns are not as pass happy as they were last season, when they had the 11th-most pass plays in the NFL, and that the secondary options in the passing game will receive even fewer opportunities than they would were Beckham still a Giant.
Our projections currently have Landry reeling in 75.9 receptions for 865.10 yards and 4 touchdowns -- good for WR31 numbers. These figures would be the lowest Landry will have delivered since his rookie season, when he finished as the WR30 in PPR formats. Landry will be forced to execute at a high level every play in order to outperform his current ADP. We have seen little evidence that this is something Landry is able to do. He played with Mayfield for most of the 2018 season and was still unable to transfer volume into production.
Mayfield targeted Landry 120 times last season, 46 more times than his next favorite target of David Njoku. These passes brought Mayfield an adjusted yards per attempt mark of 6.49, just the fourth highest of any player Mayfield targeted 30 times or more.
It would appear that for Landry to play up to his current ADP, he would have to absolutely smash his previous efficiency numbers, or he would need a significant injury to Beckham. This is not impossible, of course. Beckham has played all 16 games in a season precisely once in his five seasons in the league. But if you are taking Landry at his current price because you are banking on a Beckham injury, you may want to be rethinking your strategy.
Landry is a solid WR3 who may flash weeks of WR2 production. But he is not a player who will vastly outpunch his WR24 ADP if everything clicks for the Browns.