Can Kenny Golladay Meet High Expectations For 2020?

Photo: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

A quick look back at the 2017 NFL Draft Class reveals a highly talented group of pass-catchers. Cooper Kupp, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chris Godwin, and George Kittle are among the list of names taken in the first five rounds—that doesn’t even include pass-catching running backs like Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Tarik Cohen, Kareem Hunt, etc. But don’t forget about the player the Detroit Lions took in the third round who’s carving out a nice start to his career, Kenny Golladay.

Golladay is coming off an 11-touchdown season and now ranks second in the 2017 wide receiver class in career touchdowns (19) and receiving yards (2,730), and fourth in receptions (163). He’s improved his production each season he’s been in the league and had his best year in 2019 despite playing half the season with either Jeff Driskel or David Blough at quarterback. 

Expectations are high heading into 2020, as they should be, but what are reasonable statistical benchmarks for Golladay in year four? MyBookie is offering the following player prop bets for Golladay this season:

Receptions: 66.5 (over -120; under -120)

Receiving Yards: 1,090.5 (over -115; under -125)

Receiving TDs: 6.5 (over -120; under -120)

Those numbers represent a small statistical regression for Golladay in 2020. Is that a fair assumption? Let’s dive into the numbers.

We’ll start by looking at Golladay’s numbers with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who returns healthy this season after missing the second half of 2019 with a back injury. Golladay and Stafford have played 23 games together over the last two seasons. In that time, Golladay has 105 receptions for 1,703 yards, and 12 touchdowns—but let’s dive deeper.

When Stafford played, Golladay was targeted on 22.2% of Stafford’s passes. That’s a pretty healthy number that should continue into 2020. Please check out my article on Stafford’s 2020 projections here to see how we come to the conclusion of 575 pass attempts for the quarterback this season. Using those two stats, we can project that Golladay should receive about 127.8 targets this season. Keep that number in mind because it will impact the rest of Golladay’s projections.

Looking strictly at the receptions prop, we need to find out how many of those 127.8 targets we can reasonably expect Golladay to catch. He has a career catch percentage of 57.6%, but let’s look at his numbers with Stafford over the last two seasons. Golladay caught 105 of his 181 targets, good for a 58.0% catch rate. Over 127.8 targets, that works out to 74.1 receptions, which is over MyBookie’s posted total. The best bet is over 65.5 receptions (-120).

Moving on to receiving yards, Golladay is averaging 9.41 yards per target over the last two years with Stafford. Extrapolated out over 127.8 targets, you get 1,202.4 receiving yards. Once again, the best bet is over 1,090.5 receiving yards (-115), especially considering that the juice is on the under.

Now we arrive at touchdowns. As previously mentioned, Golladay caught a league-high 11 last season. That’s bound to regress, but will it fall below 6.5? 

Twelve of Golladay’s 16 touchdowns since 2018 have come from the arm of Stafford. That works out to roughly a touchdown every 15.1 targets. Over 127.8 targets, that works out to 8.5 touchdowns for 2020. Since this crosses the 1.5-touchdown threshold I self-appoint when it comes to wagering on touchdown bets, the play is over 6.5 receiving touchdowns (-120).

Take the over on all three bets and ride the wave as Golladay’s ascent should continue for a fourth straight season in 2020, provided that Stafford remains healthy. Although, Golladay was still pretty good with backups last year and Chase Daniel is an upgrade over Driskel and Blough should Stafford miss time this season. Exciting times lie ahead for the young receiver.

Written By:

Jaime Eisner

Managing Editor

Managing Editor of The Draft Network. He’s a former editor for Sports Illustrated, FanRag Sports and Arizona Sports. He’s the co-host of the TDN Fantasy Podcast and has an extensive background covering fantasy sports and sports betting.