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The Tape Tells All - Breshad Perriman Fantasy Outlook

Welcome to another edition of "The Tape Tells All," where I break down some film of an NFL's player performance and try to draw some fantasy football conclusions from that film.

Just kidding. I'm currently visiting my wife's family and the Internet access I have is pretty old school, as in "I can not actually load any videos, much less make clips from those videos and then turn those clips into GIFs that I post here."

So, instead, this week's Tape Tells All is all about what's not on tape. Let's crunch some numbers on Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman and try to figure out without looking at last Sunday's game if he can be a fantasy league winner in Week 16.

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Background Information

The Baltimore Ravens spent a first round pick on Perriman in 2015. He was one of six wide receivers taken in the first round that year, and while Amari Cooper has been good and Devante Parker is finally breaking out, the rest of that first round wideout class -- Kevin Whitem Nelson Agholor, and Phillip Dorsett -- has largely not played up to that first round billing.

Perriman hadn't either until Sunday. After missing his rookie year, Perriman played all 16 games in 2016, catching 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns. That's fine, but then in 2017 he had just 10 catches for 77 yards in 11 games, which is not fine. He was cut in September 2018, then signed in Washington and was cut a week later. In October of last year, he signed with the Browns and finished the year with 16 catches for 340 yards and two scores. He showed himself to be a capable deep threat and Tampa Bay gave him a one-year deal this offseason.

Through Week 12, Perriman's 2019 campaign was...about what we probably expected based on his track record. He'd caught just 11 of his 32 targets for 139 yards and a touchdown and was very clearly behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in the pecking order for Tampa Bay. His snap rate was fluctuating pretty wildly, from a high of 70 percent to a low of seven percent.

In Week 13, Perriman got a little more usage, catching five of six targets for 87 yards, but it was Week 14 after Mike Evans' hamstring injury where things started to turn. Playing 83 percent of the team's snaps, Perriman caught three passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.

In that game, Perriman was ninth for the week in average targeted air yards and ninth in yards after catch per reception (minimum five targets). All that foreshadowed what would happen in Week 15.


The Game Numbers

Let's break down some things from Perriman's big Week 15.

First, the numbers: Five catches for 113 yards and three touchdowns. He played 89 percent of the team's snaps.

And with Chris Godwin and Scott Miller both exiting with hamstring injuries, Perriman led a receiving corps that looks extremely thin on paper. The other receivers who got into this game? Justin Watson and Ishmael Hyman. If the hamstring injuries hold the team's other receivers out this week, those will be the guys who suit up opposite Perriman.

No NFL player with at least five targets had a higher averaged targeted air yards number in Week 15, with Perriman's 20.3 pacing the league.

A big part of that is about who the quarterback is. Surprisingly, Jameis Winston doesn't lead the NFL in average intended air yards, but he is second behind Matthew Stafford, and they're the only quarterbacks to average over 10 air yards per throw. Winston is the NFL leader in passing yards and is second to Lamar Jackson in touchdown passes. He also leads the league with 24 interceptions, but in Winston's case those picks are indicative of how he plays the game: take risks and launch it deep. There's a reason that two of the top four receivers in terms of yardage this year play on the same team, and that reason is the combination of Winston and head coach Bruce Arians creates an aggressive, downfield offensive attack that emphasizes throwing to outside receivers.

Sunday did suggest that Arians and Winston were willing to shift some things around and get the tight ends more involved, with Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard combining for 15 targets, but Perriman is the team's deep guy right now.

Per Sharp Football Stats, the Buccaneers had a 59 percent success rate on pass plays against the Lions, including 10 explosive passes. Perriman's five catches all went for first downs, with four counting as explosive. Their TOARS metric (target and output adjusted receiving success) has Perriman at 3.2 for the week, which isn't great -- 3.2 wouldn't be in the top 100 of the league for the year -- but was the best mark on the team.

I think you'd be more comfortable with Perriman if he was targeted more, which definitely could happen with Chris Godwin likely out, but Sunday showed us that he can take advantage of the targets that he does get and produce numbers that remind us why he was a former first rounder


Fantasy Impact

So, let's get down to the big question:

Should I start Breshad Perriman in Week 16 with my season on the line.

I think the answer to this has to be yes. I get the whole "dance with who you came with" logic, but two counterpoints to that: first, Mike Evans or Chris Godwin might have brought you here, in which case you need someone who can mimic their production, and second, Perriman's got more upside than [insert wide receiver you've been flexing in and haven't been happy about flexing in.]

I would consider Perriman a WR2 in standard and somewhere on the WR2/WR3 divide in PPR leagues. He's got the upside to be more, but you shouldn't be betting on him scoring three touchdowns again. His chances of getting into the end zone at least once is high, though, with him functioning as the top option in this Arians/Winston offense.

Let's play a quick game called Who would you start?

Would I start Perriman over Adam Thielen? Yeah, I think so, because I'd be scared to trust Thielen this week.

Would I start Perriman over Darius Slayton? Both guys have shown big play potential, but yes, I'd go with Perriman in this one because of the offensive system.

Would I start Perriman over Terry McLaurin? Probably, but it's close, since we at least have a track record of seeing McLaurin play well this year.

Would I start Perriman over A.J. Brown? No.

But I'd start Perriman in a lot of scenarios, and as a Godwin owner who is now playing against Perriman in a fantasy championship game, I'm incredibly scared about what kind of things the former Raven can do this week.

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