“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
With this George Santayana quote in mind, I’ve decided to take a look at some my off-season predictions to see where I went wrong so far. The title of this series “So Wrong So Far” refers to the over-arching theme of this series.
The purpose of this series is two-fold. 1. Can anything be gleaned from my incorrect take; and 2. Is there any hope going forward that my original take will eventually come to pass?
Why not wait until the end of the season for this exercise? I believe we learn from our mistakes best when they are still fresh in our mind. And I’ve made enough bad calls that this exercise might take until the end of the fantasy playoffs to finish, and I want to be ready to focus on next season as soon as this one finishes.
To kick off the New Year in 2017 it appears I decided to make my boldest and ultimately worst call of the season:
“I’m not one for bold predictions, but I will go on record with one now. I see Perriman going for 80 receptions, 1,200 yards and 7-10 touchdowns next season.”
Unless Perriman goes off on an unexpected and unprecedented run in the Ravens final seven games, I will be off on this prediction. Badly so. In fact, even if Perriman were to have seven straight 100-yard receiving games to finish the season I’d still need another 400 + yards to be correct on this call. Using PlayerProfiler to look at some Perriman’s stats this season is just a box of sadness. Perriman hasn’t been productive and hasn’t been efficient.
What went wrong?
In the interest of brevity, I’ll just give you the highlights.
After surprisingly being released by Kansas City in June Jeremy Maclin signed with the Ravens after a truncated free agency tour. This should have been an omen that perhaps the Ravens didn’t share my enthusiasm with Perriman’s 2017 outlook. Instead of Perriman absorbing Steve Smiths 100 vacated targets from 2016, at best, he would be forced to share those with Maclin. Maclin leads the Ravens in target share with 18.8% while Perriman sees a tight end like 10.2% of targets. Come to think of it, that’s worse than tight end level involvement, at least based on 37-year-old Ben Watson capturing 16.2% of the Ravens targets.
In August Perriman injured his hamstring and proceeded to miss the entirety of the pre-season. Hindsight being 20/20 this may have been an excellent time to adjust my expectations for his 2017 season. I did no such thing though.
After leading the league in passes attempted per game in both 2015 and 2016, I assumed the Ravens would continue their bombs away approach in 2017. That assumption could not have been more incorrect. In 2016 the Ravens attempted 42.4 passes per game. Through the first 9 games of 2017, they are only attempting 34.2 passes per game (17th in the league). During an off-season weightlifting session, Joe Flacco injured his back and missed the entire pre-season. Flacco’s injury may play a role in the scaled-back Ravens passing attack, though I find that hard to believe. Not the injury causing the Ravens to scale back their passing volume, no that’s completely plausible. I find it hard to believe Flacco has ever lifted weights. Whatever the cause Baltimore is passing less per game and that has severely hampered Perriman’s breakout potential.
Perriman missed all of his rookie season due to a torn PCL and saw his first game action in 2016. In his “rookie” season Perriman went for 39 receptions, 499 yards, and 3 touchdowns finishing as the WR81 (6.7 fantasy points per game). A decent enough stat-line for someone’s rookie season, but probably not the type of numbers that you then project into a WR1 season as a follow-up.
I assumed that Perriman would see an increase in his 46.1% snap share and 10.4% target share from 2016. While Perriman has seen a significant bump of snaps and has been on the field for 54.3% of offensive snaps, his target share has decreased to 10.2%. When factoring in his 25.9% catch rate, it is easy to see why Perriman isn’t producing. In short, Perriman is seeing fewer targets, converting less of those targets in an offense that now skews closer to the mean in pass attempts.
Predicting this in January made no sense. Calling for a 1,200-yard season out of Perriman in January left way too much time for too many things to happen. For all I knew at the time I made this prediction, Perriman could have decided to hang up his cleats to study the mating habits of the Burmese fruit fly. Why the hell would anyone make a definitive pronouncement a full 8 months before the season kicks off is beyond me.
Actually, it’s not. Often we want to be the first one that is “right.” In that haste, many of us will stake a claim before all of the requisite data needed to make a determination is available to us. Sometimes I forget it’s less important to be “right” first than it is just to be “right,” period.
When looking at stats, it’s instructive to also look at the context in which those statistics were compiled. As noted previously the Ravens led the league in pass attempts both in 2015 and 2016. What I failed to take into account is that those passing totals came in unsuccessful seasons. In 2015 Baltimore went 5-11, though they improved to 8-8 in 2016, neither of those seasons can be considered successes. John Harbaugh is not Jeff Fisher. Harbaugh is intelligent enough to recognize when something hasn’t worked and then take corrective actions. The fact that the Ravens are only 4-5 this season is secondary to this point. Just because the change in approach hasn’t manifested itself in a better record doesn’t mean there wasn’t reason to expect a change in approach.
Additionally, I expected too much positive regression. It’s often easy to see what you want to see when looking at stats. I saw Perriman’s 499 receiving yards in what was essentially his rookie season and ignored or explained away his negative indicators. A sub 50% snap share rate, his 50% catch rate and his 10.4% target rate in 2016 should have, at a minimum, made me proceed with caution on what I expected out of Perriman in 2017.
Lastly, it’s hard to remember that progress isn’t always linear. Not every player is going to improve their production numbers from year 1 to year 2 and year 2 to year 3 and so on. There are often peaks and valleys in a players career, and Perriman is most certainly lost in the valley right now.
Perriman has had a terrible 2017 so far and I see no reason for that to change. If you are looking for a reason for optimism look no further then Nelson Agholor. Agholor had a disastrous 2016 season and was written off as a bust by most. He’s bounced back in 2017 to be a bye week/matchup option. I believe Perriman can at least still reach that level of utility for your roster.
That said, in leagues with 25 or fewer roster spaces I have cut Perriman for other options based on need. If you can afford to hold onto Perriman than do so. If someone wants to throw him in as a low-level trade piece I wouldn’t say no, but I’m not actively seeking him in out in any trades. Perriman still has a 1st round draft pedigree and should is still on his rookie contract through 2018. He’ll be given at least one more season to show he can be a productive NFL receiver and you’d be well served to hold onto him where possible.
Thanks for reading. Give me a follow on Twitter @DFF_Shane and we can talk fantasy football anytime you’d like.