by Ray Kuhn
After what we thought to be a breakout performance in 2017, Robby Anderson has left us wanting more. There is no questioning the wide receiver’s talent, but over the past two seasons he has been leaving production out on the field.
He enters a crucial turning point in his career after four seasons with the Jets after being signed as an un-drafted free agent, Anderson now will be playing for the Panthers. With the circumstance surrounding his departure a little murky, I think the high level summation is that he and the Jets both wanted a change of scenery. More importantly, he wanted to reunite with his former college coach Matt Rhule.
The talent around Anderson will be better than what he had in New York. Teddy Bridgewater will replace Cam Newton under center, and the jury is still out on how he will perform as the starter, but it should be a relatively lateral move after playing under Sam Darnold for the past two seasons. More importantly Christian McCaffrey ensures that the passing game is not going to be the main focus of opposing defenses. Additionally, the presence of D.J Moore and Curtis Samuel means that Anderson doesn’t have to carry the weight of the entire passing game on his shoulders.
The problem is will Anderson actually catch the ball? In each of the past three seasons he has been heavily targeted, but his catch rate doesn’t reflect that:
- 2017: 114 Targets/63 Receptions
- 2018: 94 Targets/50 Receptions
- 2019: 96 Targets/52 Receptions
What makes Anderson so tantalizing is that his receptions do lead to good things. He has averaged 14.9, 15.0 and 15.0 yards per receptions in each of those seasons, respectively, while combining for 18 TD and posting eight games of 100+ yards.
When it comes to talent Anderson has that covered. He has provided a solid amount of fantasy production over the past few seasons. The hope now is that reunited with Rhule, he can take the next step in his career.
Another factor is that it has been a few seasons since we last Bridgewater in a starting role, or really in any consistent role at all, and his ability to throw the ball downfield wasn’t exactly on display last season with the Saints.
All of this means, that while Anderson certainly has the potential to record his first 1,000 yard season of his career it’s not something I would bank on. Currently he is being drafted as the 47th wide receiver off the board, which puts him squarely on the WR4/WR5 border, and that is where he belongs. While there is upside, don’t go looking for it on draft day and instead just draft him for the production he has proven to capable of: 55 receptions, 800 yards and 6 TD.