Jordan Matthews, The 1.01 And Structural Bias


Jordan Matthews is the most productive WR that the SEC has ever seen. In the toughest football conference in the country, Matthews played for 4 years and set conference records for catches and for receiving yards, while catching passes from FOURTEEN different quarterbacks. Matthews destroyed the combine and landed in what is, ostensibly, one of the best scenarios for any offensive player in the entire league. We’ve seen some course correction on our communities evaluation, with Matthews getting selected somewhere in the top half of the 1st round of rookie drafts, but it is my contention that you can’t afford to pass him up with the 1.01. Let’s attack some myths to begin with:

1. The Eagles Aren’t A Great Landing Spot

While on the surface, I think the argument that Shawn Siegele used in this article is valuable analysis, I tend to disagree on the most basic of levels: Jordan Matthews is already the best pass catcher on this team. Matthews senior season Dominator Rating of .48 is 18 points higher than Maclin’s and 17 higher than Cooper’s. Then, take into account this nugget of knowledge from The Fantasy Douche.


Seems not great for the “Cooper is better than Matthews” argument. But what about Maclin? He’s been in the NFL for 5 seasons and has been reasonably productive; however, his best season was the magic Mike Vick year and even then, all he could compile was 70 catches for 964 and 10 touchdowns. The touchdowns are nice, but you wouldn’t expect a 6’0, 200 pound WR to repeat that production, and he hasn’t. All of this analysis forgets that he’s coming off a torn ACL, which will probably impact his playing ability on some level.

Additionally, playing with Nick Foles, when compared to Sammy Watkins with EJ Manuel or Mike Evans with Josh McCown is another significant advantage. McCown might even be a good NFL quarterback, but as RotoViz analyst Jon Moore has argued, Foles is close to being an elite talent at the quarterback position. He had a 10.5 A/YA per attempt last year, which was best in the entire league. If we’re breaking ties there, Matthews has the best QB situation outside of Brandin Cooks or Cody Latimer.

Matthews was the most productive Eagles’ WR in college, he is the biggest/tallest/fastest/strongest member of the bunch and Chip Kelly has already committed to using him as a starting slot WR. While the Eagles may be dedicated to running the ball, and didn’t run as many plays last year as people thought they did, this is still a great place for Matthews to be.

2) Mike Evans Is Significantly More Athletic

Name Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Football Outsiders Speed Score Height-Adjusted Speed Score Bench Press Vert Leap (in) Broad Jump Shuttle 3Cone Agility Score
Mike Evans 77 231 4.53 109.71 116.98 12 37 N/a 4.26 7.08 11.34
Jordan Matthews 75 212 4.46 107.16 110.67 21 35.5 120 4.18 6.95 11.13

Evans is a freak, there is no denying that; but is he such a freak that he leaves Matthews in the dust? Evans has the size advantage, but even when adjusted for weight, they have similar speed scores. Evans has a better HaSS, but Matthews is superior in lateral agility and leaping ability, as well as strength. So if the argument for Evans over Matthews is reliant on athleticism (because it certainly can’t be production) then I think the argument needs to shift to upside. Matthews was a 4 year player at Vanderbilt, but Evans has only been playing WR for 3 seasons. I wouldn’t favor that argument either, because I think Matthews has just as much, if not more, upside than Evans, but still, it’s there to be made.

3) Matthews Isn’t As Talented As Number Crunchers Think

If I understand the argument from the anti-Matthews contingent correctly, it goes something like this: “Yes, his numbers are very good, but he was the only option on a bad team and he doesn’t have the skills to be a WR1 in the NFL.” First, I tend to gravitate towards guys who were very good on very bad teams; the ability to produce when the defense knows that you are getting the ball seems to be a trait that would translate well to the NFL. However, the belief seems to be that Matthews doesn’t do the things that NFL WR’s do. I don’t typically rely on watching games to draw fantasy football conclusions, but there are a few clips that would refute this arguments.

So, yeah, he just ran out of a cloud of 5 defenders and then hurdled a guy. Seems pretty skilled after the catch. What about contested catches, though?


I think it’s fair to say he can do the high point/contested catch thing reasonably well. I’ve watched all of his Draft Breakdown clips and didn’t see any evidence of him being athletically inferior to Mike Evans or technically inferior to Sammy Watkins. Just like every other highly touted NFL WR prospect, Matthews dominated inferior competition, which is what you want them to be doing, but you’d be hard pressed to find traits that Watkins/Evans have that Matthews doesn’t. In fact, there are several existing clips of Evans getting caught from behind (very troublesome) while on most of Matthews clips, you can find him out racing defenders to the endzone or splitting safeties. That’s about as unscientific as it gets, but that is the point: the only knock on Matthews is not falsifiable and not scientific. Even my amateur eye found evidence against it in a matter of minutes.

Why Wouldn’t You Take Matthews 1.01?

Fear. Watkins and Evans have the high draft position, which gives them a safe floor that Matthews would seem to lack on the surface. The way to think about this question is in terms of probabilities. My thoughts on Watkins are well known. I think Matthews is a superior prospect in every way, shape and form and the only advantage Watkins has is draft position. Evans, on the other hand, represents the upside of being a top 5 fantasy WR perennially… but so does Matthews. That’s what has gotten lost in this conversation. At the same time, Matthews is the safest pick at 1.01 and a pick that contains upside as well. When combining production, landing spot, and physical ability, I think Matthews is the clear choice.

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By Davis Mattek | @davismattek | Archive


  1. ShaunLaibe
    May 21, 2014 at 8:35 pm —

    Excellent article.  I agree with the sentiment that Jordan Matthews can be the #1 ranked rookie in this class when it is all said and done.  I disagree, however, that drafting him at 1.01 is the right move to make in rookie drafts.  It’s safe to say that most non-rotoviz subscribers would place Watkins/Evans at the very top of the draft with the remaining WRs ranked well below them, and in varying orders.  If I have pick 1.01, I’m taking Watkins and then trying to make a move for Jordan Matthews while acquiring extra value.  If it all goes as planned, you still get the guy you want + some.

  2. May 21, 2014 at 8:45 pm —

    ShaunLaibe I think there is certainly value in trading back, but honestly, I really do not want to miss out on what I believe to be a transcendent talent.

  3. ScottSmith610
    May 22, 2014 at 12:55 am —

    @davismattek ShaunLaibe  Now that I think about it I don’t think I want to miss out either…good thing I have the 1.01 in the Rotoviz Dynasty League…who has the 1.02?

  4. May 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm —

    ScottSmith610 @davismattekShaunLaibeYou’re the worst, Scott.

  5. ShaunLaibe
    May 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm —

    @davismattek ScottSmith610 ShaunLaibe good point!  I own pick 1.04 in a rookie draft scheduled for next week. I’ve been dead set on Brandin Cooks ever since the Saints traded up to get him, but now this article is making me reevaluate my own ranks (which I guess was is the point of any rotoviz article haha).

  6. Justin Winn
    May 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm —

    @davismattek Do you have any idea what Bloom meant when he called Matthews feeble? Because I have none.

  7. sportstalkryan
    May 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm —

    I gave a 3rd and 1.08 for 1.04 & a 5th and took Matthews. After the fact, I discovered he would have fallen to me at the 8. Argh!

  8. pkerrane
    May 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm —

    Based on this article ( it looks like he’d score pretty high on the Intangibles App too :)  Plus there are 2 videos of beautiful clutch catches. 

    I took him at 1.05 in my Rookie draft and I’m pretty excited about it.  However, I agree with ShaunLaibe that trading back is the way to go.  Taking him at the 1.01 wipes out a lot of the value that can come with going against the grain.  If you trade back to the 1.04 or 1.05 and miss out on Matthews, you’re still looking at one of Evans, Watkins, Cooks, Sankey, Robinson, or Adams.  So even if Matthews is your #1 guy I think those guys are enticing enough justify the risk of moving down a few spots.

  9. scienergy
    May 22, 2014 at 4:23 pm —

    I don’t even rank Watkins in my rankings because frankly, I don’t want him.  My Rotoviz reach WR rankings go something like this:  Cooks, Matthews, Evans, Robinson, Adams, Latimer, Moncrief.  If I can score any two of these guys, I’ll be THRILLED.  If I’m super ninja and get three of them, I’ll be flush with high upside WR1-type for years to come.  Antifragility anyone?  Hmm must be Italian…
    I rank Cooks highest, despite the size thing, because he has the highest phenom score second only to another guy on my roster, and for opportunity in the Saints offense.  Matthews, for reasons listed above (you don’t need to convince me!).  I’ve considered plugging Robinson in over Evans due to his high phenom score and opportunity, but I know that won’t be realistic come draft time because I’ll probably be able to score Robinson later as Lee will be getting all the hype thanks be to a higher draft pick.

  10. ShaunLaibe
    May 22, 2014 at 4:54 pm —

    pkerrane my thoughts exactly!

  11. May 22, 2014 at 7:14 pm —

    scienergy I think Robinson>Evans is a mistake just based on TD potential.

  12. May 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm —

    pkerrane I think trading back is a fine move, if you’re able to do it. You need to know that some is incredibly thirsty for Watkins, essentially.

  13. May 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm —

    sportstalkryan At the end of the day, you made the right move.

  14. May 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm —

    ShaunLaibe @davismattekScottSmith610I don’t hate Cooks at that spot, but I think Matthews is the clear #1 for me

  15. TheCFX
    May 22, 2014 at 7:22 pm —

    @davismattek scienergy  yea, Idk where you’re drafting, but if it’s in the top 3 you could probably get Evans top of RD1 and ARob top of RD2 and laugh all the way home

  16. TheCFX
    May 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm —

    @davismattek sportstalkryan  yea, I agree.  His floor is high from day 1 and his upside over the long run in Philly is delightful.  In the next few weeks I’m going to write about what Nick Foles is going to do to the NFL in 2014 and if JMatt gets even a portion of that pie he’ll be well worth the 1.04.

  17. colekev_FF
    May 24, 2014 at 11:34 am —

    I hope your Foles projection includes throwing the ball more this year. They have to open it up a little bit more now that Foles will have a full training camp, good starting experience, and regression should have the Eagles throwing more. Everyone is focusing on DeSean leaving, but Chip wants to get bigger after committing to Cooper and drafting Matthews. The systems calls for good calculated risks like throwing deep to 1-on-1’s where big receivers are key. Tape-watchers will continue to say Foles gets lucky throwing into coverage, but I think he’s just willing to pull the trigger in a good risk-reward situation even though the receiver isn’t “open”.

  18. scienergy
    August 23, 2014 at 3:47 am —

    TheCFX @davismattek scienergy

  19. scienergy
    August 23, 2014 at 3:53 am —

    TheCFX @davismattek I was able to draft Robinson and Latimer.  I’ve got a strong trade offer out for Mathews.  T.Williams & R.Bush for him… 
    You can say I have rookie derangement, however, these guys I drafted
    represent the skeleton key — young breakout age.  I also traded for
    M.Floyd to round off my WR stable.  Paired with Gordon, Hunter and
    Patterson.  Alpha WR.  Do you see the Rotoviz trend?  I’m a good student of the school.

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