Alshon Jeffery Is a Safe Receiver to Target in the Middle of Your Fantasy Football Draft
Indeed, my exact words were: "he is being treated by drafters as if he were a backend WR2, when in actuality, he has shown that he is capable of being a high-end WR1."
I am not ashamed to say it -- on this, I was wrong. Regardless of that, however, I am going back to the well once again with Jeffery. This time, I believe that his present ADP is entirely in keeping with his likely outlook, and as a result, it makes him something of a safe pick at his current price.
Jeffery in Philly
In the past two seasons, as a member of the Eagles, Jeffery has managed to play 29 of 32 games. With 1,632 receiving yards the last two years, he trails only Zach Ertz in receiving yards on the eagles, while Ertz is the only Eagles' player with more receiving touchdowns than Alshon during this time. Jeffery has scored 15, while Ertz has found the end zone 16 times.
These numbers do not put Jeffery into the top tier among wide receivers, however. At his position, Jeffery ranks better than 20th in only one key category -- touchdowns -- over the last two seasons. Only five players have more scores than Jeffery across 2017 and 2018.
Despite playing in three fewer games, Jeffery was more productive in 2018 than he was a year earlier. A large reason for this increase was due to an increase in his per-play efficiency. Jeffery caught a rather disappointing 47.5% of his targets in the Eagles' Super Bowl season. Last year, his catch rate was up at 70.7%, a career-high mark.
This improved efficiency was also captured using numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which you can find out more about NEP at our glossary. Among the 50 wideouts to see at least 80 targets in 2017, Jeffery ranked 26th in Target NEP per target (0.29) while ranking 28th in Reception NEP per target. Last season, he was seventh in Target NEP per target (0.56) and fifth in Reception NEP per target (0.85) among high-volume wideouts (at least 75 targets).
Real Life Versus Fantasy
For all his efficiency, Jeffery has not been a fantasy stud. This is partly explained by his lack of top-tier volume as Jeffery has never captured more than eight receptions in a single game for the Eagles. This lack of volume has also contributed to his failure to rack up monster yardage in games. Jeffery has eclipsed the 100-yard mark just twice as a Eagle.
Indeed, Jeffery has touchdowns to thank for a lot of his fantasy goodness.
In his 27 fantasy-relevant games for the Eagles (Weeks 1 through 16), he has scored in 12 of them. In these weeks, his average weekly finish in PPR formats is WR14. In the 15 games in which he was held out of the end zone, his average finish was WR59. In games without a touchdown, Jeffery has finished in the weekly top 36 -- WR3 or better in 12-team leagues -- at his position just three times, with a high of the overall WR3 in Week 15 of last season. In that game, he caught 8 passes for 160 yards against the Los Angeles Rams.
Getting His Guy Back
A good sign for Jeffery -- and anyone taking him at his present price -- is the return of Carson Wentz for 2019.
On a per-play basis in real-life football , Jeffery's connection with former Eagles passer Nick Foles was actually more fruitful than whenever Wentz and Jeffery have linked up over the last two years -- though the sample size with Foles is much smaller. Foles averaged 10.68 adjusted yards per attempt when targeting Jeffery on his 34 targets, while targeting Jeffery has brought Wentz a clip of just 8.14 (177 targets).
But in terms of per-game output, Jeffery has seen more opportunities when Wentz has run the offense, and volume is king in fantasy.
|Stat||With Wentz||With Foles|
|Targets Per Game||7.8||5.3|
|Receptions Per Game||4.4||3.5|
|Receiving Yards Per Game||55.3||59.7|
|Receiving Touchdowns Per Game||0.6||0.3|
|PPR Points Per Game||13.3||11.5|
Jeffery and Wentz may also benefit from the Eagles' schedule in 2019. According to Sharp Football, the Eagles face the 12th-easiest schedule in terms of pass defense this season. However, it should also be noted that they face (on paper, at least) an even more friendly group in the run game, seeing the seventh-easiest slate of rush defenses.
The Eagles were among the most pass-happy teams in the NFL last season, with a pass to run ratio of 1.61 (ninth-highest). However, that could have been a result of their rather ordinary rushing attack. They were 24th in schedule-adjusted Rushing NEP per play last season. If the offseason moves help Philly take advantage of the run-friendly schedule, Jeffery and the other Eagles' pass catchers may find their opportunities somewhat limited.
Bu as we've already mentioned, volume between the 20-yard lines is not where Jeffery has made his fantasy owners happy over the last two seasons. He's done his work in the red zone as 13 of his 15 Eagles touchdowns have come inside the red zone. Jeffery leads the NFL in red zone touchdown rate over the last two seasons (41.9%) among receivers with at least 30 targets.
The added competition of Nelson Agholor, Dallas Goedert and the newly re-signed DeSean Jackson will impact Jeffery in most quadrants of the field. But only Goedert and Ertz will likely be serious challengers to Jeffery when it comes to red zone work.
Jeffery is currently going off the board as the WR29 (62nd overall), according to early average draft position (ADP) data on DRAFT.com. Despite my hopes a year ago that Alshon could challenge for one of the top 12 spots in wide receiver fantasy scoring, I now feel that this price offers decent value for what you will get out of him.
If we assume that the Eagles are going to be winning a lot of games -- which their current projected win total would suggest -- then we should also assume that they are going to be in position to score lots of touchdowns. Jeffery has shown that he can certainly chip in with more than his share of touchdowns when called upon. His current price tag could buy you a player who has more than his share of WR2 weeks, with occasional visits to WR1 airspace.
This ADP also offers a cheap way to get exposure to Philly's offense -- at least cheap when compared to the Eagles' top skill guys. Ertz's is being taken in the second round, 22nd overall, and Sanders is currently being selected 51st overall. Ertz obviously enjoyed an incredible 2018 season, setting a new single-season record for tight end receptions with 116, but he is likely to see at least some regression in that regard. He commanded 9.75 targets per game last season, while in the two seasons prior, he averaged 7.7 targets per game. We project Ertz for 87 grabs for 990 yards.
Our models have Alshon ranked as WR24, projecting him for 63 catches, 909 yards and 6.34 touchdowns. While that makes Jeffery a slight value compared to his current cost, more than anything it cements him as one of the better and safer mid-round wideouts to target in fantasy.