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Spotlight: Jeremy Maclin

posted by Heath Cummings on Jul 30th


Heath Cummings's thoughts

Last year was supposed to be the year Jeremy Maclin broke out. He had increased his production heftily from year one to year two and was headed for the famous third year breakout. Instead, in the preseason he had some type of mysterious injury that robbed him of any momentum heading into year three. Still, after fighting through that, he was on pace for 88 receptions and over 1200 yards halfway through the season before missing basically four full games with shoulder and hamstring injuries. Maclin scored one touchdown over the entire second half and only had one game with more than five receptions or 72 yards down the stretch. Much like the Eagles, everything went wrong for Maclin in 2011, and now we're supposed to project what 2012 will look like with even marginal luck.

When projecting Maclin for 2012 I believe you have to confidently project a full season. Looking solely at last year it would be easy to think he may be injury prone, but prior to 2011 he'd played 31 of 32 games in his career. Reports have him back over 200 pounds, so other than LeSean McCoy we should be viewing Maclin as the least likely Eagles weapon to go down to injury. That doesn't mean that another's injury wouldn't affect his performance. Michael Vick is probably the most likely quarterback to be injured in 2012, and if he is Maclin's production will suffer.

Another possible hazard of playing on a team with the firepower of the Eagles is opportunity. LeSean McCoy dominates the ball in Andy Reid's offense both as a runner and a pass catcher, but he leaves plenty of room for Maclin. Desean Jackson, while explosive is not going to catch more than 4-5 passes a game, he never has. Finally, Michael Vick has spent the summer telling everyone how much safer he's going to play it, so I think you can rule out a ton of running, or even scrambling, plays from him. As many weapons as this offense has, it's pretty easy to see the opportunity is going to be there for Maclin to put up by far the best year of his career.

So, just how good could Jeremy Maclin be in 2012? The average WR1 improves about 5.5% from his third to his fourth year, but that's assuming a full season played. If you take Maclin's per game average and project it out to 16 games in 2012, and account for a normal 4th year improvement, you come up with a line that looks like this:

89 receptions, 1208 yards, 7 TDs

Now that's just one tool, and coming off an injury I don't think that's necessarily the most accurate way to project a player's success, so I like to go back two years as well. History shows that the average WR1 improves just over 25% from his second year to his fourth. Applying that to Maclin puts him here:

88 receptions, 1205 yards, 12 TDs

Basically identical, except for of course the scores. That makes perfect sense and will most likely be the biggest determining factor in whether Jeremy Maclin is a WR1 or WR2 for fantasy purposes, how many times can he get in the end zone? Touchdowns are the hardest thing in fantasy to predict, but his size and the Eagles ability to move the ball bode well. A huge factor may be how many long touchdowns Desean Jackson scores. Every time Jackson takes one to the house from 50+ yards out Maclin loses an opportunity to pick up receptions and yards. I would always rather bet on the receiver who runs routes well and has a good red zone presence, so I'd bank of Maclin finishing with more scores this season.

Positives

  • Undoubted talent on what could be an explosive offense
  • Although he isn't the home run threat Jackson is, Maclin is easily the most consistent Eagles' receiver
  • He's a young receiver that is still improving, and he is seriously undervalued right now with an ADP

Negatives

  • Health of his quarterback is a major concern, especially when you look at the Eagles depth at the position
  • Touchdowns could be hard to come by with the deep threat of Desean Jackson and the ground game of McCoy and Vick

Final thoughts

Currently being draft as the 20th wide receiver off the board, I don't have any doubt at all that Jeremy Maclin is being undervalued. The real question is how much? He has the potential to become a top ten receiver, but I'm not quite ready to make that leap of faith.

Every mock draft I've been a part of has had a huge run of receivers in the late second and third round. Maclin is one of the only receivers left after that run that could put up WR1 numbers and I'd draft him as such.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

NJ said:

Love him this year if he's healthy. He was a borderline WR1 in 2010. In 2011 he was injured early week 10 and then missed weeks 11-13 and you can certainly throw out week 1 because he was barely used coming back from his offseason health scare. The remaining 11 games he put up borderline WR1 numbers similar to 2010 but his ADP this year has him being drafted as a low end WR2.

lbouchard said:

In 2010, Vick threw for 3,018 yards and 21 TDs. In 2011, Vick threw for 3,303 yards and 18 TDs. I don't see why there would be a huge jump in his passing yardage. Predicting Maclin for 1,200 yards means that he would account for nearly 40% of his team's yards. For comparison, Megatron caught 33% last year and Fitzgerald caught 37% of his team's yards. I don't think Maclin catches 40%, especially with DJax returning to form, McCoy being a lethal threat out of the backfield, and Celek performing like a top 5 TE after week 5 last year. I think he'll score the most points out of the WRs this year, but I don't think he goes for 1, 200 yards, and I don't see any way for him to hit 14 TDs. I don't even expect double digits TDs

Grahamburn said:

Maclin's yards per catch has been extremely consistent throughout his career with marks of 13.9, 13.8, and 13.6. I can definitely see his reception totals bumping up into the 75-80 range. His career high is 70 in his second season, so 5-10 more isn't asking too much with Maclin coming back full strength in 2012. However, I don't see there being too much upside from there with all the other weapons the Eagles have.


Jeremy Maclin projections

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Heath Cummings861175900
Message board consensus791124900