FA Expectancy: Jeremy Maclin

Updated: July 16th 2017

Throughout the offseason, I will be preparing a collection of articles that will focus on free agents and trade candidates. The articles will discuss the player in question, and what the move does to their value, as well as what their landing spot means for their new and old teams.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

The first big surprise, post draft, of the offseason was the Chiefs releasing veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. After having consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2014 and 2015 Maclin dropped of statistically last season because of injury. In 2016 Maclin had less than 45 catches and only 2 touchdowns. For these reasons and believing that he may have “lost a step” going into his age 29 season, the Chiefs decided to move on. The Ravens swooped in and picked up Maclin on a 2 year/ $11MM deal. This has had a positive influence on several players’ value (including Maclin’s) which makes a re-evaluation of the position on both teams necessary.

What does this do for Baltimore?

The two stats that kept getting thrown around regarding Baltimore this offseason was that they had the highest amount of pass attempts last season (672) and have one of the highest amount of vacated targets from last season with the departure of Steve Smith. Translation: any receiver that joined the Ravens would become highly sought after on volume alone. Now with Jeremy Maclin opposite to Mike Wallace Baltimore has a similar, albeit older, possession-to-speed wide receiver combo like in Tampa Bay, which I applauded in my last article. From that article, you should be able to take away that I don’t think that Wallace will see a significant drop in targets and fantasy value. Joe Flacco on the other hand needed a receiver more consistent than Wallace to be the team’s WR1 and it should increase the usability of Flacco in fantasy, especially in Superflex/2QB. Breshad Perriman is the player that most people have pointed to as the loser in this scenario but I think people’s expectations of what Perriman was going to be was too high to begin with. He could have bye week/flex appeal for a period this season but I don’t see him being more than a WR4/5 this season. I have never been high on Perriman and saw him and Phillip Dorsett of Indianapolis as similar one-skill players. The window to sell Perriman is closing with the signing of Jeremy Maclin.

Does this help Maclin’s value?

jeremy-maclin-baltimoreJeremy Maclin came into Kansas City as the savior that could remove the stink of not having a receiver catch a touchdown in 2014. Some were skeptical that he was a product of Chip Kelly’s offense and would not have the same stats with Andy Reid. He answered with 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns and saw a big spike in his value. This lead to a number of RSO owners signing him to a multi-year deal at auction last offseason. Stephen Wendell and I even complemented RSO frontman Matt Papson last season on his 4 year/$26MM contract for Maclin in the Writer’s League. Unfortunately for all Maclin owners last year they were left wanting with his underwhelming 2016 season. Depending on how deep one invested they may have been able to trade out or just release Maclin earlier this offseason. If you did hold him through the low point you might as well hold him now till we see how he fits with the Ravens and what his value will bounce back to. In auctions, I will be treating Maclin much like I did Ryan Matthews last year where he could be a buy for a contending team that has the extra cap space this year but doesn’t want to commit money to the future for a sexier receiver. He should max out at $14MM for 2017, $25MM/2 years for those that really love the landing spot.

A “Hill” to die on in KC

No player has been more talked about (positively or negatively) in the 2017 offseason than Tyreek Hill. The rookie became the must waiver add midway through last season and many people were projecting his role to only increase heading into this season. Now with Maclin out and no obvious top option on the roster Hill will be locked in as one of your auction’s longest lasting bids. If you think Hill will be THEE player to get on your team be prepared to be spending over $15MM/year. If you are not a big Hill fan he’s definitely a player you want to nominate and watch other owners spend their cap on.

**As a tip I find that the first players at each position nominated actually go for less than their expected value since everyone is mildly hesitant to spend right away. Try not to nominate Hill (or any player you want out as a decoy) in the first round of selections. Instead, wait for a second or third pass to make owners set the market. **

Of course, the other Chiefs receivers have seen a bump in their value and are all worth acquiring, for the right price. Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, and even Jehu Chesson have a chance to be the WR2 (or WR1) in this offense but the Chiefs are not a team that is known for producing multiple fantasy relevant receivers. The drafting of Patrick Mahomes likely signals the change at QB from Alex Smith in the next year or two which could increase the depth of passes and overall aggressiveness of the offense. Ultimately there may be value in any three of these receivers if they can become a flex contributor. However, I would rather wait till the preseason to see which player looks like they will be playing the most snaps and pay the premium. Wilson and Chesson are likely available in your auction and could be bought near the end for close to the minimum. Conley has been gaining interest from the dynasty community and will be the most expensive of the three to acquire. A late second should be the ceiling that you pay to acquire him before we know more in August.

Make sure to continue to read more Free Agency Expectancy articles throughout the offseason to be prepared for your summer Auctions. Have a player that you want me to evaluate? Leave me a message on Twitter @naandrews19.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Questionable Offseason Moves

Updated: August 22nd 2017

Every season NFL teams make questionable moves in the offseason which makes one wonder what the team is thinking. Poor personnel decisions, salary cap management, and lack of coherent team direction cause major headaches both during the season and for the future.  I take a look at a few of these situations and examine the implications for both NFL teams and your RSO leagues.

Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars: A hope and a prayer at quarterback

I felt confident each of these teams would address the quarterback position bringing in quality veteran competition. Instead, Houston traded up in the draft for Clemson’s DeShaun Watson to compete with incumbent Tom Savage and Jacksonville stuck with Blake Bortles only resigning perpetual backup Chad Henne.

The Texans have wasted a J.J. Watt led defense which has finished eighth or better in Football Outsider’s DVOA metric for defensive efficiency each of the last three seasons. Despite the strong defense and playing in a poor division, Houston finished just 9-7 in the last three seasons primarily due to incompetent quarterback play.  Now the Texans are left with the uninspiring choice of relying on either Tom Savage or rookie DeShaun Watson.  Savage did not throw a single touchdown pass and managed only 6.3 yards per attempt (close to Blake Bortles and Carson Wentz who were among the bottom of the league) in three appearances.  The Texans managed just 21, 12, and 17 points scored in those contests.  The other option is starting first round pick Watson.  The odds of rookie quarterbacks performing well are not good.  For every Dak Prescott, there is a Jared Goff, Ryan Leaf, and E.J. Manuel who produce very little.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, maintained the status-quo by keeping Blake Bortles as the starting quarterback. Jacksonville possesses an ascending young defense built from multiple high draft picks and expensive free agent additions.  Quarterback play doomed this team to awful finishes over the last few seasons where the Jaguars won only 11 games over the last three years.  You can read about Bortles’ struggles with more detail. Simply put, Bortles has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL over his three year career.  Jacksonville then compounded the problem by inexplicably picking up Bortles’ fifth-year option at $19 million for 2018.  There is no upside to picking up the option and lots of downside.  The odds of Bortles suddenly making a significant jump in the fourth season are extremely low.  There is practically zero chance Bortles would make anything close to $19 million on the open market in 2018.  The contract also becomes fully guaranteed if he suffers a catastrophic injury which prevents him from playing in 2018.  The Jaguars probably look for a new quarterback in 2018.

RSO Consequences: Look for more of the same in Houston.  This has been among the most run-heavy offenses in the league since head coach Bill O’Brien arrived and that is unlikely to change.  Lamar Miller and rookie D’Onta Foreman should see plenty of volume.  DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of the Houston receiving core will likely be limited by poor quarterback play and low volume once again.  Neither Savage nor Watson will be fantasy relevant.

Jacksonville, on the other hand, looks to completely change the script.  They invested heavily in fourth overall pick running back Leonard Fournette and will want the running game to carry the offense.  Expect a sharp decline in Blake Bortles pass attempts this season from the over 600 for each of the last two years.  Things have gone terribly wrong for the Jaguars if Bortles throws the ball much more than 500 times.  This reduction in volume, while good for Jacksonville, likely means less production from Allen Robinson and the rest of the Jaguars’ receivers.  Bortles should provide QB2 production when playing but could easily be benched later in the season due to performance and/or the fifth-year guarantee to prevent injury.

Kansas City Chiefs: Contender or Rebuilder?

Another team making a big move on draft day, Kansas City gave up 2017 first and third round picks in addition to a 2018 first to take quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs decided to gamble on a possible future quarterback upgrade where they could have added premium playmaking talents.  Kansas City then released Jeremy Maclin, the only proven wide receiver on the roster.  No other wide receiver on the roster broke the 600 yard mark for the Chiefs.  These are moves typically made from a team rebuilding for the future, not from a team which has won 23 games over the last two seasons.  I would not say the Chiefs are sabotaging Alex Smith’s likely last season as a starter in Kansas City, but it is clear Kansas City is not providing Smith with all the tools possible to succeed and the Chiefs are questionable to make the playoffs given how the offseason has gone.

On a side note, waiting until June to release Maclin was a classless move on the part of the Chiefs. Kansas City certainly has salary cap issues but they have known about these cap issues before the free agency period began and nothing new has happened to change their mind about the move.  There is no good reason for the Chiefs to release Maclin, who has been nothing but a model citizen and teammate, this late in the offseason after teams have spent most of their cap space in free agency.  This is an issue I foresee many agents addressing in top players’ contracts next season forcing teams to make an earlier decision on player cuts.

RSO Consequences: Tight end Travis Kelce maintains his role as the dominant receiver in this offense.  The wide receiver position is a free for all.  Rookie sensation Tyreek Hill’s dynamic freshman campaign was largely supported by some, likely unsustainable, huge runs resulting in an absurd 11.2 yards per carry and a bunch of manufactured touches near the line of scrimmage in the passing game.  Will this usage continue or will another receiver step up for Kansas City?  Historically Alex Smith supported, at most, one fantasy relevant wide receiver and the upside is not extremely high considering the limited volume in the Kansas City passing attack.  Maclin should be a quality second wide receiver for the team that lands him but his fantasy value will largely be determined by where he lands.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Doug Martin Contract

By most accounts, Tampa Bay improved considerably this offseason offensively highlighted by free agent acquisition DeSean Jackson at wide receiver and first round draft pick O.J. Howard at tight end. One player who will not contribute at the start is running back Doug Martin who will miss the first three games as part of a four game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.  Martin’s production has been extremely spotty in his five year career, accumulating less than 500 rushing yards in three out of five seasons with injuries playing a key role.  He is in the second year of a five year contract which pays him a little under $6 million this season (7th highest cap hit of any running back) and around $7 million for the remaining three seasons.

The running back market has changed since Martin signed his contract. Not a single back, including high profile names Eddie Lacy, Marshawn Lynch, and Adrian Peterson, signed for more than $4 million during free agency.  Clearly, Martin’s contract is out of line in today’s market for a 28 year old back with his overall lack of production and injury/suspension issues. The Buccaneers were given an out, however, as Martin’s suspension voids the 2017 salary guarantees in his contract.  This is a golden opportunity for Tampa Bay to, at a minimum, renegotiate Martin’s contract to a level more commensurate with the market.  An outright release is also not out of the question given the current options on the team and options likely available in trade or free agency.   It is a mystery why Tampa Bay has not addressed the situation yet.

RSO Consequences: The running game was ugly in 2016 with Tampa Bay averaging over four yards per carry against only a single opponent (San Francisco’s awful run defense).  The situation could be a mess in 2017 and is one of the most unpredictable in the league.  Rodgers, Sims, and rookie McNichols could all see significant looks without Martin in an offense that could score plenty if Jameis Winston takes another step forward.  Martin’s outcomes range from being cut to taking over the lead role in an offense with many scoring chances.  I generally steer clear of heavy investment in large, uncertain running back committees and this group is not an exception unless you can get pieces on the cheap.


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller