In the game of Fantasy Football, the role of the wide receiver has grown each and every year. In 2016, the running back position had a clear renaissance, but the passing game will always be more valuable in most league formats.
A few months ago, I wrote an article to analyze the supposed “drop theory” of Jordan Matthews and as we look ahead to 2017 I will now attempt to foresee his diminishing role in the Eagles’ offense, as well as his value for fantasy owners going forward.
Even though the 2016 season is now in the rearview, the complaints are still focused on the wide receivers that were here, and they can be heard loud and clear. In a way to silence the critics, the Eagles went out and signed two veteran receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and drafted two more in Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson to
revamp their offensive identity. In doing so, they may have indirectly Jordan Matthews and taken him from a nice third-round fantasy selection to a late-round sleeper all in one swipe.
Matthews has actually been a solid fantasy producer over the last three years, and was very consistent with his point totals from year to year. His overall numbers were also impressive when you take into account the dysfunctional system he had to endure during his first two campaigns under Chip Kelly and his classification as a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver. Let’s take a look at how he stacked up:
- 2014: 103 targets … 67 recs … 872 yards … 8 TDs
- 2015: 128 targets … 85 recs … 997 yards … 8 TDs
- 2016: 106 targets … 67 recs … 731 yards … 3 TDs (13 games)
Obviously, Matthews’ second year was his most productive, but if you take away his injuries last year he would have matched or even exceeded the 2015 totals. When you are scouting fantasy receivers and looking for overall production, getting a No. 2 receiver that averages 75/900/8 is excellent value after the second round. However, the dreams of J-Matt being selected higher than that came crashing down as the Eagles decided to max out their possibilities at his position.
Matthews is in the last year of his rookie deal and the Eagles’ brass – whoever that is that calls the shots nowadays – will have to make a crucial decision on what the future holds for the Vanderbilt record holder. Even with the short-term deals signed by Jeffery and Smith, Matthews’ fantasy future looks bleak. Jeffery came here to command the ball and Carson Wentz will do his best to feed him. Smith will stretch the field and should open up opportunities for Mathews in the slot, but the aforementioned wide receivers didn’t come here as decoys, either. They came here to show they can produce. All this, and we haven’t even discussed the roles of Hollins, Gibson, and Donnel Pumphrey. These guys were drafted for a reason and will also factor into the overall production of the Eagles’ offense.
What a change a year makes. This is a long cry from the “Little Giants” squad that was assembled to catch the rock last season. Either way you slice it, J-Matt’s production will take a big hit this season and will put him in the latter round tiers with guys like Mohamed Sanu or Pierre Garçon instead of his normal placement next to Kelvin Benjamin. Fantasy Football is a game of chutes and ladders, which will now have Matthews on the bottom rung trying to work his way back up to stability!
There also been a ton of speculation that Matthews could be traded. If this happens we will have to take into account where he goes and possibly up his production total for 2017! Stay tuned!
As always you can stop by my Facebook page (FantasySportsAddiction) or tweet me (@TCutillo23) for questions or some nice fantasy debates. I can also be heard weekly via the internet stream live at WengRadio every Monday at 4:00pm EST for a weekend sports wrap. But most importantly, you can catch me here at Pi!
For fantasy purposes, all my articles are predicated upon a PPR-based system.