Will Parris Campbell ever Become Relevant?

By: Andrew Metcalfe (@drewmet_FF)

“He’s Injury Prone!”

Injuries are impossible to predict, despite the constant need for the Fantasy community to label certain players as “injury prone”.  We really have no idea which players will and won’t stay healthy each year.  In fact, there are multiple sports medicine studies that prove most injuries are simply due to bad luck.  I can remember players like Dalvin Cook and Keenan Allen being written off earlier in their careers because they could never seem to stay healthy and now, they are both Fantasy stars.  I’m here to discuss one of my favorite sleepers for 2021, Parris Campbell.  Another member of the perceived “injury prone” club, here is why you should use that label to take advantage of his discounted value.  

Parris Campbell was drafted in 2019 by Indianapolis in the second round, as the seventh wideout off of the board.  That was before D.K. Metcalf, Diontae Johnson, and his Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin were all drafted, just in case you forgot how highly he was thought of as a prospect.  His production at Ohio State won’t blow anyone away, but he did lead the team in receiving during his last two years there and earned 2018 First-team Big Ten honors as a Senior.  

NFL Career Speed Bumps

Unfortunately, Campbell ran into the worst of luck with his health during his 2019 rookie season.  After a quiet start to the year, he began earning around fifty-percent of snaps in week 3.  Week 4 was his first game as a starter and he saw eight targets.  Momentum was on his side at this point, but he suffered an abdominal strain and ended up missing the next three games.  He was back in action for week 9, catching five out of five targets for 53 yards, but this time it was a broken hand that took him out.  Five weeks later, he returns and sees another five targets in week 14 before going down yet again.  This time, it was a foot fracture which ended up costing him the remainder of the season.  

After a disappointing rookie campaign, Campbell was eager to return to the field for 2020, in his second year.  He immediately reclaimed a starting role, playing a career-high 83-percent of snaps and catching six passes for 71 yards on nine targets which led the team.  Parris was on his way to a breakout season, but terrible luck struck again–In the first quarter of the Colts’ week 2 game, Campbell was awkwardly tackled by a defender and carted off of the field.  There was initial speculation of an ACL tear, but the diagnosis was a severe sprain to both his MCL and PCL.  Even though it cost him the season, the recovery from this injury is much quicker than an ACL tear so it could have been worse.  He is expected to be fully healthy and ready for training camp this Summer. 

Indy’s Off-season

This was an interesting off-season for Indianapolis.  Once Phillip Rivers announced his retirement, there were all sorts of hypothetical QBs being talked about as potential replacements in Indy.  They eventually decided to trade for Carson Wentz.  Although Wentz has had his struggles lately, the last time we saw him playing under current Colts Head Coach Frank Reich was in 2017 when Reich was the Eagles offensive coordinator.  Wentz had his career best season and was an MVP candidate that year, so Indianapolis is hoping to re-capture that magic.    

The Colts could have easily moved on from Campbell by signing a high-profile free agent wide receiver this off-season or drafting one of the top prospects in the rookie draft, but they didn’t.  The only transaction of note was the resigning of TY Hilton.  While Hilton still has some gas left in the tank, he is well past his peak of being a number one receiver, so Indy will be counting on Campbell and/or Michael Pittman Jr. to step into the “alpha” role. 

Pittman Jr. has the physical build of the prototypical “X” receiver, but don’t count out Campbell and his 4.31 40-yard dash speed taking over.  Parris projects to be the starting slot receiver, meaning he will often avoid the opponents top defenders and have room to get off of the line of scrimmage without getting pressed.  Having that level of speed working the middle of the field opens up a ton of opportunity for Campbell in this offense.  Don’t miss out on his upside in 2021, especially while his ADP remains around WR60! 

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