Honestly, my answer/response to the question above is: I wouldn’t hold my breath. But it has nothing to do with how I feel or felt about the former Buckeye’s talent. For my money, Parris Campbell was one of the most exciting wide receivers of the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State. Improved route-running, short-area quickness, sprinter speed, YAC ability — Campbell had it all by the time he left Columbus.
Unfortunately, he has been plagued by injuries since entering the NFL, and his status as a second-round pick means very little after three disappointing seasons.
All told, Campbell has appeared in just 15 games since the Indianapolis Colts selected him 59th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. He has started eight of those games, and totaled 34 receptions for 360 yards and 2 TD... not ideal. But again, I go back to blaming the injuries. He has simply not been available. His lack of playing time has not been due to lack of skill, discipline, etc.
As a rookie, Campbell missed games with a sports hernia, a broken hand, and a broken foot — the last of which ended his season after seven games. In 2020, after having his best performance as a professional in Week 1 (six catches for 71 yards), he promptly tore his PCL and MCL in Week 2, robbing him of his “second attempt” at a rookie season. And finally, in 2021, he suffered another foot injury during a Week 6 matchup, shortly after hauling in a 51-yard touchdown against the Houston Texans. Campbell did rehab throughout the season and was able to come back for Week 18, but he has still missed an incredible amount of time.
Under normal circumstances, his first three seasons would be the most crucial for development. Now, he must remain hopeful that his body holds up while attempting to make up lost ground.
Fortunately, Campbell has appeared healthy throughout this offseason. He participated in his team’s June minicamp, and worked exclusively with the first team offense while doing so. He has never had an issue making it to Week 1, but here’s hoping he can carry the positive momentum through the entirety of the 2022 season. Because if Campbell is able to stay healthy, there have been glimpses and reminders of what made him special as a Buckeye.
In just his second NFL game, Campbell scored his first career touchdown. To open the next season, as previously mentioned, he reeled in six catches for 71 yards; a career high in both. And he looked explosive at times last season, but if you blinked, you missed it. This is on top of all the highlights he produced for Ohio State. As a senior in 2018, Campbell took an enormous leap, leading the Buckeyes in receptions (90), receiving yards (1,063), and receiving TD (12). His 90-catch season still ranks second all-time at OSU, and I don’t think I need to remind you what he did against TTUN... but I will.
Parris Campbell Jr. dotted the “I” in win. @OhioStateFB quieted all doubters with a rout over rival Michigan in #TheGame. pic.twitter.com/ypPb8prMBK— Stadium (@Stadium) November 24, 2018
The gamebreaking ability still seems to be there for Campbell, but how about his NFL opportunities? I won’t go out on a limb and say I expect a breakout season from the speedster, but I do think he has a chance to productive — for both the Colts and fantasy football owners. Call me a homer all you want, but he is not exactly competing for reps with the Cincinnati Bengals (shameless plug, but I wanted to remind everyone that my team has the best WR room in the league). His team is short on proven commodities.
Michael Pittman is the go-to guy in Indianapolis, but he and Campbell are very different receivers. Pittman is 6-foot-4, 225, and makes a living bodying opposing corners. Campbell, on the other hand, can carve up a defense underneath and with his YAC ability — something that could be useful to the Colts’ new quarterback, Matt Ryan. The team also has Alec Pierce, a big-bodied rookie out of Cincinnati. Pierce is certainly a talent, but not necessarily known for his ability to separate or make plays once the ball is in his hands.
Even if Campbell takes a backseat to the big guys on the outside, he could thrive as an underneath playmaker. “Thrive” might be getting a little overzealous, but as a late-round flier, I would consider picking Campbell up for my fantasy roster.
I should clarify: I would likely only target Campbell in a deep, PPR league. As a player who has struggled to stay healthy and boasts two career TD in 15 games, I do not envision many trips to the endzone. However, I do see a scenario where he outperforms his current ADP (average draft position). Campbell is, for the most part, ranked outside the top-100 WR. According to fantasypros.com, his highest ranking is WR61. In other words, he is a lottery ticket. But he might be one that Buckeye fans are willing to scratch.
In reality, Ohio State and Indianapolis (Colts) supporters just want to see a healthy Parris Campbell. And they would like to see him healthy for the duration of an NFL season. Buckeye fans know what he was once capable of, and Colts fans are hoping to see him reach his full potential. As a fantasy asset, Campbell is nothing more than an idea for players participating in a 12-team, 4 WR, 2 flex-type of league... But fantasy football is supposed to be fun, and if you are willing to roll the dice late (like, really late), this former scarlet and gray record-setter could help you look like the smartest person in the league.