One reason for fantasy football optimism for WR DeVante Parker

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The 2020 season for Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker wasn’t quite the encore he was looking for — he regressed in just about every major statistic in a big way. His receptions? Down. Yardage? Down. Touchdowns? Also down; more than halved after logging 9 scores in his breakout 2019 season. And with the additions of numerous other receivers to the roster, it is fair to ask whether or not Parker has seen his prime window of opportunity with Miami wither away.

After all, Parker didn’t necessarily showcase great chemistry with young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa down the stretch; although that was admittedly more of a Tagovailoa-rooted issue (or perhaps a “growing pain”) than the fault of Parker. Tagovailoa seemed hesitant at times to test tight windows and risk a costly turnover — which directly conflicted with Parker’s peak play. But then again, Parker also fought injury down the stretch (again), once again fueling speculation about his long-term reliability.

But even with Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller added to the mix, we’d be wise to not count Parker out just yet. Because despite his regression in many areas, he was still a player who received a massive bulk of Miami’s passing targets in the end zone last season.

How much is a “massive bulk”?

Only three players saw a higher percentage of their team’s end zone targets than Parker last year: Adam Thielen, DJ Moore and Davante Adams.

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Waddle figures to thrive in the middle of the field and from the slot, but the red zone gets congested in the middle as the field tightens. And while Fuller is a dynamic route runner, he is a field stretcher at his core. So that leaves TE Mike Gesicki and Parker as the two top-end big bodied targets in the passing game to look for in tight spaces. And the field doesn’t get any tighter than in the low red zone and the end zone. If Parker can command 35.1% of targets in the end zone with Gesicki in the picture last season, one would think his targets there will still be where he sees the most action.

And the law of averages suggests that if he gets that number of targets again, he’ll find pay dirt more than the paltry four times he scored in 2020.