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Player Spotlight: Jeremy Maclin

A detailed look at Jeremy Maclin’s fantasy prospects for 2016. 

As A Player

Jeremy Maclin returns for his second season with the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that rolled into the playoffs off the strength of a 10-game winning streak. He filled a huge void for a Chiefs team that desperately needed a high-level wide receiver, and quickly established himself as the top target in the passing game. The move from Philadelphia to Kansas City in the 2015 offseason via free agency was met with shrugs from most of the fantasy community, but Maclin would proceed to deliver some solid output. He finished the season as WR16 in terms of scoring after suiting up for 15 games, and there’s a good chance he would’ve threatened to crack the Top 12 if he played in all 16 games.

The same tepid interest is following Maclin for 2016 drafts, and he’s currently going off the board in the range of the late teens to early 20s in terms of the wide receiver position. The lack of excitement over Maclin’s 2016 prospects stems from the lack of enthusiasm over the Chiefs offense overall. While they will never be confused with a high-powered attack, they are efficient and actually averaged 25.3 points per game in 2015, good enough for ninth in the league. For Maclin’s purposes, a second year in the offense could lead to an uptick in production for both himself and the Chiefs as a whole. Owners that draft him in the current tier of WR2’s may be presently surprised when 2016 comes to a close, and find that they snagged themselves a WR1a at a tremendous value.

Recent History

Before taking a look at what this means for Maclin’s potential output in 2016, let’s take a look at his production for the past two seasons.

YEAR

Team

G

RSH

YD

TD

TARG

REC

YD

TD

FumL

2014

PHI

16

0

0

0

144

86

1,329

10

 0

2015

KC

15

4

11

0

124

87

1,088

8

1

After missing the 2013 season due to an ACL injury, Maclin returned with a flourish in 2014 and delivered high-level wide receiver numbers. New scenery in 2015 led to a dip in targets and production, but that’s a reflection of moving from a pass-happy attack to a more balanced offensive approach. In 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles attempted 621 passes versus 474 rushing attempts, while the 2015 Chiefs aired it out 473 times and kept it on the ground 436 times. Based on this data, we can determine that Maclin actually plays a bigger role in the Chiefs passing attack than he did during his final year in Philadelphia. He accounted for 23% of the Eagles passing targets, and a shade over 26% of the Chiefs attempts.

He’ll continue to be the main cog in the passing attack in 2016, but the conservative nature of the offense will hold him back from reaching Top 10-level production.

Looking Ahead To 2016

Maclin will not be lacking in targets as the unquestioned WR1 in Kansas City, but the Chiefs lack of depth at the position can also be a thorn in the side of productivity. After Maclin, the next three most productive receivers on the 2015 squad were Albert Wilson, Chris Conley and Jason Avant. The three of them combined for 112 targets, and absolutely nothing to write home about in terms of stats. TE Travis Kelce was the only other significant factor in the passing game with 100 targets, but the offense did have to change on the fly when Jamaal Charles went down with a season-ending injury in Week 5.

Charles will be back this season, and Conley should be more of a factor with another year of seasoning under his belt. More options in the offensive attack can be a blessing and a curse for fantasy purposes, but we’ll lean towards the side of it being a positive development for Maclin. Perhaps some of the defensive eyes will shift away from him on passing downs and leave him in more single coverage situations, where he remains a viable home run threat.

The Chiefs schedule appears to set up well for fantasy purposes. Among the juicy looking matchups are dates with the Saints, Falcons, Steelers, Jaguars and Colts, as well as two games against the division rival Chargers. While we can’t expect the Chiefs to suddenly start airing out in any of these matchups, games against pass-happy opponents can often be a boon for fantasy output. If the Chiefs do find themselves in any shootouts this season, we can be fully confident that Maclin will be front and center during the festivities.

Positives

  • Unquestioned top target in the Chiefs passing attack
  • Home run threat. Maclin had 14 plays of 20+ yards in 2015, a number that could rise with more options in the passing game.
  • Second year in Chiefs offense. He developed solid chemistry with Alex Smith in year one, and the arrow is pointing up for increased connectivity in 2016.

NEGATIVES

  • Balanced and conservative offense. The Chiefs seem content with a ground-and-pound style complemented by a short, efficient passing game.
  • Wide Receiver depth chart. There’s Maclin and then a substantial drop off. The Chiefs are hoping Conley develops as anticipated to draw some attention away from Maclin. If that fails to materialize, he’ll feel as if he’s covered by a warm blanket in virtually every game.
  • Return of Jamaal Charles. Charles is a legit threat to steal targets in the passing game. The same couldn’t be said in 2015 for Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, both of whom filled in admirably when Charles went down.   

Projections

Projections

G

RSH

YD

TD

REC

YD

TD

FumL

David Dodds

15

0

0

0

82

1,033

8

1

Bob Henry

16

5

20

0

85

1,090

8

1

Jason Wood

16

0

0

0

90

1,125

7

0

Maurile Tremblay

16

 

0

0

0

80

1,002

8

1

The book on Maclin calls for about 84 catches, 1,063 yards, and eight trips to the end zone. While we would like to see some more red zone work and big plays in 2016, both the reception and yardage numbers are good enough for Top 20 wide receiver production.

Final Thoughts

If everything breaks right for the Chiefs offense and they become slightly more aggressive this season, Maclin can easily threaten Top 12 production. However, if the 2016 Chiefs offer up a mirror image of their 2015 offensive attack, he’ll likely remain in line with his projections as a solid WR2. Bottom line, Maclin could turn out to be a steal as a WR2 on most fantasy squads, but looking to him as your WR1 would be too risky.

Other Viewpoints

Mark Wimer in his player comments on Footballguys.com:

“As the clear-cut #1 wide receiver for Alex Smith, Maclin should dominate the stable of wideouts in targets and receptions this year, making him a valuable fantasy player.”

CBS Sports 2016 Outlook on Jeremy Maclin

“Still, he's a borderline starter in all leagues and no worse than a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver coming into the season. He's a great player to target as early as Round 5 in all formats.”

Rotoworld’s Evan Silva, 2016 Chiefs fantasy preview

“If Maclin stays healthy, he won't have trouble improving on last year's target total. In 12-team leagues, I love drafting him on the third-/fourth-round turn.”