Should We Be Buying Jeremy Maclin in Fantasy Football?
Let me tell you a quick story. A story all about how Jeremy Maclin's life got flipped-turned upside down. Okay, I won't recite any more lines but to this day I can't think of anything vaguely related to Philly without reminiscing about the greatness that was the Fresh Prince.
That is why I am taking this opportunity to do all I can to work it into this opening. Watch it's really not as difficult as you may think! As I've watched Jeremy Maclin begin to produce at a high level over the last two weeks I couldn't help but think back to his days of thriving in Philadelphia and all of our concerns revolving around his sudden transition to Bel-Air -- I mean Kansas City. Now it's all coming together.
When the news broke over the offseason that Jeremy Maclin would be leaving the high flying Chip Kelly Eagles offense and taking his talents to the Alex Smith check down show, it was widely accepted that his days as a productive fantasy, or real life, wide receiver had come to an end.
Not even a season where he finished as the 9th highest scoring wide receiver overall, in which he put up numbers to the tune of 85 receptions, 1,300 yards, and 10 touchdowns could curb the immediate negative outlook to his 2015 season.
We began hearing every day that Smith couldn't provide him with the targets he needed, that the KC offense wasn't capable of providing upside to anyone other than Jamaal Charles, and of course, that the Chiefs hadn't thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver since December 8th, 2013. All true in varying capacities and all drove the Jeremy Maclin fantasy price tag quickly to the basement.
As draft day 2015 finally rolled around Jeremy Maclin's average draft position was drifting between the 70th and 80th overall mark, and most people had long moved on. But, now after two very solid outings it's time to decide whether or not Jeremy Maclin is an immediate buy.
How Good Has Jeremy Maclin Been?
By our Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Maclin ranks 7th in the league through Week 4, which means he's added more points to his team's expected scoring with his receptions than all but six players so far this season.
For those new to numberFire and the metric, NEP factors in on-field variables such as down-and-distance in order to compare a team or player’s production to historical expectation levels.
Despite a slow start to the season in Weeks 1 and 2 and playing on the team that ranks 19th in our Adjusted Passing NEP per play metrics, Maclin has produced. He has also maintained some efficiency despite his high volume (40 targets).
Maclin's Reception NEP per target (0.82) ranks 15th among 54 receivers with at least 20 targets on the season.
What Happens Next?
Naturally, there are those who remain skeptical of the Chiefs' offense as a whole (perhaps there is some validity to that line of thinking). After all, they rank just 18th in Adjusted NEP per play through four weeks.
Those people might see a productive Maclin stat line and remind everyone else that it's only Week 4 and that we can’t take much away from his recent performances.
However, this is exactly why I am excited about Maclin. It is only Week 4! It’s Week 4, and we have already seen that the Chiefs are intently focused on Maclin being a key component in this offense.
He began the season with 9 targets in Week 1 and has followed that up with 7, 11 and 13 targets respectively while participating in 96.4% of the offensive snaps. With the Chiefs demonstrating they are game planning to have a productive Maclin and allowing his opportunities to continually increase, Maclin is very likely going to be the highly productive player we have seen the last two weeks.
What to Do in Fantasy Football?
As we look at Maclin as an acquisition target in season long leagues, one of the first things we look at, depending on our record thus far, are his matchups over the next few weeks and his matchups when fantasy playoff games roll around in Week 13.
Maclin’s next game brings a phenomenal matchup against the Bears, and it’s one that should yield many opportunities to succeed. The Bears of 2015 have “fired” out of the gate and are currently tied for dead last in points allowed per game. They have also already given up 10 passing touchdowns which is good enough for 31st in the league. They rank 29th in our Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
In the two weeks following, the Chiefs and Maclin will square off against Minnesota and Pittsburgh, who check in 7th and 17th.
For those who have had a winning start to the season and are already looking towards making a run toward a championship? Maclin and the Chiefs draw the Chargers (15th), Ravens (8th), Browns (24th), and double up on the Raiders (30th) in Weeks 12 through 16. Maclin is a season long asset worth finding a way to obtain.
Whether you are acquiring talent for your season long team or looking to take advantage of pricing discrepancy to build a winning DFS lineup, Maclin, our ninth-ranked receiver for the rest of the season, is a buy in all formats.