Alshon Jeffery's 2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
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Jeffery’s 2015 season was marred by injuries. There was a calf injury in August that lingered into September and had him questionable for Week 1. (He played.) Jeffery hurt his hamstring in practice leading up to Week 2 and ended up missing the next 4 games. He made it through the next 4 weeks unscathed but then injured his groin in practice before Week 10. Jeffery ended up playing limited snaps (54%) in that one but sat out the following week. He was a full-go for Chicago’s next 3 games before suffering what turned out to be a season-ending hamstring injury in Week 15.
In total, he missed 7 games and was limited or knocked out of 2 more with calf, hamstring and groin injuries. He also appeared on the injury report last year with a shoulder and an illness.
But when Jeffery was healthy, he was a fantasy stud. Let’s remove those 2 games in which Jeffery played limited snaps. In the other 7, he racked up 50 catches, 774 yards and 3 TDs. That’s 7.1 catches, 110.6 yards and .4 TDs per game — or a full-season pace of 114-1,796-7 that would have made Jeffery the #1 WR in non-PPR and #3 in PPR.
He was consistently dominant, too. Jeffery tallied 78+ yards in all 7 of those games, going over 100 in 4 of them. He hit pay dirt in 3 of the 7 and posted catch totals of 7, 8, 10 and 10. Jeffery finished as a top 36 PPR WR in all 7 of his healthy weeks.
Now, Jeffery benefitted from a whopping 12.1 targets per game in those 7. That’s a 16-game pace of 194 that would have ranked 2nd league-wide last year. That was at least partly due to the lack of a viable #2 WR and the absence of TE Martellus Bennett for 3 of the games. Bennett is now gone to New England, but Chicago should get a big upgrade at that #2 WR spot in Kevin White. He figures to eat into Jeffery’s share a bit.
But the Bears also lost RB Matt Forte, who garnered 58 targets last year and averaged 80 over the last 8 seasons. And note that Chicago ranked 25th in both pass attempts and pass rate in 2015. With an unproven backfield and a couple of uber-talented WRs, they figure to throw it more this year. Jeffery will remain the clear #1 option and could finish near the top of the league in targets — assuming he stays healthy.
The spat of soft-tissue injuries last year are a tad worrisome. But none are long-term concerns. And Jeffery played all 16 games while seeing heavy volume the previous 2 seasons.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
A rash of injuries last year hid how productive Jeffery was when healthy. His pace stats in 7 full games would have made him the #1 WR in non-PPR and #3 in PPR.
That should help us get him at a discount in 2016 fantasy drafts. He's going as the 11th WR off the board as of mid-May. If healthy — and he played all 16 games in 2013 and 2014 — Jeffery is a strong bet for WR1 production and has top-5 upside.