Kenny Golladay isn't the WR1 you think he is | Draft Sharks

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Kenny Golladay isn't the WR1 you think he is

By Jared Smola 9:05am EDT 5/28/20

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What You Need to Know:

  • Golladay scored as PPR WR9 last season and was 11th in 8 games with Matt Stafford.
  • He averaged 18.3 yards per catch and posted a 20% TD rate with Stafford — marks he’ll have trouble repeating in 2020.
  • Golladay out-targeted Marvin Jones just 62 to 57 in those 8 games with Stafford, ranking 18th among all WRs in targets over that span.

2019 in review

Golladay’s final 2019 numbers were big: 116 targets, 65 catches, 1,190 yards and 11 TDs. The yardage and TDs were both career highs. Only 5 WRs topped Golladay in yards; none beat him in TDs. He finished 9th at his position in PPR points and 3rd in non-PPR.

But as we look ahead to 2020, it’s more instructive to segment Golladay’s 2019 campaign. He played his final 8 games without QB Matt Stafford and the final 3 without WR Marvin Jones. Impressively, his efficiency barely sunk sans Stafford, from 10.3 yards per target to a still-strong 10.2. His volume unsurprisingly grew without Jones, from 7.2 to 7.7 targets per game.

Those first 8 games — with Stafford and Jones — are most telling, though. Over that stretch, Golladay tallied 35 catches for 640 yards and 7 TDs. He was WR11 in PPR points during that time.

Golladay was uber-efficient with Stafford, hauling in 56.5% of his targets and averaging a huge 18.3 yards per catch. His 2.19 yards per route run ranked 16th among 74 WRs with 30+ targets during that span. Golladay also scored on 7 of his 35 catches from Stafford — a 20% TD rate.

2020 outlook

That efficiency was so impressive that it’s tough to bank on a repeat in 2020. For perspective, Golladay averaged 17.0 and 15.2 yards per catch over his first 2 NFL seasons; 9.9 and 8.9 yards per target. The 20% TD rate is a virtual lock to decline. Golladay scored on 8.2% of his receptions across 2017 and 2018.

His volume from Stafford wasn’t nearly as elite as the production. Golladay drew 62 targets over those first 9 weeks, which ranked just 18th among WRs. He actually edged teammate Marvin Jones by just 5 targets over that stretch. And note that back in 2018, Jones actually beat Golladay 62 targets to 61 in their 9 games together.

On the plus side for Golladay, the Lions didn’t add any significant target competition this offseason. Stafford is reportedly fully recovered from the back injury that ended his 2019 campaign. And OC Darrell Bevell returns to provide scheme continuity.

It’s also worth considering that Golladay is entering his 4th NFL season at 27 years old. Jones is heading into year 9 at age-30. So it’s certainly possible that the gap in targets between these 2 widens in 2020.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Golladay finished 9th in PPR points and 3rd in non-PPR among WRs last year — despite playing without QB Matt Stafford for the final 8 games. So why do we have him ranked lower than that for 2020?

Volume and regression. Golladay ranked just 18th among WRs in targets in his 8 games with Stafford, serving as more of a 1A to Marvin Jones’ 1B than a true alpha. And he’ll have a tough time matching last year’s 18.3 yards per catch, 10.3 yards per target and 20% TD rate with Stafford.

Golladay looks like a nice WR2 with upside into the top 12. But he’ll likely be picked as a top 10 WR in your draft. Pass on him at that price.

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