Jeremy Maclin in Chiefs Uniform

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Jeremy Maclin (Chiefs) –  DOWNGRADE/PUSH

This guy had quite the year. Jeremy Maclin is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he produced 85 receptions for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. 2014 was a marvelous year for the newly minted Chiefs receiver who finished 9th among all WRs in fantasy. Maclin was also in consideration for comeback player of the year. His ACL injury scared a lot of drafters as he was the 27th wide receiver ranked player in polls (64.7 overall). This year, a healthy Maclin, has almost an identical ADP as last year’s. Is the fantasy community going to be wrong on him again?! To quote a past U.S. President, “Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me… You can’t get fooled again!”

Let’s investigate his new situation so we won’t get fooled again. First, Maclin is transitioning to an entirely different offensive scheme and philosophy. Under Chip Kelly’s fast pace tempo offensive, the Eagles are 1st in offensive plays, 5th in passing attempts, 6th in passing yards, and 3rd in scoring. The Chiefs however, are 29th in offensive plays, 28th in passing attempts, 29th in passing yards, and 16th in scoring (keep in mind that no wide receiver on the Chiefs scored a touchdown last year). To put it simply, Jeremy Maclin is moving from a top 5 passing offense to a bottom 5 passing offensive. That’s not a drop off, that’s a cliff. 

The Chiefs offensive was made up of two people last year. Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce. Alex “Checkdown” Smith didn’t look like he trusted anybody else. Alex Smith is a very serviceable quarterback in fact, and the Chiefs Smith is actually what the Jets want their Smith to be. He is a guy who throws a high percentage to his own teammates. Alex Smith is safe and doesn’t lose you ball games. Unfortunately, this means he doesn’t throw the deep ball and this doesn’t mesh well with Maclin’s strength. There are reports saying that Kansas City wants develop Alex Smith into a quarterback that pushes the ball downfield more frequently. Smith is entering his 10th year in the league, and the concrete has set. Maclin is a dynamic player who can produce on the outside and can stretch the field. His vertical game is awesome and he caught half of his touchdowns passes last year from 20+ yard passes.

Here’s the argument for Maclin. He was brought on to be the #1 WR on the team and is far and away the most talented receiver that Alex Smith has ever gotten the opportunity to work with. Maclin can still be very productive without the deep passes. The dude gets separation period. He is a playmaker who earns his dough on yards after the catch. That’s YAC money. Expect to see a lot of comebacks, curl routes, and involvement in the screen passing game. Smith just needs to give him the ball. Travis Kelce is the favorable redzone target on the team therefore number 19 will be much more valuable in PPR than standard. Don’t look for Maclin to get 144 targets like last year.

Conclusion: Don’t mind him at his current ADP but there are other guys worth gambling on like Jarvis Landry and Nelson Agholor.

Mike Wallace (Vikings) – UPGRADE/BUY

Mike Wallace is taking his talents from South Beach to the frigid lands of Minnesota. His game is about pure speed. He is brought in to take the top off of defenses. Wallace’s tenure in Miami failed to live up to his production in the Steel City and is ADP is definitely reflecting that. General polls show that Wallace will be drafted somewhere around the 8th round. He finished last year as the 18th best wide receiver right behind fellow bust or boom player DeSean Jackson. Currently, Wallace is the 35th pass catcher to be drafted and this screams value pick as his new situation is a lot more suitable for his skill set.

Let’s inspect his current circumstances. You can’t talk about the Mike Wallace’s potential in Minnesota without bringing up Norv Turner. Turner is infatuated with airing the ball out. In fact, he is high on high yards per passing attempt. However, his system requires several characteristics at the skill positions. First, a physical rushing game that demands the defense’s attention (LaDainian Tomlinson), a speedy tight end with good hands that can stretch the field (Antonio Gates), and a big wide receiver to snatch passes down the field (Vincent Jackson). The Chargers under Norv Turner was a top 5 offense for five out of the six years he was there. Don’t be fooled by his demeanor, he’s definitely an exciting offensive coordinator. 

Last year, Turner’s system was essentially handicapped with huge personnel issues. This was his first first year coaching in Minnesota and he had to field a team that was missing key parts. Gone was Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, Matt Cassel, and significant members of the offensive line. His quarterback was a rookie who was drafted to sit his first year but was thrusted into the starting job after Matt Cassel went down in week 3. The offense was held together by happy thoughts and duct tape. How the Vikings squeezed out 7 wins was nothing short of a minor miracle. Needless to say, the 2014 Viking’s offensive situation will not be remotely close to what Mike Wallace will experience.

Fast forward to this year, optimism fills the air as all of their significant pieces are back and intact. Teddy Bridgewater, who actually finished very strong last year, will have another year of experience under his belt under the Norv Turner system. In his last 5 games Bridgewater’s completion percentage was among the top QBs in the league. Another notable stat is that Bridgewater posted an 8.08 yards per attempt. The Bridgewater to Wallace connection is looking promising. The offensive line will be replenished with a healthy Matt Khalil, Brandon Fusco, and Phil Loadholt which will be a vast improvement from the poor O line showing of last year. Kyle Rudolph is also back in action who will help spread the field. Adrian Peterson returns in great shape and will be running angry. Wallace will benefit heavily from the play action as there is no one that commands more respect from defenses than Purple Jesus. Wallace is licking his chops at all the one on one that he will see. His highlight tape is filled with single coverages where his ball tracking skills really shine.

Here is the argument for Mike Wallace. He has a offensive coordinator that loves the deep ball, a quarterback that can throw the deep ball, one of the best running backs to run the play action, and good complimentary receivers in Charles Johnson and Kyle Rudolph.

Here is the argument against Mike Wallace. He is a roulette table. In the past 3 years he averaged 7 games where he was unstartable. He is not a big wide receiver thus doesn’t fit perfectly into Turner’s scheme. His yards per catch has trended down in the past 3 years. He has averaged only 67.2 catches over the last 5 years and is 4 years removed since his last 1000 yards season. The arrow has been pointing down on Wallace for some time now. Lastly, the Vikings tend to run the ball in the redzone and Wallace doesn’t have the size to be a redzone target anyways.

The kicker here is his price tag. Wallace has the talent and opportunity to be a top 15 producer but is being drafted in clearance aisle. Look for Wallace to be more consistent this year as the offense is better tailored for him. While his touchdowns will take a decent hit, his yards will be closer to his Steeler days.

Conclusion: The investment heavily outweighs the risk. Wallace is a total buy and at the very least, worth a serious late round consideration.

Honorable mentions

Torrey Smith (49ers)

  • Average Draft Position 109.9
  • Quarterback Flacco to Kaepernick
  • Deep threat, PI monster
  • Boom or bust player who averages 53 receptions per season
  • On a run first team but will have to throw
  • Do you believe that Kaepernick has improved working with Kurt Warner this offseason?
  • Plays in a very good defensive division

Percy Harvin (Bills)

  • Average Draft Position 124
  • Quarterback situation is a big question mark and is a huge concern regardless of who emerges.
  • EJ Manuel is barely an NFL QB. Might be T-mobile at the helm
  • More athlete than wide receiver
  • How will they use Harvin? Jetsweep? Screen passes?
  • Crowded offensive with Watkins, McCoy, Woods, and Clay
  • Run first, grind it out team
  • Very good defensive division
  • History of injuries
  • Best season had 900 receiving and 300 rushing yards
  • Better in leagues with returning pts

Stevie Johnson (Chargers)

  • Average Draft Position 158
  • Upgrade in quarterback play coming from Kaepernick to Rivers
  • Did not produce on a team with an injured Crabtree, aging Boldin, and an absent Vernon Davis
  • Crowded WR core of K.Allen, M.Floyd, A.Gates/L.Green
  • Awkward route runner and may take Rivers time to develop chemistry/timing
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