Now that Alshon Jeffery is off the 2018 free agency market after signing a 4 year $52 million contract to remain an Eagle through 2021, let’s examine what this means for Jeffery and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles receivers.
All stats are through week 12
Though Jeffery is on pace to miss the 1,000-yard mark, his first season in Philadelphia has to be considered a success. On pace for a season of 62 receptions/900 yards/10 touchdowns, Jeffery would have his most receptions, yards, and touchdowns since his 2014 season. Perhaps just as important, Jeffery has been healthy in 2017 having not missed any time through 11 games. Jeffery is currently a WR2. Depending on which site you reference, he’s either the WR23 or WR24, averaging 13.4 fantasy points per game. Over the previous 4 weeks, Jeffery has stepped up his game averaging 18.37 points per game, scoring 4 of his season total 7 touchdowns. Touchdowns are notoriously hard to predict, but with no less than 7 targets during this 4 game run, it’s safe to say Jeffery is dialed-in as one of Carson Wentz’s top targets.
Along with the trade of Jordan Matthews, the addition of Jeffery has allowed the Eagles to use a more vertical attack in the passing game. The Eagles’ attack was too often horizontal with Matthews as the lead receiver, as evidenced by his middling average target distance of 10.3 yards last season – which was 71st best. Jeffery’s average target distance is 14.7 yards this season – good enough for 5th at the WR position.
It is safe to assume that Jeffery’s touchdown scoring will regress in the future, but that still leaves plenty of room for optimism. In 2015, the Eagles were sixth in the league with 38.1 pass attempts per game. While in 2016, they’ve fallen to a tie for 23rd in the league with 32.5 attempts per game. This is attributed to the rushing attack that ranks 3rd in attempts (349), yards(1622), and yards per carry (tied with 4.6). With Jeffery as the leading target for Wentz, at a 25.1.% Target share, any regression in those rushing numbers will benefit Jeffery. Just 27 years old, Jeffery will get to play through his age-31 season with the best quarterback he’s ever played with, and the chemistry they continue to develop should only help Jeffery’s fantasy impact.
Zach Ertz is the 1b option in the passing attack. There’s a good chance that if Wentz isn’t targeting Jeffery then he’s targeting Ertz, who is second on the team with a 24.8% target share. Ertz is the TE1 on the year averaging 16.1 points per game. He’s seen at least 5 targets every game this season and has at least 4 receptions in 8 out of 10 games played. Signed through 2021 with a reasonable cap number, on a high scoring offense Ertz is safely slotted in as a TE1 for the foreseeable future.
A season after being left for dead by many (present company included), Agholor has bounced back to have, if not exactly a breakout season, then an extremely competent season. Agholor is averaging 11.0 points per game, good enough for WR40 on the season. The issue for Agholor is that the passing targets are largely dominated by Jeffery and Ertz, who account for nearly half of all Wentz’s passing attempts. This leaves the rest of the Eagles pass catchers as unreliable, low-volume plays. Agholor only commands a 15% target share with 53 targets through 11 games (4.8 per game). I’m comfortable rolling Agholor out in my flex every week, but that’s with the knowledge that his scoring will vary wildly from week to week.
The arithmetic is simple as it pertains to Agholor. In the six games Agholor has scored a receiving touchdown (excluding the points for his fumble recovery in the end zone in week 12), he averages 15 points per game; that is high-end WR2 totals. In games without a receiving touchdown, he averages 4.9 points per game. Tied for 8th with four others, with 6 receiving touchdowns Agholor has been more efficient than any other WR (outside of Will Fuller) scoring touchdowns per reception. Agholor has scored his 6 receiving touchdowns on just 33 receptions, or one TD every 5.5 receptions. The only other receivers with 6 or more receiving touchdowns and less than 40 receptions are Will Fuller, who has scored an out of this world 7 touchdowns on 17 receptions and Jordy Nelson with 38.
In the third year of a four-year rookie contract, Agholor’s situation is worth keeping an eye on. If the Eagles exercise his 5th-year option the soonest he can be an unrestricted free agent would be after the 2019 season when he would still only be 27 years old.
Mack Hollins/Torrey Smith
If you’re starting Torrey Smith, things aren’t going well for your fantasy team. Smith is signed through 2019 for $5 million per season but can be released after this year with no cap hit. I expect Smith to be jettisoned as soon as the Eagles may do so. In Smith’s place, Mack Hollins will fill the deep threat role for the Eagles. For those of us who harbored unrealistic hopes that Hollins could one day, possibly next season, step into a much more significant role – Jeffery’s signing should end those thoughts. More likely, Hollins will see something closer to Torrey Smiths 11% target share than Jeffery’s 25% in the immediate future. A best-case scenario for Hollins would be ascending to the 3rd target in the offense, leaping Agholor, but that seems unlikely with the improvement that Agholor has shown this season.
Thanks for reading. Give me a holler anytime on Twitter @DFF_Shane.