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It sure was a rough, rough year last season for DeSean Jackson.  After two straight 1000-yard campaigns, he looked primed for a huge breakout in the Eagles high-octane attack, but that wasn’t the case as Jackson battled inconsistency and injuries and failed to haul in 60 catches or top 1000 yards in 2011.

However, entering 2012 DeSean Jackson has dropped entirely too low on draft boards.  Going 18 picks later than Jeremy Maclin in Yahoo drafts and 9 picks later in Mock Draft Central drafts, I would much rather take a shot on Jackson’s upside a round or two later.

First, consider the immense depth at WR this season.  Jackson is going 25th amongst WRs, and a guy with his upside and potential would usually go in the top-15.  Going at 25th among WRs has Jackson as either a WR3 or a flex play depending on your league’s roster requirements.  For the price of your last positional starter, you can take the gamble on a guy who could easily become your WR1.  While the WR composition in drafts is deep, not many WRs out of the top-20 have his true top-5 potential.

Second, the Eagles’ have put their faith behind Jackson, signing him to a new five-year $47 million dollar contract.  Now, I’m not the biggest believer in contractual issues playing a big role in fantasy sports, but with Jackson already letting on he is well aware of his expectations, I think he’s going to step in for a big year.  Spending the last two seasons distracted with his contract hanging over him, Jackson had this to say about his return to Philadelphia:

It was a tough year for myself, had a lot of struggles, had a lot of things that just took me off of my game and my focus.  This year, a lot of that has just been removed, and I’m able to focus and be comfortable and be confident that I’m at a place where I’m wanted. I just really want to be able to bring a championship to the city.

I was surprised the Eagles resigned Jackson with all of his troubles last year.  You almost always see players like that move on.  But the fact both sides pushed through his inconsistencies and he’s back in Philly has me believing we’re going to see a huge season.

Third, Jackson has been on the field more than many would have expected, missing only 4 games in his four-year career.  His yards per-game and average per-catch are for the most part are leaps and bounds ahead of Maclin (Maclin did average 2 more yards a game than Jackson last year though).  Jackson was playing through some injuries last season as every player is going to have to year-to-year, but he’s 100% now and already was working with Michael Vick in the offseason before Eagles OTAs.

Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are both going to be great fantasy receivers this season, but Maclin has never put up a 1000-yard year and isn’t as explosive as Jackson can be.  Not to mention, Jackson’s week-to-week numbers were actually more consistent than Maclin last year, with a smaller standard deviation in both catches and yards.  It’s not like either of these guys were entirely reliable either way, so why not take the shot on Jackson for his tremendous upside. When you’re filling your last starting position player, a guy delivering with huge upside will tip the scales in your team’s favor.

With these two Eagles receivers, most consider Maclin more consistent and less injury adverse, when in fact Jackson was more consistent week-to-week last year, and has missed four career games in four years to Maclin’s three in three years.  Jackson just has the stigma of an injury risk based on that huge concussion hit we saw two years ago against the Falcons and his very public injury issues limiting him last year, but he was still out there playing.  I think Jackson delivers the better fantasy season, and you can get him a round or two later.