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Cordarrelle Patterson: Minnesota Viking and Fantasy Football Commodity

Last night, the Minnesota Vikings traded for the 29th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft in order to select my favorite player of this years prospect. Full disclaimer, I attended Hutchinson Community College with Patterson, so I do have some emotional bias in my analysis, but that won’t detract from the player that I believe he can be right away. From a superficial standpoint, it would seem that the Minnesota offense was actually the perfect landing place for Patterson. In the offseason, Minnesota traded away their most dynamic receiver, Percy Harvin. Many analysts have actually likened Patterson to a stronger, more athletic Harvin. Patterson is not as agile or shift as Harvin, but they do have similar games. That reason this is significant is that it plays into Patterson’s strengths as a fantasy player. If he is fed bubble screens and allowed several rushing carries a game,  he will be fantasy relevant right away.

I did a search on Pro Football Reference for rookie WR seasons from players who were Patterson’s exact height (74 inches) and within 4 pounds of his weight in either direction. What I found was pretty encouraging for Patterson to produce immediately.

Ht & Wt Games Total Yds
Rk Player Year Age Draft Tm Lg Ht Wt BMI G GS TotOff YScm APYd ▾ RtY
1 Eric Moulds 1996 23 1-24 BUF NFL 6-2 210 27.0 16 5 44 323 1528 1205
2 Ahmad Rashad 1972 23 1-4 STL NFL 6-2 205 26.3 14 0 44 544 981 437
3 Jerry Rice* 1985 23 1-16 SFO NFL 6-2 200 25.7 16 4 26 953 959 6
4 Derrick Alexander 1994 23 1-29 CLE NFL 6-2 195 25.0 14 12 38 866 866 0
5 Shawn Collins 1989 22 1-27 ATL NFL 6-2 207 26.6 16 16 0 862 862 0
6 Michael Irvin* 1988 22 1-11 DAL NFL 6-2 207 26.6 14 10 2 656 656 0
7 Brian Hartline 2009 23 4-108 MIA NFL 6-2 180 23.1 16 2 29 535 571 36
8 Louis Murphy 2009 22 4-124 OAK NFL 6-2 200 25.7 16 9 31 552 552 0
9 Victor Bailey 1993 23 2-50 PHI NFL 6-2 196 25.2 16 10 0 545 545 0
10 Brandon LaFell 2010 24 3-78 CAR NFL 6-2 208 26.7 14 2 60 528 528 0
11 Darrin Chiaverini 1999 22 5-148 CLE NFL 6-2 210 27.0 16 8 0 487 522 35

After Shawn Collins, the fantasy relevant seasons drop off pretty dramatically. However, I am greatly encouraged by the inclusion of Jerry Rice, Jerry Rice and Micheal Irvin being included in this comparison. Unlike many of the members of that table, Patterson is going to start immediately and also has big shoes to fill. Patterson enters a unique scenario where the receiver he is expected to replace a player who received well over 7 targets a game in addition to several carries. Patterson’s draft counterpart Tavon Austin will need running carries to supplant his fantasy value, but those carries are much less project-able than Patterson’s, as we know for a fact that Patterson contributed as a rusher in multiple games for Tennessee (Not just one exuberant performance) and that Minnesota has given a wide receiver 3.4 Carries per Game over a full season.

To complete this picture, it is helpful to use Rotoviz’s College WR Graphs tool to compare Harvin to Patterson, keeping in mind that Patterson is a more impressive physical specimen, but less learned as a wide receiver.

Initally, Patterson almost matched Harvin for Yards per Target as a community college transfer Junior.

In Patterson’s first year, he matched Harvin’s first year production on a per target basis. The MS statistics don’t shine as favorably on Patterson, but that is likely because they do not include rushing yards, but as Matthew Freedman notes, once you do, Patterson becomes a MUCH more special prospect. Where Patterson will probably shine right away for Minnesota, other than on bubble screens, is going to be the red zone. He is very raw, so he is at his best when he is just make instinctual plays and just being bigger and stronger than opposing defenders. His Red Zone TD rate, from just one year of playing with really bad quarterback, are stratospheric.

Mike Clay’s very early projections put Cordarrelle Pattersonat 67 targets, 41 receptions, 556 yards, 3 TD. To me, that is about as conservative a projection as it gets. With 80 targets and 20 carries, Patterson could honestly approach top 25 WR status. To show why I’m so excited, here is his Red Zone TD rate compared to sabermetric darling, Stedman Bailey.

And finally, for the fun of it, look at Patterson’s yards per target when compared with media darling, Tavon Austin.