Will Alshon Jeffery Become a Fantasy Football Stud With the Philadelphia Eagles?
Coming into 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles had high hopes for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. For a first-year signal caller, Wentz was relatively productive, but the Eagles still finished in fourth place in the NFC East and middle of the pack in scoring.
Looking to improve in their second year under Wentz, the Eagles attacked free agency and surrounded the young quarterback with some talent at the receiver position, most notably signing former Chicago Bears All-Pro Alshon Jeffery.
Looking to 2017, Jeffery represents one of fantasy's biggest conundrums. Will he resurface as an elite wide receiver in Philadelphia or continue to suffer from injuries and off-field issues?
While injuries have surely influenced Jeffery's game, he finished surprisingly well in terms of Net Expected Points (NEP), our in-house metric. NEP uses historical down-and-distance data to determine what is expected on each individual play for a player. Positive NEP is earned when they play above expectation, and vice versa. You can learn more about NEP by checking out our glossary.
Based on Reception NEP per target and Reception Success Rate (the percentage of plays that contributed to a positive NEP), Jeffery has played well-above average throughout his career. The league average for wideouts in terms of Reception NEP per target has been 0.66 each of the past five years except 2015 (0.67). Aside from his rookie campaign, Jeffery has been an above-average producer, per our numbers, each year of his career, generally by a wide margin.
Reception Success Rate bears out this finding, as well. The average Reception Success Rate for receivers has hovered between 87% and 83% each of the past five seasons. Jeffery has outperformed the league average each year, except 2013, when he finished just shy of that season's average (85.75%).
|Year||Reception NEP Per Target||Reception Success Rate|
In 2016, Jeffery smashed the league average for Success Rate (83.91%) by 12.24%. He was able to do so while catching passes from Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley. Of these quarterbacks, only Hoyer had a Passing NEP per drop back above the league average (0.12). Despite inconsistent quarterback play, Jeffery managed to finish first in the league in Reception Success Rate among receivers who had at least 80 targets.
Is Jeffery the Eagles' Top Target?
Based on the 2016 season, the battle for the top receiver role in Philadelphia should not be close. Jeffery dwarfs Matthews' and Smith's production in Reception NEP per target and Reception Success Rate.
|Full Name||Reception NEP Per Target||Reception Success Rate|
Both Matthew and Smith were below the league averages for Reception NEP per target (0.66) and Receptions Success Rate (83.91%). Based on our metrics, Jeffery should be able emerge as Wentz's most consistent receiving option early in the 2017 season.
Looking at Jeffery's skill set, he should provide a solid fit for Wentz's style of play. Per Pro Football Focus, Jeffery and Wentz both excelled on the slant and comeback routes. Wentz had a passer rating of 100.0 on slant routes and 109.8 on comebacks. Jeffery's passer rating when thrown to on slants was 87.5, and it was 106.5 on comebacks. The league average for slants was 70.7, and it was 96.8 for comebacks.
However, in addition to the aforementioned injury history and PED suspension, there are still questions. The Eagles have a tough schedule this year for outside receivers, a slate that includes Josh Norman (twice), Janoris Jenkins (twice), Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and Patrick Peterson. In 2016, Jeffery ran only 9.8% of his routes from the slot, so he projects to run a majority of his routes against these players.
Despite this murderer's row of opposition corners, Jeffery should face no shortage of targets. According to Evan Silva of Rotoworld, the Eagles ranked third in play volume and sixth in pass attempts. Jeffery has received a target share of 22.5% in 2016 and 31.3% in 2015. If he receives anything close to this in Philadelphia, he is a good bet to return value for your fantasy team.
According to standard-league average draft position data from Fantasy Football Calculator, Jeffery is coming off the board at pick 4.04, just behind Keenan Allen and ahead of Tyreek Hill and Allen Robinson.
In the fourth round, Jeffery remains risky due to the fact he's missed a combined 11 games over the last two seasons, but he provides an immense ceiling Philly's fast-paced offense. His track record of above-average play and skill set which compliments Wentz's talents should allow Jeffery to separate himself as the clear top target in the offense.
While injuries and PED issues need to be considered when drafting him, a fourth-round price is more than fair for Jeffery.