Parris Campbell may very well be a stunning breakout candidate and a viable fantasy soccer possibility
It’s been a rough couple of years for former Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell. Knowing his own guilt, Campbell has not been able to show what he is capable of as a Pro Wide Receiver in his previous NFL career. The former Buckeye speedster was plagued by injuries that left him with only nine games in two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts.
However, when he’s healthy, he’s shown glimpses of the big play skills that made him so dangerous at Ohio State. Unfortunately, the NFL is in business for what you’ve been doing for me lately, and Campbell has done far more rehab than playmaker. The Colts may get impatient with him, but there are still tremendous advantages to the team and fantasy football players when it comes to Campbell.
Let’s not forget what Campbell did during his time in Columbus. As a senior, he had 90 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. He ran a 4.31-forty during the pre-draft process and cemented himself in the top group of wide receivers in the 2019 NFL draft.
Aside from his ability to catch the ball and pass it, Campbell was an electric kick-returner when given the opportunity for Ohio State. The groundbreaking ability is still there; it is learned and developed over time, not just because of the physical gifts.
If you (or anyone else, including their Indianapolis coaches) need to be reminded of Campbell’s insane athleticism, go back and watch the 2018 Michigan game. He amassed 192 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 78-yard sprint on the sidelines.
That same season he had over 140 yards against both Tulane and Indiana and a total of seven games with seven or more catches. Campbell caught at least one pass for the state of Ohio in 27 games in a row, which speaks for his ability to be open to any defense.
Although 2018 was by far his best season at OSU, it was no wonder for a season. He was nearly 600 yards in 2017 and topped the Big Ten average in 2016. The ability was always there, and Campbell improved his game year after year; In 2018 he shot up the draft boards, and he was inducted into the second round, 59th overall.
It was Campbell’s turn to contribute as a rookie for the Colts, but played in just seven games. He suffered at least four different injuries, three of which required surgery. He was brought in to possibly replace TY Hilton and instead became an observer for most of the year. Even if he was healthy as a beginner, Campbell was rarely 100%. In addition, Andrew Luck surprisingly retired ahead of the 2019 season and Jacoby Brissett was forced into action. He and the rookie wide receiver had practically no time to develop chemistry.
Campbell apparently started his second season healthy and again showed a glimpse of his potential. In Week 1 of 2019, he had five catches for 74 yards out of the slot position; Indianapolis used him in the screen game, in the middle, and as a runner for the first two years. Unfortunately, the injury bug popped up and bit Campbell again in week 2. He suffered an MCL and PCL rupture, which essentially ended his season. Although he avoided tearing the cruciate ligament, the damage to the other ligaments was too great to overcome.
So Campbell is injured often, has 24 career catches in the NFL, and the Colts are starting the season with a new quarterback for the third time in three years. What makes me even remotely trust the recipient’s imaginative potential? Maybe I’m a homer, but I think the big game ability is still there. Campbell is built like Tyreek Hill or Desean Jackson and probably has the same combination of speed and athleticism. I’m not saying it will be as good as any of these other receivers, but at least there is a comparison.
Campbell was (or is) known for making people miss the people in space and collecting yards after catching them. He will have ample opportunity to do so this year. The Colts are relatively thin on the wide receiver, and the Hilton is the only known commodity with even remotely similar capabilities. Hilton is getting older, and the team’s other starting wide receiver – Michael Pittman Jr. – is a more corpulent jump ball enthusiast.
The Colts also brought Carson Wentz in via trade during the off-season, and he and Campbell had time to work together. Wentz is the no doubt starter, and he loves to throw the ball (for better or for worse, depending on which fan base you ask). He’s played with Desean Jackson and seemed more comfortable on the field with a real home run hazard.
The quarterback has definitely struggled in recent seasons, but the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line and running game could be blamed for doing the same. The Colts are better than the Eagles across the board. Quenton Nelson anchors a good offensive line, Jonathan Taylor has a strong running game and pass catchers are at least more productive than Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward. Wentz and Campbell worked a lot together in the off-season, so that the foundation stone for the production of this duo was laid.
Parris Campbell said he spent much of the off-season catching passes from the new #Colts QB1 Carson Wentz.
Campbell has the potential to quickly become a dependable security blanket for Wentz. pic.twitter.com/8es895C6Cz
– Locked On Colts Podcast (@LockedOnColts) May 19, 2021
After all, I think Campbell will be producing because, frankly, he’s running out of time. At least in Indianapolis. As a third year player, Campbell is eligible for a post-season contract extension. If his game fails to produce results, he risks being released or playing the string of his rookie contract with no future security. It’s the rough world of the NFL – which some say stands for “Not For Long.” If a young player disappoints despite an injury, they are more likely to bounce around the league or jump out of the league altogether.
I hope that is not the case with Campbell, and I don’t think it will be. He’s already built a relationship with the new quarterback and he’s on a really good offensive. There’s no other receiver on the Colts list that has their combination of speed and YAC skills, and with Hilton and Pittman Jr. on the outside, Campbell should see his fair share of individual coverage in the slot. If the team gets their hands on the ball and the former Buckeye can stay healthy, I expect WR4 or better results. Take it in too late or make it a waiver priority. Give him some time to get used to the pace of NFL game again, then watch him play outdoors. We’ve seen it before and I expect to see it again.