In this article, we take a look at a player's potential to outperform their current ADP (average draft position) and assess the risks and potential rewards of drafting them. We look at opportunity stats including target share, average depth of target, receptions, receiving yards and touchdown rate. This is not an article that will tell you to draft a player or not. Rather, it's taking a look at predictive stats that can serve as a good indicator of what kind of numbers a player will give you if you draft him.
This article dissects Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
2016 season recap
Matthews entered 2016 playing for a team coming off a tumultuous offseason. The Eagles ousted coach Chip Kelly after missing the playoffs for a second straight season, and replaced him with Andy Reid disciple Doug Pederson. With a new staff, it looked like Matthews role as a slot receiver might've changed to more of an outside receiver. Pederson entertained the idea of moving Matthews from the slot to the outside, but he eventually moved him back, dubbing him the perfect 'slot receiver.' So it's safe to assume Matthews won't be used in any other way going forward.
Last season brought tremendous opportunity for Matthews in terms of targets. The Eagles arguably had the worst No. 1 and No. 2 receivers in the league, with underachieving Dorial Green-Beckham and drop-prone Nelson Agholor failing to generate more than a measly 800 receiving yards combined.
But despite his chances to be a focal point of the offense, Matthews failed to play up to his WR35 ADP in 2016 and finished at WR50 overall with just three touchdowns.
It's worth noting that Matthews missed two games with an ankle injury, and was marred by inconsistent quarterback play from rookie Carson Wentz down the stretch which hurt his touchdown value as well. Despite that, his opportunity through consistent targets has always made him a reliable option in fantasy dating back to his rookie season.
What he exactly did in 2016
If you owned Matthews last season, you were excited after Week 1 where he exploded out of the gate in a 7/114/1 effort against the decrepit Cleveland Browns defense. Matthews performance was good for a WR6 finish in standard leagues and would serve as the only time Matthews cracked the Top 15 in 2016. His 14 targets in that game also tied for a season high.
Through the first 5 weeks of 2016, Matthews averaged 9.7 fantasy points per game and scored 2/3rds of his touchdown output for the season in that span. His total fantasy output in that stretch ranked him 24th among wide receivers. This made him a WR2 caliber player overall in standard leagues for the first half of the season.
But even though his start wasn't terrible, it was downhill from Weeks 5-10, as Matthews averaged just 7.3 fantasy points per game which ranked him 41st among receivers. From Weeks 10-16, he averaged just 5.0 points per game, good for WR63 overall.
Matthews is currently being drafted as a WR53, going slightly behind Tyrell Williams and Adam Thielen and slightly ahead of Kevin White and Josh Doctson. Williams and Thielen have upside but have only been productive for one season, while Doctson and White are two young wideouts who are essentially rookies due to their injury problems so far in their careers. While Matthews isn't a great player, he's proven to be more reliable year in and year out than those guys. But just how good can he be?
|Weeks||Games||Average depth of target||Target share||PPR Points|
Target share — A lot of Matthews' value hinges on how many targets he might lose to Philly's newest offseason additions at receiver. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith will assume the outside WR spots, and it's safe to assume Jeffery will command more targets than Agholor's 69 and DGB's 74. Looking at Matthews chart above from 2016, he saw WR1 level target share throughout the year, but with the additions of Jeffery and Smith and Jeffery being the clear No. 1, plus the continued involvement of Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles in the passing game, it's likely Matthews sees a drop in targets. Finishing with about 90-100 targets seems reasonable for him.
Wentz also threw the ball 607 times last season, a number you have to figure will go down since Philadelphia added running back LeGarrette Blount to use in short-yardage situations and Doug Pederson's offense has a lot of parallels to Andy Reid's which hasn't always been the kindest to wide receivers in the past.
Catch rate — Matthews regressed slightly in 2016 after hauling in 62% of his targets but his 65% and 66% catch rate in his first two seasons shows he's a reliable target. You'd like to see that number hover closer to 70 percent since he's playing from the slot, but it's still more than serviceable.
In the red zone, Matthews caught 5 of his 10 total targets and scored all 3 of his touchdowns inside the opponents 20. Never a long touchdown threat, the vast majority of his touchdowns come on 10-20 yard receptions inside the red zone. If you want Matthews to return value, you're banking on the Eagles being in the red zone more often in 2017, which seems almost a sure thing given the improvements at running back at wide receiver.
Receptions — If Matthews catches 64% of 90 targets, we're looking at 71 catches which would put him right around Mike Wallace and Willie Snead territory. You'd like to see that number tick a bit higher since he's not a receiver that can make up for lack of touches with long plays after the catch. But with Jeffery, Smith, Ertz, Sproles and maybe even Nelson Agholor taking targets away, it's hard to see Matthews getting more than 90 targets.
Yards — Matthews 11.0 yards per catch in 2016 was far from amazing and put him in the same area as Mohamed Sanu and Eddie Royal. It was a far cry from his 13.0 per catch average during his rookie year, back when Mark Sanchez was seeing a majority of the snaps at quarterback and who Matthews arguably had the best chemistry with. He'll likely lose a few yards due this season due to less targets, but if he's healthy for an entire season unlike last year then his numbers shouldn't change much.
Touchdowns — This category will likely be the make or break for Matthews 2017 value. With less targets, he'll have to make up for a smaller amount of a receiving yards in the end zone. He's proven capable so far, with 8 touchdowns in his first two seasons. Touchdown rate tends to regress to the mean so it's likely Matthews scores 6-7 times in 2017. That feat is even more likely if Wentz becomes more competent in the red zone since the Eagles ranked 24th in red-zone efficiency last year.
Competition for snaps — Nelson Agholor has been moved into the slot position while Matthews recovers from knee tendinitis during minicamp and OTAs and has looked explosive there. It's definitely something to keep an eye on, as there have already been two reports that Agholor is starting to improve. It's not enough to consider dropping Matthews ADP even lower, especially considering how poorly Agholor has played in his first two seasons, but it's still something to watch for. If Agholor carries his momentum into training camp, then there could be potential for Matthews to lose snaps. The Eagles invested a first-round pick in Agholor and he's only 24 years old, so there is still a chance he gets an opportunity to prove himself.
It's likely Matthews can outperform his ADP, but it won't be by much. He is what he is at this point as a receiver and there's no reason to believe he becomes an explosive route runner or creates huge yardage after the catch. A slew of newer receivers will hurt his targets and a more balanced offensive attack will curb his touches as well.
A few extra touchdowns should make up for his lack of yards, which is a real possibility but harder to predict. If he scores 6 times in 2017, he'll finish with 117 fantasy points for the year when factoring in his receiving yard projection. That would make him a WR40 by 2016's standards and would exceed his 2017 ADP by about 10 spots.
Matthews doesn't have the upside of Tyrell Williams or Adam Thielen, but he's a nice value in your draft if you're looking to add some stability to your core of receivers and have already drafted some upside receivers to your roster.