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Draft Bargain: Jeremy Maclin

To win your fantasy football drafts, you need guys in the later rounds to hit. Let Jeremy Maclin be your lotto ticket to your Fantasy championship!

Jeremy Maclin
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on who you ask, there are a lot of ways to reach the playoffs in your fantasy league. Some owners say “wait on a quarterback” or “draft four running backs in the first five rounds.” I believe all owners can agree that one way to always achieve this goal is to find quality starters in the late rounds. Teams that win their leagues find players that seem like a waste of a roster spot to others. According to TheHuddle.com after the 2015 season, the player found on the most championship rosters was…..Tim Hightower. Some may say that could happen anytime by the result of an injury or some other weird circumstance but who do you think was number two on that list? I’ll wait…. Denard Robinson. This brings the circumstance of Jeremy Maclin to my mind.

Maclin was entering his third season in a five-year, $55 million dollar deal. Let that sink in. Then think about the fact that Kansas City lost a third-round pick in 2016 and a fifth-round pick this year for tampering with the receiver when he was a free agent in 2015. A third round pick is considered to be a “premium pick,” as it usually lands a top 100 rookie. The Chiefs had to know what kind of a risk they were taking to get Maclin and gambled anyway.

Nobody knows for sure what Kansas City’s plan is, but I believe Jeremy Maclin and his fantasy owners will gain from the move. Maclin recently signed a two-year “prove-it” deal with the Baltimore Ravens.

NFL Team Pass Attempts per Game

Rank Team 2016 Last 3 Last 1 Home Away 2015
1 Baltimore 42.4 41.7 51.0 40.0 44.9 42.2
2 New Orleans 42.1 44.0 50.0 40.5 43.8 41.7
3 Arizona 40.4 36.3 42.0 42.1 38.6 35.8
4 Green Bay 39.4 42.7 45.0 38.2 40.4 36.3

 

As you can see above, the Baltimore Ravens threw the ball more than any other team in the NFL over the past two seasons. New Orleans, Arizona, and Green Bay on this list should shock no one. It is also no secret that pass catchers from those teams are targeted early in drafts. Jordy Nelson of Green Bay and Michael Thomas of New Orleans are borderline first rounders in all fantasy formats. They also showed no signs of relinquishing that trend down the stretch in 2016 as evidenced by the data covering their final three contests.

If that wasn’t enough to sell Maclin, let’s take a look at the skill positions. The Ravens have to replace 185 receptions from a year ago with the losses of Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, and now tight end Dennis Pitta. Pitta quietly caught 86 balls to lead all tight ends last year though he will miss significant time with a hip injury. In PPR, Maclin could be a downright steal. Currently, he is going in 9th/10th round range in both PPR and Standard.  The inconsistency of the Ravens backfield has contributed heavily to the number of passes thrown. The Ravens also did little to address this need in this year’s draft. Their top threat, Danny Woodhead, is their most reliable due to his pass catching ability but he’s coming off a torn ACL from a year ago.

Jeremy Maclin Career Stats

RECEIVING GP GS REC TGT YDS AVG YDS/G LNG TD 1ST FUML YAC
Career 102 100 474 568 6395 13.5 62.7 83 46 293 1626

 

Maclin has been a relatively durable receiver in the NFL. He’s played 12 games or more in every season besides 2013 (missed with ACL injury). Maclin has back-to-back seasons of 80 catch, 1000 yard numbers on his resume, including 4 seasons of 7 or more TDs in 7 seasons. In 2014 with Mark Sanchez at QB, Maclin finished as WR9 in fantasy. He finished 14th in his first season with Alex Smith.  Neither QB finished higher than QB17 so that tells you if Maclin plays with a QB that can spin it like Flacco, he could pay big returns.  A four-game injury contributed to a down year in 2016 but that is a clear outlier in Maclin’s career. Even at age 29, he has plenty left in the tank.

Playing in mainly run-first offenses for the length of his career has capped his upside but now with pass-happy Marty Mornhinweg calling the shots, look out. Maclin has shown the level of consistency needed for me to think of him as a strong WR2 in PPR and fair WR2-3 in standard leagues. When drafting late we must always consider upside and I can’t think of too many other guys who have as much talent and as much to prove as Mr. Maclin.

 

 

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