Value Check: Alshon Jeffery
When healthy, Alshon Jeffery has proven to be a consistent and borderline elite asset in fantasy football thus far in his career. Unfortunately, this simply has not been the case for Jeffery in 2016. Entering Week 8 of the NFL regular season, he has failed to record a single touchdown despite accruing 55 targets. Jeffery’s lack of production is a result of multiple factors, which primarily include a decline in target share and the absence of Jay Cutler. Below, I will make a case for Jeffery delivering on his expected WR1 draft day value for the remainder of the 2016 fantasy football season.
As I mentioned above, Jeffery has witnessed a decrease in volume this year in comparison to his career accolades. In fact, he has only earned double-digit targets twice in 2016 over the Chicago Bears’ first seven games. In 2015, Jeffery was limited to nine games due to injury, yet saw double-digit targets on six different occasions. A contributing factor to Jeffery’s involvement on offense last season was the presence of quarterback Jay Cutler, as the tandem produced a receiving line of 54 receptions for 807 yards and 4 touchdowns.
With Jay Cutler expected to make a return this week against the Minnesota Vikings, Jeffery figures to be more involved as a weapon on offense. Remember, in Week 1 against the Houston Texans, Jeffery compiled 105 yards receiving while Cutler was healthy and under center. Since Cutler has been sidelined due to an ailing thumb injury dating back to Week 2, Jeffery has failed to eclipse more than 96 yards receiving in a game with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. As a result of Hoyer being placed on injured reserve due to a fractured forearm, Cutler has been granted the opportunity to start for the remainder of the season.
Although Jeffery faces a difficult matchup in Week 8 against a stout Minnesota Vikings defense, his schedule down the stretch becomes much more favorable. That being said, it is entirely possible that Jeffery will be able to produce back-end WR1 or high-end WR2 numbers to finish the regular season. Consider that after a Week 9 bye, the Chicago Bears face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers to round out the regular season in fantasy circles. Heading into the fantasy playoffs, Jeffery will face off against the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins; all of which currently give up at least the fifteenth most points to wide receivers in PPR formats.
Overall, Jeffery has had a rather disappointing start to his 2016 campaign. The fact that he has been unable to find the end zone has severely limited his fantasy ceiling. His 520 yards receiving entering Week 8 ranks 12th among wide receivers in the NFL. Surprisingly, Brandin Cooks, Larry Fitzgerald and Demaryius Thomas all trail him in that department. Currently the WR35 in PPR scoring, Jeffery’s output can only improve if he is able to find the end zone in future weeks. Given his previous success with Jay Cutler, there is no better time than the present to trade for Jeffery while his value is arguably at its lowest possible point.