Jeremy Maclin Injury - 2013 Fantasy Football Impact
Jeremy Maclin was knocked out of Eagles practice with what we now know is a torn ACL. This is a brutal start to Philadelphia’s preseason, particularly for their wide receiving corps. Our condolences and wishes for a speedy and full recovery to Maclin, who was in a contract season.
The Eagles were counting on Maclin to pair with DeSean Jackson as a nice 1-2 punch at receiver. Outside those two, however, there is plenty of uncertainty. Jason Avant and Riley Cooper have flashed in the past, but neither seems like a palatable season-long solution. Then there is Arrelious Benn — who was injured himself earlier this week — promising youngster Damaris Johnson, journeyman Greg Salas, and second-year man B.J. Cunningham all jockeying for position on that depth chart at receiver. Ifeanyi Momah, Will Murphy, and Russell Shepard are also in the mix as sleepers, but they are long shots to make any sort of fantasy impact.
How does Maclin’s injury affect the Eagles from a fantasy football standpoint? Who should you target in his absence, if anyone? Does this help or hurt DeSean Jackson? Can Cunningham come out of nowhere in his second season to take over on the outside?
For starters, let’s look at the stats.
|Arrelious Benn (TB)||4||6||4||26||0||1||67||3.2||4.2||0.10||0||0.52|
|Greg Salas (STL)||6||35||27||264||0||4||77||2.9||26.2||0.18||—||—|
Maclin was the top fantasy scorer for the Eagles by any metric. Part of the reason is DeSean’s absence for five games, but even then Maclin outpaced him in points per snap and points per opportunity. He was Philadelphia’s top receiver, and they will most certainly miss him.
From a purely statistical standpoint, Jason Avant appears to be your best bet to replace Maclin on fantasy rosters. He actually put up some decent numbers for a guy who didn’t get into the end zone. If he can score a few times, he might put himself on the fantasy map this season.
The problem is that Avant is better-suited for the slot than outside — he will probably not be a direct replacement to Maclin. The same can be said about the speedy Johnson; you can see it in their average depth of targets (aDOTs). Whoever winds up starting in the slot should see a share of Maclin’s departed targets, but it may not be enough to be fantasy-relevant.
Cooper, Benn, and Cunningham might be vying for that spot at X receiver, with Greg Salas a bit of a tweener. The job might immediately go to Cooper, who was Maclin’s backup at the position. But can he hold it? If he does, he might be a nifty late-round pick. That is unless he lights it up in the preseason and straps a rocket to his average draft position (ADP). Cooper had a decent run between Weeks 10-15 last season, scoring thrice in that span, but it was hardly spectacular.
One sneaky, potential beneficiary of this ordeal could be Bryce Brown. This is purely speculation, but could the Eagles utilize him in packages that include LeSean McCoy in the backfield? Perhaps we will see Brown line up in the slot at times, on top of his usual backup snaps at running back. The high-paced offense Chip Kelly is installing could mean more playing time for Brown than your typical backup, and if he can garner a target or two per game in the slot, he might have some deep-league value.
There is, of course, the big question of how this affects the heavy hitters in that lineup. Whoever wins the quarterback job will have to deal with a lesser option at the X — apologies to those vying for the job — and Jackson could see some more attention from defenses as a result. He could see a bump in targets per game, but he could also see more double coverage to nullify the extra opportunities.
So what is the ultimate fantasy impact of Maclin’s injury? The short answer is we don’t really know. Wait to see how the preseason pans out. Cooper seems to be the man to target right now, but many things can change between now and September. Keep your finger on the pulse of the Eagles offense until then.
If you liked this analysis, why not sign up for PFF Fantasy Gold? Even better, take advantage of our partnership with DraftStreet.com and get your PFF Fantasy Gold subscription for FREE by depositing at least $20, and then get a 30% sign-up bonus too.