Perhaps the most exciting play in all of sports is the long touchdown in the NFL. Whether it is a kick return, a run, or a pass and catch, fans love a player that can make this excitement happen on a regular basis. DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles is a guy that can be counted on all season to make a huge play. His explosiveness and big play ability has also made him a popular selection in fantasy football drafts as well. Over the last three seasons, Jackson has averaged 1061 receiving yards, but he has only averaged 6 touchdowns per season in that time. Jackson, like most big play receivers, will have enormous fantasy scoring games, followed by a couple of weeks of nothing. In this face/off I will argue that drafting the more consistent receiving option will pay off for your team over the course of the season. In this case, the more consistent option is the other Eagles’ wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin.
In the last three seasons, Jeremy Maclin has averaged 59 receiving yards per game compared to Jackson’s 72 receiving yards per game. Their touchdown numbers are similar over that time period, but just two seasons ago, Maclin put up 10 touchdowns. Jackson’s best is 9 touchdowns during Maclin’s rookie season when he did not have much competition. Maclin, however, has averaged 4.3 receptions per game compared to Jackson’s 3.8. Not a huge difference, but in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues, one extra reception per game can make a big difference and Maclin’s receptions per game were definitely trending upwards at the end of last season. Jackson’s reception numbers will hold steady because he only gets so many balls thrown his way each game.
I know what you’re thinking, by looking at the numbers I have a made a great argument for DeSean Jackson when I am supposed to be making a case for drafting Jeremy Maclin. The truth is that Jackson has been a great fantasy football wide receiver over the last four seasons, but the emergence of other options in the offense will cause him to be inconsistent in 2012. What the numbers do not show is that down the stretch last year, Maclin was easily Michael Vick’s favorite target. Vick trusts Maclin over Jackson and this will lead to a lot of 10 catch games for Maclin this season and a lot more opportunities for touchdowns in the red zone. This makes Maclin an easy choice over Jackson in PPR and touchdown heavy formats.
In non-PPR standard formats, Maclin should be the more consistent option. If Jackson is not able to convert on at least a couple of the 3 or 4 deep balls he sees each game, then Maclin is going to finish with better numbers. Also, there should be enough numbers to go around in the Eagles’ offense. There will be a lot of games with Jackson getting 3 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown while Maclin still finishes with 8 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. The benefit of going with Maclin is that in the weeks that Jackson puts up 2 catches for 80 yards and no touchdowns, Maclin should still come through with 5 or 6 receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown because he will be the target in the end zone after a long pass to Jackson gets them into the red zone. To the frustration of Jackson owners, Maclin’s short-field receiving skills will make him a touchdown vulture all season.
In fantasy football, my strategy has always been to draft consistent options with a clean injury history and it has always served me well. In the case of this face/off, Jeremy Maclin is that consistent and safe option that will be a rock solid starter for your team from week to week.
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