Just like many other communities, the fantasy football community very much can have a herd mentality. Memes get mentioned by experts which get repeated on Twitter and your favorite fantasy websites and most people take the meme as fact. A recent meme is that Laquon Treadwell is the top fantasy WR in this class. I’m here to tell you not to believe the hype.
Treadwell was a 5-start recruit at Ole Miss and has shown positive attributes on the field. He uses his big body and large catch radius to high point 50-50 balls and to make plays over smaller CBs. That said, he was also shut down by the better SEC defenses this past season and at the combine and his pro day he was absolutely atrocious, scoring below average in every measure of speed, explosion and agility. He’s going to find the competition in the NFL too much for him and will at best be a possession WR2. Let’s get deeper into why I feel this way.
First let’s take a look at his college production. In his three years at Ole Miss he averaged a very pedestrian 11 yards a catch. He played 35 games at Ole Miss and averaged only 78 yards and 0.6 TDs a game. For a guy who is built like a TD machine he really didn’t dominate as he should have. In his final year, his junior season, he played 4 teams in the top 50 defenses in college football, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Vanderbilt. In those four games he combined for an average of 5.5 catches, 79 yards and 0.5 TDs a game. His other 9 games he caught on average 6.7 catches, 93 yards and 1 TD a game. Obviously, the better defenses are going to be harder to crack, but he was down right shut down in some of these games. Florida held him to 5 catches and 42 yards. LSU held him to 4 catches and 58 yards and a TD. The point is, this is where the NFL corners are coming from and against these opponents he was down right ordinary.
If that was the case but he blew away the combine, one can argue that scheme or other circumstances may have been the culprit. But again that is not the case. Treadwell performed down right pedestrian in all of his combine and pro-day results, including a 4.64 40-yard dash at his pro day. But it doesn’t stop there, here is his Quad Scores:
|Name||Speed||Agility||Leg Power||Arm Strength||Quad
You can see that he finished below the average WR in every score. Agility is the measure of 3-cone drill and shuttle run and he performed worse than average in agility too. His vertical leap and broad jump were pedestrian so he doesn’t have explosion in his leg power and he only benched 12 reps of 225. He’s an under-average athlete, period. Now does that mean he can’t improve and he can’t overcome that? No. But it does mean he’s starting from behind the curve.
So, to go with college production that was weak for a 5-star “elite” WR and poor play against top defenses, you then have a player with poor athleticism that has big name recognition. What could go wrong?
Finally, he falls to Minnesota which happens to be a great situation at first glance. Their WR depth chart is not that deep and he will get on the field immediately. So, the opportunity is there. But he’s in a run-first offense with a developing QB that had a poor year last year and relied on defense and the running game to win. Minnesota rushed the ball 474 times last year and attempted to pass the ball 454 times while completing 294 of those passes for only 7.1 yards per pass. That’s a 38% completed pass to run ratio which basically means it was an extremely run heavy offense. Even when they did pass they only gained 7.1 yards per pass which was, you guessed it, last in the NFL last season. There is no doubt Leslie Frazier will try to get his passing offense going as the years progress and Teddy Bridgewater should continue to improve but he also has limitations as a QB and it’s hard to see where that passing game goes elite with a weak-armed QB and a slow WR.
Bottom line is that while Treadwell will get on the field this year, his adjustment to the NFL may be long and arduous as NFL CBs out maneuver him and make it hard for him to succeed. In dynasty leagues he’s going between the 2nd and 5th pick and frankly, I would not touch him there. If he were available in the second round I would take a flier on him, but that’s not likely to happen.