DeVante Parker has been the talk of the Dolphins offseason thus far as the team’s most improved player. His change in habits and improved play could make him an intriguing fantasy option for 2017.
DeVante Parker has not quite lived up to what the Miami Dolphins intended for him to be when they drafted him in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Staying healthy, and a lack of dedication, have played factors into holding back the player out of Louisville from becoming the dominant threat that the Dolphins believe he can be. This year, however, could be a different story.
Reports from South Florida heading into OTA’s is that Parker has made changes for the better in his eating habits, and overall professionalism. Less than three months ago, head coach Adam Gase called Parker out for his lack of toughness and professionalism. It appears that Parker has taken the mature route at the news, and is considering it as a challenge.
Dolphins coaches are pleased with what they’ve seen so far from Parker this offseason. He’s made changes in his eating habits, sleeping habits, and work ethic on the field. His change for the better has labeled him the Dolphins most improved player this offseason.
It’s far too early to get excited about anything in May, but it’s a promising sign for a player that the Dolphins and their fans once had high hopes on. Many thought that Parker would make the big jump in his second season with a year under his belt, and a new head coach. Statistically he did, but you could sense the feeling that he had taken a step back in some sorts, and that teammate Kenny Stills had surpassed him as the team’s No. 2 receiver.
Stills is back on a new contract, but this could be the year that Parker undoubtedly takes the reigns as Miami’s No. 2 option. If he plays well enough, he may even challenge Jarvis Landry as the team’s primary option. It’s bold I know, but it just goes to show that Parker’s potential and athleticism is there. For that, fantasy players should surely have Parker on their radar come this season.
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Prior to last season, Parker was in a similar spot as a potential breakout candidate for fantasy teams. His upside had many reaching on him in the 5th-6th rounds in most drafts, not too far behind Landry in some cases. I, on the other hand, was a bit hesitant in taking Parker that high as I had not seen or heard much of a difference in his health or strides in his game. The fact that Miami had also drafted two receivers in 2016 made me skeptical as well. This year is a different story, however, and so far I’m liking what I hear.
If Parker can stay healthy, and looks good during training camp and into preseason, he could become a worthy selection at a position that has become the most sought after in fantasy drafts. The concern here is that as time goes on Parker’s draft stock will continue to rise, and he’ll start to become projected even higher than a 5th round pick in some cases. You can wave bye-bye to any type of sleeper status at that point. And it will still be considered a big risk to take a player that early on who only had four touchdowns last season.
Another area of concern to consider from a fantasy perspective is that Parker is on the Dolphins. That’s not to downgrade Miami’s offense at all, quite the opposite actually. The problem here is that Miami’s offense has a ton of weapons now, and Ryan Tannehill likes to spread it out during a game. That’s a great recipe for game strategy, but fantasy owners want the ball to go squarely to their guy.
The ball could be spread out on offense even more this year with the acquisition of Julius Thomas, and Jay Ajayi expected to be more involved in the passing game. These are important factors to consider, but despite all of that, I think Parker is destined for a breakout season in 2017. His size makes me believe that him and Thomas will be battling for red zone targets. Unlike Thomas, Parker also has the ability to go deep at any moment similar to Stills. If he can play to the speed that Miami thinks he can, him and Tannehill could be connecting on a lot of deep passes.
I’m predicting that Parker will more than double his touchdowns from last year, and score double-digit touchdowns in 2017. He may even exceed 1,000-yards receiving for the first time in his career. He’s well worth risking a flyer to take on this year if he can carry over his early offseason success into the preseason and so on. This may finally be the season we see what we’ve all come to expect from Parker since Miami drafted him.