Davante Adams Is the NFL’s Best WR — Not Michael Thomas
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Davante Adams
When Davante Adams entered the NFL in 2014, he was just a big-bodied bully-ball receiver with an inflated 233-3,031-38 receiving line in two years at Fresno State.
In his first two NFL seasons, he struggled mightily.
He had flashes: In Week 13 of his rookie year, he led the Packers with 6-121-0 receiving on 11 targets in a 26-21 road win over the mighty Patriots, who had the shutdown cornerback duo of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.
In his first playoff game — a classic 26-21 home win over the Cowboys — Adams was a team-best 7-117-1 receiving on 11 targets. (By the way, Dez Bryant caught that ball.)
And in one 2015 game, Adams got an unholy 21 targets — plus a two-point attempt that would have tied the game in the final minute if he had caught it — in the ultimate display of trust from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers’ relationship with Adams is probably the longest one he’s ever had.
But Lysander’s words in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are just as true now as they were when Shakespeare wrote them: “The course of true love never did run smooth.”
In his first two regular seasons, only three wide receivers with 100-plus targets had marks worse than Adams’ 5.8 yards per target: Cecil Shorts (5.6), Jeremy Kerley (5.6) and Tavon Austin (5.5). Adams was No. 83 out of 86 qualifiers. He was arguably not good enough to be an NFL starter.
But Adams worked at his craft. He honed his technique. He did the work on the field and in the film room. He fashioned himself into a master route-running artist.
In his third year, Adams put it all together with a 75-997-12 breakout campaign, and since then, he has been one of the league’s best receivers.
In the post-Jordy Nelson era in particular, Adams has been exceptional: Since 2018, Adams has been the NFL’s most productive wide receiver on a per-game basis (including postseason, per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool).
- Fantasy Production: 22.8 DraftKings points | +5.03 Plus/Minus | 76.7% Consistency Rating
- Football Production: 94.6 yards and 0.73 touchdowns on 7.5 receptions and 11.2 targets
Week in and week out for the past two-plus seasons, Adams has crushed his salary-based expectations unlike any other wide receiver.
- Michael Thomas: 22.2 DraftKings points | +2.54 Plus/Minus | 58.3% Consistency Rating
- Julio Jones: 21.2 DraftKings points | +2.68 Plus/Minus | 56.3% Consistency Rating
- DeAndre Hopkins: 20.1 DraftKings points | +1.68 Plus/Minus | 47.2% Consistency Rating
These three All-Pro talents have been great, but Adams has been better. Since 2018, Adams has been a fantasy WR1 in 57% of his 28 regular-season games (per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
That kind of consistency at wide receiver is incogitable.
In each of the past two years, Adams has been a top-three producer in DraftKings points per snap (per Pro Football Focus):
- 2019: 0.37 (2nd)
- 2018: 0.36 (3rd)
And then in Week 1 … well, you saw what happened. Adams dominated the Vikings with an orgasm-inducing slate-best 14-156-2 receiving performance on 17 targets. Naturally, he was in the Millionaire Maker-winning lineup (per our FantasyLabs Contests Dashboard).
Adams is an All-Pro receiver without the recognition.
For most of the past two years, Thomas has been the consensus No. 1 wide receiver in dynasty, but I think the question needs to be asked: Should Adams be No. 1?
Since 2018 (including postseason) …
– Davante Adams: 7.5-94.6-0.73 on 11.2 targets
– Michael Thomas: 8.3-95.1-0.53 on 10.2 targets
Adams is not even three months older than Thomas, and both guys have uncertain QB situations in the future.
Should Adams be the WR1 in dynasty?
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 17, 2020
Adams has the usage and the talent to make a case — because right now he’s the NFL’s best receiver, not Michael Thomas.