Redskins Sign DeSean Jackson
I took an in-depth look at Jackson’s role with the Eagles a few days ago, so today we’ll focus on the impact this has on the fantasy value of both Jackson and his new teammates.
Jackson immediately slots in as a starter in Washington, but, unlike in Philadelphia, he’s no longer a No. 1 wide receiver. That designation goes to the NFL leader in receptions last season, Pierre Garcon. Garcon saw at least 20 percent of Washington’s targets in each of the team’s 16 games last season. He saw at least one quarter of the targets in all but two games.
Joining Garcon and Jackson on a majority of the team’s offensive snaps will be tight end Jordan Reed, No. 3 wide receiver Andre Roberts, and tailback Alfred Morris.
Although it seems logical that Garcon and Jackson would primarily work on the outside, with Roberts in the slot, recent snap splits suggest Roberts might be better off out wide. With Arizona last season, Roberts handled 42 percent of his targets out of the slot. His catch rate, yards per reception, drop rate, and yards after catch production were all worse than when he was on the outside. In 2012, Roberts dropped eight of his 54 slot targets.
Jackson, meanwhile, was dynamic in the slot and out of the backfield last season. He caught all six targets when lined up in the backfield, and hauled in 29 of 35 looks out of the slot. That comes after he caught 9 of 12 from the slot in 2012.
Garcon lined up in the slot only 14 percent of the time in 2013, but was impressive when targeted, hauling in 22 of 29 looks. Reed will see work at receiver, as well. He caught 21 of 28 targets when out wide or in the slot during his rookie campaign.
Roberts’ underwhelming slot production, combined with Jackson, Garcon, and Reed’s success, suggests we’ll see more of a rotation than the assumed “Roberts-to-the-slot” attack.
Jackson has seen roughly 20 percent of the Eagles’ targets over the past six years. A look at Jay Gruden’s past tendencies and the Redskins’ personnel suggests that number is about what we can expect in 2014. We know Jackson will be utilized as a deep threat and he’s sure to see plenty of work behind the line of scrimmage after thriving on bubble screens with Philadelphia last year. That’d put Jackson second in line for looks behind only Garcon, who is certain to see a drop in targets with a much better supporting cast. Jackson’s arrival will cost Reed a handful of targets, but he won’t be terribly far behind Jackson and should see more work than Roberts.
The biggest losers here are Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson. It’s possible, but unlikely that all three stick on the roster. Regardless, none of the trio will see many snaps. Washington is expected to add a decent pass-catching back in May’s draft. Said rookie would compete with Roy Helu for the team’s primary passing-down role. Alfred Morris, of course, will handle a bulk of the team’s carries, but, especially with Gruden in charge, won’t see many targets.
Adjust your rankings
Robert Griffin III already had Top 5 upside at the quarterback position. The acquisition of Jackson moves that ceiling even higher. Of course, the durability concern surrounding RGIII remains. This makes him more of a borderline QB1 than a strong, reliable starting option at the position.
Morris’ value goes up slightly only because the offense is better and will provide more opportunity for touchdowns. Consider that the Redskins scored 2.8 offensive touchdowns per game in 2012, which was one of the league’s highest marks. Gruden’s Bengals scored 2.8 per game in 2013, which was No. 3 in the league.
Garcon’s value takes a hit here. He goes from a solid WR1 to a decent WR2. He’ll be more efficient (caught zero of eight end-zone targets last season), but that will be more than offset by the loss in target volume.
As for Jackson, his value changes very little from where it was one week ago. He’ll play a similar role in a run-balanced offense that should be able to produce at a level above the NFL average. He’s a volatile WR3 option.
Roberts was looking like a WR3 sleeper, but he’s gone from an every-down player to fourth in line for targets overnight. He’s well off the fantasy radar in most formats.
Reed’s ceiling drops slightly, but he remains in what has become a very deep tier of back-end TE1 options. Unless you take a shot on Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, it’s smart to wait a long time at the position this season.
Be sure to check out our complete player projections for the 2014 season.
Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL
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