Draft Strategy

Is Sam Bradford Good For Jordan Matthews’ Fantasy Value?

Jordan Matthews had a satisfying rookie season for those who believed in him as a prospect. Matthews caught an impressive eight touchdowns on his way to a fantasy WR3 finish. JMatt had a few huge games that masked his really weak games, but he proved he had the athleticism to play in the NFL, which many questioned (even though his combine had already given us an answer). Matthews started off a little slow out of the gate, but using the Game Splits App, we can closer identify why Matthews really took off during the second half of the year.

The Eagles Pick Their Poison

Coming into 2014 the Eagles were really counting on 2013 not being a fluke season for Nick Foles. Unfortunately for them, it looks like it was. There were signs pointing towards the notion that Foles just got overly lucky in 2013, but the Eagles rolled with him anyway. After seven games Foles went down for the year and Mark Sanchez took the wheel. In a way no one could predict, Sanchez would be crucial in Matthews’ takeoff. Here are the game splits for Matthews between Sanchez and Foles:

SanchezFoles

Matthews averaged a whole five fantasy points more with Sanchez throwing him the ball than he did with Foles. During the season the narrative was that Sanchez had a connection with Matthews and was targeting him at a really high rate, which was wrong. Matthews actually saw more looks with Foles under center.

The biggest difference maker was the rate Matthews was catching TDs from Sanchez. Matthews more than doubled his TD rate after Foles went down. It’s hard to say why that happened, but I’d have a hard time saying Sanchez is a much better quarterback than Foles. The big difference is that Matthews averaged almost 30 more yards/game under Sanchez, despite seeing fewer targets.

Digging Deeper

To find the difference in passing style between Foles and Sanchez I took a look at the AY/A App. One thing I immediately noticed when I compared Foles 2014 location graph with Sanchez’s was the big difference in depth of passes.

foleslocation

sanchezlocation

Foles threw 26 percent of his passes over 15 yards while Sanchez threw only 17 percent further than 15 yards. I found this pretty odd because you’d expect a player would have to be seeing deeper looks if he was seeing fewer targets, but netting more receiving yards. It’s possible that at this point in his career Matthews is better on (or at least used a lot more on) short routes than on longer routes. More evidence to this theory is that Matthews was averaging the same number of receptions on fewer targets with Sanchez at the helm.

Who Is Sam Bradford?

Matthews is a popular pick in all formats for 2015 after Jeremy Maclin‘s departure. If he’s going to live up to his pricey ADP, Sam Bradford might have to be more like Sanchez than Foles. Of course, Bradford’s past coaching could definitely have an impact on the types of passes he was throwing for the Rams, but here is Bradford’s career pass location chart:

bradfordlocation

There’s good news for JMatt. Bradford has only throw the ball 15 or more yards on 16 percent of his passes, which is just slightly under Sanchez’s 17 percent. So, on a very basic level, Bradford looks like he is similar to Mark Sanchez is a way that helped Matthews. Bradford appears to play towards the strengths Matthews has at this point in his career.

This isn’t at all a reason to blindly pick Matthews in all drafts, but it is a slight clue to how Bradford’s play style may affect his season and maybe a reason to breathe easier for Matthews owners worried about the QB change. Hopefully, for Matthews’ sake, in 2016 we won’t have to hope his QB plays similar to Mark Sanchez.

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By Jacob Myers | @JMyersFF | Archive

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