WR, Denver Broncos
Courtland Sutton was considered by many as a top 10-15 dynasty WR before the 2020 draft. His stock took a hit when the Broncos drafted Jerry Jeudy 15th overall. Admittedly, I didn’t want much to do with Sutton because of QB play and more competition for targets. The thought was that not only are we hoping that the QB play improves, but we are hoping that Sutton can excel with both Jeudy, Fant and even Hamler taking away targets. In this article, I will take a dive into why I have now made Sutton my #1 dynasty buy at the WR position.
Sutton was selected by the Broncos in the 2nd round (40th overall pick) of the 2018 NFL Draft. He declared early after a successful career at SMU. In Sutton’s rookie year, he was competing for targets with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders about half of the year. The Broncos moved on from both Thomas and Sanders and gave Sutton his shot for the final half of the season. He did well with 380 yards and 2 touchdowns as the team’s new number 1 option. I do remember some people being worried that he wasn’t producing enough when he was given the number one role. It was a fair argument, but he did receive a total of 84 targets, 42 receptions, 704 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Sutton took a leap in his second year in the NFL. He finished his second season with 124 targets, 72 receptions, 1,112 yards and 6 touchdowns. You could tell Sutton was taking hold of the WR1 in that offense. He posted some pretty impressive stats despite playing with 3 different quarterbacks that year. He played with Flacco for 8 games, Brandon Allen for 3 and Drew Lock for 5. Not exactly an ideal situation to say the least. Despite the QB play, Sutton managed to finish the year with 9.0 YPT (tied 30th in NFL).
Sutton is the Alpha
As previously stated in my article about why Jerry Jeudy is a sell, Sutton was a beast in the RedZone. Sutton was 8th in the NFL in RedZone team target share (27.9%) and 7th in the NFL in team target share inside the 10 (31%). Jeudy isn’t going to take much away from that. If anybody does, it’ll be Noah Fant. Both Noah Fant and Tim Patrick had a much higher % of team targets inside the 20 and 10 this season.
Jerry Jeudy: 8.8% of team targets in RedZone / 7.1% of team targets inside the 10
Noah Fant: 17.5% of team targets in RedZone / 14.3% of team targets inside the 10
Tim Patrick: 17.5% of team targets in RedZone / 28.6% of team targets inside the 10
With Jeudy's performance this year, I don't see much changing in 2021. He did not have a single reception inside the RedZone. He did nothing to prove he deserves more looks, so once Sutton is good to go, he will be the RedZone threat and primary receiver in the offense.
In my opinion, Sutton has elite ball skills. He has the ability to make adjustments with great body control, win 50/50 balls, and demonstrates strong hands. Here we will take a look at some plays that really stuck out to me.
In the first clip, you will see Sutton burst off line, showing excellent release. He beats the corner and has to slightly come back to the ball. The body control he demonstrates here is insane. He kind of bends his body awkwardly but is able to secure the catch despite the positioning. I say that in a good way. He's able to do what it takes to make the catch!
In the second clip, Sutton is covered well by the defender. The ball is thrown and you can see Sutton tracking it. He slows down a tad and jumps at the perfect time to get to the ball before the defender can make a play on it. It was good defense, but Sutton was able to make the type of plays that alpha receivers make.
In the third clip, you can see again where Sutton has a defender all over him and the ball is slightly under thrown. He again shows that tracking ability and makes a play in traffic after slowing up a bit to make sure he has a shot at the ball.
In the fourth clip, Sutton gets past the defense, but the defender catches up a bit and grabs one of his arms. The concentration and ability he has to make this catch with the defender holding his left arm while he is falling to the ground is insane.
Sutton is also really good in traffic. According to playerprofiler.com, Sutton was 22nd in the NFL with a 37.5% contested catch rate in 2019. To compare, Jeudy was 94th in the NFL this season with 27.6% contested catch rate. Sutton doesn't seem to shy away from passes in the middle of the field, where he knows he's going to get hit or that there is a defender nearby. Jerry Jeudy has dropped a few of these. Just another reason I believe Sutton is the alpha.
Sutton may not be the elite or generational route runner that Jeudy is, however, he is pretty good at it and doesn't always have to rely on his size to make plays. Take a look at this play below. Sutton beats the corner but does a stutter step and fakes him out to create much more separation. The safety is late and Sutton is able to gain some yards after the catch (more on this later). According to NextGen Stats, Sutton's average separation was 2.5 yards in 2019. This takes into account the distance between the receiver and defender when targeted. Jeudy's average separation this season was 2.7 yards. Sutton wasn't far off.
After the Catch
Sutton is a beast after the catch. He is difficult to bring down for small corners, and shows burst after he shakes the tackle to take it to the house. Also, he may have the best stiff arm among NFL receivers. There are a few instances in the video below that'll support that. According to NextGen stats, Sutton tied for 7th among WR's who had at least 600 yards receiving in Average YAC Above Expectation with 1.5 yards.
Now let's dive into some advanced efficiency stats. According to footballoutsiders.com, Sutton ranked 31st in the NFL in 2019 in DVOA (Defense Adjusted Value Over Average). Football Outsiders also ranked Sutton 21st in the NFL in DYAR (Defensive Adjusted Yards Above Replacement). If you need further explanation on those two efficiency stats, I highly recommend visiting their website. It is a very useful tool.
Another metric that Sutton excelled at was Yards Per Route Run (YRR). According to PFF, Sutton tied for 12th in the NFL in YRR among receivers who had at least 36 targets with 2.08.
As stated earlier, Sutton also ranked highly in Yards Per Target (YPT) among wide receivers in 2019. He finished the season tied for 30th in the NFL at 9.0 YPT.
2021 will be a contract year for Sutton! You know he is going to go out there and show so he can get paid. Whether that is by the Broncos or someone else, who knows, but he's going to do what he can to earn a high paying contract. If he stays with Denver, then I still think he will be a great dynasty asset, but if he leaves and goes somewhere with a better QB situation, then his value could be through the roof. As MJ would say:
Another reason that Sutton's value has dipped is due to the ACL tear that he suffered in the second game of the 2020 season. Sutton was primed for a 3rd year breakout, but never got the chance to show it. I am not all that concerned about the injury. Yes, it is never good when a player has a major knee injury like that, but there are trusted people that don't seem to think it will hold him back in the future. Sutton has already posted a video of himself jogging just 4 months after the injury. I think he is making good progress. When I asked Jeff Mueller on twitter about Suttons injury, he replied that he is not worried. If you aren't familiar with Jeff on twitter, give him a follow to get good insight on injuries.
Buy, Sell or Hold?
Sutton will be my #1 dynasty buy all offseason. Part of the reason for this is the fact that in my opinion, his value will never be lower. Once a coveted dynasty asset by many, he is now cheaper than he probably ever will be again because of the injury and offensive situation. He is a WR2 with WR1 upside and I will take that all day. I want it to be clear that I am not saying you're getting a sure fire WR1, however, I do think he has that potential!