With a single catch for 15 yards in 2016 Laquon Treadwell is unlikely to feature amongst the priority wide receivers to draft to your 2017 fantasy team. The second-year player out of Ole Miss picked 23rd overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2016 draft, has a lot to prove this year if he is to justify his high draft slot. Minnesota saw talent, but what is his fantasy value this year?
Looking back to the final two years of Treadwell’s college career he averaged over 13 yards per reception and collected himself 11 touchdowns in 2015 alone. He was regarded as a top wide receiver prospect coming out of the 2016 draft, and his numbers support such belief.
Red Zone Threat
Treadwell, at 6’3”, can be considered a threat in the red zone. Last season the Vikings relied upon tight end Kyle Rudolph on such plays leading to heavy coverage of Rudolph. Playing Treadwell gives the Vikings a significant additional threat forcing opposition defenses to cover both receiving options.
Dalvin Cook Factor
Vikings added one of the most highly rated RB’s in the 2017 draft in the hope he turns out to be Adrian Peterson’s long-term replacement. Last year the Vikings had the worst rushing offense in the league affected significantly by Peterson’s injury. Defenses knew their rushing threat was reduced and could plan accordingly. Cook will enjoy increased focus from defenses this year, and the passing game should benefit as a result. Read more about Dalvin Cook
The Loss of Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson
With less competition, Treadwell should hopefully see both more playing time and more targets.
Injuries in 2016
Annoying injuries interfered with his 2016 season (thumb, hamstring, and perhaps most significantly his ankle) so the platform for success wasn’t as stable as it could be. Treadwell is coming off a low-intensity playing year, and if his pre-season remains injury free, it could be exactly what he needs for significantly increased production.
Bradford FactorBradford topped the league in accuracy on deep passes in 2016. Treadwell has the height to be competitive at the catch point so can take advantage of this should his quarterback continue with this play next year.
Vikings 2017 schedule
The Vikings 2017 schedule is stacked with teams whose defenses gave up a high number of passing yards per game in 2016. The Vikings play the Saints (who finished 32nd), Packers (31st) twice, Panthers (29th), Falcons (28th), Redskins (25th), Buccaneers (22nd), Browns (21st) and Lions (19th) twice. This is 10 of 16 fixtures where they’ll play teams in the bottom half regarding yards per game, and six against teams in the bottom quarter.
Ball in hand
Sam Monson explained on a podcast short last year that Treadwell’s strengths are when he has the ball in hand, even if he only plays a limited package he can make an impact as he’s difficult to bring down.
It can’t be overlooked that Treadwell suffered a significant injury in 2014 playing for Ole Miss. Alongside his minor injuries, last year fantasy owners need to be aware of his potential injury risk. He may simply be a player who struggles with injuries. There isn’t enough evidence to suggest this is the case, but it should be accounted for when drafting.
Although Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer “feels good for Laquon” this can easily be interpreted as a motivation tactic used to take the pressure off Treadwell as he continues to fight for a fundamental role in the Vikings offense. Players without issue don’t usually receive such comments as they don’t require them. It may be a genuine belief but beware.
Vikings OC Pat Shurmur said the team has been “really pleased” with Laquon Treadwell’s progress this offseason
“He came back, and he was really on point with what he’s supposed to be doing mentally,” Shurmur said. “He’s been out here competing and doing a nice job running routes and catching the ball.” The comments came after a practice in which Treadwell ran with the first-team offense. The Vikings brought in contingency plans this offseason, but Treadwell seems to be doing his part to ensure they are not needed (Link)
ADP highs and lows
Treadwell has an opportunity to establish himself as a fantasy player of value for this year. If all the reasons for optimism come to fruition, then he could well see himself with fantasy production in the top 20 WR’s, perhaps even top 15. Conversely, if he has a 2nd frustrating season in Minnesota, he could be available as a free agent in a lot of fantasy leagues.
Given these projections, his production ceiling could reach the heights of a WR2 while his production floor is low, and not worth much more than someone you keep in your squad for those weeks when your better players are on a bye week.
If your draft strategy is to target running backs and wide receivers early, regardless of any quarterback or tight end named Rob Gronkowski available, you may well not reach Treadwell on your draft board before you turn your attention to the other positions.
If however, you value quarterbacks and tight ends a little higher than others in your league, meaning the expected higher production wide receivers will be off the board when you come to flesh out your squad, picking up Treadwell as your W/R may well be a valuable selection.
He is not someone to pick up if you have already committed to other ‘boom or bust’ types. If you favor safe players, however, selecting them based on their low-end production still being acceptable, then throwing an unknown like Treadwell into the mix could well be a valuable addition.