We hear it everywhere in fantasy circles, like an echo reverberating over the mountains, “Buy-Low!”. This can apply to high level players who have a down year, players coming off injury, and of course players that show potential to breakout. This buy-low candidate is of the latter in nature and his name is Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Your eyebrows may have raised in response and you could be thinking, “No way he will!”. You might be smirking saying, “Yes! Someone else agrees with me.” Or you may be churning the gears of your brain and come up with the response-
Well I am here to delve deeper into “that guy” and show based on: athletic profile, production, opportunity, and most importantly cost why you should be acquiring DPJ.
Data courtesy of Player profile
What immediately stands out about his athletic ability is his speed and burst score. He is fast and can be a deep threat. His height, weight, and hand size is also encouraging. He can win on the outside and won’t be easily overpowered in press coverage. If you explore further by clicking on the link you will see he has a solid breakout age of 19.5. His dominator rating (a big indicator of success) is above 25%. It’s by no means great (30% and up) but also is not sub 25% which is typically a bad sign. At 22, he is still young with a year of experience under his belt and time to grow.
Those numbers don’t immediately jump out at you without context. There is potential and upside hidden behind them with a key to unlocking it. Let’s start with the 14 receptions. That was on only 20 targets over the course of 12 games (2 starts). However, it was a catch rate of 70% (good) with a true catch rate of 87.5% (amazing). For comparison, let’s look right to the number one fantasy wideout last year, in Davante Adams. He had a catch rate of 77% and true catch rate of 88.5%. Now, Adams did this over many more targets so it’s fair to wonder if DPJ could sustain his percentages with much greater volume but the percentages themselves are still encouraging.
Now let’s delve into the yardage because this is where DPJ could be most valuable even without a large target share. 304 yards on 14 catches is an outstanding 21.7 YPC. Couple that with a robust 15.2 YPT and it shows me two major things: 1. Baker Mayfield likes to look for DPJ down the field and 2. When he catches it, it is often a big gain with YAC. The importance of this is two-fold. This indicates that he can be productive on fewer targets, but more importantly, that Baker has trust in him to target him deep. This brings us to his touchdown scoring upside.
DPJ had only 2 TDs, but in reality, with such few receptions that was a TD rate of one per every seven receptions. In and of itself, that’s good but what makes it more encouraging is the nature of both. The TD in the clip above was a game winner which showed off both the trust Baker has in him and the desire to target him deep. The second, was a 75-yard bomb which reiterates his deep ball connection while showing off the speed/YAC ability DPJ possesses.
The production and athletic ability is key but none of that matters without opportunities. Fantasy football is about opportunity. If DPJ never gets more than 20 targets he won’t be relevant no matter how productive he is with them. So it’s imperative we explore where the opportunities may come from.
The most obvious place to look is Rashard Higgins. He was largely the Browns WR3 and, when Odell Beckham Jr. went down, was the de-facto number two option.
courtesy of pro-football-reference.com
As you can see above, his targets and production saw a solid uptick once OBJ went down with injury. The importance of this is that Higgins is a free agent. Could the Browns resign him? Yes and that would likely keep DPJ off the field enough that the opportunity wouldn’t rise, even moderately, to make him more than a deep stash for next season.
However, let’s say Higgins moves elsewhere. Now DPJ likely slots in as WR3, which allows for him to see the field more often and likely a modest increase in targets and production. Will it be enough to make him a viable fantasy asset next year? Probably not barring an occasional hunch flex play due to injuries/bye weeks on your roster. What it does do however is provide another avenue to opportunity.
By becoming the WR3 and seeing a higher snap share it would allow DPJ to gain more experience, develop more chemistry with Mayfield. This would also allow him to be the biggest benefactor if injury should arise to Jarvis Landry or Beckham again. Yet another factor by climbing the depth chart this year is that contract issues/age concerns/trade rumors all become issues for the WRs (largely OBJ) above him on the depth chart.
Dynasty is often about playing the long game. This off-season is still a chance to acquire DPJ relatively cheap. If he does indeed become WR3 and has a modest increase in production his cost will undoubtedly rise. If OBJ is traded mid-season or injured yet again then DPJ miraculously slotting in as WR2 is a real possibility. Cost to acquire then becomes even greater.
A trade I did recently to acquire him was as follows:
To break it down this is a “decent” example of buying low. I view Slayton as trending down after a disappointing sophomore season. There is also a high probability the Giants bring in a big-time WR free agent or draft one. DPJ obviously did not produce as well as Slayton but, to me, his opportunity and upside is higher. I’m betting that DPJ or the player I acquired at 3.03 has, at worst, an equal shot to match Slayton. At best, either or both, can become better than him.
Others might be willing to part with him for even less though. Try sending out a mid-late 3rd and see if that does it. Maybe there is a slight add on (of an aging player) that fills a team need of your opponent that you can work into the deal. The time is now to make a move because you know he is still a cheap acquisition. Will Higgins stay? Will OBJ remain healthy and not be traded? Sure, those are real possibilities and that would make DPJ a cheap buy again during or after next season as well. But why risk waiting?