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Darren Waller 2020 Outlook


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Darren Waller had quite a 2019 season. While some of us had sleeper hopes for him, he outperformed all expectations (especially considering he was a late-round or undrafted player in many fantasy leagues). Here are some of his 2019 achievements, across PPR and the NFL overall:

  • #3 TE in Fantasy Points (221.0 FP's)
  • #5 TE in PPG (13.8 PPG)
  • #2 TE in Catches (90). For added context, this was 15 catches more than the #5 TE in 2019.
  • #2 TE in Yards (1,145). 293 yards more than the #5 TE in 2019.
  • #1 TE in 100-Yard Games (5). The next highest was Higbee with 4, followed by Kittle with 3.
  • #3 TE in Targets (117). 19 more than the #5 TE in 2019.
  • #5 TE in PFF Grade (83.1). 
  • #8 Overall in Yards After Catch (570). The only NFL players ahead of him were CMC, Ekeler, Kittle, Thomas, Cook, Godwin & Woods. 

The one thing that held Waller back from a truly monstrous season? Touchdowns...or rather, the lack of them. Waller had just 3 TD's (scored in 2 different games). Many of us can recall several near-misses for Waller in and around the end zone, with poor passes or tackles right at the goal line happening. And also, Waller wasn't targeted nearly as often as he could have been, within the red zone.

For 2020, will the Raiders stick with Derek Carr at QB? Will an added WR to the Raiders (surely they'll be looking to sign someone, draft a rookie, or both) hurt Waller's target share? Will healthier seasons from 2nd-year players Renfrow and Moreau also depress Waller's value? 

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Currently his ADP is 62 (TE6). In 2020, were going to see some regression. I am going to take the wait and see approach, before I decide on him with seeing who they draft. Carr is straight garbage and Waller, should've been closer to 6-7 TDS. There were a few called back from penalties and Carr just flat out missing him. Also, there is another year of film.= on the offense. 

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Some are worried that a full season of Hunter Renfrow and Foster Moreau will cut into Waller's catches and yardage. This is certainly possible. But with positive touchdown regression, Waller might be able to offset some (or all) of the lost catches/yards.

Beyond that, Renfrow and Moreau were not both on the bench for all of Waller's big games. I took a look at all of 5 of Waller's 100-yard games, plus his one other game with a TD, to see if Renfrow, Moreau, and for the heck of it, Tyrell Williams as well, were active or not...

--9/22/19 (Waller goes for 13-134)
Renfrow/Moreau/Williams all played

--10/20/19 (Waller goes for 7-126-2 TD)
Renfrow/Moreau both played; Williams DNP

--10/27/19 (Waller goes for 2-11 but salvages day with a TD)
Renfrow/Moreau/Williams all played

--12/1/19 (Waller goes for 7-100)
Moreau/Williams both played; Renfrow DNP

--12/15/19 (Waller goes for 8-122)
Williams played; Renfrow/Moreau both DNP

--12/29/19 (Waller goes for 6-107)
Renfrow/Williams both played; Moreau DNP

In 5 of 6 games, at least one of the three was out of action (and in one of them, two guys were out). Of course in the NFL, that will often be the case where teams are not 100%. 

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In 2019, Waller became just the 16th TE since the AFL/NFL merger to record at least 1100 yards receiving. I was curious as to how the other 15 TE's did in the season after their first 1100 yard season. Here's the results:

image.png.1fbe3460bf542bd6b8bce5416bf1b368.png

There's a definite decline in the first season after 1100 yards...but almost every TE was a fantasy asset nonetheless.

Basically, 13 of the 15 had good-to-great fantasy TE's in the season after 1100. The only 2 who didn't  - Dallas Clark & Kellen Winslow Jr - both played 10 or less games...and Clark may have ended up with a good season if he didn't get hurt so early in the year.

This doesn't prove anything for Waller in 2020. But it is interesting to see that of the TE's with the biggest yardage seasons, almost all of them put up a strong performance in the following season.

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8 hours ago, dontclapGonorrhea said:

Currently his ADP is 62 (TE6). In 2020, were going to see some regression. I am going to take the wait and see approach, before I decide on him with seeing who they draft. Carr is straight garbage and Waller, should've been closer to 6-7 TDS. There were a few called back from penalties and Carr just flat out missing him. Also, there is another year of film.= on the offense. 

Agree Carr is trash.  But so far in Gruden's offense he has produced the number 5 and 3 TE.  

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  • 2 months later...

Agreed with most here - Waller is probably due for some regression in catches, but the YAC stat should ensure that he's going to post sustainable yards.  It's also reasonable to expect an uptick in touchdowns.  That being said, if he's being drafted at the level of Ertz/Andrews...that's a steep cost for redraft.

I could see a scenario in which Waller posts similar numbers...rookie WRs who seem to have talent and will need some respect from defenses, but may not be ready to be bona fide WR1/WR2 right away.  Raiders' game flow should continue to be positive.

For transparency, I'm likely keeping Waller in a keeper league.

 

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7 minutes ago, rschroeder1 said:

Agreed with most here - Waller is probably due for some regression in catches, but the YAC stat should ensure that he's going to post sustainable yards.  It's also reasonable to expect an uptick in touchdowns.  That being said, if he's being drafted at the level of Ertz/Andrews...that's a steep cost for redraft.

I could see a scenario in which Waller posts similar numbers...rookie WRs who seem to have talent and will need some respect from defenses, but may not be ready to be bona fide WR1/WR2 right away.  Raiders' game flow should continue to be positive.

For transparency, I'm likely keeping Waller in a keeper league.

 

Equally transparently I’ll add I’m leaning towards keeping him, too.  Gruden absolutely loves this guy - even by Gruden standards, he lavished praise on him at every opportunity all last season and off-season.  And Waller rewarded their faith.  His recent comments indicate a commitment this season to 23 personnel - but neither Moreau nor Witten is a legitimate threat to Waller’s target share.  The new draftees are probably going to serve as counters to defenses that try to eliminate their primary passing targets - at least early on.  This is a special player on the rise - and I’d say a strong bet to outperform his 2019 once factoring in positive TD regression.

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Why is everyone here so surprised that hes being drafted around Ertz? He had more fantasy points, had less competition, plays in the most tight end friendly system in the NFL, and seems to be right up there with every other metric you look at to evaluate regression. Less catches and more TDs for 2020? Last time I checked TDs are great things to get from a tight end. Am I missing something?

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21 minutes ago, pushaZ said:

Why is everyone here so surprised that hes being drafted around Ertz? He had more fantasy points, had less competition, plays in the most tight end friendly system in the NFL, and seems to be right up there with every other metric you look at to evaluate regression. Less catches and more TDs for 2020? Last time I checked TDs are great things to get from a tight end. Am I missing something?

I don’t really see too much surprise at that ADP - at least perusing this thread.  But if you’re noticing that, it’s likely due to a combination of Ertz’s well-established consistency (as opposed to one dominant breakout season by Waller) and the fact that the Raiders just received an influx of talent via the draft that might immediately siphon Waller’s targets.

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1 minute ago, BMcP said:

I don’t really see too much surprise at that ADP - at least perusing this thread.  But if you’re noticing that, it’s likely due to a combination of Ertz’s well-established consistency (as opposed to one dominant breakout season by Waller) and the fact that the Raiders just received an influx of talent via the draft that might immediately siphon Waller’s targets.

Ah yeah. Thanks for the input.

If that's the case then I'm definitely not concerned. Ruggs is a low volume receiver who will open up safety attention, and none of the rest of them stand out in any meaningful way. Waller is far and away above Jared Cook for talent and Cook was pretty much consistently a top fantasy producer. So yeah at ADP i still like him better than Ertz (Goedert competition) and Mark Andrews (TD regression). 👍

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9 minutes ago, pushaZ said:

Ah yeah. Thanks for the input.

If that's the case then I'm definitely not concerned. Ruggs is a low volume receiver who will open up safety attention, and none of the rest of them stand out in any meaningful way. Waller is far and away above Jared Cook for talent and Cook was pretty much consistently a top fantasy producer. So yeah at ADP i still like him better than Ertz (Goedert competition) and Mark Andrews (TD regression). 👍

One small caveat: you shouldn’t really look too closely at usage patterns in college to project how players will be used in the NFL.  Ruggs may never have had a major market share of yards in Alabama - but he was playing alongside some guys named Jerry Jeudy and Devonta Smith.  You don’t pick a WR first overall in the most talent-laden WR draft ever if you don’t have big plans for him.  Conversely, you don’t look at how much Edwards dominated his team’s MSY at SC and conclude he’s going to do the same in Vegas.  The concern may be they just have more legitimate offensive weapons now and, therefore, they may distribute the ball a little more evenly than in 2019.

Edited by BMcP
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I think Waller is in for a great season. The speed on outside will pull defenders down field. He’s gonna start reminding people of Kelce. But hopefully Carr is up to the challenge. I think the speed downfield will help Waller and Jacobs.

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Carr and Gruden's WCO is basically the perfect QB/scheme for him.  Carr was extremely accurate in very short range passes, he had the #2 lowest intended air yards per attempt and completed 70.4% of his passes.

https://nextgenstats.nfl.com/stats/passing#average-intended-yards

I dunno what happens if they switch to Mariota.  It probably won't be good.

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4 hours ago, JE7HorseGod said:

Carr and Gruden's WCO is basically the perfect QB/scheme for him.  Carr was extremely accurate in very short range passes, he had the #2 lowest intended air yards per attempt and completed 70.4% of his passes.

https://nextgenstats.nfl.com/stats/passing#average-intended-yards

I dunno what happens if they switch to Mariota.  It probably won't be good.

I always thought it was funny that people expect Mariota to come in and Tannehill someone else, no he's the one who got Tannehill'd and its because hes bad. Don't see how Derek Carr loses out to him, at least Carr can do the basic things.

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17 minutes ago, pushaZ said:

I always thought it was funny that people expect Mariota to come in and Tannehill someone else, no he's the one who got Tannehill'd and its because hes bad. Don't see how Derek Carr loses out to him, at least Carr can do the basic things.

The myth that Gruden is somehow a good coach basically rests on the Bucs getting Keyshawn on a team that Tony Dungy built 17 years ago.

I expect him to be fully capable of some dumb stuff.

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On 5/4/2020 at 6:43 PM, PizzaBeerFF said:

I think Waller is in for a great season. The speed on outside will pull defenders down field. He’s gonna start reminding people of Kelce. But hopefully Carr is up to the challenge. I think the speed downfield will help Waller and Jacobs.

 

i like waller as a player. great skills, great work ethic. but things fell into place for him last season, and i am wary of his opportunities this season. i hope i'm wrong, but i do not see waller a value at his rising ADP. 

hunter renfrow is emerging, and the addition of ruggs (and bryan edwards), and of jason witten, continue the competition for targets. QB shortcomings aside, the defensive upgrades are worth noting (growth of maxx crosby and clelin farrell, addition of cory littleton, a healthy jonathan abram), and if we see a run-heavier approach it shouldn't be a surprise. all that, and two weeks ago in a radio interview gruden mentions how he wants to use 3 TE-sets more regularly? 

love the talent, wary of taking the bet in vegas.

19 hours ago, JE7HorseGod said:

The myth that Gruden is somehow a good coach basically rests on the Bucs getting Keyshawn on a team that Tony Dungy built 17 years ago.

I expect him to be fully capable of some dumb stuff.

 

it's not really a "myth," maybe more of a joke.

at least we don't have to hear gruden as a commentator any more :)

grudensmoothie.gif 

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Waller doing all this damage with only three TD's makes me label him fairly safe.   Nowhere to go but up on the TD front, and clearly clicked with Carr in an offense that has fed the TE the last couple years, as was mentioned.

Obviously he'll go in that 2nd tier of TE's, i'm hoping to find a scenario in which i can get him a half or full round later than a couple of those guys.   There's probably a run on that group in most drafts, if he's in the middle or end of it, and i pick there, come to papa.   

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On 5/7/2020 at 4:17 AM, BrianM said:

Waller doing all this damage with only three TD's makes me label him fairly safe.   Nowhere to go but up on the TD front

@pikerbkb made an interesting remark: they hardly targeted him in the end zone.

image.png.8cef6665e2cba4a4604b835b5892c60a.png

The above are all his plays, ordered by starting position. Indeed they did target him inside the 20, but his efficiency wasn't great, and inside the 10 they mostly used Renfrow and Tyell Williams - and Foster Moreau.

Moreau was used much more in the traditional TE role:

image.png.9270ae42f42feba4d1fb1ff67c20596c.png

It'll be really interesting to see how they use both in 2020. Given Moreau's effectiveness, I wouldn't be surprised to see his usage increase, especially in the Red Zone.

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11 hours ago, Boudewijn said:

@pikerbkb made an interesting remark: they hardly targeted him in the end zone.

image.png.8cef6665e2cba4a4604b835b5892c60a.png

The above are all his plays, ordered by starting position. Indeed they did target him inside the 20, but his efficiency wasn't great, and inside the 10 they mostly used Renfrow and Tyell Williams - and Foster Moreau.

Moreau was used much more in the traditional TE role:

image.png.9270ae42f42feba4d1fb1ff67c20596c.png

It'll be really interesting to see how they use both in 2020. Given Moreau's effectiveness, I wouldn't be surprised to see his usage increase, especially in the Red Zone.

I watched Waller a lot last season and Moreau almost always got the end zone looks. Waller would have to hope he got a seam route from 20 yards out just to score. I might still try to move him for pick 1.12, but I won't care a bit if the trade doesn't make. 

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