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2015 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Grab This Miami Dolphin

By Kevin English 2:22pm EDT 7/22/15

           

While former LSU teammate Odell Beckham Jr. stole headlines last year, Jarvis Landry’s play deserved praise, too.

Unlike Beckham, there wasn’t anything flashy about Landry. The 22-year-old confirmed that at the 2014 Combine. He recorded a lousy 4.77-second 40 time and a 28.5-inch vertical. But from watching his college tape, he was clearly more quick than fast. He also profiled as a tactical route runner with reliable hands.

Having started just 12 collegiate games, Landry didn’t seem like an immediate impact player. That changed once he encountered a favorable set of circumstances, along with the perfect scheme.

Charles Clay labored through a knee injury for most of the 2014 season and missed 2 games. As a result, he shaved nearly 1 target per game off his 2013 average.

Brian Hartline -- fresh off a career year-- fizzled out of the offense. He drew more than 4 targets just 5 times all season. His numbers dropped from 76-1,016-4 in 2013 to 39-474-2 last year.

Mike Wallace carried the #1 WR label, but consistency was never his game. That’s where Landry stepped in to fill a huge void.

Landry earned the starting slot role after just 1 regular season game, bypassing Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews. The rookie quickly excelled in a short passing game piloted by Ryan Tannehill.

From Week 2 on, Landry recorded at least 4 catches in all but 2 games. And over his last 9 games, he racked up a whopping 59 grabs. Only Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas caught more balls over that stretch.

Finishing the year with a 105-84-758-5 line, it’s no surprise that Landry landed 29th in fantasy points among WRs (PPR scoring). He was efficient and reliable, recording an 80% catch rate while dropping just 2 passes all year. Still, 1 element clearly lacked from his game: the deep ball.

We already know that Landry isn’t a burner. But it’s certainly extreme when his longest reception went for a mere 25 yards. Plus, his yards per catch checked in at a minuscule 9.0.

When you examine the underlying numbers, it’s clear that Miami only wanted him to run short, outlet-type routes. The rookie saw 3 targets that traveled 20+ yards downfield. (He caught 1.) That might indicate limited upside, but it does mesh with Tannehill’s short-to-intermediate area strengths.

Expect to see much of the same in 2015. While the Fins traded Mike Wallace, they replaced him with another downfield threat in Kenny Stills. The addition of Jordan Cameron gives Miami a big-bodied red-zone option, but he can also attack the seam. Of course, Miami lost Charles Clay to the Bills and Brian Hartline to Cleveland. Veteran acquisition Greg Jennings isn’t a threat to steal playing time, but 1st-round rookie Devante Parker could lower Landry’s ceiling if he quickly adjusts to the NFL game. That doesn’t seem likely, however, as Parker’s June foot surgery makes it a possibility that he’ll miss Week 1.

Regardless, Landry -- who’s just 22 years old -- should take another step forward as a sophomore. Look for continued improvement from his QB, too. Tannehill’s first year alongside OC Bill Lazor produced career highs in completion percentage (66.4), yards (4,045) and TDs (27).

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Likened to Hines Ward and Anquan Boldin coming out of college, Landry’s already flashed a hard-nosed game. Most importantly, he posted a top-30 PPR finish as a rookie. And he did so while playing alongside a first-time play-caller and a still-developing QB. Despite a crowded WR corps, Landry screams safety as a high-end WR3 in PPR leagues.

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