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Alshon Jeffery Fantasy Football Stock Profile: Will a Change of Scenery Make Jeffery Fantasy-Relevant Again?

Alshon Jeffery

Position: Wide Receiver

Former Team: Chicago Bears

New Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Movement Summary

Alshon Jeffery was one of the biggest free agent acquisitions this offseason, signing with Philadelphia on a one-year, $14 million deal. The Eagles had been saying all season that new franchise QB Carson Wentz needed more weapons around him to properly grow, so they went out and signed the talented Jeffery to be Wentz’s No. 1 wide receiver. After injuries and a lack of consistent targets despite Brandon Marshall’s departure, Alshon’s put up back-to-back unspectacular fantasy seasons. Nonetheless, Jeffery bet on himself by signing a one-year deal with Philly, so should we double down with him? Check out his Fantasy Stock Profile for more:

Talent: 9.5/10

Talent has never been the issue with Jeffery. Few NFL receivers possess his downfield and jump ball skills, which are downright terrifying giving when combined with his 6’3″ frame. This gives him an uncanny and special ability to go up and grab the ball at its highest point over nearly any corner.  Secondaries are forced to provide safety help over the top, otherwise he’ll just use his size to feast. To pair with his length, Jeffery also has massive hands — measuring at 10 1/4″. Those large pair of mitts allow him to suffocate the ball and act as a huge target for his quarterback.

Image result for alshon jeffery gif

While Jeffery possesses all the tools needed in the deep/jump ball game, what he’s missing is elite vertical speed. Brandin Cooks is a player with elite speed who creates separation downfield to dust his opponents. Jeffery won’t be doing that to secondaries, therefore he utilizes his size to manhandle opposing cornerbacks downfield. Jeffery is one of the bigger physical specimens in the NFL, he just needs to add consistency to his game.

Opportunity + Usage: 9/10

The Eagles signed Jeffery with every intention of making him the primary weapon of the offense.  Amidst useful but unspectacular talents such as Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews, and Zach Ertz, Jeffery should have every opportunity to command the lions share of receiving work.  The team averaged a robust 37 pass attempts last season, meaning plenty of aerial volume is up for grabs, and after a drop-filled season from his pathetic wideouts last year, Wentz will assuredly be locked into his mammoth #1 man.

The concerning aspect, though, is Philadelphia’s lacking passing game. In 2016, Wentz averaged 236.4 yards per game while throwing only 16 touchdowns (1 per game average). Hopefully, the addition of Jeffery will add to Wentz’ totals, but there is concern about how much this offense can produce. Granted it was the rookie’s first year in the NFL, but can we expect that big of a jump from year one to year two? Still, the 37 passing attempts per game though is an encouraging sign that Wentz is looking to throw. There’s no stud running back on the Eagles’ roster, so Wentz and Alshon are likely to be the new face of Philadelphia’s offense.

Coaching Scheme: 7/10

Doug Pederson’s offense is quite different than what we saw under Chip Kelly, but more similar to what Andy Reid runs in Kansas City. It’s not a flashy system, but rather more efficient and methodical as it moves downfield. Pederson likes to utilize the tight end  and running backs, as you can see by his time in Kansas City and how the Eagles played last season. This philosophy isn’t a perfect fit for Jeffery’s skill set, as it’s not a big play offense and they don’t take a lot of shots downfield. The Eagles won’t spread receivers four or five wide and rain fire on opposing secondaries. Still, in an attempt to control the clock, the offense will pepper the intermediate parts of the field where Alshon can use his size to dominate slants and hitches. Unless things drastically change, we don’t love the fit from a schematic standpoint, but Pederson has also never had a specimen of Alshon’s nature to work with.

Surrounding Talent: 7.5/10

For a receiver, the most crucial piece of surrounding talent is obviously the quarterback, in which case Carson Wentz is still a relative unknown.  Despite averaging a meager 236.4 yards per game while throwing only 16 touchdowns (1 per game average), Wentz still flashed some big time throwing ability, and the low totals seem more reflective of the poor weapons he had at his disposal, and not Wentz’s own ability.

Speaking of those poor weapons, they reflect both a blessing and curse for Alshon (definitely more a blessing, however).  None of Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, or Torrey Smith seem talented enough to siphon “lead targets” from Alshon, yet they all have skillsets to draw some attention.  However, a year after Ertz led this team in receiving, Alshon could be facing some double teams. Hopefully Smith’s deep speed is still in tact after a brief stay in the wasteland of San Francisco.

Meanwhile, the backfield isn’t anything to write home about either. Led by Mr. Glass himself Ryan Mathews, the Eagles failed to record a 1,000 yard rusher. It was predominately a three-headed attack consisting of Mathews, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. None of these backs are real threats or studs, so defenses don’t have to worry about putting more defenders up front. They’ve been linked to many of the talented backs in this class, so this could improve, but as of now the run game isn’t taking much heat into the box, nor stealing a ton of work from the passing game.

Risk: 6.5/10

Jeffery is far from a surefire lock in terms of fantasy receivers, mainly because of his availability. Jeffery has missed 11 games over the past two seasons thanks to injuries and PED use, and both remain major red flags for his 2017 stock. Additionally, although the Eagles chucked the rock a healthy 37 times a game last season, overall improvement, especially in the backfield, which could lessen this load.  There’s also the risk factor of having a young QB in Wentz who will be looking to avoid a sophomore slump. Ideally, another year in Pederson’s offense should give him more scheme familiarity to maximize his shiny new toy out wide.

 

Overall Stock Score: 39.5 / 50, C+ 

Ceiling Scenario/Projection:  Motivated by his one-year deal, Alshon finally maintains his health and ascends to the true “alpha WR1” role he’s built for. In the process, an improved Carson Wentz peppers Alshon all over the field, but especially in the red area.

95 Receptions – 1,300 yds – 11 TDs

Floor Projection:  Similar to the past two years, injuries hamper Alshon while on the field, and keep him off the field for multiple games. Additionally, Doug Pederson’s offense proves too slow-paced and methodical for any receiver to truly separate, while a sophomore slump from Wentz keeps everything further grounded.

65 Receptions – 790 Yards – 6 TDs

Bottom Line: The change of scenery from deep dish to cheesesteaks, and the better quarterback play and overall usage, helps boost Jeffery’s value. Still, in a slower paced attack and hampered for part of the seasons, Alshon’s surroundings fail to propel him back into genuine WR1 territory, and he finishes as an upside WR2.

2017 Predicted Stat Line: 78 Receptions – 975 Yards – 8 TDs

We used this formula to nail David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016. Check back for more Fantasy Stock Profiles throughout the off-season to stay ahead of your fantasy football league.

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