Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick began the 2020 NFL season as a virtual unknown in the fantasy football community. Still, the third-year pro from Utah has worked his way into WR3 territory so far this season. The Broncos were desperate for a No. 1 receiving option to emerge after Courtland Sutton’s unfortunate season-ending knee injury. Thus far, Patrick has been the most consistent wide receiver weapon in Denver.
Even though the wide receiver has been a steady contributor all season, there remain questions about Patrick’s ability to maintain the status quo. Can Tim Patrick remain Denver’s WR1 in fantasy football for the remainder of the season, or is he simply keeping the seat warm for 2020 first-round pick Jerry Jeudy?
Tim Patrick emerges as Denver’s No. 1 WR in fantasy football
Having been mostly written off after Denver drafted wide receivers Jeudy (No. 15 overall) and K.J. Hamler (No. 46 overall) with their first two picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tim Patrick has ascended the Broncos wide receiver depth chart en route to sitting as the WR36 (PPR formats) six weeks into the fantasy football season.
After beginning the season as Denver’s sixth or seventh skill-position option (Sutton, Jeudy, Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, Hamler), Patrick has emerged as Denver’s WR1 in real-life and fantasy football. Patrick has 100 or more receiving yards in consecutive games and has a 29% target share over that span. In Week 6, Patrick led Denver’s wide receiver group with 59/64 snaps (92%) and received a team-high eight targets. It might not be a sexy play, but Patrick looks like the only wide receiver you can trust in Denver’s offense.
While Patrick has earned his WR36 ranking this season, we have to look deeper at his season using the Pro Football Network analytics. Despite catching passes from three different quarterbacks this season, Patrick has put forth a 3.18 Consistency Score in 2020, good enough for WR43 on the season. While that 3.18 number might not seem significant initially, Patrick’s Consistency Score is higher than wide receivers Marquise Brown, Michael Gallup, and Juju Smith-Schuster, among others.
Using Expected Fantasy Points and Fantasy Points Differential, we see that Tim Patrick has exceeded expectations. Patrick’s volume in 2020 has him projected at 49.77 fantasy points, but the wide receiver has scored 63 fantasy points on the season. That 27% Fantasy Points Differential is the 22nd best wide receiver score of the season.
Courtland Sutton’s ACL injury opens the door for Patrick
The loss of No. 1 wide receiver Courtland Sutton has undoubtedly played a role in Patrick’s emergence on the scene. Using the RotoViz game-splits app, we see that Tim Patrick’s fantasy numbers take a massive dip with Sutton on the field.
Tim Patrick has averaged 5.8 PPR points-per-game in 18 games with Sutton on the field, but his fantasy football numbers spike up dramatically with Denver’s No. 1 WR sidelined. In the four games without Sutton, Patrick’s PPR average jumps up to 14.65 points-per-game. While this four-game sample size is hardly enough to draw strong opinions about player values, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Sutton’s loss helps to boost up Patrick’s fantasy stock.
For those of you worried about Noah Fant’s return siphoning off some of Patrick’s target-share, the numbers tell us that the tight end doesn’t negatively impact the wide receiver. Tim Patrick has averaged more fantasy points (7.88 PPR points-per-game) with Fant on the field than with him sidelined (6.94 PPR points-per-game). This tells us that while Sutton’s absence opens up wide receiver targets, Patrick is a less effective player when Fant isn’t drawing attention underneath.
While Week 7’s potential snow-day matchup with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs is looking like a tough draw, there’s no reason to think Patrick’s ascending fantasy star is going to burn out over the next month. Even if first-rounder Jeudy starts to command more of a target share in Denver’s offense, Patrick figures to remain at least FLEX-worthy with No. 1 wide receiver Sutton out for the remainder of the season.
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Jordan Woodson is a fantasy football analyst for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter @Jordan_Woodson.