Is Davante Adams the Top WR in Fantasy Football?

Is Davante Adams the Top WR in Fantasy Football? article feature image

Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17).

  • Davante Adams is one of the NFL's best touchdown scorers in recent history.
  • Does he deserve to be the first fantasy football wide receiver drafted in 2019?

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There are more than a few wide receivers theoretically worthy of discussion as the best fantasy football option entering the 2019 season.

The honor essentially boils down to:

  • Davante Adams
  • DeAndre Hopkins
  • Michael Thomas
  • Julio Jones
  • Odell Beckham Jr.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Antonio Brown

In this piece, we’ll breakdown Adams’ chances at once again dominating in 2019 and ultimately decide whether he’s worthy of being the first wide receiver selected in fantasy football drafts.

Davante Adams Is the NFL’s Premier Touchdown Scorer

Aaron Rodgers and Adams connected for just four combined touchdowns during the 2014 and 2015 regular seasons. But they’ve been on the same page since — to an alarming degree — as only Antonio Brown (36) has caught more touchdowns than Adams (35) since 2016. The next receiver is DeAndre Hopkins with “just” 28.

The most devastating part of Adams’ game is his ability to dominate in the red zone. Nobody has come close to matching his 28 touchdowns inside the 20-yard line over the past three seasons.

Players with 15+ receiving touchdowns in the red zone since 2016

Davante Adams (28) đź‘€

Cam Brate (19)
Jordy Nelson (19)
Michael Thomas (19)
Zach Ertz (19)
Travis Kelce (17)
AB (16)
Nuk (16)
Jimmy Graham (16)
Kyle Rudolph (16)
Alshon Jeffery (15)
Larry Fitzgerald (15)

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) April 21, 2019

Even more impressive than Adams’ raw touchdown totals is his efficiency.

Adams (36% touchdown rate on red-zone targets) joins Cameron Brate (45%), Jordy Nelson (37%), Eric Ebron (36%) and Alshon Jeffery (35%) as the only players who have converted at least 35% of their opportunities inside the 20-yard line into scores among 57 players with at least 30 red-zone targets since 2016.

Opponents are fully aware of Adams’ ability and have had their No. 1 cornerback shadow him on several occasions over the past two seasons. Rodgers and his No. 1 receiver have typically found a way to win these matchups.

Davante Adams vs. Shadow Cornerbacks Since 2017

  • vs. Bills CB Tre’Davious White: 8 receptions-81 yards-0 touchdowns
  • vs. Lions CB Darius Slay: 9-140-1
  • vs. Rams CB Marcus Peters: 5-133-0
  • vs. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes: 5-54-1, 8-64-1, 5-69-1
  • vs. Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore: 6-40-1
  • vs. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson: 8-93-1
  • vs. Saints CB Marshon Lattimore: 2-12-0
  • vs. ex-Browns, now-Patriots CB Jason McCourty: 10-84-2

The Force Is Strong Between Adams and Aaron Rodgers

(That header is best read in a Yoda voice.)

There’s been a long history of success for whoever Rodgers has decided to feed the ball to ever since he took over for Brett Favre after the 2007 season. Rodgers’ No. 1 receiver has caught double-digit touchdowns in seven of his 11 seasons as a starter, with the average being a fairly ridiculous 11.1 scores per season.

Rodgers’ success with his top pass-game weapon has been particularly consistent in 41 games with Adams over the past three seasons (including playoffs).

Adams has:

  • Scored 33 touchdowns in 41 games with Rodgers under center
  • Averaged 5.7 receptions per game
  • Caught at least five passes in 26-of-41 games (63%)
  • Averaged nine targets per game during this stretch and has had double-digit targets in 16-of-41 (39%) games
  • Averaged 73 receiving yards per game and has had 10 games with over 100 yards

Adams has scored a touchdown or surpassed 100 receiving yards in 31-of-41 (76%) games with Rodgers since 2016. The only wide receivers who have averaged more PPR points per game than Adams (17.8) over that span are  Hopkins (17.9), Jones (18.2), Beckham (18.8) and Brown (21.4).

Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams

This season probably isn’t a good time to suggest Adams will stop being an elite WR1 in fantasy football because…

Adams Could Lead the NFL in Targets per Game (Again)

There was little doubt who Rodgers and the Packers’ passing game wanted to feature in 2018, but defenses couldn’t stop it anyway.

Adams (11.3 targets per game) joined AB (11.2), Jones (10.6) Smith-Schuster (10.4) OBJ (10.3) and Hopkins (10.2) as the only players with double-digit targets per game in 2018.

Adams finished last season with 169 targets in 15 games, smashing Jordy Nelson’s previous Rodgers-era record of 152 single-season targets. There’s some potential for the Packers (first in pass-play rate in 2018) to run the ball more under new head coach Matt LaFleur (31st with the Titans), but Adams’ status as the offense’s undisputed No. 1 option with a 28% target share makes this less of a concern.

Rodgers loves throwing the football to Adams whenever possible. And why shouldn’t he? The duo is capable of making the impossible possible.

The only notable move the Packers made in the offseason as far as pass catchers are concerned was releasing long-time slot receiver Randall Cobb. Second-year receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling is expected to fill in for Cobb, while Geronimo Allison or Equanimeous St. Brown will likely serve as the other outside option opposite of Adams.

Essentially, there’s hardly any competition for targets in an offense led by one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

We even have evidence that Adams can continue to ball out in a hypothetically devastating scenario in which Rodgers is forced to miss time, as the Packers’ undisputed No. 1 receiver managed to work as the PPR WR13 with Brett-freaking-Hundley under center from Weeks 7 to 14 in 2017.

Football’s only receiver with at least 10 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons boasts the position’s highest floor.

Players with at least 10 receiving touchdowns in a season since 2016:

Davante Adams (3x)

Antonio Brown (2x)
DeAndre Hopkins

Odell Beckham Jr. (1x)
Eric Ebron
Mike Evans
Jimmy Graham
Tyreek Hill
Travis Kelce
Tyler Lockett
Jordy Nelson
Calvin Ridley
Mike Williams

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 21, 2019

Adams is fully deserving of his current status as the No. 2 wide receiver in average draft position for PPR drafts. We haven’t seen what LaFleur’s new offense will look like in Green Bay, but it would be shocking if Rodgers and Co. don’t find a way for Adams to finish the season as a top-five fantasy producer.

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