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Cordarrelle Patterson's 2015 Fantasy Football Outlook

By Jared Smola 8:42am EDT 4/10/15
Draft Sharks Podcast

Note: This is a free preview of a 2015 Draft Sharks Player Profile. DS Insiders will have access to over 300 of these -- along with detailed projections -- in June.

We spent last summer warning readers away from Patterson, calling him the most overvalued player in fantasy drafts. But we’d be lying if we said we saw his disastrous 2014 coming.

Patterson finished his 2nd season 82nd in PPR points among WRs -- just behind Andre Roberts and just ahead of Jeremy Kerley. And that was after a top-7 outing in the season opener. Patterson caught just 3 balls for 26 yards in Week 1, but he racked up 102 yards and a score on 3 carries. The highlight there was a 67-yard TD.

But that would be Patterson’s last useful fantasy game for a while. Over the next 6 games, he totaled 16 catches, 187 yards and 1 TD. His 3 carries went for minus-2 yards. Patterson didn’t reach double-digit PPR points in any of those contests.

Week 8 brought 6 catches for 86 yards -- both season highs. But instead of serving as a turning point for Patterson’s season, that ended up being the peak. Over the final 8 games, he mustered just 8 catches for 85 scoreless yards, plus 7 more yards on 3 carries. Patterson never topped 2 catches or 24 yards during that stretch.

The result was a massively disappointing 33-384-1 receiving line. All 3 marks were down from Patterson’s 45-469-4 rookie totals. He bumped his yards per catch from 10.4 to 11.6. But Patterson had just 4 receptions of 20+ yards and none longer than 28 in 2014 after racking up 7 grabs of 20+ in 2013, including a 79-yarder. He also saw his catch rate dip from 57.7% to 49.3%. That ranked 83rd among 89 WRs with 50+ targets last year.

In every way, 2014 was a giant step back for Patterson. So what happened? We saw 2 problems:

1. Patterson’s route running failed to progress.

2. OC Norv Turner didn’t deploy Patterson properly

Both issues are correctable. Patterson is only entering his 3rd NFL season and is still just 24 years old. There’s plenty of reason to believe that he can still improve, especially considering he entered the league as a raw prospect. Patterson played 2 seasons in junior college before spending just 1 at Tennessee. While he made plenty of big plays as a Volunteer, many of them came in the running and return games. Patterson caught just 46 balls.

OC Norv Turner didn’t mince words when discussing Patterson this offseason.

“A big part of it for him is understanding how detailed and how hard this is to be a receiver in this league,” Turner said. “And then he’s got to put the work in.”

Turner also needs to put some work in, though. He tried to push Patterson into a traditional WR role last season. That’s not who he is -- and he might never be.

HC Mike Zimmer admitted this offseason that his team needs to do a better job of “manufacturing” touches for Patterson. That should mean more quick-hitting passes that get Patterson the ball in space. In 2013, he ranked 6th among WRs with 40+ receptions by averaging 6.4 yards after the catch. That mark dropped to 5.2 last year.

Minnesota can also get Patterson more involved on the ground. After carrying 12 times, averaging 13.2 yards per rush and scoring 3 times as a rookie, he carried 10 times, averaged 11.7 yards and scored just once last year.

With last season’s emergence of WR Charles Johnson and this offseason’s addition of WR Mike Wallace, Patterson is unlikely to be higher than 3rd on the depth chart in 2015. That’s a good spot for him because it will allow the Vikings to deploy him in more unconventional ways.

Of course, it’s not the best spot for his chances of a breakout fantasy season. Johnson and Wallace will be ahead of Patterson in the target pecking order -- and TE Kyle Rudolph might be, too. But if used correctly, Patterson’s big-play ability gives him a chance to be efficient in terms of fantasy points per touch. In 2013, for example, he scored 2.6 PPR points per touch. If he can maintain that rate on 70 touches -- a reachable number this season -- he’d score 184 points. That’s WR3-level production.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Expectations for Patterson need to be adjusted after his ugly sophomore season. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel on this guy. He’s still a young WR with room to improve. And the freaky combination of size and speed remains.

Patterson figures to open the 2015 campaign as Minnesota’s #3 WR behind Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace, which obviously caps his fantasy upside. But if he can improve his efficiency -- and if Minnesota puts him in better spots to use his talents -- he’s capable of WR3 production. You’ll be able to get him much cheaper than that in drafts this summer.

For more on Patterson, give the Draft Sharks Quickie below a listen.

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