Stay Away From DeSean Jackson This Year
The new Redskins wide receiver has been garnering a good amount of hype recently, considering he’s now a member of one of his former team’s rivals. That said, the speedster won’t be a top fantasy option in 2014.
Last year, star Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin went down with a torn ACL before the season started. Jackson became the No. 1 receiver in head coach Chip Kelly’s offense, seeing 119 passes thrown his way and coming down with 82 of them. He put up 1,332 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in a successful campaign.
The problem is that Jackson’s 2013 totals can’t be completely trusted. Jackson had never before topped 62 receptions, so a 32 percent increase in receptions from his career high needs to be more carefully evaluated.
Past that, Jackson’s total of 1,332 yards was 15 percent greater than his previous career high of 1,156, set back in 2009. Jackson also hasn’t scored nine touchdowns since 2009, either.
2013 was an enigmatic year in many ways for Jackson. As the No. 1 target in a new, innovative offense, Jackson saw career highs in targets, receptions, receiving yards and first downs (60 in 2013 as compared to a previous high of 43 in 2008, his rookie year). Jackson matched his career high in touchdowns. It was also the first time since 2008 that Jackson stayed healthy for a full season.
This was the best case scenario for Jackson. The likelihood is that even if he played another season under similar conditions, he wouldn’t be able to match this output.
Jackson’s previous career averages over a 16 game campaign (calculated by extrapolating seasonal data over 16 games and averaging each season from 2008-2012) were 118 targets for 62 receptions, 1,079 yards and five touchdowns. When a player outperforms his career averages as ludicrously as Jackson did, expect a regression to the mean.
|Previous Career High||121||62||1,156||9||43|
Consider now that Jackson is no longer the top target in his offense, and he’s not a member of Chip Kelly’s team.
Instead, he’ll play second fiddle to Pierre Garcon, who led the NFL in receptions last year with 113. New Redskins head coach Jay Gruden tends to favor one receiver getting a majority of the targets, as evidenced by A.J. Green’s obscene totals in Cincinnati over the last few seasons, and Garcon looks to be the beneficiary of such a philosophy.
Don’t forget that tight end Jordan Reed has also established a nice rapport with Robert Griffin III and could end up with the second most catches on a Redskins team loaded with talented pass catchers. In just nine games last season, Reed put up 45 catches. That translates to 80 receptions over a 16 game season, which would have given him the third most receptions of all tight ends in the league (side note: don’t be afraid to take a flier on Reed this year).
The odd man out is Jackson.
Things get worse for Jackson when one considers the receiver’s quarterbacking change. Instead of catching passes from Nick Foles, Jackson will now see balls from Robert Griffin III.
Jackson’s main appeal is his ability to stretch the field vertically as a deep threat. Foles excelled at throwing the deep ball last season, ranking 7th in the league in Accuracy Percentage on passes of 20 or more yards at 45.5 percent. In contrast, Griffin III finished 20th out of the 21 ranked quarterbacks, with an Accuracy Percentage of 30.4 perecent. While Foles completed 25 of his 55 ‘deep’ attempts, Griffin III only landed 12 of his 46 passes, only two of which were dropped.
Foles and the Eagles not only threw down the field more, but they were also more successful at it than the Redskins. It’s unreasonable to think that Jackson can improve or even duplicate his numbers in an offense that isn’t nearly as good vertically.
In 2013, 553 of Jackson’s 1,332 yards and eight of his nine touchdowns came on passes of 20 yards or more. His fantasy value is directly tied to the amount of deep passes he hauls in.
Now, Jackson will be lucky if he ends up being a fringe WR2 in most formats. Also, with the receiver’s injury history, it’s quite possible he ends up missing a game or two on top of his numerical decline.
Don’t get sucked into the Jackson hype. Let another overzealous owner take an ill-advised chance on this speedster.