Jeremy Maclin Is a Buy-Low Candidate in Fantasy Football

Maclin is off to a slow start, but his upcoming schedule and recent metrics indicate a bounceback is coming.

Through three weeks of NFL action, there is no shortage of surprises.

At the end of Week 3, receivers such as Terrelle Pryor, Travis Benjamin, and Sterling Shepard all rank in the top 20 in PPR scoring. Just like we all predicted, huh, gang?

Some receivers who were expected to occupy the top 20 are off to slow starts. Jeremy Maclin is one of them.

Maclin currently ranks 36th among wideouts in PPR scoring and is coming off of a mediocre performance where he caught just 4 passes for 35 yards.

Your league's Maclin owner, who likely drafted him as their second or third receiver, is probably upset with his early production -- or lack thereof.

Looking at his upcoming schedule and past production, it's very conceivable that Maclin enters the top 20 soon, and you shouldn't be afraid to float out a trade offer for the Kansas City Chiefs receiver.

Upcoming Schedule

Over the next five games, the Kansas City Chiefs have a pretty favorable schedule for passing according to our schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric.

Week Team Defense Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play League Rank
4 Pittsburgh Steelers 0.23 21st
6 Oakland Raiders 0.36 30th
7 New Orleans Saints 0.29 26th
8 Indianapolis Colts 0.29 27th
9 Jacksonville Jaguars 0.07 12th

That's a good deal of promising matchups.

According to the Rotoviz Game Splits App, Maclin's quarterback, Alex Smith, has done well against pass defenses ranked outside of the top 15 since Maclin joined the team last season. In the Chiefs' eight games versus bottom-half passing defenses, Smith has averaged 21.39 fantasy points per game, which is about two points better than his career average since joining the Chiefs in 2013.

Aside from the easier passing schedule, we also have Maclin's history as a solid wide receiver. Maclin had back-to-back seasons with more than a 1,000 receiving yards in 2014 and 2015. After averaging only 55 receiving yards per game in the first three weeks, some positive regression is likely coming.

Return of the Mac

Maclin finished 15th among wide receivers in PPR scoring in 2015, according to Fantasy Data. In 2014, his last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, he finished ninth among wideouts.

Again, after three games in 2016, Maclin ranks 36th.

This can partly be blamed on his catch rate, which sits at 52%. He has caught only 15 passes on 29 targets. In the previous two seasons, he caught passes at a noticeably higher rate.

Year Targets Receptions Catch Rate
2015 124 87 70.16%
2014 143 85 59.44%

Maclin was targeted 29 times in these three games so far. It's a small sample size, so take this with a grain of salt -- but Maclin is on pace for about 154 targets, which would be his career high.

Even if the targets slightly regress, his recent efficiency should make up for it. In 2015, Maclin posted a Reception NEP per target of 0.70, which ranked 17th among 32 receivers with at least 100 targets and topped the league-average rate of 0.67 among receivers.

In 2014, it was even better at 0.78 with the Eagles, 12th among 40 receivers with at least 100 targets.

In 2016, his Reception NEP per target is only 0.51, which falls well below the league-average rate. His production should improve based on his tendency to produce with above-average efficiency.

There is still one more question looming, though -- how will the inevitable return of Jamaal Charles affect Maclin's production?

Charles In Charge

Working under the assumption that Charles will return in Week 4 or after the bye in Week 6, it's possible that Maclin will lose some targets in the offense.

But using the aforementioned Rotoviz app, Maclin actually performed better in 2015 in games when Charles played.

Maclin averaged more receptions and yardage per game when Charles was in the lineup. Sometimes, touchdowns can really skew a small sample size, such as this one. However, his touchdowns were slightly lower with Charles in the lineup, yet he still scored more per game.

With his upcoming schedule that looks friendly to receivers, his past success as a pass-catcher, and the metrics that are likely to improve, Maclin makes for a low-risk buy-low opportunity.