Before I get started, I’m recommending a mandatory three drink minimum for any of you planning to read this full article. Under those guidelines, you should be crushing one about every two minutes. Today, we’ll be taking a look at one of the most consistent and consistently overlooked fantasy players. For reasons beyond my comprehension, Jarvis Landry is one of those players who is slept on most seasons. At only 27 years old, Landry again presents us with an interesting opportunity across both dynasty and redraft formats. As an aside, Landry was face timing me playing Edward 40 hands while I wrote this. That guy can drink.
Jarvis Landry has had a very solid career, both in fantasy and reality. Below, I’ve listed his receiving totals, along with fantasy stats for each of his six NFL seasons.
Assuming 0.5 PPR scoring
Pretty impressive. Outside of his rookie season, Landry has finished no worse than the WR 19 and amassed no fewer than 976 receiving yards. Putting that into context, Landry has finished no worse than a WR2 in five straight years while clocking in as a WR1 in two of those seasons. His incredible consistency
Let’s compare those numbers to some of the receivers being drafted and/or ranked around him in dynasty. I also chose to use receivers within one year of his age.
Tyler Lockett, 27
Allen Robinson, 26
Cooper Kupp, 26
Stefon Diggs, 26
Currently, all of these receivers are going ahead of Landry in startup and redraft formats. While the numbers certainly tell us a different story, it’s entirely possible they outperform Landry this year and onward. Instead of getting into that debate, I think it would be valuable to examine the biggest differences between them.
Miraculously, Landry has been able to play a full 16 games in each one of his NFL seasons. Durability and consistency are attributes that we’d love all fantasy players to have and to date, Landry has epitomized it. Consequently, we need to recognize that Landry’s increased number of games played contributed to his outperformance of some of the aforementioned players. Furthermore, it remains to be seen how Landry will perform upon his return from offseason hip surgery. Reports have been optimistic on his recovery thus far however, those need to be taken with a grain of salt at this stage.
Perhaps my favorite attribute of Landry’s, is that he’s an absolute target hog. Over the last five NFL seasons, Landry has been among the top 10 in cumulative targets on four occasions. On the other occasion, he came in at 17th. Certainly, this type of volume has played a large role in facilitating Landry’s consistent output. A common narrative I’ve run into on Landry, is that he’s so reliant on volume he won’t be a useful fantasy asset once it goes away. Unfortunately, this is a really tough narrative to rebuke for a couple of reasons. First, how much does his volume need to drop for this to be the case? At this point in time, we have no way of knowing. For example, Landry produced 758 yards on 84 receptions in his rookie season and then 1174 yards on 83 receptions last year. Another detractor was that his move to Cleveland would hurt him. Subsequently, it did not. Then, it was that Odell would be eating into his target share and production. In year one, that was not the case. This year, it will inevitably morph into Hooper stealing his targets. I acknowledge it’s possible but, taking a wait and see approach would be wise before reaching any conclusions.
Whatever our opinions on Landry may be, his consistency as a fantasy WR is undeniable. He may not be the sexiest player however; his contributions to date have been stellar. Whether we attribute this to health, volume, situation or whatever else, the points count the same at the end of each week and each season.
The 2020 season presents another hurdle for Landry as he returns from offseason hip surgery in hopes of being ready for Week 1. If his recovery hits a snag, there’s a good chance we see a down year from Landry. I’m no medical expert, so I’m being patient on that front. As a result of the pandemic, there’s a lot more opacity surrounding injuries and rehab than there would be in a normal offseason. This heightened uncertainty presents more heavily skewed risk/reward scenarios for fantasy players.
The Browns made a deliberate effort to improve their offense during the offseason, addressing the offensive line in a big way and adding TE Austin Hooper. In addition to that, I think it’s reasonable for us to anticipate Kareem Hunt being more involved this season, both as a runner and receiver. We should also be anticipating a bounce back of sorts from the uber talented Odell Beckham. What does all this mean for Landry in 2020? Thus far, he has displayed good chemistry with Baker Mayfield, that’s a plus. On the other hand, there’s a very real chance he sees a decline in his number of targets. Less volume should theoretically lead to less production, barring an increase in efficiency. Based on history, I would be willing to take a chance on Landry maintaining his track record of performance, understanding that it’s far from a sure thing.
The Browns also went out and added 38 year old Kevin Stefanski as their head coach of the future. In addition to Stefanski, Alex Van Pelt was added as the new offensive coordinator. With Stefanski’s small sample size and Van Pelt never having been an offensive coordinator before, it’s tough to predict with any accuracy what the Browns offense will look like. I believe that this uncertainty is a negative for Landry’s outlook. Throw in the very real possibility that he could miss all of training camp and preseason with the new staff, and it’s another negative for me.
Long Term Prospects
When looking at Landry and factoring in his age, it’s important to consider what the rest of his career may look like for dynasty players. Currently, Landry is under contract through 2022 which would be his age 30 season. Examining the contract closer, the Browns have an affordable out as soon as next season which means we could see Landry in another uniform in 2021. Therefore, we can only speculate on what that would look like as there are far too many unknowns. What we can investigate more closely, is how Landry’s game will age as he gets older. When looking for older, slot-heavy receivers with numbers similar to Landry, Edelman and Tate came up. Both are at least 4 years older than Landry and have been able to produce solid numbers into their age 31 and beyond seasons. What’s interesting to me is that Edelman and Tate did that with good to great QB play. To date, Landry has done it with very average (at best) QB play. No comparison is perfect and this one has numerous flaws but, it does shed some insight into how successful slot receivers age.
The purpose of this article is not to leave you feeling like Jarvis Landry is a must buy or draft at his current valuation. Rather, it’s meant to be more of a semi in-depth examination of his historical production and the possibility he can continue that into the future. For those reasons, I’m more bullish than bearish on Landry at this point in time.