Jordan Matthews: A New Hope

Luke Skywalker would never become the Jedi he needed to be if he had stayed on Tatooine, his destiny could only be actualized after leaving the desert planet.  Jordan Matthews spent last season in a similarly barren planet, experiencing isolation, frustration, and a lack of production. But like Luke, Jordan has moved beyond the dusty plains to a location ripe with possibility.  

Buffalo and New England literally are on the opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to passing offense.  Last season the Patriots were first with an average of 292.3 yards per game, while the Bills had only 174.0

I think there is a logical argument to be made that Jordan Matthews drop-off in production was a result of the offense around him, and not simply a significant skills decrease.

In his first three years in the league he had consistent production.  Let’s look at his averages from his time in Philadelphia.

Matthews posted 3 seasons with over 100 targets (103,126, and 117) and caught 225 of those for a respectable 65% catch rate, which is similar to Doug Baldwin (64.6%), Keenan Allen (64.15%), and Adam Thielen’s (64.08%) rate last year.  Last year was certainly disappointing for Matthews, but he still maintained a catch rate of 69.4%. 

The question for Matthews should not be one of talent, the 6’3” 212 lbs WR runs a 4.46 40 time, but rather of target share.  Matthews was primarily a slot receiver in Philly and looks to compete for that, especially while Edelman is serving his 4 game suspension.  Since 2007, only three QBs have targeted the slot position more than Tom Brady, who targets the slot 24.7% of the time.  There could be some work for Matthews. 

Tom led the league in pass attempts last year with 581, now of course this doesn’t mean we can expect a quarter of those to go Matthews way, but if Jordan gets the shot to contribute, he would definitely see some volume. 

My projections for Matthews are:

            87 Targets for 60 receptions, 684 yards and 5 TD = 158.4 PPR points

Clearly, he is not a “league winner” – but he also shouldn’t be the 59th WR off the board taken 160th overall.  He would have finished 38th last year. 

ADP over the last 4 seasons:

2018 – WR59, 160th overall (14th RD)

2017 – WR47, 119th overall

2016 – WR35, 80th overall

2015 – WR12, 27th overall

The significant change in ADP occurred when Matthews landed in Buffalo, and that ended up being the right call.  But with his new surroundings, I think Matthews should provide the production of a 9th – 11th Round player.  

I especially love drafting Matthews in leagues where I take Edelman (which I find myself doing a ton).  Matthews could have limited competition for targets in those games, and if Edelman struggles after being away for football for over a year, the high-end production could last even longer.  Matthews has serious upside for a player taken in the 14th Round, and chances are you will know very soon whether or not he is keeping around or dropping for a Waiver Wire acquisition.

Upside Projections:

            114 Targets for 79 receptions, 917 yards and 8 TD

I am targeting Jordan Matthews at pick 125 in the 12th Round of my leagues, you should do the same.