By Vidur Malik
The 2011 season was not a good one for the Philadelphia Eagles, to say the least.
For Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, it was especially tumultuous.
His commitment to the game was questioned late in the season when people accused him of mailing it in during a game against the Seahawks, and he’s now a free agent whose reputation wasn’t great to begin with.
Jackson has been a great talent throughout his NFL career, but it might be time to reconsider his value as a fantasy contributor.
Jackson will be a productive player no matter where he ends up, but he doesn’t have the size or skill set to be a number one receiver. In order for a receiver to have that title, he must be able to catch short, medium and long passes and be durable enough to take a hit and get back up. Jackson is one of the best big-play threats in the game, but he won’t be the first option for Eagles quarterback Michael Vick on a third-and-short in the red zone. The receivers that can do that are the ones you want to lead your fantasy team.
Jackson’s 2011 season, his fourth in the league, saw a drop-off in production as compared to his second and third seasons. Jackson’s receiving total dipped under 1,000 yards after crossing that mark in the two previous seasons, and his yards per catch average of 16.6 was significantly lower than the 22.5 yards per catch mark he had in 2010.
Jackson’s greatest strength is his speed, which he uses to separate himself from defenders, but he also benefits from being part of an offense loaded with weapons. If he is the unquestioned No. 1 guy on a new team, his production could very well drop further.
The No. 1 receiver of today’s NFL is one who is both big and fast. Steve Smith and Wes Welker, two undersized No. 1 receivers, can be seen as exceptions, but both have strengths Jackson doesn’t have. Smith is very strong for his size and can break tackles, and Welker is one of the best route-runners in the game. Jackson isn’t as skilled in these departments, and won’t be a good No. 1 option wherever he ends up.
Jackson will undoubtedly be a valuable contributor and deep threat, but it would be a stretch to call him an elite receiver. As a result, you can wait a bit before drafting him.