Stashing A Giant
I was just on our Fantasy Scouts Podcast recently, and I just could not quit considering just how much of an opportunity Donald Parham Jr has in the NFL. The dude is in the perfect situation to give us a cheap flyer at a potential difference-making TE in terms of fantasy. Let me break it down on why I think you should be considering this 24-year-old giant if you play in any TE premium or start 2TE league formats for dynasty.
Donald Parham Jr went to a very small college called Stetson college and played for four years. He arrived barely over two hundred pounds but managed to increase his playing weight closer to 240 as a senior which is also what he weighed during his pro day. Of course, being in a small school outside of the Power 5 does not help, but we expect the production to be the best when that happens (think of Trey Lance dominating against a weaker level of competition).
(Photo Credit: Stetson College)
Sure enough, we see Parham come in starting his sophomore year and immediately start producing well. Really focus on how much his production continues to jump up his junior and senior years; also notice how he played one less game each year too making the numbers even more impressive.
He then took his next step along the way to the NFL with his pro day. He measured in at 6’8” and 240 lbs. He then went on to do well at his pro day to show just how athletic of a player he is. I found different results on his forty time from 4.68 was listed as an official time and PlayerProfiler had his time at 4.73 possibly for time adjustment. Either way, the numbers are good.
(Photo Credit: PlayerProfiler)
So good in fact, I went through and plugged his numbers into our TE metric model and saw his pre-draft score was a 107 with the time listed on his pro day results and 101 if we use the numbers from PlayerProfiler. Now I did not take the time to give him a thorough watch of game film to determine how he looked on the field. Therefore I gave him the lowest score possible as I plugged in his information. When I go back and look at the numbers for their 2018 season, he was far and away the best player. He actually had 1319 yards and was 550 yards ahead of the next closest player on the team. That’s right, the next closest guy was a receiver who had 769 yards and three fewer TDs in the same amount of games. This already made him a guy who fits our predraft model of athletic stashes based on the film grade I gave, but any higher score on the film puts him into our stud potential tier.
On top of that, here is a quick image of everything Parham Jr was recognized for as a senior. This comes from his college profile page through the school website.
(Photo Credit: Stetson College)
Now of course after the draft was over and Parham did not get any significant draft capital, his value in our model stayed in our third tier of athletic stashes. This is not awful territory as we see several guys who still want to do something. In fact, our numbers break down as 26% chance of a top 8 finish in their careers, 37% chance of a top 12, and 41% chance of a top 18 finish. Some of our more successful names from this tier include Mark Andrews, Robert Tonyan, Brandon Pettigrew, Hunter Henry, Jordan Reed, Delanie Walker, and Austin Hooper.
Now Parham floated from the Lions to the Redskins as an undrafted rookie free agent but was unable to land on a roster. This led to him accepting a shot to continue growing as a professional by playing in the XFL for the Dallas Renegades. The season only lasted five weeks with Covid shutting it down, but in that amount of time, he turned 43 targets into 24 catches, 307 yards, and 4 TDs. For perspective, he was in the top three of receiving yards as a tight end. Because of that extra showcase, he landed a deal to the Chargers where he is now. With only 20 targets last season, he turned it into 10 catches for 159 yards and 3 TDs. So here is the appeal of Donald Parham for me. He is only 24 years old, still learning the position behind a valuable veteran presence Jared Cook, and is starting to make more flashes this fall. He is working behind the starter against Stephen Anderson and Tre McKitty. One is a 28 year old known more as a blocker, and the other is a rookie known for his blocking and testing very poorly in our TE model. McKitty is actually in our avoid tier with guys whose only outlier has been Tyler Higbee and that weird fluke six-game stretch in his career.
I am not saying Parham is going to supplant Cook this season since the veteran has been in Lombardi’s system before and is well ahead based on the knowledge of it. However, both these tight ends are the ones making noise this fall in camp. Parham used this offseason especially to build more chemistry by working out with Herbert to develop his route running. Apparently, the coaches liked it because through fall camp he has been given more opportunities to make plays after the catch and not just jump ball chances in the red zone.
So here’s my final breakdown on Donald Parham Jr. We see he is an athletic tight end based on how he tested and did in college. He tested well in our TE model which is looking pretty reliant on spotting guys to notice like Jacob Harris. The team and players this offseason and preseason have been discussing how well Parham has progressed. And he is tied to a fantastic quarterback with Justin Herbert. The only thing keeping his value down is the idea that he is behind Jared Cook who is on a one-year deal and then receivers like Mike Williams and Josh Palmer. Possibly late this season or next season, we could be seeing a 25-year-old tight end that is fantasy relevant making a lot of plays for us in tight end premium or start two tight end leagues. Even if Palmer assumes the WR2 role, it should be a good scoring offense going to help push him up to be usable. He is available for cheap right now so that is a name I would make sure is not on waivers or trade for with assets you do not believe in now while he is cheap.