Fantasy Football Metrics

DeSean Jackson’s Fantasy outlook as a Redskins WR…and why does the world LOVE Free Agent WRs so much?


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We have a repeating, Groundhog Day mentality of free agent WRs as fans, and as Fantasy Football GMs. The pattern kinda goes as follows:

  • The WR has (sometimes ‘had’) talent, but has some baggage, and his original team righteously discarded him because they no longer see the value
  • A new, mostly desperate, NFL team signs the former good-great WR in free agency.
  • Upon the signing, in an instant, there is romanticism that on his new team…all the former glory will be unleashed, and an even new level of performance will now come! Fans are deliriously delighted with their new, shiny toy (and the GM and/or owner know this sucker-play works with the fans every time too).
  • Fantasy Football GMs are delighted by the fresh possibilities as well. The ADP numbers rise for said WR.

It is a wonderful renaissance, and mental revision, for a WR who just went up for adoption by his original parents…or better yet was dropped off by his parents at the local church’s doorsteps, and then took off running.

You know what is amazing: The amount of people (mostly fervent fans of the team I am criticizing) who will say to me, “Well, what makes you such an authority to criticize these players and coaches, anyway? Those coaches are with the player all the time. I think they know them better than you!”  They are also the same people who then delight when their team picks up another team’s cast-off WR. I thought the coaches who were with the player all the time ruled the universe? I thought they knew the players better than anyone? What does it say that they just let this WR walk? I guess those coaches don’t know better depending upon the perspective…it’s only the head coach and GM of the fan’s favorite team that truly knows everything.

We need to go back no further than the 2013 Free Agent class to see some of the folly of these high priced, cast-off WRs. Note: I said, “high priced.” You can steal undervalued free agents for a variety of reasons. ‘Stealing’ high-profile, high-priced WRs are a whole other issue.

Go ask Miami how they are enjoying Mike Wallace…the ‘prize’ of the 2013 Free Agent class. If you ask them about it, beware, they might try to trade him to you. 

Remember, when you were bumping new Minnesota Vikings, ex-Green Bay WR Greg Jennings up your Fantasy Football WR list as the 2013 season got closer?

Danny Amendola was a 2013 Fantasy Football prize because of the Brady-WelkerAmendola dot-connection. I got sucked into this one last year.

In 2012, Robert Meachem and Laurent Robinson were ‘stolen’ away.

It all sounds great on paper….when you use a 2-4 years ago mindset on the player.

Signing a high-priced WR in free agency is not always certain doom. It can work out. Troubled Vincent Jackson (2012 FA) has been very good for Fantasy Football on Tampa Bay, but it hasn’t meant ‘jack’ for wins-losses. Pierre Garcon (2012 FA) was a brilliant signing, but was mostly injured when the Redskins went to the playoffs with him limping around. Garcon had a sensational year last season, as Washington collapsed in wins-losses.

If big-time, exciting WRs were the key item in NFL wins-losses, then the Lions would have snagged between two and nine Super Bowls in the last decade or so. There would have been no way Seattle would have won the recent Super Bowl.

High-priced, free agent WRs joining new teams in the NFL are somewhat empty calories. They are a TMZ event. The high-profile, diva WR is an odd pleasure for most football fans. Every week, I hear about what Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson have been up to lately. I rarely/never hear about what Roger Craig and Corey Dillon think about current events…and I never hear them claim that “they can still play” every other month.

Now, enter into the fray, the current revisionist’s history free agent WR delight du jour: DeSean Jackson. The WR who is suddenly the apple of everyone’s eye. For the last week+, all I’ve heard is: “I wonder who is going to get him? I hope we can get him!” Reporters were following him around in the airport. He was media-pumped like he was the one man who could single-handedly change any offense, and thus the destiny of his new team.

DeSean Jackson is the key to everything (in the mainstream) even though (example) Julian Edelman (once an available free agent this year) had more catches than Jackson last year, and more catches in the past two years combined, and has been a better punt returner in his career. That’s right, Edelman is a better punt returner…go look at the numbers. Not as ‘sexy’ a one…just more productive; that’s all. Who cares about results anyway? Remember that one cool punt return TD in that Giants game by D Jax?

The media has painted this elaborate, distorted image of DeSean Jackson, while ignoring that guys like Julian Edelman even exist. Why didn’t they follow Edleman around airports during his courting period in free agency? Fans have bought into it all this media hype…because ‘DJax’ sounds and looks cooler than ‘JEdel’, but who would I rather have on my NFL team…Edelman. Why? Besides overall talent/skills (not just who runs the fastest 40-time), it is mainly because Washington just gave known, non-hard worker, who takes plays off, and is an obvious diva kinda guy…they gave him double ($16M v $8M) the guaranteed dollars, and more salary per year than Edelman as well. That is poor business management/economics.

“BUT, BUT, BUT…DeSean Jackson takes a top off a defense!!!!,” you howl! If that is so important, why does the Dolphins passing-attack not send fear into people, because Mike Wallace is better than DeSean Jackson? How’s the vaunted Ravens passing game with Torrey Smith? How awesome was the Vikings’ passing assault when Percy Harvin was there? Minnesota’s best stretch of football in years is when they held out Harvin, and then reeled off several must-wins in a row to leap frog into the 2012-13 playoffs.

I went out to lunch mid-writing this piece. It was one of those places that have 20 big-screen TVs, and all of them are on ESPN or ESPN 2. Are there any other sports channels on the 500+ channel satellite system at noon? On the wall-to-wall ESPNs, I saw the visual cavalcade of tweets and notes of “Chip Kelly is an idiot,” or “This better work out, or Chip’s in trouble,” or “The power has shifted in the NFC East.”  Let me ask all you people (other players in the NFL mostly) making comments to the world (which landed on ESPN) something…are you all ‘high’? The power has shifted in the NFC East, really? An under-sized, troubled, over-paid, diva, pretty good WR joining the Redskins has totally shifted everything as we know it? Struggling NFL teams are just a small WR away from glory…I was unaware it was that simple. Poor Carolina could have been getting this luxurious media treatment.

How come no one is barking about how this “better work out for the Redskins!” or how this is a “risky move by the ‘Skins”? They don’t because the narrative is already shaped: DeSean Jackson is ‘awesome’ and thus Philly = dumb, and Redskins = genius. Consider that last part again, you want me to believe that the Daniel Snyder-Bruce Allen-Jay Gruden Redskins are ‘smart’, and the Jeff Lurie-Howie Roseman-Chip Kelly Eagles are ‘dumb’. I’m not buying it…I’m not buying it all. In the same way people are mocking the Dolphins for what they did with Mike Wallace last year; they will do the same this time next year with the DeSean contract. It’s a little about the player’s skills, but it’s a lot about the price paid for it.

The Redskins’ GM Bruce Allen is an empty suit, and I think he is on his last GM-legs a la the Oakland Raiders GM situation. Allen is likely in a “one and done” situation if the Redskins don’t have a ‘good’ season after the whole Mike Shanahan debacle. When you are in your last days, or are in desperate days…you sign DeSean Jackson to an inexplicable, three-year, $24M deal with $16M guaranteed. The WR who his own team didn’t want him a few days ago, and paid big bucks to let him just walk…the Redskins just paid huge money to. Do you think that will energize and re-dedicate D Jax to his craft, or is he more likely to walk around like a diva even more? If you are nearly-out the door as a GM, you make these deals with the devil because it’s all you got…you need ‘wins’ now…so you sell the franchise’s soul for it.

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SIDE NOTE: Anyone who is criticizing the Eagles for this move is ridiculous. Again, I say…what do you think will happen? Do you think the Eagles will be at a loss for WR now? Like they are going to stare at each other during staff meeting and go, “What do we do for a WR now? Do we try to convert a defensive tackle, or…?” 

Jeez, I dunno, where will the Eagles find a 175-pound, 5’9″ WR who runs really fast? Add about 1-5 inches and 10-45-pounds to that, and there will be about 10-20 WRs in the draft to pick from…and all for about $14M less guaranteed than Jackson just cost. Why do people blather endless about the deepest WR class ever, and then cry that the Eagles dropped a $10M a year WR? You should be pissed if you are a Redskins fan on that theory!

Do you think the Eagles cut Jackson just to save money? If they wanted Jackson they could have kept him and not early renewed a bunch of other contracts like they did…or they could have re-worked his deal. The Eagles have been on a spending spree for weeks, for their own guys…quality guys. When it came to DJax, they said “hit the road.” Eagles fans should be proud of their management team.

Washington…you got a WR the Eagles could have easily kept in about 100 various ways. They just plain didn’t want him. They’ve been with him for years, they know what he is about…and they just kicked him to the curb. They paid money to make him leave. Redskins fans, you just paid $16M guaranteed for what the Eagles could have kept, but paid money to make go away. How does that feel? 

Fantasy Football Impact:

A healthy, dedicated DeSean Jackson is a great WR to pair with RG3. I am not anti-Jackson’s talent; I just think they paid way too much for trouble…or even if he is a model citizen. Jackson works best with a mobile-QB that buys extra time and that benefits WRs like DeSean, who can outrun the best of coverage. As strictly a homerun hitter weapon, this is a great pairing. The question is: How hard will DeSean Jackson work, and how many mysterious injuries will he have?

To me, Jackson just hit his apex of Dynasty-Fantasy Football value. The dream is worth more than the reality. If D Jax’s value in your league went from 7 out of 10, to 11 out of 10…sell high.

This signing is an extra big help to Pierre Garcon. Anything that pulls pressure away from him is going to be a FF-PPR help. Garcon can work additional short and intermediate routes, and he will do huge damage in that realm. He is like a mini-TE with WR speed.

Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson will go to the land of forgotten WRs. Robinson is probably on the move, and keep tabs on where he ends up…there is some Dynasty hope there.

Andre Roberts probably goes more toward an up and down FF-performer, than a consistent one 9that he might have been pre-Jackson). The pecking order of targets for RG3 has to be Garcon, D Jax, Garcon, D Jax, D Jax, Garcon and then Andre Roberts.

Long-shot Dynasty WR David Gettis is probably on the move again.

Robert Griffin III had a great run in 2012 without DeSean Jackson, so having D Jax only helps his situation. The RG3 Fantasy Football outlook has little to do with the surrounding WRs (RG3 was FF-great when Garcon was injured in 2012, and Josh Morgan was left as his top WR target). RG3’s FF-outlook has more to do with whether he can stay healthy and run around a bunch,  versus sitting their like a statue in the pocket with a giant, black straight-jacket affixed to his knee. 


About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics, and College Football Metrics. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.”

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