Recently, I found myself looking at MyFantasyLeague.com’s ADP to see where players are going, who is trending up and down, wondering if anything would catch my eye. When I took a look at the redraft PPR ADP, I saw Cordarrelle Patterson with a late 3rd round ADP as the 13th wide receiver off the board. Now- I happen to like Cordarrelle Patterson a lot as a player. He has undoubtedly shown that even as a rookie, he was one of the most explosive players with the ball in his hands as evidenced by his elite kickoff return skills and impressive rushing statistics. But it would be an absolutely inexcusable error to think Cordarrelle Patterson is going to be a WR1 this season, and I’m about to tell you why:
Why Norv Turner’s Arrival Probably Doesn’t Help Patterson
Vincent Jackson. Malcolm Floyd. Danario Alexander. Josh Gordon. These are all players Norv Turner coaxed solid-to-elite seasons out of as his number one wide receiver. Turner runs a vertical passing offense that likes to feature downfield passes to solid route-running wide receivers with deep speed and ball skills. Take a look at this fantastic article by C.D. Carter that explains this using their aDOT (average depth of target) statistics.
No receiver justified this philosophy more than Josh Gordon, who proved to be a prototypical fit for Turner’s offense in 2013 while posting an 87-1,646-9 line. I’ve heard people say something to the effect of “Cordarrelle Patterson is this year’s Josh Gordon. Like Gordon, he will make a huge sophomore leap under Norv Turner.” Again, Turner runs a vertical passing offense that features a pretty deep aDOT. Let’s look at Patterson and Gordon’s 2013s to see if the former can be a match for the classic version of Turner’s offense:
Percent of 2013 Fantasy Points by Average Depth of Touch
Player Behind LOS (Includes Rushes) Pass Thrown 1-10yds Pass Thrown 11+ yds
Josh Gordon 5.1% 40.6% 54.3%
Cordarrelle Patterson 51.2% 33.7% 15.1%
That just about puts that comparison to bed. Coming out of Tennessee, Patterson’s biggest weaknesses were route-running and questionable hands. This table confirms that the Vikings were aware of this, and had to manufacture his touches close to the line of scrimmage. An unholy 84.9% of his fantasy points came on plays where he first touched the ball within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Compare that to Gordon, where over half of his fantasy production came from balls thrown 11+ yards in the air. Unless Patterson makes astronomical strides this offseason, he’s not going to be used in the same way as Josh Gordon. All in all, their skill sets are completely different.
The Unrepeatable Rushing Statistics
In 2013, Cordarrelle Patterson posted a remarkable 12-158-3 rushing line. At first glance, that seems like only more of a reason to draft him- after all, it’s just more opportunities to score points.
But as I’m about to show, his rushing statistics are likely unrepeatable- a troubling notion considering the fact that 22.5% of his 2013 fantasy production came from his rushing numbers. Read the last half of that sentence again and please remove your jaw from the floor. Here is the list of wide receivers who have rushed for over 150 yards in a season since 1990:
WRs With 150+ Rush Yds, 1990-2013 Year Rush Att Rush Yds Rush TD Rush Y/G
Josh Cribbs 2009 55 381 1 23.8
Percy Harvin 2011 52 345 2 21.6
Josh Cribbs 2008 29 167 1 11.1
Peter Warrick 2003 18 157 0 10.5
Cordarrelle Patterson 2013 12 158 3 9.9
Joey Galloway 1995 11 154 1 9.6
Jacoby Ford 2010 10 155 2 9.7
Tavon Austin 2013 9 151 1 11.6
Some quick facts about this bunch: besides Joey Galloway, this group has combined for one 80+ catch season and zero 1,000+ yard receiving seasons. Not only that, Patterson scored a touchdown on 25% of his carries- an obviously unrepeatable phenomenon.
On average, a wide receiver has rushed for 150+ yards once every three years during this time frame- do you really think it’s likely the same player does it two seasons in a row? I’m not going to bank a 3rd round pick on such a seemingly unrepeatable performance, especially when it accounted for nearly a quarter of his fantasy production.
Low aDOT and Target Volume
As C.D. Carter pointed out in his own article on Cordarrelle Patterson, Patterson’s aDOT (average depth of target) was only 8.5 yards. Since 2008, only 11% of receivers with a top-12 WR finish (8 total) have had an aDOT of under 10. This means that they would likely either have to a lot of red-zone work, or incredibly high volume.
I think a vast amount of red-zone work is out of the question. The Vikings don’t project to be explosive on offense, and when they get inside the 20 it will be Kyle Rudolph and Adrian Peterson finding the end-zone. Patterson is going to have to have lots of volume to score like borderline WR1, so let’s take a look at the volume of top-12 WRs since 2008 with an aDOT of less than 10 yards as well as their teams’ pass attempt rank:
Top 12 WRs with aDOT under 10yds, 2008-2013 Year Targets Team Pass Att Rank
Average 150 8th
Anquan Boldin 2008 127 2nd
Wes Welker 2008 150 12th
Lance Moore 2008 121 1st
Brandon Marshall 2009 154 9th
Percy Harvin 2011 120 24th
Wes Welker 2011 172 3rd
Wes Welker 2012 174 4th
Pierre Garcon 2013 182 9th
On average, these players needed 150 targets to reach top-12 status, and their teams averaged to throw the 8th most in the league in their respective WR1 seasons (this drops to under 6th if we eliminate Harvin’s 2011 outlier). Since 2011, only 22 times has a receiver gotten 150 targets- an average of about 7 per season.
This begs the following question: How likely are the Vikings to be top-8 in pass attempts while supporting a top-7 volume wide receiver? With either a rookie quarterback or Matt Cassel at the helm, it is incredibly unlikely that the Vikings finish the season in the top quarter of the league in terms of pass attempts.
As far as supporting 150 targets to one player? On a team featuring the best running back of our generation, Kyle Rudolph and an (albeit aging) Greg Jennings, the odds are not in favor of Patterson seeing 150 targets.
Again- I like Cordarrelle Patterson as a player. But as evidenced above, a LOT has to go right for him to live up to his WR13 ADP. He would have to make significant strides to become a deep threat on a clearly run-first team with a very questionable quarterback situation, and repeat a rushing performance that has no precedent of ever being repeated. He also has to pretty much double his 2013 target total of 78 if his low aDOT keeps up (the latter is a very possible scenario).
All in all, there is no way I can be convinced that the likelihood of all these stars aligning is worth a 3rd round pick ahead of the likes of Pierre Garcon, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Victor Cruz. If you are really set on banking on a Norv Turner wide receiver, just take proven deep-threat Greg Jennings in the 13th instead of Patterson 10 rounds earlier.