Late Round Flier: Breshad Perriman Could Galvanize Gang Green

New Jets WR Breshad Perriman showed WR1 numbers in a short sample last season in Tampa. For the price, SI Fantasy analyst Matt De Lima says the boom is worth far more than the potential bust.
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About a month before the 2020 NFL Draft in March, I wrote an article detailing the fantasy impact of Breshad Perriman signing with the New York Jets. Since then, the Jets drafted WR Denzel Mims out of Baylor in the second round. Jets reporter Kristen Dyer predicted that Perriman would take on the role of the recently-departed Robby Anderson and even nailed his call that the Jets would add a receiver in the second round.

However, this wide receiver group has no clear-cut leader. Jamison Crowder (ADP 114), Perriman (ADP 158) and Mims (ADP 167) are the primary options for the Jets in 2020.

Crowder needed 122 targets to post 78-833-6. I don’t know, maybe if you’re playing in a league that scores points for gaining exactly 10 yards per reception, Crowder is the man. I’m certainly not impressed and while I liked him coming into the league, he’s shown next-to-no improvement in his career.

Mims is the wild card here. Rookie receivers tend to be inconsistent and maybe have a big game or two, leaving you wanting more. I could definitely see Mims being the best receiver on this team, but given his and Perriman’s ADPs being so similar, I am more interested in Perriman who finally seemed to get it together in limited action a year ago.

Shawn Childs, SI’s mild-mannered fantasy superhero projectionist, sees this in Perriman:

Over his first three seasons, after getting drafted in the first round in 2015, Perriman caught only 59 of his 126 targets for 916 yards and five TDs. His playing time was minimal last year over the first 11 games (11/139/1 on 32 targets). After a couple of injuries to Tampa's wide receivers, Perriman played the best ball of his career. He caught 25 passes for 506 yards and five TDs on 37 targets in five games, which delivered WR1 stats in PPR leagues. His excellent finish to the year (5/113/3, 7/102, and 5/134/1) earned him a one-year deal for $8 million for the Jets. Tempting, but a fantasy owner has to keep in mind his career catch rate (48.7). A risk/reward player on a new team, pointing to a trap in fantasy drafts. Perriman saw his ADP in the high-stakes fall to 148 after the 2020 NFL Draft.

We can see here that Perriman’s ADP is in a slight decline. The flash in the pan, lightning in a bottle production he provided seems to be losing its luster. That’s a very fair assessment.

However, Childs also points out Jets receivers had a 17-percent increase in receptions and yards (164-2,070 in 2018 and up to 193-2,412 in 2019). I don’t believe Sam Darnold is going to substantially jump in production, but I think it’s a safe bet to presume he continues to improve. Will Darnold continue to feed 122 targets to Crowder or will he want to test drive his new guys Perriman and Mims? How will Le’Veon Bell and Chris Herndon impact this offense?

I’m banking on two key factors that influence my belief in Perriman: athleticism, big-play ability & the Jets’ increased offensive efficiency.

First, to demonstrate Perriman’s athleticism, he ran a 4.35 at UCF’s Pro Day in the months ahead of the 2015 NFL Draft. His workout numbers were off the charts and this is ultimately what pushed him up draft boards and mock drafts.

Take a look at how the Bucs used him last year:

Perriman had been a bust up until Week 13 of last season. Here’s what I said about Perriman’s prolific finish to the season back in March:

In the final five games of his 2019 tenure in Tampa Bay, Perriman was targeted 37 times for 25 receptions for 506 yards and 5 touchdowns. That’s almost half his career stats in a five-game span. Now to be fair to the context of the situation, Mike Evans missed the final three games and Chris Godwin did not play in the final two games last year. But that also does show that even against an opponent’s top corner, Perriman was still coming down with numbers.

Perriman was a beast when given the opportunity. If he can do it once, he can do it again.

Next, his big-play ability is both the draw and the reason he received a sizable chunk of free agent money from the Jets. It’s really important to know what a player is and how a team will use him. Perriman is not a surgical receiver. He’s not going to carve cornerbacks with his route running. He has slightly above average size with elite speed. Darnold is going to throw it up and throw it deep to him. Perriman is going to take the top off of defenses or look to hit a seam and break off a big play.

In limited action back in 2018 with the Browns, he averaged 21.3 yards per catch. Granted that was only on 16 catches but they clearly weren’t using him to dink-and-dunk it. In 2019 in Tampa Bay, he had 36 receptions for 17.9 ypc. As a point of comparison, Crowder averaged 10.7 ypc last year. This is what he will be asked to do:

Finally, the Jets have to be better on offense. Darnold just turned 23 years old earlier this month and is entering a pivotal third year of his career. He missed about a month of 2019 with mono. Yes, the guy had and played with mono. They’ll have a more enmeshed Bell in the backfield and Herndon is back and healthy. I think their offensive line will be better with the addition of first rounder Mekhi Becton, although they are probably one good starter shy of having an average caliber unit. My point here is that the Jets won’t be as bad as they were last year on offense which was somewhere between hideous and atrocious.

In the end, when I’m drafting in Rounds 14 and beyond, I’m not looking for some lukewarm veteran who will provide consistent and safe low-end numbers. Give me flash! Give me sizzle! Perriman has reignited his ceiling on merit by posting WR1 numbers for Tampa Bay last season.

Is he more of a best-ball guy than someone who will be a regular starter week-to-week? That’s probably a fair assessment and often true of deep speed playmakers. However, Crowder has well-established himself as a short-field chain-mover. Mims, even in a perfect scenario, is likely going to need at least 10 weeks to learn the position.

Given Perriman’s size-speed combo, he simply outclasses the other Jets receivers. With an ADP pushing into Round 14 of 12-team leagues, Perriman is a no-risk, all-reward player who will either boom-or-bust. I’ll give him a shot for a few weeks and if he doesn’t pan out, I’ll cut him loose for the latest trending player off the waiver wire.

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