It might be DeSean Jackson who sits atop the Philadelphia Eagles’ depth chart, but let’s not lose sight of who the Philadelphia Eagles’ No.1 wide receiver truly is.
After battling a mysterious illness that forced him out of last year’s training camp, Jeremy Maclin enters his fourth year as a primary breakout candidate for 2012. While Maclin has already proven that he comes equipped with a skill set featuring great route running, reliable hands and breakaway speed, it hasn’t stopped him from adding on a considerable amount of muscle during the offseason. This new physique will not only make Maclin more physically imposing against smaller defenders, but should also lead to more red-zone targets as well.
In contrast, Jackson’s fantasy value is heavily reliant on his speed and big-play ability—things that can be neutralized with deeper coverage and a shortened field. His drop off in production indicates that opposing defenses have already begun figuring out an effective game plan that limits his home-run threat.
Ironically enough, it is D-Jax’s greatest attribute that makes his counterpart the safer fantasy selection. With Jackson’s daunting speed consuming defenses and forcing them to shift their alignments, Maclin will routinely benefit from single coverage.
Jackson only missed one game due to suspension in 2011, while Maclin missed three due to injury. However, even with the extra playing time, quarterback Michael Vick only targeted the speedy wideout seven more times.
In fact, Maclin recorded five more receptions, four more first downs and one more touchdown, while averaging more receiving yards per game.
Although each of Jackson’s receptions netted an average of three more yards, according to Pro Football Focus, he also dropped nine of 67 catchable passes thrown his way in 2011 and 12 of 61 during the previous year. For a wide receiver who only averages 57 catches per season, his 16.4 percent drop rate is downright offensive when you consider how many fantasy points he is leaving on the board.
Now I don’t want to leave you with a bad impression of the electrifying receiver, but can you handle this kind of stress?