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2022 Fantasy Football Sleeper: DeVante Parker

 DeVante Parker traded teams, but he did not trade divisions this offseason.

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots attempted to upgrade their tight end and receiving corps during the 2021 offseason by throwing millions of dollars at the positions. While some signings worked out (Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne), others have been abject failures (Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor). Super sophomore Mac Jones does not have a reliable No. 1 WR to throw to, and that is why the Patriots traded within the AFC East to bring Parker in to be Jones’ go-to guy.

Parker’s fantasy value is at the low point after back-to-back mediocre, injury-riddled campaigns, but here are three reasons why Parker should flourish and be a fantasy sleeper with New England in 2022:

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The No. 1 WR Role is Parker’s to Lose

New England’s roster is stocked with solid-but-not-spectacular receivers. Agholor had one superb season with the Raiders but has otherwise been a disappointment throughout his career. Bourne has proven he can be a No. 2 or No. 3 WR, but he does not have the skill set to be a No. 1. The same can be said about Jakobi Meyers. Second-round pick Tyquan Thornton is flashy and speedy, but rookie receivers do not usually produce major fantasy points in Belichick’s complicated offensive systems.

Parker was Miami’s No. 1 WR for many of his years there, so he knows how to handle it. He does not have to be Randy Moss or Julian Edelman in the Pats offense. As long as he is surehanded and makes the tough catches over the middle and the clutch catches inside the red zone, Belichick will have confidence in him and keep having plays designed for him by the team’s playcallers, Joe Judge and Matt Patricia.

 

New Coordinators Might Mean More Targets For Parker

The jury is still out on whether Josh McDaniels can cut it as a head coach in the NFL, but there is no doubt the man can run an offense. We do not know if the combo of Judge and Patricia can run an offense, but we know they were disasters as head coaches.

New England had a run-first offense whose passing attack focused on short passes that were spread around to every, wide receiver, tight end, and running back in the fold. Now that McDaniels is in Las Vegas, though, could the offensive scheme change? While Belichick will probably not let it go off the rails, tweaking the system could mean focusing on Parker, Henry, and the Patriots' most-skilled players more than giving everyone a couple of targets apiece to keep everybody happy and keep defenses honest.

The Patriots have only had one 1,000-yard receiver over the past four seasons, and a lot of that had to do with refraining from focusing on one pass catcher too much. But if Parker gets off to a hot start and gains the coaching staff’s trust, he could turn out to be Mac Jones’ main man.

 

Parker With Winning Organization and Improving QB

Parker was mired in a Miami soap opera the past few years that was a dynasty of dysfunction. The Dolphins were awful more often than they were a playoff contender during his time on the team. Wide receivers’ fantasy values can get dragged down by the bad teams they are on and the mediocre quarterbacks they play with. That happened to Parker many times when he was a Dolphin.

New England is coached and run better than Miami. If Parker shows his stuff, he will be utilized to the best of his ability and will play for an organization with a culture of winning. That can only mean good things for his fantasy value.

Another thing that will be good for Parker’s fantasy value is having Jones steadily improve as his signal caller. Jones was used more as a game manager than a Tom Brady type during his rookie season, but the restraints should come off more during his sophomore season.

The Patriots might still employ an offense that revolves around power running, but Jones should not be stuck anymore as a conservative quarterback who only throws passes of 10 yards or less. Parker should step up and be someone Jones can count on early and often.

Would it be surprising if Parker finished the season with 600 receiving yards, three touchdowns, and a half-dozen missed games due to injury? Hardly. Would it be surprising if he finished with 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns? Hardly. If Jones develops, Parker stays healthy, and New England’s two-heads-are-better-than-one play-calling plan does not doom the offense, look for Parker to be a solid sleeper that will give WR 2/WR 3 value when he is drafted as a WR4 or WR5.



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