Advice

Why Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker Are Both Undervalued

“‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate”

I feel very little shame in saying that Taylor Swift may get how I feel about the Jets receivers better than anyone else on planet Earth. Right now it seems that people are afraid to draft them due to concerns about the Jets as a franchise. As a result, both Brandon Marshall (WR24) and Eric Decker (WR39) are being undervalued right now in drafts, and I’m here to prove it to you.

Chan Gailey Knows How to Get Guys the Football

As I’ve been saying since May, the addition of Chan Gailey to the Jets is going to have a major impact on their offense. He unequivocally understands how to get his best receivers the football. When he was with the Chiefs in 2008, both Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe were huge parts of the offense.

Gailey KC CG

As you can see, both players earned 29 percent of the team targets. This was not due to a lack of volume, as both players were also top four in targets in 2008.1 When Gailey was with Buffalo, he did not have much WR talent past Steve Johnson, but he did have excellent receiving backs in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Again, they were involved early and often.

Gailey BUF CG

Johnson was a featured player much like Bowe and Gonzalez, finishing top 10 in targets each of the three years Gailey was his head coach. Spiller and Jackson were preferred targets in the pass game to the other WRs in the offense, and accounted for a wealth of targets as well. Since Marshall and Decker are the best receiving options the Jets have, I would expect them to receive similar treatment.

Quarterback Play and Passing Game

Another reason that people shy away from the Jets is because of quarterback Geno Smith. However if we look at the QBs Gailey has coached in the past, Smith seems to fall right in line.

Gailey QB CG

In 2008, Gailey was able to produce elite numbers for Bowe and Gonzalez despite having a QB that was barely an NFL talent. Tyler Thigpen was never as good or was able to receive as many starts as he did under Gailey. Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a long and decent NFL career, but is also on the Jet roster. This means that either Fitzpatrick beats out Smith and the WRs have a successful bi-product of Gailey’s system under center, or Smith wins and is ready for the job. Smith certainly isn’t the worst QB on this list, so I think the narrative that he will hurt Marshall and Decker is overblown.

Again, volume should not be an issue for New York. Gailey’s teams have ranked 23rd, 10th, 19th, and 10th in pass attempts in his last four seasons running an offense. This means that both the floor and ceiling for attempts is probably much higher than people realize.

Are These Targets Accounted For?

Here is a look at how Marshall’s projected targets stack up with his rank courtesy of Kevin Cole.

tier2_wr

And now for Decker.

tier_4_wr

As you can see, both players are relatively close to Kevin’s trend line, with Marshall slightly below it. That is with target projections of 124.48 and 111.28 for Marshall and Decker respectively. Our writers are currently projecting Smith for roughly 459 pass attempts, which would mean those correlate to market shares of about 27.1 and 24.2.

Those numbers seem to be about right (though I do think one could argue they are a tad low), but I think the attempts are very low; 459 attempts would have finished 31st in the league last year and fall well short of what Gailey has accomplished in the past. Gailey never finished lower than 23rd in pass attempts during his last four years as either a coordinator or head coach. The Rams finished 23rd in pass attempts last year and threw it 515 times. If the Jets do that, then we are looking at 139.6 and 124.6 targets for Marshall and Decker respectively. If the Jets hit Gailey’s average number of pass attempts (537.25), those numbers jump to 145.6 and 130 targets respectively. In any event, both WRs seem to be vastly undervalued with respect to the targets we should expect from them.

Conclusion

We know that targets are the lifeblood of fantasy scoring. What most people don’t seem to realize is that both Marshall and Decker are going to be target hogs in a Chan Gailey offense. When that happens, both players should outperform their current ADPs. By the end of 2015, you’ll be thankful you drafted them.

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  1. Bowe and Gonzalez finished third and fourth respectively  (back)
By Anthony Amico | @amicsta | Archive

Comments   Add comment

  1. I have a very real suspicion that the fantasy community is inversely valuing Marshall and Decker. Brandon Marshall is a 31 year old WR who was already moved to the slot by his former team (i.e. where stud WRs in decline go so they can still contribute) while Eric Decker is 28, was better than most people realize last year especially given the dumpster fire of a team he was on.

    Historically Gailey's offense has supported one productive pass catcher (WR or TE) as @amicsta points out with Gonzo, Bowe and Johnson getting between 23% and 29% of their teams target market shares (most years being much closer to 29% than 23%).

    Lets assume for a moment that Decker, who actually beat out Marshall in pretty much every efficency metric last year while on a markedly worse offense with worse QB, that Decker actually is the WR 1 for the Jets with a market share of targets in the range of Gailey's other leading pass catchers. I think this sets him up for 140+ targets with Marshall actually struggling to get much above 110.

    Extrapolated I actually see Decker pushing to top 12 at his position with these numbers while Marshall actually could fail to break to top 36. With Marshall being selected in the early part of the 5th round and Decker lingering into the 11th this represents an enormous value disparity.

    Needless to say Decker will likely be on every team I draft this year on the chance this turns out to be true alone.

    My early prediction:

    Decker 140/87/1180/9.5
    Marshall 105/63/800/5.3

  2. Its funny that you say that, because I actually projected Decker as the Jets leader in targets as well, albeit not to the same extent. I will probably be drafting him a bit more than Marshall, but I expect to own shares of both

  3. I am all aboard the Chan express. I am trying to cheaply acquire all Jets offensive players.

  4. It does seem like Decker could be the real beneficiary here. I also have dreams of Jace Amaro in the Tony Gonzalez role. In an offense where Geno is still a question mark - and I say that as a big fan - it seems like the cheaper options in Decker and Amaro are a way to get at the potential upside while minimizing the risk.

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