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Marvin Jones Is A Fantasy Football Rorschach Test

I want to draft Marvin Jones in a lot of my fantasy football leagues this year. Or maybe I don’t, but I’m doing it anyways. More than any other player, I see both sides of the Jones debate. Last offseason, Mr. Rotoviz Staff himself wrote about how Aaron Dobson was a Rorscach test, the idea being that depending on which factors one chose to evaluate, almost any outcome was possible for Dobson. In my mind, the same is true for Jones in 2014. On one side of the argument, he as the size/speed profile you want from a breakout WR, some impressive results as a second year player, and a decent college pedigree. On the other, he has a noodle armed quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, is fighting for WR2 snaps with Mohammad Sanu and is generally surrounded by uncertainity.

The excellent Matthew A. Berry ran through the positive side for Marvin Jones in this article and I agree with most of the points he makes. He was incredibly efficient on per target basis and had the best Redzone conversion rate in the entire NFL in 2013. Digging a little deeper into the Bengals offense, it becomes evident that Jones had a pretty efficient connection with Andy Dalton last season.

BengalsGraphIn fact, it’s really not even close. Using the AYA App, I generated a table of all players that Dalton has targeted 60 times or more.

Andy Dalton Marvin Jones WR 110 68 907 11 4 8.61
Andy Dalton Jermaine Gresham TE 252 165 1772 15 1 8.04
Andy Dalton Jerome Simpson WR 101 49 720 4 1 7.48
Andy Dalton A.J. Green WR 450 256 3705 27 21 7.33
Andy Dalton Giovani Bernard RB 70 55 489 3 1 7.2
Andy Dalton Andrew Hawkins WR 131 85 989 4 4 6.79
Andy Dalton Mohamed Sanu WR 102 63 609 6 1 6.71
Andy Dalton Tyler Eifert TE 60 39 445 2 3 5.83
Andy Dalton Andre Caldwell WR 67 37 317 3 7 0.93

As Mr. Berry noted, the Sim Scores for Jones are pretty favorable as well.

 Marvin Jones Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 6.1 7.4 8.8
Median 7.6 9.5 11.5
High 9.8 12.5 14.9

…and perhaps even more favorably for Mr. Jones, his scores don’t change all that much if you subtract his 4 touchdown game.

There’s obviously a rub, or this article wouldn’t exist. Namely, that Jones wasn’t a big time prospect and that outside of said 4 touchdown game, there hasn’t been a lot to love about his NFL production. He’s had only the one 100 yard game, which is obviously an arbitrary cutoff, but something to consider. In general, relying on a player’s college resume is unnecessary once they have performed at the NFL level, but given that 25 percent of Jones’ career fantasy points came in a single game, I don’t think it’s unfair to look at him as a prospect.

I didn’t like Jones or Keenan Allen as prospects. They were teammates at Cal and had a really, really awful quarterback and neither one of them blew up the combine. Both athletes were just sort of off my radar, with Jones farther off than Allen.

marvinjonesThe more you dig in to Marvin Jones, the more confusing it gets. When both Allen and Jones had passable QB play, they both posted okay numbers, but Allen as a sophomore far out-targeted Jones. On the other hand, Jones had a 43% RZTDR, while Allen was stuck in the 20’s for most of his Cal career. Allen had the dominator ratings that we at RotoViz look for each and every season of his college career, whereas Jones didn’t do it once. The purpose of this exercise wasn’t to state that “Well obviously Marvin Jones can’t ever be good, he was bleh in college” because we’ve already seen hints of promise from him in the NFL, but to try and gain a better understanding of who he is as a player.

Some of the chatter I’ve seen on twitter in relation to hesitance on buying Jones is that he will play in a rotation with Mohammed Sanu. Out of all of things to be concerned about, I don’t think that’s one. Sanu has been pretty underwhelming as a pro (just take a look at the A/YA table above) and with a new coach in charge of the offense, I think Jones, as the more talented player, will win out.

I do think that you want to own some shares of Marvin Jones in your upcoming drafts. His ceiling is high, but that’s only one way to read the Rorschach.  Relying on Jones as your first bench WR, however, seems a little foolish. I’m all about ceiling. Heck, I wrote a love ode to both Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rodgers, neither of whom have done anything close to what Jones has on the NFL football field. Most of my consternation on Jones comes from how unpredictable he seems. He has flashed absolute dominance in the redzone at both the NFL and collegiate levels, but my fear is that he may end up the WR version of Andre Williams where he is a better fit for best ball leagues or a very deep format where you’re going to start him regardless, so you get all of the big weeks. As with most things, investment in Jones is price sensitive. You definitely don’t want him as your 3rd guy, but as your 4th WR when Deandre Hopkins and Justin Hunter are off the board? No matter what the Rorschach looks like to you, that’s an enticing price.

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