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Nelson Agholor 2021 Fantasy Outlook

Nelson Agholor is a meme legend. Go ahead: type ‘Nelson Agholor’ into your favorite search engine, you’ll probably come across that viral video of a man — exhausted from participating in a fire rescue where he was catching babies tossed out a window — throwing shade at Philly’s urban legend, Nelson Agholor.


I mean, how do you overcome that kind of meme? A guy who literally saved the lives of kids by catching them in the middle of a fire was throwing shade at your drops on national television. And, well, that’s the kind of thing that only recovers with the passage of time. And in the meantime, Nelson Agholor has indeed worked on his catching skills and stands as the WR1 on the New England Patriots in 2021. Do I hear best ball value? Indeed you do!

Before we get into the article, be sure to check out the Team Rise or Fall YouTube channel, and have a look at the 100% FREE Team Rise or Fall Fantasy Football Draft Kit. If you want to level up your best ball game with players like Nelson Agholor, go to Underdog and use the promo code Donuts to get a free $25 bonus to your deposit.

In a Nutshell: The 2021 New England Patriots

Can we bring Tom Brady back yet? Bill Belichek spent the 2020 season — his first without the GOAT (except for that broken leg season when Brady was on the IR) — trying to find any combination of players that would work. Cam Newton arrived in his Sunday finest to reclaim his career, yet his flashy duds made more news than his passing game. Let’s hop over to the Team Rise or Fall Study Hub and see how Newton fared in 2020. [teeth grinding sound] Yeah, 8 passing TDs on 368 attempts. That’s pretty much my end-of-season stat line on Madden. Jakobi Meyers stayed on the field for 75% of snaps and amassed 720 yards receiving, yet none of those yards or receptions ended up in the end zone. With numbers like that, are we getting excited about the Nelson Agholor part of the article yet?

Nelson Agholor

The Eagles fanbase is one of the most brutal fanbases in football. Agholor, a former first-round pick by the Eagles, struggled to establish himself in five seasons in the City of Brotherly Love. He managed two seasons of adequate production by fantasy standards in 2017 and 2018, when he averaged 96 targets and 63 receptions per year over that time span, with an average depth of target (aDOT) around 10 yards. Those numbers represent an acceptable WR3/FLEX number for fantasy teams. What’s more, is his catch rate was about 65%, which is more than acceptable for a fantasy wide receiver.

Then came the drops. Agholor struggled in 2019, with his catch rate dropping nearly 10%, and the Eagles moved into that dual-TE system that boosted the values of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert (with a combined 210+ targets between them!). Agholor needed a change of scenery, and in 2020, he signed a one-year contract with the Las Vegas Raiders, hoping to prove that his skill set still belonged in the NFL. Despite a volatile receiver corps filled with young wideouts (Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Hunter Renfrow) competing for playing time, Agholor muscled his way to the second-most targets on the team (82) while amassing nearly 900 yards. Even better, his aDOT soared to over 15 yards, which thrust him into the top 10 in the NFL among qualified receivers.

By massively increasing his aDOT, Agholor didn’t need to catch every pass to be productive for fantasy managers. His catch rate remained steady in the mid-50% range, although his targets and yards increased due to the nature of the routes he ran.

For 2021, Agholor takes a premium spot in the New England Patriots receiver corps, although he now pairs with Cam Newton on his career reclamation tour, or possibly rookie QB Mac Jones. With the Patriots offense a complete question mark, there’s a huge inefficiency in the market for Nelson Agholor.

The Team Rise or Fall Underdog Projections envisions Agholor as garnering 15% of targets for the Patriots, with 40 receptions and about 475 yards overall. That sounds rather dismal, right? If those projections are right, then Agholor is nothing more than a floor play for your drafts. Of course, that’s projecting the median outcome. But we’re not here for the median; we’re here for the exceptions.

The great thing about rankers is that we always hope our rankings are wrong. Imagine this scenario: Cam Newton (who is only 32) is finally healed, and he resumes his status as an accurate QB who was averaging nearly 250 yards per game while accumulating 24 TDs. Bill Belichek made Matt Cassell a 10-5 QB with 3600 yards passing, surely he could manage a Cam reclamation project, right? The Team Rise or Fall Underdog Projections show Cam Newton with about 3500 yards on the year, which shows a great upside to his receivers. And if Cam fails, Mac Jones steps in as signal-caller. Jones piled up 4500 yards and 41 touchdowns at Alabama in 2020 in a mere 13 games. In short, there could be a big boon awaiting Nelson Agholor (and Jakobi Meyers) should the Patriots’ passing game take off like it did in the Brady era.

Fantasy Takeaway

Nelson Agholor’s Underdog ADP is 132 right now, situating him as a third WR/FLEX option for your team. However, the Patriots’ offense will be massively volatile this year. Who will the QB be? Can Jakobi Meyers maintain his productivity? Imagine the scenario where Jakobi Meyers misses a month with a pulled hamstring, and Agholor’s target share as WR1 could soar to 25-30%, making him a WR1/2 option for a best ball team for portions of the season while costing you only bench draft value. Nelson Agholor becomes a tasty upside play due to his aDOT and potential for increased targets in a developing Patriots offense. I think a maximum exposure of 35% is warranted though, due to the fluctuations we see in the type of offense that New England will run in 2021.

Original Image Source: Philadelphia Eagles

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