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2015 Season in Review: Davante Adams

By Kevin English | Updated on Tue, 23 May 2023 . 1:27 PM EDT

Davante Adams entered the 2015 season with lofty expectations. Not just from the fantasy community, but from 2 key members of the Packers organization.

"I think he's had a heck of a [training] camp,” HC Mike McCarthy observed. “Looking for big things from him."

Aaron Rodgers really revved up the hype train.

"I think he’s had a great offseason and he has star potential," Rodgers said. "I’m really proud of his approach and his attitude. It makes you want to get him the ball more. It makes you watch the film and have regrets about not giving him more opportunities."

As we know, Adams completely flopped in his 2nd season. A low ankle sprain forced him to miss 3 full games, while the injury seemed to bother him in others. But that doesn’t excuse the horribly inefficient season he had replacing Jordy Nelson.

Adams caught 50 balls, but he gained 483 yards (9.7 YPC) and underwhelmed in the TD department (more on that below). The 6’1, 215-pounder notched only 1 grab of 40+ yards – and that came on a Hail Mary-type pass just before halftime of Week 9 vs. Carolina.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel remarked, Adams “failed miserably and will have to fight for a roster spot” this offseason. Harsh, yet believable.

So what went wrong for the 2014 second-round pick? And is there any hope for him moving forward? I went back and watched each of his targets (87, removing throwaways) to find answers.

Drops

Adams made one of the more noteworthy catches of the year – a sprawled-out one-hander – in tight coverage. 

He really struggled to snag some easy ones, though.

I counted 10 total drops, with a few others of the borderline variety. Two of his miscues came in the end zone. That helped limit Adams to only one score all year, a play that found him matched up on Lions fill-in LB Josh Bynes.

Could we have forecasted such a sloppy season? The warning signs weren’t present, as Adams dropped only 2 passes on 66 targets last year. Although his hands measured a very average 9” at the Combine, drops weren’t an issue at Fresno State. Instead, it sounded a matter of shaken confidence.

Downfield Struggles

Adams saw 20 targets that traveled 15+ yards downfield, with one coming on a throwaway. He caught only 5 and dropped 6 – including 1 would-be TD. As noted, he posted only 1 catch of 40+ yards (he hit 40 exactly). 

That’s mildly surprising considering Adams’ leaping ability. At the 2014 Combine, he recorded the 3rd best vertical jump among WRs (39.5 inches). He’s not a speedster, though, so it’s understandable that the Packers primarily ran him on short routes.

Chemistry with his QB also proved troublesome. We’re used to seeing Aaron Rodgers toss those crisp back shoulder sideline throws to Jordy Nelson (and to a lesser degree, James Jones). But that connection with Adams never consistently materialized. Combined with the drops, it’s no wonder Adams’ catch rate fell shy of 55%.

Yards After Catch

Adams’ YAC numbers showed a lack of playmaking ability. He averaged just 2.5 yards after catch per reception, giving him the 4th worst mark among all pass catchers with at least 50 catches. Overall, 177 pass catchers gained more YAC than Adams.

That would have been fine if he dominated in the deep game, but that simply wasn’t the case. Nearly 69% of his targets came 10 yards or closer downfield.

Conclusion

Despite such a down year, it’s too early to give up on Adams. History says that his issue with drops might be an anomaly.  There's no doubting his solid size, leaping ability and catch radius.

And at 23 years old, there’s time to turn his fortunes around. But he’ll need to act fast if he’s to do so in Green Bay. Jordy Nelson is expected to be 100% well before September. Randall Cobb will remain in the starting lineup.

Unless the Packers bring in outside competition – or re-sign James Jones – Adams figures to battle Ty Montgomery and the emerging Jeff Janis for #3 duties. Janis gives the Packers a true downfield threat, and he’s coming off a 7-145-2 line vs. Arizona in the Divisional Round. At this point, he should be the favorite to play in 3-wide sets.

Ultimately, Adams’ dynasty value couldn’t drop much lower. So it’s not a bad idea to try and acquire him for cheap. He’s just not a guy you can count on in 2016.

Kevin English Author Image
Kevin English, Senior Analyst
Kevin brings 15 years of experience as a fantasy analyst and mid-stakes competitor across various formats (redraft, best ball, dynasty, DFS). His work has been featured on The Mercury News, Rotoworld, and FantasyPros.
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