Don’t Write Off Jordan Matthews in 2016
Despite suffering a bone bruise to his knee in early August, Jordan Matthews’ fantasy stock has been steadily climbing this offseason. That is, until Sam Bradford was recently traded to the Minnesota Vikings as a result of the devastating loss of Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending injury. At first glance, the departure of Bradford leaves the entire Philadelphia Eagles offense at risk of being a nightmare for fantasy football purposes. The team is now forced to turn to Carson Wentz at quarterback to begin the regular season, which has understandably left Jordan Matthews’ owners worried. Before simply writing off the wide receiver in 2016 due to an underwhelming supporting staff on offense, first consider the factors working in his favor below.
Assuming that Jordan Matthews is medically cleared for Week 1, he will enter the regular season as the unquestioned leader on the depth chart among wide receivers. At this point, it seems likely that Matthews will be available to suit up, as he was able to return to practice last week. Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and Josh Huff represent the only other serviceable options outside of Matthews after the Philadelphia Eagles elected to release Rueben Randle. This obviously bodes well for Matthews, as Agholor and Green-Beckham have both struggled to adapt at the NFL level early on in their careers. With Chip Kelly now in San Francisco, Doug Pederson is in control of head coaching duties for the Philadelphia Eagles. Pederson experimented with the idea of moving Matthews out of the slot this offseason, but he reportedly was unable to succeed on the outside. At first, this appeared to limit Matthews’ ceiling under Pederson, as the former offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs tends to run two-TE sets on a regular basis. However, due to the lack of weapons available to Pederson on his team’s current roster, Matthews should be heavily targeted regardless of being limited to slot duties.
As a rookie in 2014, Jordan Matthews made an immediate impact in the NFL. More importantly, he finished as the WR25 in PPR scoring after collecting 67 receptions for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns on 103 targets. Surprisingly, he was able to do so under the direction of quarterbacks Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez. In 2015, Matthews was able to build off of his impressive rookie campaign by increasing his reception, yardage and target totals. In the process, he also finished as the WR17 in PPR as a sophomore, after accumulating 85 receptions for 997 yards and 8 touchdowns on 128 targets.
Although Matthews was often criticized for sporadic production last season, he ranked among the best at his position from a fantasy perspective following the Week 8 bye. From Weeks 9 -17, Matthews performed as the WR10 overall in PPR formats, outpacing wide receivers in fantasy points like DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green. During that time frame, Matthews also scored 7 touchdowns while working almost exclusively with Sam Bradford. With Bradford now out of the picture, Matthews will look to establish a similar rapport with Carson Wentz. Through two seasons in the NFL, Matthews has managed to acclimate himself to various quarterbacks changes. Now under a more traditional offense led by Doug Pederson, it is hard to imagine Matthews taking a drastic step back in 2016 despite Wentz being a rookie.
Jordan Matthews owns a unique body frame for a slot receiver in the NFL at 6-foot-3, 212 pounds. According to Pro Football Focus, Matthews ran 88% of his routes from the slot last season, proving that he is best utilized as a defensive mismatch based on his ability to create plays all over the field. A former second-round NFL Draft pick, Matthews is still only 24-years-old. Therefore, it is possible that he has yet to hit his fantasy ceiling. Due to his combination of size and speed, Matthews is a dynamic playmaker with a tantalizing athletic profile. The only obstacle standing in his way from returning WR2 production similar to that of 2015 is the development of Carson Wentz. Nonetheless, volume alone could easily make Matthews a worthwhile fantasy asset as a target monster in 2016.