Soon, it’ll be August, that time of year where you get the gang together in the garage for punch and pie and fantasy football drafts. You and your eleven or fifteen closest friends–is that guy across from you Matt or Mark?–are burning the outlets with 10 MacBooks plugged into the same run strip. You’re a couple rounds deep into your draft, and you’ve got running backs, a receiver or two, and maybe a tight end locked up already. You’re feeling good, definitely better than Jerome, who just drafted the Pittsburgh defense in the fifth round and keeps double-dipping the buffalo chicken dip. But you, you’re focused on the draft app and studying for your next pick. Problem is, you’re getting into the middle rounds, and the ESPN draft room is showing you ten receivers who all have the same stats. Four people are ahead of you in the draft, and you’re clenching your tallboy of PBR so hard it’s denting. What do you do? Marvin Jones, of course.
High Floor WR3/Flex: Marvin Jones.
Hop over to Rudy’s 2020 Wide Receiver Rankings, sort by PPR, and take a look at who is sandwiched between Stephon Diggs and Mike Evans. You’re reading that right: Marvin “I’m the second receiver on the Lions” Jones. Rudy has Jones slated for 113 targets and 70 catches, good for about 1,000 yards and 6 TDs. Jones has fallen off the fantasy radar because he’s injured his ankle two years in a row. However, Jones is slated to spend as much time on the field as Kenny Golladay and get nearly as many targets. Whereas Golladay is the superior deep threat, Jones is Matt Stafford’s go-to midfield receiver, making him super valuable in PPR formats. Let’s take a look at Rudy’s fancy new index that helps us understand ball distribution to receivers (this information is available on all RB/WR/TE player pages now):
First, let’s break down what this table means. On the left, you see the yardage categories, followed by the number of targets to those respective yardages. Moving right, we see the yards per target average. Let’s focus on the 11-19 yard line: Jones received the majority of his targets in that range, with the average yards per target being 11.8, meaning Jones was getting to the first down marker most often for these targets. The next two boxes–the indexes–show how often Jones caught the ball compared to other receivers in the league. So, Jones was 30% better than league average at getting targets in that range, and he was getting 20% more yards than the average receiver in that range. The last two boxes on the right express this in another way: only 14% of receivers in the NFL got more targets in that range, and only 22% of receivers in the NFL received more yardage in that range.
Let’s throw some more stats at you: Jones’ catch rate was 11th best in the league for receivers who started more than 10 games in 2019, better than Amari Cooper and Stefon Diggs. He was 13th in yards per target, sandwiched between Cooper Kupp and Keenan Allen. How about yards per reception? 11th again, right between Tyler Lockett and Cooper Kupp.
Touchdowns? Tied for fourth overall among 2019 receivers with 9 TDs, despite starting only 11 games due to injury.
In short, in 2019, Jones excelled in the 11-19 yard range. You know what’s within 11-19 yards? The red zone. Jones tied Michael Thomas for the league lead with 8 red zone TDs last year.
And what will Marvin Jones cost you? According to FantasyPros, Jones is around the 45th receiver off the board, being drafted around 100th overall. In a 12 team league of rubes, you might see him on the board in the 8th or 9th round; among veterans, you’ll probably see him go in the sixth or seventh round.
Feeling better now? Go get another PBR and draft confidently.
Marvin Jones 2020 Fantasy Outlook
Remember: you’re drafting Jones as your third WR or a FLEX position. Jones has played only one full season in his eight year career. However, when he’s on the field, he’s remarkably efficient and will provide your team with value.
In best ball and redraft leagues, Jones is an excellent target when you see that mass of middling receivers in the middle rounds. Because Jones is a solid and consistent performer when healthy–and because he catches so many of the balls thrown his way–he’d be a cheap daily fantasy consideration. For dynasty owners, you can use him on a year-by-year basis (he’s only 30!), but he’s in the last year of his contract with the Lions and has an injury history. If you sign players to contracts in dynasty, give him a one year contract and see how it goes.
Will the Roar Be Restored in Detroit?
As a Vikings fan, I hear you Lions fans. I hear your lament. I hear you roaring at the moon, hoping for a playoff appearance before the end of professional sports as we know it. What do you have to add about Jones? Drop your knowledge in the comments below, or shout it out on Reddit, or give me a follow @EverywhereBlair on Twitter.
What is your projection for Adam Thielen?
Rudy has him as WR15, Donkey Teeth as WR11. I’m more on Team Rudy with this one because Thielen lost his counterpart in Diggs, meaning Thielen will get more coverage. Cousins isn’t an outstanding QB, and OC Kubiak is, historically, middle of the pack in passing yards. So, I wouldn’t reach for Thielen this year.