Fantasy Football: Don’t Write Off Alshon Jeffery In 2017
An overriding theme of the 2017 offseason has revolved around the insignificance of Alshon Jeffery’s newfound presence in Philadelphia after the franchise produced a mere 16 passing touchdowns last season. Before extrapolating statistics from a Doug Pederson offense and inexperienced quarterback in the form of Carson Wentz, it is important to realize that Jeffery is in an improved situation for fantasy purposes as he enters his sixth NFL campaign.
Remember, the Chicago Bears have recorded passing touchdown totals of 21 (2015) and 19 (2016) over the past two seasons. Over that span, Jeffery has recorded double-digit PPR points in 15 of the 21 contests that he has been active for. In other words, touchdown output is merely one measurement of success in fantasy. Keep that in mind, in addition to the factors listed below before prematurely writing Jeffery off in 2017 because of misleading offseason narratives.
Over the span of Jeffery’s five professional seasons to date, he has delivered mixed results for fantasy owners. For a closer look at his NFL production sample, reference the table below:
Since both of his WR1 seasons in 2013 and 2014, Jeffery has not seen more than 93 targets in a campaign or participated in more than twelve regular season contests. Unsurprisingly, this has limited his overall volume and output. A sample size of two elite seasons at the wide receiver position should suffice to trust Jeffery when active. His durability woes are an entirely different story, which undoubtedly should be calculated into his asking price.
Another factor to consider while assessing Jeffery’s value is wide receiver’s red zone usage. Over his past two seasons, Jeffery has earned target totals of 15 (2015) and 12 (2016) despite scoring a mere six touchdowns. This indicates that the wide receiver could be due for positive regression in that category moving forward, especially if he is utilized as the focal point of Philadelphia’s aerial attack.
In order to support Jeffery’s current value, a fantasy owner has to be comfortable selecting the wide receiver within the first four rounds of a serpentine draft. Depending on a league’s format, the 27-year-old’s acquisition rate could be even more lucrative in nature. At the present time, Jeffery is being valued as the WR14 in standard scoring with an ADP of 31.8, and as the WR19 in PPR formats with an ADP of 36.3 overall. Based on his annual finishes in fantasy over the past two years, an argument could be made that the South Carolina product is overvalued. At the same time, a case can be built off of the premise that Jeffery’s current average draft position is his floor from a statistical standpoint if he is able to remain on the field for an entire regular season. Ultimately, those that contemplate selecting Jeffery in a draft need to be comfortable with a risk-centric roster construction strategy.
Redraft and Dynasty Outlook
From an imminent future perspective, Jeffery should be valued as a WR2 with upside for 2017 in redraft leagues. There is obvious reason for concern regarding his short-term fantasy dividends as he is no longer a member of the Chicago Bears. In turn, this means that Jeffery will need to establish a sound rapport with Carson Wentz in order to return value on his expensive price tag. Assuming Wentz is able to improve on his rookie campaign in which he accumulated 3,782 yards passing and 16 touchdowns, there should be little concern around Jeffery’s output. After all, the Philadelphia Eagles have lacked a perimeter option in the form of Jeffery (6’ 3” / 218 pounds) for quite some time.
In dynasty formats, Jeffery can arguably be valued as a back-end WR1. Although his future in Philadelphia is uncertain because of a one-year contract for 2017, the wide receiver has proven that he can serve as an elite asset with two top-ten finishes at his position over the past four years. Even more, Jeffery is still in the prime of his career since he does not turn 28 years old until next offseason.
While discussing Jeffery’s outlook for the foreseeable future, it is also imperative to discuss his suspension history. In 2016, he was suspended four-games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Keep in mind, this was his first offense. Those that support the narrative of Jeffery flirting with Josh Gordon, Martavis Bryant or Justin Blackmon territory are supporting a fallacious argument. Each of those respective wide receivers fell suspect to substance abuse, while Jeffery’s suspension was related to a supplement ingredient issue. There’s a big difference between the two and fantasy owners should take note. This does not rule out future discipline for Jeffery if he violates NFL rules, but it’s noteworthy nonetheless as it should not necessarily be a component of risk associated with his value.
Another important factor to keep in mind from Jeffery’s 2016 campaign is the fact that he was active for all twelve of his possible contests to participate in, which combats an injury-prone argument often associated to his name. In fact, last season represents the third NFL season out of a five-year career in which Jeffery has played in every possible game he was allowed to suit up for. Don’t write off Jeffery in 2017 because of recency bias, as it is imperative to remove negative emotions attached to a player from a previous season in order to see from an impartial point of view.