Can Breshad Perriman Take His Game to the Next Level?

Breshad Perriman Fantasy Potential

[the_ad id=”66786″]When the Baltimore Ravens selected Breshad Perriman with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they hoped he would be an elite offensive playmaker.  Despite missing his entire rookie year with a knee injury, he entered the 2016 season with the expectation that he would become an immediate contributor.  The Ravens envisioned him producing big plays down the field, a seemingly perfect match for Joe Flacco’s ability to throw the ball deep.  However, for both the Ravens and fantasy owners alike, Perriman has failed to make any sort of meaningful impact this season.  As it stands now, he should remain on the waiver wire in standard re-draft leagues but does pose an interesting stash in dynasty formats.

In weeks 1 through 5, Perriman played only 36.1% of the Ravens snaps, well behind Steve Smith and Mike Wallace.  During those games, he saw just 21 targets, which accounted for a meager 9.7% of his team’s total.  Even more concerning was the fact that he was only able to haul in 10 of those targets.

After Smith had gone down with an injury during week 5, Perriman had an opportunity to step up.  In the two games with Smith out of the lineup, Perriman saw his snaps jump to 70.2%, while his targets rose from 4.2 per game to 6.5.  Any time a WR receives an increase in both snaps and targets, a prudent fantasy owner should take note, as those stats are key factors in predicting future usage.  Unfortunately, Perriman didn’t benefit from this expanded role – bringing in just 4 of his 13 targets for 59 yards.

Upon studying Perriman’s week 6 and 7 performances on film, it is clear that he and Flacco are not on the same page.  While the pair did connect down the field once on a beautiful 41-yard post pattern, Perriman caught only a quarter of his other targets, resulting in measly 18 yards and zero touchdowns.  Furthermore, he dropped three passes, and two of his other targets led to interceptions.  He also appeared to run the wrong route on two other incompletions.  On a positive note, Perriman was able to gain separation with his speed on many routes, which made it clear that the biggest hurdle he is facing is mental, not physical.

Breshad Perriman FantasyThe good news for Perriman is that Flacco leads the NFL in pass attempts per game at 44 (tied with Drew Brees).  With that kind of weekly output, Perriman should continue to see opportunities.  With Wallace recapturing his old form and Dennis Pitta providing steady TE play underneath, Perriman will have plenty of chances on the outside in single coverage.  Diligent fantasy owners should keep a close eye on Perriman’s usage once Smith returns from injury to see if the Ravens continue giving him an increased workload.

It is clear that head coach John Harbaugh wants Perriman to start producing at a higher level.  According to the Baltimore Sun, Harbaugh told reporters, “I told him, ‘I just am impatient.  You have all this talent, and there is a lot to learn, but I just want to speed the curve up.’”  This statement signals a couple of things.  First, and most importantly for fantasy owners, Harbaugh still believes in Perriman’s raw talent.  This belief, paired with the investment the Ravens organization has made in Perriman, means that he will continue to get chances down the line.  Second, the head coach is trying to motivate his young wide receiver.  Coaches don’t often publicly criticize individual players, but this is clearly a case where Harbaugh is trying to light a fire under Perriman.

As it stands, Perriman is only worth rostering in deeper 14 or 16 team leagues.  For standard 12 team leagues, owners should continue to monitor his progress and be ready to pounce if he finally has a breakout performance.  With Steve Smith’s return looming, Perriman will soon be Joe Flacco’s fourth target behind Smith, Wallace and Pitta.  Luckily, the Ravens are willing to air it out, and Perriman’s youth, size, and speed combination give him tremendous upside in a pass happy offense.  Nevertheless, fantasy owners should take a wait-and-see approach, as Perriman’s actual fantasy value could come as a dynasty stash.  As Smith is likely to retire after this season, Perriman will be forced to step into a larger role on a more permanent basis.  Whether or not he can become a fantasy stud is yet to be seen, but patient owners may one day be rewarded.

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