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Rookie Spotlight - Parris Campbell

The dormant weeks of the offseason are long gone, rosters have been transformed during free agency and the NFL Draft, and the offseason calendar has now progressed toward OTAs. Activities also continue for fantasy owners, as roster decisions remain ongoing in dynasty leagues, while the ever-enticing Best Ball drafts remain entrenched as popular vehicles that also function as a mechanism toward refining preparation for redraft leagues.

At RotoBaller, we remain fully dedicated to assisting with your decision-making process in every format. That includes our profiles of various rookies who will soon begin their efforts to attain an integral role with their new franchises, and boost the scoring totals of any owners who selected them for their rosters.

This breakdown will focus on Parris Campbell, who should benefit from landing in one of the more favorable environments among this year’s rookie class. Not only does he receive an opportunity to perform in a passing attack that ranked sixth in 2018 (279 yards-per-game), but he will be operating within an offense that will be schematically designed for him to flourish.


Statistical Surge As A Senior 

Before Campbell became the seventh wide receiver to be chosen during April’s NFL Draft, he performed in 43 games during his four seasons at Ohio State. He entered his senior year with career totals of 53 receptions, 705 yards, and three touchdowns, after accumulating those numbers during his sophomore and junior seasons (2016/2017). But he obliterated that uninspiring output in 2018, by finishing eighth among all receivers (FBS) with 90 receptions (6.4 per game), and generating 12 touchdowns. He also joined four other receivers in school history that have eclipsed 1,000 yards in one season (1,063/76 per-game).

Campbell collected at least six receptions in nine different contests last season, including the season-high 11 that he accrued during the Buckeyes’ Rose Bowl matchup. The sizable rise in his output during his final year is not without precedent among high profile receivers at Ohio State in recent seasons. Curtis Samuel’s numbers in 2014/2015 (33 receptions/384 yards/2 touchdowns) dramatically improved to 74 receptions/865 yards/7 touchdowns in 2016.

Michael Thomas was able to deliver similar results in each of his final two seasons as a Buckeye (2014-54 receptions/799 yards/9 touchdowns/2015-56 receptions/781 yards/9 touchdowns). However, the production that Thomas attained did not reach the output that Campbell manufactured last season.

Campbell also assembled 913 yards while returning kickoffs in 2016-2017, and exhibited the footwork and acceleration that can also establish him as an effective generator of chunk yards.


Appealing Attributes   

Even though opinions vary regarding the prospects of success for nearly every receiver from this rookie class (beyond N’Keal Harry), Campbell has a legitimate chance to generate production at a level that exceeds the Colts’ investment of the 59th overall pick.

His blazing speed was on display at the NFL Combine, when he delivered a 4.31-40 which tied him for fastest at his position. Campbell’s former coach Urban Meyer has also stated that he is a “Percy Harvin-type talent" who, when he has the ball in his hand, "is electric”. This also references the former receiver that stockpiled 3,781 yards and 32 touchdowns when Meyer led Florida’s program from 2006-2008. Even if that comp creates unease, Campbell had the good fortune of being drafted by a team that has the coaching acumen to capitalize on his capabilities as a difference-maker.

Campbell’s usage contained a large percentage of quick routes at Ohio State, and he is adept at locating soft spots in coverage. Opponents will be compelled to respect his speed, which should enhance his opportunities to gain separation, and help him excel on short routes and screens at the professional level.

It is also reasonable to expect an increase in his opportunities to establish himself as a vertical presence, as his speed provides the potential for him to scorch opposing defenders, accumulate yards after the catch, and emerge as a downfield weapon that transcends the level that we witnessed at Ohio State.


Joining A Potent Passing Attack

It is understandable to have a concern regarding Campbell’s competition for touches due to the dynamic collection of options that permeate the Colts’ potent attack. T.Y Hilton will return as Indy’s WR1 after generating the league’s 10th highest yardage total in just 14 games last season. Hilton also finished sixth with 90/7 yards-per-game, led the Colts with 120 targets, and remains entrenched as the team’s premier receiving weapon.

Even though Devin Funchess’ snap count plummeted as his final season with Carolina unfolded in 2018, he can still supply the Colts with a consistent presence opposite Hilton. Funchess did tie for seventh among all wide receivers with eight touchdowns in 2017, while also leading the Panthers in red zone targets (15) and receiving yards (840).

Deon CainChester Rogers, Zach Pascal, and Daurice Fountain will also be contending for favorable roles within the Colts’ seemingly congested depth chart at wide receiver. However, Campbell should ascend into WR3 responsibilities in coordination with Hilton and Funchess, while the remaining candidates will battle for a smaller percentage of opportunities. Eric Ebron was second to Hilton in targets last season (110) and will be blended with Jack Doyle (108 targets in 2017) if Doyle recovers from hip surgery that could sideline him throughout the team's offseason program. Receiving back Nyheim Hines (81 targets) will join the wide receivers and tight ends in seizing his share of passes from Andrew Luck.


Landing In A Favorable Environment

Any remaining trepidation about Indy's assemblage of receiving weapons should also be offset by the knowledge that Indianapolis finished ninth in pass play percentage during 2018 (61.6%). This propensity to rely upon the team's aerial attack should ensure that enough targets will be distributed to Campbell for him to remain viable throughout the year.

Campbell will also be operating in an environment that is conducive to utilizing the strengths of each offensive component and allowing each player to thrive through matchup advantages that are schematically crafted by Frank Reich. Reich’s prowess for game-specific wizardry will now be expanded to include distinct usage of Campbell’s speed, and potential to explode for huge gains. The results should deliver favorable output for owners during various contests throughout the season.

Campbell will benefit even further through his association with Luck, who can be trusted to locate Campbell and accurately direct passes in his direction.  Campbell’s inside routes should develop as Hilton functions as an ongoing downfield threat that will command the attention of opposing defenses. Funchess can be deployed opposite Hilton, while also providing Luck with a 6’4”, 225-pound presence in the red zone. Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni can amend the script whenever they locate appealing opportunities to exploit distinct mismatches.


Campbell’s Outlook

Campbell’s mixture of strengths will supply Reich with a new element from which to concoct yet another collection of game-specific schemes. This will enable him to deploy Campbell in situations that will allow Luck to exploit mismatches that exist with Indy’s opponents. These schematic advantages will also be utilized effectively with the Colts’ other offensive weaponry, which will destine Campbell to some weeks with modest output. However, that is a byproduct of Indy’s burgeoning collection of weaponry.

The likelihood that he will deliver multiple weeks of high-quality production makes him an enticing target in best ball leagues, and his output will only improve for dynasty owners as his career expands beyond 2019. The number of contests in which he will accumulate respectable numbers should be sufficient for owners in redraft leagues to remain satisfied with their investment. At this point of the offseason, a reasonable projection for Campbell is 45 receptions, 600+ yards, and four touchdowns as a receiver, which will be enhanced by 45 additional yards on the ground.

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