WR Fantasy Bust: Davante Adams

When is a perennially elite fantasy player no longer elite? Often, we don’t find out until it’s too late – until we’ve burned a first- or second-round pick on him, and it’s Week 5, and we’re about to go 1-4 while trying to decide whether to sell now before it’s too late (hint: it probably is).

This scenario plays out year after year. So the question is, who will it impact this season? Not Davante Adams, according to most of the fantasy universe. His WR4 ADP suggests smooth sailing for a receiver who’s shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, 2020 and 2021 marked his two best statistical campaigns, as he racked up a combined 2,927 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns, along with his two best catch rates and best drop rates. So what could possibly go wrong in Las Vegas? Who in their right mind would see him as anything other than elite?

To more accurately assess Adams’ likely range of fantasy outcomes, we should fully understand what he did in Green Bay – and why. Because he’s accustomed to being the focal point of the passing game, ranking in the top three in team target share for four straight years.

He’s ranked in the top three in red-zone WR targets for five straight seasons. Since entering his prime years, Adam has arguably never played with a wideout as talented as Hunter Renfrow (post-prime Jordy Nelson doesn’t count). He’s never played with a tight end as talented as Darren Waller.

Why Davante Adams shouldn't be your WR1 in fantasy drafts
Jan 22, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during a NFC Divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Adams’ eliteness has been based on a combination of talent and opportunity. Even if we assume he hasn’t lost a step at age 29 (a fairly safe assumption), we need to weigh the impact of a likely reduced target share, including with respect to fantasy-friendly scoring opportunities. For example, Renfrow was the No. 5 WR last year in red-zone targets, while Waller was the No. 4 TE in 2020.

If the Raiders consistently went to the ground game inside the red zone, and if Adams’ arrival signaled an expansion of Derek Carr’s scoring opportunities, we could see how Adams could thrive as an add-on. But Carr was 10th in red-zone targets last season and fifth the year before. Carr would have to become, in all probability, an elite QB to effectively feed Adams, Renfrow, Waller, his pass-catching backfield, and tertiary receivers. Entirely possible but not something we could confidently bet on.

Yes, we get that Adams is reuniting with his old college QB. Great story. But not as relevant to fantasy as some believe. Adams is priced like he’s still on the Packers, catching balls thrown by one of the most accurate passers of this century. Of course, Carr’s no slouch, and Adams could help elevate him to career highs.

However, we need to assess the odds. What are the odds that Adams, Renfrow, and Waller can all meet their ADP expectations while still accounting for plenty of offense from a talented backfield and solid No. 3 and No. 4 WRs? When you start adding up the yardage and touchdowns needed to align with ADP goals, we’re looking at over 5,000 receiving yards and over 40 touchdowns, and that doesn’t include rushing TDs that could hit 10 or more.

If you believe this Raiders team will be one of the 30 most prolific offenses in NFL history, then Adams is a buy. We have our doubts, especially for a squad with one of the league’s toughest schedules, including potentially tough matchups against the Patriots, 49ers, Rams, and Saints.

Most of the fantasy universe is sold on Adams at or near his WR4 ADP. 90 of 102 experts compiled by Fantasy Pros (88%) rank him inside the top five. All but one expert (99%) place him inside the top eight. We are urging managers to play the percentages and keep Adams outside your top 10.

Davante Adams, LV (WR4 ADP)
Contrarian Prediction: Not a top-10 WR

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