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What should we expect in fantasy from Kenny Golladay’s 2020 debut?

What should we expect in fantasy football for Kenny Golladay's 2020 debut?
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 29: Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions celebrates a late fourth quarter touchdown during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Ford Field on September 29, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

After missing the first two weeks of the season, Kenny Golladay is finally expected to make his 2020 fantasy debut in Week 3 as the Detroit Lions take on the Arizona Cardinals. Many fantasy football managers are excited to get the 6’4″, fourth-year receiver they spent a second-round pick on into their starting lineups. But what kind of realistic expectations should we have for Golladay in his first week back to action?

While Golladay is going to return to his “stud” status by the end of the year, expectations should be tempered in Week 3. While his health status looks promising, rust and a tough matchup project Golladay to finish as a WR2 in his 2020 debut.

How did Kenny Golladay perform for fantasy football last season?

With 2020 in full swing, 2019 already seems like a fading dream. But since a hamstring injury has kept Golladay off the field thus far, last season is the only relevant information we have. So it’s important to take a moment to quickly remind ourselves what Golladay did for rosters the last time we saw him on the field.

In his third year at the pro level, Golladay shined with 116 targets that he turned into 65 receptions, 1,190 yards, and a career-high and league-leading 11 touchdowns. This turned into 215.5 fantasy points, making him the sixth overall reciever in fantasy football. All of this with quarterback Matthew Stafford for only half of the season. The rest of the season, he had to deal with targets from Jeff Driskel and David Blough.

Golladay’s Fantasy Football Consistency Score (CS)

Kenny Golladay finished the season with a 4.47 fantasy football CS, which tied him with Calvin Ridley for 20th among receivers. One thing that is surprising about his CS when you take a closer look at things is that his CS was actually slightly lower, 4.37 in Weeks 1-9, or when Stafford was starting under center. But that score actually ranked higher, 17th, over that same course of time as well.

While Stafford was on the field, Golladay averaged 15.19 fantasy points per game compared to 12.19 the rest of the season. However, he did post his “ceiling” game with David Blough chucking the ball around in Week 13. That week Golladay posted 23.8 fantasy points in 0.5-PPR formats in an impressive performance where he racked up 158 yards and a touchdown on only four receptions!

Golladay’s Fantasy Point Differential (FPD)

Golladay crushed his Expected Fantasy Points (xFP) in 2019, netting more than 47 points more than his xFP. This gave him a +24% FPD, making him the 14th ranked receiver in this metric which shows how efficient a skill player is producing fantasy points with the opportunities they receive.

Golladay having a strong showing in FPD is a nice reassuring binkie for fantasy football managers everywhere. As a second-round pick, he is likely the first receiver many GMs took in the draft. Yet, when you review 2019 target leaders, Golladay ranks 21st in targets. His high FPD should ease concerns that he isn’t likely to finish in the top 10 in targets week to week.

How does the hamstring issue affect Kenny Golladay moving forward?

First of all, I am not a doctor. I don’t think I can stress that enough.

That being said, I am not worried about plugging Kenny Golladay into fantasy rosters everywhere I can. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Golladay was “close to playing this past Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, but the Lions didn’t want to risk further aggravating the injury.”

The Lions were patient in this situation, giving Golladay an extra week of rest despite clearly needing him as Stafford has yet to throw for over 300 yards or 3+ touchdowns to start 2020. A feat he did in 62% of his games played last year. This kind of organizational patience is not something many teams in the NFL exhibit, and it should mean Golladay has a low(er) chance of re-injury.

There is always some risk

Soft tissue injuries are the biggest bug-a-boo to fantasy GM’s, and risk of re-injury is always present. And according to various studies, re-injury of the can happen in about 16% of hamstring injuries. But if we take a look at Kenny Golladay’s Relative Athletic Score (RAS), we can see the risk is possibly lower than for other receivers.

His overall RAS of 8.95 out of 10 is delightful. But his speed and explosion grades were “good,” not “elite,” which in this case is a silver lining. His game isn’t built solely on his ability to get down the field like speedsters Mecole Hardman or DeSean Jackson (in his heyday). Golladay is more of an overall receiver with “elite” size. When we think of players who continually re-aggravate soft tissue injuries, they tend to be more of the field stretching, speed reliant types.

Can Kenny Golladay perform against Patrick Peterson and the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals?

Reviewing Golladay’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals isn’t the most fantasy-friendly. The Cardinals rank dead last in Defensive Points Allowed Consistency Score (DPACS), and their average points allowed to WR of 22.14 is also the lowest in the league.

Week 2 highlighted a few chinks in the armor of the Cardinals secondary. Terry McLaurin turned 10 targets into seven reception, 125 yards, and a score, netting him 30.6 fantasy points in 0.5-PPR formats. If Golladay and the Lions can exploit them in the same way, we could see a huge opening performance for Golladay.

Related | Week 3 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings

However, over his young career, the Cardinals have been Golladay’s Achilles heel. In three games against them, Golladay has averaged only seven targets, three receptions, 39 yards, and one touchdown per game. In 0.5-PPR formats he has averaged 11.5 fantasy points in the games he has played against them, and that is echoed in last year’s Week 1 contest when he had only 42 yards and a score resulting in 12.2 fantasy points.

A similar line is what we should project for Golladay’s fantasy debut in Week 3 as well, 50 yards, and a touchdown. Not only does it line up with his career average against this opponent, but it also bakes in the fact that he is apt to be knocking off some rust, while still being a very real threat in the red zone. You’ve made it two weeks so far, without Golladay being your WR1, and you’re going to need to make it one more. But Golladay should be a solid WR2 for any fantasy football manager so lucky to have him.

Did you like this piece? Disagree? Drop me a line and let me know @DumpsterDiveFF and go ahead and follow for more fantasy football nuggets, & all things Consistency Score related.


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