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Fantasy Football ADP – Draft Robby Anderson or Chase Claypool?

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(All summer, Adam Pfeifer will be putting the tightest fantasy football picks under the microscope in our ADP Decisions series.)

We continue our ADP series with a look at two receivers who are being drafted as WR3s receivers in fantasy. Robby Anderson is coming off a career year in Carolina, while Chase Claypool is coming off a career takeoff during his rookie season in Pittsburgh. 

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The case for Robby Anderson

What a difference a change of scenery can make. After spending the first few seasons of his career in New York, Anderson joined the Panthers last year and enjoyed a career season. He hauled in 95 of 136 targets for 1,096 yards, though he only scored three touchdowns. Anderson was a top-20 fantasy wideout on the year, and I really overlooked his impact on this Carolina offense.

Anderson was used in a completely different way than he was with Adam Gase and the Jets. Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady is so good at putting his skill players in the best position to succeed and make plays and that is exactly what we saw last season. Anderson averaged a career-high 8.5 targets per game, as he went from a downfield target in New York to an intermediate target in Carolina. During his time with the Jets back in 2019, Anderson averaged 11.3 yards before the catch per reception, while sporting an average depth of target of 15.76 yards. But in his first season with the Panthers, those numbers dropped to 6.3 and 9.78, respectively. As a result, Anderson had much more consistent usage, as he saw at least seven targets in 12 of 16 games. And while I absolutely love D.J. Moore, Anderson was the first read in this Panthers passing game last season. According to FTN’s advanced receiving stats, Anderson finished fifth in the entire NFL in first-read targets last season (101), just behind Davante Adams. Meanwhile, his 26% target share ranked fifth in the league and fourth among all wide receivers.

Now Carolina has a new quarterback this season in Sam Darnold, but he and Anderson are obviously familiar with each other. We’ll see if Anderson remains the first read in this passing game, and a lot of that will depend on how much Moore’s role changes, as he was mainly used down the field a season ago. But Anderson should still garner plenty of targets, even with Christian McCaffrey back. There is also (hopefully) some touchdown regression coming his way, as Anderson scored in Week 1 but failed to find the end zone again until Week 12, ultimately finishing the year with three scores. Carolina’s red zone offense was egregious last season, as they scored touchdowns on just 50.8% of their red zone trips, the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL. Anderson only saw eight end zone targets last season and while the Panthers did draft Terrace Marshall, it is hard to imagine Anderson not scoring more touchdowns this season, especially in a 17-game season. You just don’t see that type of volume and score just three times. Anderson is currently one of the most underrated wideouts in fantasy, as he often comes off draft boards outside the top-30 receivers, which is absurd. The floor is going to be very solid each week, while there might even be a slight uptick in downfield and red zone work in year two with Carolina. 

The case for Chase Claypool

The 2020 rookie wide receiver class was unbelievable, and Claypool was a huge part of it. That shouldn’t be too much of a surprise when you consider how great the Steelers are at drafting receivers. Claypool caught 62 balls for 873 yards and a whopping nine touchdowns, while adding two scores on the ground. Claypool was a bit up-and-down for fantasy because not only was he competing with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster for targets, but Claypool’s snaps weren’t exactly where we’d like them to be for most of the season. Despite clearly showing that he can play at a very high level in this league, Claypool only logged 63% of the snaps during his rookie season, though the playing time did increase after his breakout performance in Week 5 against the Eagles. That game helped Claypool finish the season ninth in fantasy points per snap (0.31), though the absurd number of touchdowns have a lot to do with that, too. I am fully expecting the touchdowns to come down during his sophomore season, especially with Najee Harris now in Pittsburgh, who could legitimately lead the league in touches as a rookie. Claypool was clearly the deep target in this passing game, as he led the Steelers in yards per target (7.8) and aDOT (12.9), way ahead of Johnson and Smith-Schuster’s marks of 5.8 and 7.8. That presents upside but it could also present some inconsistency considering Ben Roethlisberger struggled with the deep ball last season. Just over 10% of his passes traveled 20 yards or more down the field. 

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I am also very interested to see what happens with the Steelers planning on running more two-TE sets this season. We have already seen this during the preseason, and it appears that Johnson is absolutely going to be on the field in two-receiver sets. Smith-Schuster is a very strong run-blocking receiver, which means he could be the second receiver on the field. So if/when Pittsburgh runs more 12 personnel, Claypool’s playing time could take a hit, especially if the Steelers try to establish more of a running game with Harris in the backfield. Claypool is an awesome player and is going to have some huge weeks, especially when the Steelers use him in motion like we saw last year. But I do think he carries more risk than many people seem to believe.

The verdict: Robby Anderson

While Claypool’s upside is undeniable, Anderson gets the nod for me here. Again, I just believe he is so underrated in fantasy right now and I absolutely know what I am getting from him. I will say, however, that if you constructed your roster with two safe receivers already, Claypool does make sense. But Claypool’s touchdowns are likely coming down while Anderson’s almost have to be on the rise. And we know he is going to see more consistent volume in his offense. Both players are tremendous No. 3 receivers for your fantasy team, but Anderson has the edge. 

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