There was an interesting series of tweets regarding Alshon Jeffery Tuesday morning from Chris Raybon, who hosts a gambling show called “I’ll Take That Bet” on ESPN+ and also writes often about fantasy sports.
Raybon’s general point was that Jeffery has underachieved the last few years, that he's not a true No. 1 receiver and that his numbers have declined since his four-game suspension in 2016 for a positive PED test.
Raybon’s tweets were all factually accurate, but they bothered me. For a few reasons.
First of all, Raybon tweeted that Jeffery has gone 30 straight games without a 100-yard game.
Then he tweeted that Jeffery hasn’t had a 100-yard game since his PED suspension.
And he pointed out correctly that Jeffery’s catches and yards have gone down each year over the last three seasons, although his notion that Jeffery’s nine touchdowns last year “masked” a decline in production is kind of bizarre. Isn’t scoring touchdowns the whole idea of playing football?
The first most basic error Raybon makes is equating 100-yard games to success. Since when do we measure a receiver’s value by 100-yard games?
Eagles receivers had a total of three 100-yard games all last year — Zach Ertz vs. the Bears, Nelson Agholor vs. the Seahawks and Torrey Smith vs. the Rams.
That really held the team back, didn't it.
It’s called being balanced.
The Eagles still had the No. 3 scoring offense in the NFL, went 13-3 and won a Super Bowl. They had one QB make the Pro Bowl and another one named Super Bowl MVP. I would argue that the lack of 100-yard receivers made the Eagles more unpredictable, more dangerous, more difficult to defend.
If you want to make the point that it doesn’t make sense to draft any Eagles receiver in fantasy because the Eagles are so balanced offensively, that’s fine.
But trying to make a case that Jeffery underachieved or is overpaid or overrated because his yards were spread out fairly evenly throughout the season instead of in groups of 100 yards is just silly.
The fact that Jeffery didn’t have any 100-yard games is irrelevant. That was never the goal. Including the postseason, he had 60 or more yards nine times, and only 11 wide receivers league-wide had more games with 60 or more yards.
I’d rather have a guy catch 60 yards week in and week out than have 100 here and nine there. And if we're simply measuring fantasy value, how do you argue with 12 touchdowns — nine in the regular season and three more in the playoffs?
Only DeAndre Hopkins had more (13).
But here’s what really bothered me.
None of Raybon’s tweets addressed Jeffery’s terrific production in the postseason.
Playing with a torn rotator cuff injury that required offseason surgery, Jeffery had 12 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns in wins over the Falcons, Vikings and Patriots.
Only 11 other players in NFL history have had 200 receiving yards and three TDs in a postseason playing for a Super Bowl champion. Guys like Rice, Fitz, Swann and Boldin.
In 19 games, Jeffery had 69 catches, 1,008 yards and 12 TDs.
Here's a list of players in Eagles history with 60 catches, 1,000 yards and 12 TDs in a season: McDonald, Carmichael, Quick, Owens, Jeffery.
Guess they all stink.
Jeffery was such a big-play guy in the postseason. He had a 53-yard touchdown catch against the Vikings. You know what other receivers have had 50-yard TD catches against the Vikings’ vaunted defense the last two years?
He had 73 yards in the Super Bowl, for crying out loud, including a high-flying miracle 34-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles the lead in the first quarter and pretty much showed the world that the Patriots were in for a battle in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.
You know what other receivers have had TD catches longer than 30 yards against the Patriots in the playoffs the last four years?
Jeffery last year had 18 first-down catches on third down in the regular season, and only eight receivers in the league had more. He had four more in the playoffs.
If you’re looking for a guy to clean up in fantasy football with meaningless stats, stay away from Jeffery.
If you’re looking for big catches at big moments, if you’re looking for an unselfish team leader who never complained when the ball didn’t come his way, if you’re looking for a champion, Jeffery's your guy.
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