NFC East Questions: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Will Jordan Matthews take a big leap?
Drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, expectations for Matthews were fairly high coming into a high powered Eagles system. The problem was that Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper stood in his way on the depth chart. This year, Maclin is in Kansas City, and Nelson Agholor is expected to overtake the #2 WR spot while Matthews takes the #1 reigns. Last year, Matthews had 103 total targets, to Cooper’s 95, Maclin’s 143 and Zach Ertz’s 89. With Maclin out, I would expect around 100 targets to go towards Agholor, while Ertz gets a slight bump up, Cooper gets a slight bump down, and Matthews gets upwards of 130 targets. Last season, Matthews went for 872 yards and 8 TDs, finishing as the #24 WR. We have already seen Matthews produce as a low end WR2/high end WR3, and with Maclin gone, I see no reason that he can’t take the leap he needs to in order to become an elite option.
Last year, he averaged 13 yards per catch, which is entirely repeatable. If he can get 125 targets, which I personally believe is pretty conservative, we can expect around 82 catches out of Matthews. At 13 yards per catch, that’s good for just less than 1100 yards through the air. For Matthews, the TDs are the more difficult stat to project, as is usual with most all WRs, RBs and TEs. I believe that 9 TDs is a pretty reasonable projection. With this stat line, Matthews would score around 160 fantasy points. Last year, 160 fantasy points out of a WR would have been good for 13th among the position. Therefore, I would expect for Matthews to produce as a very high end WR2, with incredible potential to creep into WR1 territory.
Bottom Line: With Maclin gone, I see no reason to expect anything other than a big leap in production from the sophomore receiver. Feel comfortable investing a 4th rounder in Matthews.