Undervalued & overvalued dynasty players in 2020: DeVante Parker & Diontae Johnson

DeVante Parker and Diontae Johnson both had impressive 2019 seasons. Find out why one is being overvalued and the other undervalued in dynasty leagues for 2020.

The offseason can be a difficult time for dynasty values. Those on your roster aren’t picking up any points, and there’s something incredibly tempting about making trades. There are also a ton of opportunities around for the savvy player. But who is being overvalued, and who is being undervalued in dynasty in 2020? In that regard, what should you do with DeVante Parker and Diontae Johnson in your dynasty league?

Last week, I looked at Hunter Renfrow and Brandin Cooks, while my first column focused on David Johnson and Ryan Tannehill. 

Overvalued: DeVante Parker is at his dynasty ceiling

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been drafting DeVante Parker in every league that you’re in since he was drafted in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Louisville. If the saying is “once bitten, twice shy,” then I’ve been thoroughly devoured by this point.

But, strangely enough, I’m bowing out of the DVP sweepstakes this year.

Hear me out. Yes, I’ve gone back to the well after multiple sub-500 yard seasons, two single-touchdown years and game logs that make Corey Davis look like Mr. Dependable. But that was always done at a discount. That was always done based on the possibility of Parker reaching his potential… and I think that 2019 might be the best output we see from Parker. It may have been his Sistine Chapel.

To record 72 receptions, 1,202 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns would be an impressive season for anybody. If you’re looking at stats, then he was objectively better than DeAndre Hopkins, who was a first-team All-Pro for the third consecutive season. The Miami Dolphins rewarded him with a four-year, $40 million extension.

My issue with Parker is that everything went right for him in 2019. At quarterback, he had noted gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose Economics degree from Harvard must have included a class on maximizing the value of your wide receivers. Fitzpatrick has contributed to big seasons for Stevie Johnson and an aging Brandon Marshall in the past, both of whom fell off notably afterward.

Trading Kenny Stills on the eve of the season and one of the worst running games in the league meant that Parker was always going to receive targets. But it wasn’t until an injury put an end to fellow wide receiver Preston Williams’ promising rookie season that Parker became the unquestioned top option.

In the first eight games, Parker averaged 6.5 targets. In the final eight games, he averaged 9.5 targets. Williams only played in the first eight games. Full recovery from an ACL tear is by no means a certainty, but the optimism is that Williams will be ready for the season. If that’s the case, then the expectation is that he’ll be an important part of the Dolphins’ passing attack, potentially reducing the opportunities for Parker.

Parker’s PFN Offensive Share Metric (OSM) score of 28.03 last year made him the WR84 on the season. With the Dolphins likely to take one of the top quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft, we could be looking at a completely different offense, and that might not bode well for Parker in dynasty.

Offensive coordinators tend to try to simplify the playbook for inexperienced QBs and reduce the risk. This should favor those players with higher OSM grades, who have shown safe hands and the ability to separate, amongst other things. Parker is a big-play threat who wins deep.

DeVante Parker is a talented player, but the number of question marks makes him a risky proposition in the range that he’s currently being drafted in dynasty leagues. In our Dynasty Startup Mock Draft, he was taken in the same range as Adam Thielen, who posted consecutive 1,250+ receiving yard seasons prior to his disappointing 2019.

Undervalued: Diontae Johnson could be a fantasy breakout in dynasty

Diontae Johnson was a surprise pick in the 2019 NFL Draft when the Pittsburgh Steelers took him in the third round. But perhaps he shouldn’t have been. An incredibly productive sophomore season at Toledo put him in prime position to vault up draft boards. Unfortunately, he took a step back as a junior. Quarterback issues surrounded him, and while he still led the team in receiving, he was unable to make the impression that he did a year previously.

Still, the Steelers liked what they saw and claimed post-draft that they had a first-round grade on him. His crisp route running, combined with the fact that he came out of a MAC school, immediately drew comparisons with former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Despite this, he could often be acquired late in rookie drafts.

The Steelers offense sputtered out of the gate, scoring just three points against the New England Patriots in Week 1. Things got even worse in Week 2 when franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured his elbow, and the team announced that he would miss the rest of the season.

Just when it looked as if poor quarterback play was a thing of the past for Johnson, he was forced to rely on Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges to get him the ball. Despite this, he performed well, leading the team with 92 targets, 59 receptions, and five receiving touchdowns. His 680 receiving yards trailed only James Washington.

The expectation is that Roethlisberger’s return rejuvenates the Steelers’ offense. Having had the second-highest passing yards per game in both 2017 and 2018, they had the second-fewest in 2019. The fact that Johnson was able to have the statistical season that he did while the Steelers dropped from 313 passing yards per game in 2018 to 186 per game in 2019 is a testament to his talent.

While Johnson hasn’t built chemistry with Roethlisberger yet, his OSM score of 36.12 was the 12th best for the position and a promising sign of his potential. With JuJu Smith-Schuster expected to bounce back in 2020, the expectation is that he will continue to draw the attention of opposing defenses. That will leave a big opportunity for a number two wide receiver. If Johnson can continue to develop, then he should feast when facing single coverage.

But where should you draft Diontae Johnson in dynasty, and what is his trade value? Just looking at players who have been valued similarly, I would prefer Johnson to Jamison Crowder. His upside far exceeds the New York Jets receiver. I’d also take him before I took Sammy Watkins, whose ceiling is the third receiving option on his team, and even if he ends up elsewhere, has underwhelmed throughout his career.

I don’t think that he’ll ever be considered among the best WRs in the game, but could Johnson be a 1,000-yard receiver? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Come back next week for the fourth installment of the overvalued and undervalued dynasty players in 2020 by Andy Gallagher.

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