The 2012 WR draft class featured plenty of talented WR prospects including Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, and plenty of others. Although Jeffery wasn’t drafted until round 2, he could be the sophomore WR to own in fantasy football in 2013 redraft leagues and even in dynasty formats.
Chicago is buzzing this offseason with Marc Trestman stepping in as head coach and Aaron Kromer getting a shot at offensive coordinator for the Bears. Both Trestman and Kromer have had large amounts of success in the past, passing the ball a ton. Other than a poor offensive line, the pieces Chicago has in place certainly fit the passing attack Trestman and Kromer are used to running. Not only do the Bears boast a strong armed QB, top WR, and pass catching RB, they also added TE Martellus Bennett in the offseason. While most of the hype is centering around Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery is still laying low. Going as WR52 in the 13th round of 12 team drafts, Jeffery can be drafted for next to nothing and easily work his way into WR3 range.
Jeffery has a large frame at 6’3” 216lbs which tends to offer consistency in fantasy WRs. Due to a fractured hand and a knee scope, Alshon Jeffery missed 6 games in 2012, but he was on pace to be targeted 77 times if he had played a full season, which would have been 17.7% of Cutlers passes. Being targeted 17.7% of the time as a rookie in an offense that force fed Brandon Marshall the way Chicago did in 2012 is actually a positive for Jeffery.
Young gun Charles Kleinheksel published a great article in June projecting Marc Trestman’s offense will look like in 2013 by looking at how Trestman and Kromer called plays in the past. In Charles’ article, he suggests Forte may be the Bears second leading receiver in 2013, but I think Jeffery has a better shot. If Forte had played all 16 games he would have averaged out to 63 targets compared to Jeffery’s 77. Jeffery, who has been working out with teammate Brandon Marshall and receiving high praise from his WR coach during the offseason, should progress and demand more targets during his sophomore campaign. From Charles’ article, here’s how the ball is distributed between Trestman and Kromer’s top three receivers.
The last column is the most important because it represents the average between Trestman and Kromer’s past offenses. On average, Trestman/Kromer’s 2nd leading WRs get about 20% of the teams total receptions. Trestman/Kromer’s WR2 would have likely caught more than 20% of the teams passes had Trestman not had Jerry Rice in ’95 and ’96. The main thing to gather from this chart is that Trestman/Kromer have a history of spreading the ball around much more than the Bears did in 2012 when Marshall caught 41% of the team’s passes.
As Charles’ article moves on, he projects Jay Cutler having a huge year by using his career averaged combined with the opportunities he will have to pass the ball under Trestman/Kromer. The article projects Cutler to complete 393 passes in 2013, which is a 138 completion improvement from 2012. Let’s take a look at what Jeffery’s 2013 stats could look like if he plays the entire season using his per catch and TD averages from his rookie year.
180.9 fantasy points would have made Jeffery a top 10 WR in 2012. Of course, it isn’t reasonable to expect Jeffery to be a WR1 in 2013, but his high TD rate and high yards per reception ratio he posted his rookie year combined with the opportunities 2nd receivers have gotten in Trestman/Kromer offenses is certainly appealing. Many may claim his 2013 projected numbers are inflated because of his high TD rate in 2012, but even as a Gamecock, Jeffery never posted a TD/Rec rate lower than .1. Also, as he progressed at the collegiate level his Market Share TD percentages increased.
Alshon Jeffery is a bargain in the 13th round of fantasy drafts as he could easily emerge as an every week starter with Trestman/Kromer in 2013. Chicago is poised to throw the ball at a huge clip in 2013 and Jeffery could be the biggest beneficiary, especially if he is improving as much during the offseason as his WR coach Mike Groh is insisting.