Chase Claypool: A Player You Should be Targeting NOW
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Chase Claypool, WR, Steelers
What You Need to Know:
– Claypool tied for 40th in average depth of target last year among 103 WRs with 40+ targets, according to Pro Football Focus. That number was down a little from his rookie year.
– Claypool trailed Diontae Johnson by 10 percentage points in target share last season, ranking just 51st in that category. (Johnson finished 6th.)
– The divide was much narrower on intended air yards. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Johnson led the team at 32.4% of targeted air yards, with Claypool at 27.2%.
– Claypool has beaten his expected yards after catch per reception by more than 1.0 in each of his 2 campaigns. He has ranked 7th and 21st in that category (among 132 and 127 qualifiers, respectively).
– Much was made of Claypool’s maturity issues last December, and they may have affected his playing time. After 5 straight games of 81% snap share or more (surrounding an inactive Week 10), Claypool played 63%, 59% and 63% in consecutive outings – the middle being his infamous Thursday night in Minnesota. But Claypool then played 82%, 88% and 91% to close out the year.
– This 90-second clip from a December HC Mike Tomlin press conference acknowledges that Claypool still had some maturing to do and that it “can’t happen fast enough for him, and it can’t happen fast enough for us.” But Tomlin also called Claypool a “willing participant” in pushing that growth. The clip is worth watching to get the coach’s outlook on the young wideout.
– Pittsburgh drafted WRs George Pickens in Round 2 and Calvin Austin in Round 4. Pickens, in particular, has been viewed by many as the heir to Claypool.
– Counting 2022, Claypool still has 2 years left on his rookie contract.
-- The departures of James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud and JuJu Smith-Schuster leave behind more than 20% target share from last year's offense.
– Claypool has ranked 33rd and 47th in PPR points per game in 2 seasons; 26th and 46th in half-PPR points per game.
– According to Pro Football Focus, Ben Roethlisberger generated the 2 shortest ADOTs of his career the past 2 years: 7.6 and 7.1. The latter ranked 2nd shortest among all QBs with at least 200 dropbacks.
– Mitchell Trubisky’s ADOTs through 4 Chicago seasons: 8.1, 9.4, 8.3, 8.4.
– Kenny Pickett’s ADOTs in 5 college seasons: 10.8, 9.4, 8.2, 9.4, 9.7.
The QB change should be particularly good for Claypool, who has generated his production by earning targets downfield and creating yards after the catch – rather than by winning on target volume. George Pickens could challenge the target distribution but will 1st need to prove he’s ready for a significant role. The targets vacated by the departures of James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud and JuJu Smith-Schuster also leave room for Pickens to take on a significant role without even siphoning from Claypool.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
Most importantly, fantasy drafters have started 2022 apprehensive about the 3rd-year Steeler. He sits 52nd among WRs in current Underdog drafting and 49th in FFPC best-ball drafting. We already know that Claypool can at least deliver spike weeks and overall upside well beyond that level. And we probably haven’t seen the ceiling yet for a guy who turns 24 in July. Barring negative reports on the 3rd-year wideout this summer, you can bet on Claypool remaining a draft target in our rankings.