Chiefs Sign Jeremy Maclin
The move breathes some life into a Kansas City receiving corps that was in desperate need of an overhaul, but it puts a dent in Maclin’s fantasy value. A WR1 for fantasy owners last year — he finished with the ninth-most points in PPR leagues — Maclin figures to be a back-end WR2 option, at best, in 2015.
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One of the most well-documented stats of 2014 was that no Chiefs wide receiver caught a touchdown pass. That stat was humorous by Week 4, perplexing by Week 8 and embarrassing by Week 12. With the same coach and quarterback in Kansas City in 2015, it’s unrealistic to expect the passing game to be leaps and bounds better just one year later. Throughout his career, Alex Smith simply hasn’t thrown many touchdowns to his wide receivers.
That’s not to say Maclin won’t catch a touchdown. There’s almost no chance that will happen — we currently have him pegged for 5-7 on the year — but he’ll find 10 touchdowns difficult to accomplish, a milestone he reached twice in five seasons with the Eagles.
Another Alex Smith-ism Maclin will have to deal with: a league-low average depth of target (aDOT). Smith’s aDOT (6.0) was a full yard below the second lowest quarterback aDOT in 2014 (Robert Griffin III, 7.0). Smith also had the lowest aDOT (6.9) in 2013, and has had one of the six lowest aDOTs each year since 2009.
That’ll be a sea change for Maclin. Since Chip Kelly took over as head coach, Eagles quarterbacks have ranked at or near the top of aDOT. Adjustments won’t be impossible, but it’s clearly not as smooth of a transition for Maclin as it could be.
Maclin will, however, be the clear cut No. 1 option in Kansas City since Dwayne Bowe is expected to be cut. As the team’s No. 1 wideout, Bowe averaged 22 percent of Kansas City’s targets in both 2013 and 2014 (Reid’s two seasons with the club). Maclin is a superior player to Bowe at this point in their careers, and as the “shiny new toy” in Kansas City’s offense, he will be fed the ball a bit more than Bowe was.
Maclin has averaged 13.9 yards per reception throughout his career, but with Alex Smith’s lower aDOT, that figures to drop. Bowe averaged 12.7 YPR when Smith was under center, compared to 13.8 on all other targets.
With all that said, a 1,000-yard season with 75-plus receptions and 5-plus touchdowns would be great production from a WR3 and decent output from a WR2 on your fantasy team. But it’s still a ways away from the top-10 fantasy season Maclin put up last year.
As for the Eagles, Maclin’s departure leaves Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper and Josh Huff as the team’s primary wideouts. The team could use more “12” personnel in 2015:
Eagles current receiver situation suggests lots of ’12’ with Ertz/Celek. Matthews in slot. Cooper/Huff primary outside receivers.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 9, 2015
The assumption is that Matthews has the most to gain with Maclin no longer commanding targets, but his role in the offense may not be much different. In fact, no wideout ran a higher percentage of his routes from the slot than Matthews last season (92.4%). Unless the team is ready to lean on Cooper and Huff as their outside receivers, look for the Eagles to go after someone in free agency or the draft.
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