Apparently some members of the NFL’s 2015 receiver class were on a five-year plan.
Now Breshad Perriman is emerging as a bona fide fantasy asset for the first time with his third different team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And it’s not crazy to consider using him in your championship-game lineup.
Obviously your expectations should be tempered for Perriman, who had more career dropped passes (9) than touchdowns (7) until he busted loose last week with five catches for 113 yards and three touchdowns.
But the 6-foot-2, 215-pound speedster has clearly taken advantage of his increased opportunities in the wake of injuries to fellow Bucs receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Perriman has a total of 13 catches for 270 yards and four TDs over the past three weeks.
“I’m surprised it took this long, I really am. … I can’t say enough about him,” said Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, who pointed out that it was obviously hard for Perriman to emerge with Evans and Godwin ahead of him.
But it’s not just opportunity that has improved for Perriman, who has gradually shown improvement over the past two years with the Cleveland Browns and Buccaneers after his early struggles with the Baltimore Ravens.
As ESPN Buccaneers reporter Jenna Laine pointed out, “The rapport with [Bucs QB Jameis] Winston and Perriman wasn’t there initially” this season, when the receiver caught just nine of 27 targets during the first 10 weeks of the season. But since Week 11, Perriman ranks among the top 10 receivers in the NFL with a catch rate of 71.4%. And he has only one dropped pass over the past two years.
“I think his hard work has just continued to pay off, and that’s what happens,” Winston said.
Laine said most of Perriman’s damage has come on the outside. But the Buccaneers have found a lot of recent success with him on crossing routes, because “that type of speed is tough to defend across the middle of the field.” And he could potentially work more out of the slot with Godwin sidelined for at least one more week.
Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (another disappointing former first-round draft pick) has also finally been on the upswing in recent weeks. As Laine wrote, Winston has the chance to really prove his worth over the next two weeks with a new batch of go-to guys.
Now for the rest of our weekly tour around the league:
Kyle Soppe says there’s no price he’d be comfortable fading Lamar Jackson considering his exceptional season.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson has plenty of happy fantasy owners locking him into their Super Bowl lineups this week. Jamison Hensley wrote about how Jackson’s 2019 season has to be in the conversation about the best ever by a quarterback.
Carolina Panthers: David Newton pointed out that the Panthers have a few intriguing storylines down the stretch, including: the switch to rookie QB Will Grier; Christian McCaffrey’s chase to become the third player in NFL history with 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards; and the uncertain future of tight end Greg Olsen, who will return from a concussion this week.
I also asked Newton if there is any concern that the QB switch could affect receiver DJ Moore, who has quietly emerged as the NFL’s leader in receiving yardage during the second half of the season. Moore has 711 receiving yards since Week 9 and ranks second behind only Michael Thomas in fantasy points among receivers during that stretch.
“Don’t look for that to change with Grier,” Newton said. “Moore’s speed and ability to create separation should make him a prime target no matter who’s throwing — particularly Grier, who has what interim coach Perry Fewell calls a ‘cannon’ of an arm.”
Moore also said, “It’s not no concern. Everybody has the same game plan. We just have to go out there and execute it.”
Mike Clay favors Joe Mixon’s volume and efficiency going into his Week 16 matchup against the Dolphins’ defense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon has also been on a second-half surge after his sluggish start. As Ben Baby wrote, Mixon needs just 75 rushing yards to surpass the 1,000 mark for the second year in a row — which could help set him up for a potential contract extension in the offseason.
Baby also wrote that the long-term injury outlook is positive for receiver A.J. Green, even though he is not expected to play this season.
Cleveland Browns: Odell Beckham Jr. insisted he’s “not going anywhere” after this season despite his recent comments that left his future with the Browns in doubt, wrote Jake Trotter. “We’ll figure this thing out,” Beckham said. “It’s just too special to leave.”
Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams leads the NFL in yards per reception. But as Eric Williams wrote, he is showing that he is more than just a one-trick pony while blossoming into an elite receiver — despite fighting through a nagging knee issue for most of the season. And he should be used even more in the Chargers’ final two games of the season.
Minnesota Vikings: Courtney Cronin said it looks like the Vikings will be down to second-year pro Mike Boone as RB1 after both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison missed practice again Friday. And she likes Boone’s potential in that role. Not only did he run for 56 yards and two TDs on 13 carries last week, but he caught a lot of passes in college and could potentially do some of that Monday night, along with Ameer Abdullah. And as she wrote, the Vikings’ run game should theoretically be sustainable even without Cook because they made depth such a priority at the position.
Mike Clay lists the reasons why he loves Michael Thomas vs. the Titans, including the fact that he is fantasy’s No. 1 wide receiver by almost 60 points.
New Orleans Saints: Wide receiver Michael Thomas is making an assault on the NFL record books. He has a chance to break Marvin Harrison’s record of 143 catches in a season with one whole week to spare.
New York Giants: Last week, Giants reporter Jordan Raanan proclaimed in this column that Saquon Barkley was about to “pop.” Raanan can take a bow after Barkley ran for 112 yards and two TDs. Raanan wrote that Barkley is looking like his pre-injury self.
New York Jets: Coach Adam Gase said he has seen receiver Robby Anderson “make some huge strides this last month.” Rich Cimini wrote that the team explored the idea of trading Anderson earlier this year because of concerns that he might be too soft, a sloppy route runner and one-dimensional. Cimini pointed out that the biggest key for Anderson has been his increased aggressiveness when the ball is in the air — winning more of the so-called “50-50 balls.”
Gase has also been pleased with RB Le’Veon Bell’s recent production as he heads toward a reunion game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, per Cimini. “I feel like the last few outings, it’s looked more like we thought it was going to look,” Gase said.
Philadelphia Eagles: Teammates have been rallying around QB Carson Wentz, as Tim McManus wrote — especially since the team has shifted to a youth movement in the wake of injuries to veteran receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks won’t have any problem leaning on RB Chris Carson after backfield mate Rashaad Penny suffered a season-ending knee injury, as Brady Henderson wrote. Carson delivered in a big way last week with two touchdowns and a career-high 133 rushing yards on 24 carries.