What to Expect When You’re Expecting: WR Corey Davis

Now that the NFL Draft has officially ended and our coveted rookies have found homes for 2017 and beyond, one name has seemed to rise to the consensus 1.01 of rookie mocks: Corey Davis. This is not surprising of course. An amazing athlete was taken 5th overall by a team that desperately needed a number one target to flourish and grow within their offense. And to also be paired with a young, talented, up-and-coming quarterback. Is this not a perfect situation? Is this not exactly what every dynasty owner is looking for? I am sure I am not the first person to say yes, yes it is. Let it be known I am firmly aboard the Corey Davis train, but, like most shiny new toys, the hype can derail any train even before it departs, a la Donte Moncrief, Lamar Miller, Devante Parker, etc. This is not an article that questions his abilities to become an elite fantasy and dynasty asset, but rather a look at realistic expectations from Corey Davis in 2017.

Over the last week, I ran some very scientific Twitter polls to assess what the dynasty community expects from Corey Davis in 2017. Here are the results:

https://twitter.com/AmazeHayes_DFF/status/859941392671547392

https://twitter.com/AmazeHayes_DFF/status/859941099623809024

https://twitter.com/AmazeHayes_DFF/status/859941565720121345

As you can see, the majority of voters expect Davis to finish the year as a WR2 with 900 yards and 6-7 touchdowns. Not bad for a rookie and certainly attainable for an athlete like Davis. To further look into realistic expectations from Davis, I pulled stat lines from the best rookie campaigns in recent history:

Player Year FP WR Rank Targets Receptions Yards TD
Michael Thomas 2016 255.7 7 121 92 1137 9
Kelvin Benjamin 2014 225.8 16 146 73 1008 9
Mike Evans 2014 245.1 13 124 68 1051 12
Odell Beckham Jr 2014 295.0 7 132 91 1305 12
Keenan Allen 2013 219.6 19 105 71 1046 8
AJ Green 2011 218.0 17 116 65 1057 7

As you can see, most of these receivers are great or even elite dynasty assets and have been since year one. Even with the best rookie seasons in recent history, the majority of these receivers finished as mid-WR2s, with the exception of dynasty stud OBJ and new rookie phenom Michael Thomas. However, some people may say, “look at their quarterbacks, I can go for 1,000 yards if I had Drew Brees throwing me the ball.” Well let’s look:

Passing Team Year FP QB Rank Comp. Attempts Yards TDs INTs
Drew Brees NO 2016 422.4 2 471 673 5207 37 15
Cam Newton CAR 2014 312.3 17 262 448 3127 18 12
McCown/Glennon TB 2014 300.8 18 301 530 3623 21 20
Eli Manning NYG 2014 349.6 8 379 601 4410 30 14
Philip Rivers SD 2013 359.7 6 366 582 4624 27 20
Andy Dalton CIN 2011 271.1 16 300 516 3398 20 13

Here are the stat lines from each receivers quarterback in their rookie season. Go ahead, try to find a pattern. You will not be able to. So, if we forget the quarterback position for a minute let’s visit the running back position. Here are the running back stat lines from each receiver’s rookie season:

Rushing Team Year FP RB Rank Attempts Yards TDs
Ingram/Hightower NO 2016 219.2 4 338 1592 10
Jonathan Stewart CAR 2014 99.2 23 176 812 3
Martin/Rainey TB 2014 108.0 21 229 900 3
Jennings/Williams NYG 2014 201.9 3 383 1359 11
Ryan Mathews SD 2013 161.5 11 285 1255 6
Cedric Benson CIN 2011 142.7 15 273 1067 6

Again, find a pattern. You will not be able to. So, what does all this mean? Did I research stats to prove that Davis will have a great year or not for nothing? Maybe, or maybe not. What do we know about Tennessee’s offense that is different from the offenses above? They are a run-first offense. That’s it! If we look at the breakdown of pass-to-run plays, of each of the teams above, there should be differences between them and Tennessee’s breakdown.

Year Team Pass Plays Run Plays Pass% Run%
2016 TEN 536 447 54.53% 45.47%
2016 NO 696 398 63.62% 36.38%
2014 CAR 571 435 56.76% 43.24%
2014 NYG 638 439 59.24% 40.76%
2014 TB 560 334 62.64% 37.36%
2013 SD 628 522 54.61% 45.39%
2011 CIN 614 449 57.76% 42.24%

From here, we can see that the Titans ran the highest percentage of run plays compared to the other teams whose receivers had elite rookie campaigns. Using this, we can throw away Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr. as reliable predictors for Corey Davis’ success just based on how often their teams threw the ball. That leaves Kelvin Benjamin, Keenan Allen, and AJ Green.

Passing Team Year FP QB Rank Comp. Attempts Yards TDs INTs
Marcus Mariota TEN 2016 260.7 9 276 451 3426 26 9
Cam Newton CAR 2014 312.3 17 262 448 3127 18 12
Philip Rivers SD 2013 359.7 6 366 582 4624 27 20
Andy Dalton CIN 2011 271.1 16 300 516 3398 20 13

If we compare Marcus Mariota’s 2016 performance with the performances of 2014 Cam Newton, 2013 Philip Rivers, and 2011 Andy Dalton, we find that Mariota throws the ball significantly less than Rivers and Dalton did, but threw the second highest number of touchdowns with the least amount of interceptions.

Rushing Team Year FP RB Rank Attempts Yards TDs
Murray/Henry TEN 2016 261.7 1 403 1777 14
Jonathan Stewart CAR 2014 99.2 23 176 812 3
Ryan Mathews SD 2013 161.5 11 285 1255 6
Cedric Benson CIN 2011 142.7 15 273 1067 6

Comparing running backs between the Titans and the other three teams, we see that the combined force of Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry significantly outran the other three running backs. Murray alone ran for more yards and touchdowns on only eight more attempts than 2013 Ryan Mathews. This goes to show how committed to the run game the Titans are behind their powerful offensive line and the dynamic duo of Murray and Henry, not to mention Mariota’s abilities to run as well.

Player Year FP WR Rank Targets Receptions Yards TD
Kelvin Benjamin 2014 225.8 16 146 73 1008 9
Keenan Allen 2013 219.6 19 105 71 1046 8
AJ Green 2011 218.0 17 116 65 1057 7

What can we expect from Davis in 2017? Comparing the three receivers below shows us that it might be reasonable to expect around 65-70 receptions for 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns. As a bit of extra evidence to predict Davis’ rookie season expectations, I am currently working on a prototype model to predict how many fantasy points a player will score in a season based on certain variables and factors. Putting Davis into the model, it predicted him to score 14 fantasy points per game in PPR scoring. On a weekly basis that is an average of 5 receptions for 60 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per week. Extrapolating that over a 16-game season would give us a stat line of 80 receptions for 960 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2017. Fantasy wise, that is a yearly total of 224 fantasy points, which in 2016 would have made him WR17 on the year. I will also point out that Mariota’s number one receiver last year was Rishard Matthews, who finished the year as the WR20 with 211.5 fantasy points. His stat line was 65 receptions for 945 yards and 9 touchdowns. As a Corey Davis fan, I firmly believe he can come in his rookie season and essentially be Rishard Matthews in that offense, if not better. His 2017 rookie season is looking very bright, with only better days ahead.

If my work has helped your research or you simply enjoy it, please consider donating. Thank you. You can follow me on Twitter @AmazeHayes_DFF

 

ahayes

Penn State college student and Steelers fan. Been playing fantasy football since 2009 and dynasty football since 2016. Numbers don't lie, people do. Host of the Fantasy Minute podcast on iTunes. @Amazehayes_DFF on Twitter.

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3 Comments

    • Johnny B

      May 14, 2017

      100% agree, and nice article brother – Keep in mind the TE in Titans land is 32 years of age, one of my favorites, but none-the-less did his job for the young Marcus. QB’s that are agile like Mariota can serve as a decoy for defensive schemes, he’s still a fun running QB to watch bar none, but it’s the experience now of the QB in Tenn that should understand how to pepper a kid like Corey Davis early and often. The Titans will face tuff offensive scoring teams in the AFC, and that’s why to me, in Fantasy – I love for Davis to catch & catch and run after catch with sweet air-yards to – the football a ton in Dynasty FF – let alone a PPR friendly league. I don’t see how you can experience buyers remorse if you have the overall # 1 pick this rookie draft day – I happen to have it, so I’m ready to take him and never look back. Johnny B

      Reply
      • Addison Hayes

        May 25, 2017

        Thanks Johnny! I apologize I am just seeing your comment now, but I 100% agree with you. I am firmly aboard the Corey Davis bandwagon and he was my 1.01 before the draft. I definitely believe he has the talent to be a top-5 wide receiver in fantasy one day, maybe even as early as this year, it’s not impossible. I am more excited to watch Tennessee this year than any other team, even Tampa. Good stuff man, if you have the 1.01, take Corey Davis all day!

        Reply
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Michael Thomas - Dynasty Football Factory

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