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The (Not) Boring Wide Receiver Who Can Help Win Leagues in 2016

Repeat after me: Jeremy Maclin is not a boring wide receiver. He is not a boring fantasy asset.  

Here’s a list of all the players who had at least 120 targets and eight touchdowns in each of the past two seasons:

  • Antonio Brown
  • Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Jeremy Maclin

Do I have your attention? Maclin is among the elite producers in the league over the past two seasons in terms of opportunity and visits to the end zone.

Maclin is not only one of the safest bets to give you representative value at current ADP, but he is also one of the safest bets to significantly outperform his ADP. Let’s explore.

Andy Reid, Alex Smith, Jeremy Maclin: Les Trois Mousquetaires?

The narrative on Maclin last season was that signing with Kansas City was a figurative death knell for his future output, most notably due to his new quarterback, Alex Smith, and his reputation for avoiding high-value throws. Overly cautious drafters missed an opportunity to capitalize, as Maclin found his way to a year-end WR15 ranking (despite missing a game). Andy Reid made sure Smith felt comfortable peppering Maclin with a healthy dose of the short, safe, boundary throws we’ve grown to loathe over the course of Smith’s career. However, one of the benefits of high percentage targets is the associated higher likelihood of converting them into fantasy points. Maclin posted the best catch rate of his career by nearly five percent in his first season with Reid and Smith.

Note: Maclin did not play in 2013 due to injury.

Note: Maclin did not play in 2013 due to injury.

Reid didn’t limit his usage to only low value targets. Maclin was deployed expertly over the middle of the field. Big plays over the middle represented nearly 26 percent of Maclin’s total targets (32/124).

maclin aya location

Smith and Maclin’s rapport over the middle of the field resulted in a blistering adjusted yards-per-attempt (AYA) rate of 17.47. Maclin posted a better AYA relationship with Alex Smith than any QB in his career by a half-yard per attempt. 

Maclin AYA

Reid, Smith, and Maclin were all clearly on the same page last year. Ultimately, it amounted to Maclin being 2015’s seventh-most efficient WR, posting 0.54 fantasy points over expectation per target (reFPOEPT). It will be interesting to see whether any incremental gains can be captured in the second year of the trio’s joint tenure.

Sim Score Projection

Maclin looked great in 2015, but what about 2016? The Sim Score App projection summary is gorgeous in terms of potential return on investment.

Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 6.7 8.6 10.5
Median 9.6 12.3 15.1
High 11.4 14.3 17

Maclin’s median projection would have been good for 241. 6 fantasy points last season, which would have equated to a WR15 finish. As compared to his WR23 ADP, this is an immense return on investment. I see no reason to have any doubt in his median projection; he will once again be the clear number one target on the team and no new pass catchers of significance were added to the roster in the offseason. Additionally, Vegas has Kansas City’s win total set at 9, just as it was last season. This suggests no significant change to game script. Maclin’s high projection for 2016 (272 fantasy points) would have amounted to a WR9 finish in 2015.

Summary

Jeremy Maclin seems to be underrated by the community based on his role certainty and effectiveness as the WR1 in the Kansas City offense. He finished 2014 as the overall WR9 and 2015 as the overall WR15 (despite missing a game). I’m projecting him to finish within that range in 2016 with a line of 94/1178/8. Maclin is a very safe high-end WR2 with demonstrated WR1 upside. I am drafting him in front of a handful of his ADP superiors including Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin, Julian Edelman, and Randall Cobb.  

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