Is He Fantasy Fool’s Gold?

Once again, DeVante Parker gave fantasy football managers a taste of his potential and made himself a Week 4 waiver wire target. Coming off his highest receiving yards total since 2019, is Parker now a waiver wire priority, or should fantasy managers look to avoid getting sucked into rostering the inconsistent pass catcher?

How should fantasy managers prioritize DeVante Parker on the Week 4 waiver wire?

There was a lot to like about Parkers’ Week 3 performance with 156 yards on five receptions. However, no more than a handful of fantasy managers benefited after he came into the week with just four targets through the first two weeks. Parker is rostered in 21.3 percent of ESPN leagues but was started in just 0.8 percent in Week 3. The question now is how we react to this performance. Was it a one-off, or was it the culmination of Parker working into the New England Patriots‘ offense?

The immediate positive is that Parker has played a lot of snaps through the first three weeks of the season. He played every snap in Week 1 against the Dolphins, 76 percent of the snaps in Week 2, and 97 percent of the snaps in Week 3. The Patriots certainly appear to value having Parker on the field, which finally translated to targets in Week 3.

The big difference between Week 3 and the first two weeks of the season was the absence of Jakobi Meyers. Meyers was the clear leader of the pass catchers in the first two weeks (19 targets and 13 receptions). His 29.2 percent target share was up for grabs after the Patriots ruled him out with a knee injury, and Parker stepped into the breach with a 31.3 percent target share in Week 3.

Entering the waiver wire period for Week 4, we have no idea how serious the injury is to Meyers. He has not been placed on the IR, but the Pats ruled him out reasonably early Sunday. If Meyers returns, Parker would likely drop to the second target option at best. Additionally, there is uncertainty over how the offense will look with Brian Hoyer at the helm after Mac Jones suffered a high-ankle sprain.

What is Parker’s fantasy value going forward?

It’s tough to judge what Parker’s value looks like going forward because it was such a contrast in Week 3 compared to the previous two weeks. Consequently, you throw in the uncertainty over this offense with the injury to Jones, and it all becomes very messy.

The debate surrounding Parker as a waiver wire target becomes: what are you looking for from him? The offensive situation makes him unstartable this week, so if you need immediate help, he is not the answer. In that case, you are looking at Greg Dortch, Russell Gage, and Romeo Doubs before even considering Parker. However, if you are looking for a big-play upside that you might be able to utilize down the stretch, it’s a different story.

Parker definitely falls into that second category. Not a single one of his 10 targets came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. His targeted air yards in Week 3 were second only to Tre’Quan Smith, and he had an incredible 57.1 percent of the Patriots’ air yards this past week. On top of that, he produced after the catch, averaging 9.4 yards after the catch per reception. However, that production after the catch is tough to rely on, as Parker averaged four yards after the catch above expected, the third-highest number among qualified receivers in Week 3.

Parker’s value in fantasy right now is as a stash and hold. That’s tough to do in some leagues where bench sizes are small. Therefore, he is a relatively low-priority waiver wire addition for many. That is good news for those who are looking to stash him. With the injury to Jones, Parker’s value is somewhat depressed from what it was as the game was wrapping up.

Regarding the priority order, Parker falls close to the bottom of the WR position for me. I would rather take the chance on Mack Hollins, Josh Reynolds, and K.J. Osborn than a player who has one good week and is now playing with a backup journeyman QB. Therefore, limiting your FAAB (or waiver priority) bids to around 0-2 percent is prudent. If you are feeling in a comfortable position and want to add him as a stash, then, by all means, go above that a touch. However, five percent should be an absolute maximum. If someone else is willing to pay more, good luck to them.

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