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Fantasy football player profile: Marquez Callaway

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Dom Cintorino

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(As fantasy football dives headlong into draft season, some players warrant a little extra attention. All August, Dom Cintorino and Adam Pfeifer will do deep dives into some of the notable names. Follow along with our player profiles series. Today’s profile: Marquez Callaway)

Fantasy Football Value 2021 – Marquez Callaway

Marquez Callaway finds himself in a Saints’ offense that is in search of a No. 1 wide receiver. We all know about the Michael Thomas injury that will hold him out for at least the first half of the season. There is a lot of unknown surrounding Thomas’ name and where he stands with the Saints. This leaves the door wide open for Callaway, the second-year undrafted free agent. The former Tennessee Vol appeared in 11 games in his rookie season, only contributing in six of them. He was buried on the depth chart for a majority of the year but made the most out of his opportunities. Callaway finished the season with 213 receiving yards on 21 receptions, but failed to find the end zone. The 23-year-old should be pushed into a larger role early in the season.

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Callaway walks into a position with plenty of targets that are unaccounted for. On top of the Thomas situation, the Saints also parted ways with Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Jared Cook. While Callaway clearly won’t see all the targets available left behind by this trio, someone will need to step up. To be honest, there’s no clear No. 1 left on the roster once it gets past Thomas. Even last year, nobody truly made all that big of a splash. Below are FTN’s projections in a PPR format

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This gives us a look at what type of competition for reps Callaway will face. Tre’Quan Smith is the only wide receiver of this bunch who is projected to outscore and out-target Callaway. Over the course of the month, we have seen Smith being held out of practice for an undisclosed reason. If we get more information prior to the season, this would be massive for Callaway. Even if Smith is fine and ready to go, it won’t really mean all that much. We’re getting Callaway almost for free at this point in time and now could be the best opportunity to jump on him. The projections above may not be all that exciting, but the opportunity is there. Callaway’s projection of 110.9 PPR points is fairly mild since there is uncertainty baked in regarding Thomas and Smith. This would place Callaway as the WR80, in the ballpark of John Brown and Bryan Edwards

Another hot topic when it comes to the Saints offense is the quarterback controversy. Whether it’s Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston who gets the nod, it’s going to be difficult to replace Drew Brees. While Winston has the most arm talent and will make the wide receivers more productive when it comes to fantasy football, it’s starting to look like Hill is their guy. Last season, we saw Hill get the start over Winston. In Brees’ absence, we saw Hill as the starter Weeks 11-14. Through these four games, Hill wasn’t all that bad through the air. He went 82-of-114 (72%) with 834 passing yards and four touchdowns (with four more on the ground). During this stretch, Hill had an average depth of target of just 6.98 yards (35th) and a total of 796 air yards. The low aDOT may not be the worst thing in the world for Callaway. In 2020, he had an aDOT of 7.78 yards, which was eighth among Saints wide receivers, lowest among all the team’s receivers with more than 25 targets. Since Hill has the tendency to get the ball out quickly, Callaway will be in a good spot. He saw 210 air yards in his limited action with 58 yards after the catch. For a bigger wide receiver (6-foot-2), Callaway is on the faster end (sub-4.60 40-yard dash).

Diving into the advanced receiving stats on FTN Fantasy, it’s difficult to really break down Callaway’s season in the limited role that he was in. One area he did stand out, however, is the catch percentage. Callaway caught 21 of his 27 targets (77%) which was the seventh-best rate of all wide receivers who saw at least 25 targets. While there were only six balls thrown his way that did not get caught, he avoided dropping a single one of them. Callaway had a shorter route tree, but was able to push out a nice contested-catch rate. Scrolling over to the “CNB” and “CNC” on the advanced receiving tool, Callaway caught both contested targets that he saw last season. He has a rare skill set of height, weight and speed, which gives him an advantage on these types of receptions. 

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Fantasy Football ADP Stock Watch – Marquez Callaway

Not a whole lot more can happen to effect where Callaway is currently being selected in drafts. While his stock is slightly on the rise, FTN’s ADP tool currently has him being selected (in August) as the 297th pick in fantasy football drafts. If you can do the math, yes, that’s for free. Unless someone else in your league has jumped on the Callaway hype-train, you’ll be able to select him with your last pick. Tre’Quan Smith, on the other hand, is being selected as the WR72. While this is borderline free as well, it’s still an ADP of 211.69 and a guy who is on most people’s radar when it comes to drafting Saints wide receivers. 

Callaway did flash in the first preseason game in Baltimore, where he caught 3 of his four targets totaling 61 receiving yards. If he finishes strong and we get news on why Smith is missing practice, there is a good chance Callaway’s ADP skyrockets. When we see a player with an ADP of nearly 300, there is nowhere to go but up. Once we reach the end of August, don’t be surprised to see Callaway being selected towards the end of all drafts.

NFL Fantasy Football Ranking – Marquez Callaway

FTN Fantasy’s PPR rankings have Marquez Callaway as the consensus WR84. I’d like to believe this is mainly inflated due to my ranking of WR66, but it’s still higher than what his ADP shows. Kyle Murray gave him the lowest ranking of 105th, which pulls it down a little bit, but like his ADP, this could rise following a strong preseason. 

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