I was going to write a part II for the QB portion of these sleeper articles, but I have decided not to force it. I had originally planned to have two articles per position, but after thinking about it, I don’t want to produce content just to produce content. I want to produce content that I am fully behind. So far, I am 100% behind the shallow sleepers I have posted, and so I have decided to move on to the WR position instead of forcing any more QB projections. Here’s who I do like, and many experts seem to agree. I love Sam Bradford, I also like Teddy Bridgewater, and Carson Palmer. But I don’t think any of those guys are being snubbed too much. They are being drafted as QB 15, 16, and 17 respectively. I think Bradford is a value (Sean Seigele thinks he can throw 50 TDS) , and I was very close to giving him a shallow sleeper write up, but where with Romo I would be happy to have him as my QB1, I still view Bradford as a must have QB2, because if he stays healthy and that offense does what people expect it to do, he’s the guy you want behind Cam Newton, or Matt Ryan type guys.
The reason I am giving Bradford his due is because of my first Shallow WR Sleeper: Jordan Matthews. As I said before, I think you are doing yourself an injustice if you aren’t at least strongly considering stacking your QB with his top target, and Jordan Matthews and Sam Bradford is a very affordable stack in redraft leagues.
Let’s first start with why Matthews’ ADP is WR17 and not higher. The most common arguments against Matthews is that he is just not that skilled of a wide-out. People question whether he can excel anywhere but the slot, which could hurt him getting the top targets. If you are in this group of thought, that Matthews just doesn’t have the talent to be a team’s #1 target, then it’s understandable to see why in some drafts he is going behind guys who aren’t #1 on their own team like Andre Johnson and Martavis Bryant. Another knock is that Matthews benefited from Mark Sanchez favoring him after taking over for Nick Foles.
If we were to look deeper into that, we would see that it wasn’t that Sanchez favored Matthews (in fact he was targeted less than when Foles was QB), it was that he was more efficient. The knock against Matthews not having the talent to be a #1 target gets washed away when you look at an interesting stat: Pro Football Focus’ “wide receiver rating” statistic. The stat shows QB rating when targeting a particular wide receiver. In 2014, Matthews QB’s had the 7th best QB rating in the league when targeting him. The guys above him are all great (Cobb, Nelson, Beckham Jr., Dez, Sanders, and Antonio Brown). And that was last year, where he played behind Jeremy Maclin (who will now be forgotten in Kansas City).
Speaking of Maclin leaving, last year he had 144 targets. Everybody knows one of the best determinates of fantasy football success for WR is targets. Even if Matthews stays in the slot (where he lined up Sunday), he should still get fellow slot receiver Cobb like attention in the passing game. Most interesting is that last year he only played 65% of the Eagles snaps, garnering 96 targets. Combine higher % playing time with Maclin’s 140+ targets to go around, and I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say Matthews floor is 120 targets. Of those targets, lets think about how many red zone targets he should gain. In 2014 he scored 8 TDs (remember, on 65% of the teams plays), Maclin had 13 red zone targets last year, and Riley Cooper had 14. While Cooper lined up outside Sunday, when Agholor is back Cooper will be the odd man odd (Josh Huff being the other outside man). That means there are also some red zone targets to go around on the league’s highest volume offense (70.7 plays per game last year).
One more thing to mention pass location. In his great analysis on Jordan Matthews and the QB situation, Rotoviz’s Jacob Myers points out that Matthew’s managed 30 more yards per game under Sanchez despite seeing fewer targets. Myers’ analysis shows that the big reason for this efficiency (since it is obviously not the targets) is that the depth of passes to Matthews between Foles and Sanchez was inverse. “Sanchez threw 26 percent of his passes over 15 yards while Sanchez threw only 17 percent further than 15 yards.” So Matthews is better on shorter routes than long routes, that is nothing new. He was a big screen receiver in college, and he was also much better vs. the zone than man coverage. So anyone looking at him pre-draft would have clearly seen that he was better (and more used to) shorter routes.
So, why does this matter? It matters because looking at the difference between Foles and Sanchez helps us see the type of QB (more specifically that QB’s passing tendencies) that Matthews can thrive under. Sam Bradford in his career has actually thrown the ball 15 or more yards 1% less than Sanchez. Of course, QB coach, coordinators, and personnel all effect this stat and isn’t some amazing predictor for how Bradford will pass in Philadelphia, but it is worth mentioning. So with Bradford seeming to be much more similar on pass location to Sanchez and also much more talented, one has to be excited for Jordan Matthews in Fantasy. (for all teams in the league, Matthews might be the only WR who’s value might not change much if his QB was to get hurt).
The targets, the efficiency, the simple pass location comparisons, a year under his belt, plus the leagues highest volume offense, I expect Jordan Matthews to finish in the top 10 WR and think he is a great value even in the 3rd round. Projection: 88 Rec, 1100 yards, 11 TD
Feel free to post comments with questions or discussion topics about Fantasy Football, not just this article, I will respond to all of them.