DeSean Jackson Is a Big Fantasy Football Value

Is DeSean Jackson's price too low in early fantasy football drafts?

Even as a Giants fan, I've always respected DeSean Jackson. Yes, he's crushed my team numerous times with big plays, but it's hard not to like what he does for his football teams -- the dynamic wideout routinely is stretching defenses and making his entire passing attack better than it is without him. In that respect, I've always felt as though he was somewhat underrated as a real life NFL wide receiver.

This year, though, Jackson is also underrated in fantasy football. Here's why the mercurial Redskin is someone you need to draft in 2016.

Jackson Is Still Elite

The chart below shows the Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) for Jackson throughout his career, broken down in total and per target.

On every play, there's an expected point value an NFL team has for the drive based on yard line, down, and distance. What happens on that play can change the expected point value on said drive. What NEP does is aggregate the values gained or lost on every play into a single, net number. You can read more about NEP in our glossary.

Year Team Rec Reception NEP Targets Target NEP Rec NEP/Tar Rec NEP/Tar NFL Avg
2015 WAS 30 41.13 49 23.40 0.84 0.67
2014 WAS 56 89.13 95 54.25 0.94 0.66
2013 PHI 82 109.75 126 76.87 0.87 0.66
2012 PHI 45 56.58 87 16.45 0.65 0.66
2011 PHI 58 73.87 104 27.64 0.71 0.67
2010 PHI 47 83.45 96 47.57 0.87 0.66
2009 PHI 63 93.83 118 34.54 0.80 0.65
2008 PHI 62 81.07 121 4.96 0.67 0.66

As you can see, despite concerns about some forthcoming drop-off in performance, Jackson is still producing at an elite level. He was 18th in Reception NEP per target -- a way of measuring per-target efficiency -- of all players with equal or more targets than him in 2015, and only Dez Bryant had a better Reception NEP per target with equal or more targets than him in 2014.

Now take a look at his performance in the RotoViz Career Graphs.

Jackson still posted a yards per target north of 10.5 in 2015, and he matched his career best touchdown rate of 0.08. Even after missing some time due to injury, he is absolutely still an elite wideout.

Jackson's Consistency With Washington

As always, what we care about is fantasy production, so let's take a look at what Jackson has done in that regard. (Please note that I removed Jackson's Week 1 game, in which he received one target before getting hurt, from last season.)

Year Team Games PPR Pts PPR PPG
2015 WAS 8 106.8 13.4
2014 WAS 15 209.6 14.0
2013 PHI 16 269.4 16.8
2012 PHI 11 126.3 11.5
2011 PHI 15 182.2 12.1
2010 PHI 14 205.0 14.6
2009 PHI 15 253.4 16.9
2008 PHI 16 180.8 11.3

While Jackson's career in Philly was very up and down, he's been extremely consistent through two seasons with Washington. In fact, though he finished as WR66 in total points in 2015, he was WR29 in fantasy points per game. He also has averaged 2.21 PPR points per target over his two years with Washington. Here's a very simple range of his potential outcomes based on potential target totals.

Targets PPR Points 2015 Rank
80 177.0 35th
90 199.1 28th
100 221.3 20th
110 243.4 16th
120 265.5 12th

A healthy Jackson would have averaged about a 100-target pace -- had he played 16 games -- over his two seasons with Washington. Should he do that this year, he would be expected to finish around WR20 based on 2015 point totals. Even if he only gets around 90 targets, he'd finish as a high-end WR3.

There's also some upside here if Jordan Reed or someone else of consequence in the Redskins' passing game gets hurt, allowing Jackson to receive more targets. It isn't outlandish for him to finish as a WR1.

The Price Makes Him a Value

The best part about Jackson this year is that you can basically draft him at his floor. He is going as WR39 on, and WR37 on, a price he actually (significantly) outperformed on a points per game basis already just last year.

At those prices, Jackson basically carries no risk. I already showed how he could beat that rice out fairly easily in 2016, and there's also upside for a lot more. Jackson is absolutely a player that fantasy owners need to be targeting throughout the summer.