Jeremy Maclin is 29 years old. Forgive me, I didn’t write that for you; I wrote it for me. I just assumed that Maclin was a frail, old man. Based on how people described him, he seemed like a guy who called his tacklers “young man” and then rambled on about his hatred of Jimmy Carter. I’m going to miss that Jeremy Maclin. He smelled like bourbon and disappointment, just like my grandpa. But the real one is only 29 and he’s a bargain in fantasy leagues this year.
ADP Bargain: The Case for Wide Receiver Jeremy Maclin
Right now Jeremy Maclin’s ADP falls somewhere between the eighth and ninth round, or somewhere around the 40th wide receiver off the board. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for this upcoming season. However, Jeremy is no longer a Chief; he is a Raven. This means that Maclin is no longer tied to Alex Smith. The same Alex Smith that could take a free play and turn it into a three-yard check down. Yeah, I know already. “Alex Smith helped Maclin finish as a mid-level WR2 in 2015.” I get it. I just choose to ignore it because it ruins my characterization of Smith. Even if you’re not being selective with reality, there is no denying that moving to Baltimore is an upgrade from a passing perspective.
Now would be a great time for a Joe Flacco elite remark, but I’m going to see where this high road takes me. In the past two years, the Ravens have finished first in pass attempts per game. In that same time period the Chiefs finished 19th and 29th. Let that sink in for a second. That means that Maclin’s valuable 2015 season came on a team that not only ranked 29th in pass attempts per game, but also ranked 30th in passing yards. The upgrade to Baltimore has the potential for sweet fantasy music.
While the presence of Greg Roman could turn that music into a secondhand Now That’s What I Call Music! CD, there is still hope. After reportedly losing Kenneth Dixon for the season, the Ravens are left with Terrance West and Danny Woodhead in their backfield. Both of those players are arguably bargains right now; however, I doubt anyone is willing to compare them to LeSean McCoy or a younger Frank Gore. In other words, it’s fair to wonder if Roman’s success was due to the talent rather than his system.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the Ravens adopt a more balanced system in order to make the playoffs. In 2014, the last time the Ravens made the playoffs, their passing offense ranked 13th in yards per game, 17th in attempts per game, and eighth in rushing yards per game. In 2015, the Chiefs finished 30th, 29th, and sixth in the same categories. The 2015 version of Maclin showed the ability to overcome such an obstacle.
That version is also oddly similar to the 2014 version of Steve Smith. When you compare the two, Maclin had eight more receptions, 23 more yards, and two more touchdowns. That’s it. While I doubt Maclin will be telling his opponents to ice up, this comparison is promising. Evan Silva projects Maclin to take on Smith’s lead role with a potential 50 percent slot-route rate. And Kevin Cole found that Maclin has a positive effect a quarterback’s yards per passing attempt.
The problem is that Maclin has to be on the field in order to help his quarterback. While he’s not made of porcelain, there are some concerns in his medical report history. Although he has missed 22 games in his career (read: not good), a torn ACL accounts for 16 of those games. Hooray? The rest came from a concussion, a hip strain, and a groin strain. The last of those is the most troubling because it has popped up a few times in his career. Proof that he does come with some risk. However, he does come with some upside as well. Mike Tagliere identified the prime age range for wide receivers as age 27 to 31. At 29 years of age, Maclin is right in the middle of that range.
Jeremy Maclin is a bargain in both standard and PPR leagues. There are, however, two things that concern me about his prospects. First, Maclin has a bit of an injury history, but he’s hardly deserving of the injury prone label. And second, Greg Roman has found his way into Baltimore. While he may not be the offensive coordinator, his hiring could be the result of Harbaugh’s wish to improve the running game. The good, in my opinion, outweighs the bad here. Maclin has succeeded in a low volume passing offense before, and he’s likely stepping into the Smith role. And as mentioned before, he’s also only 29, which is good for a couple of reasons: he’s in the prime age range with an eighth to ninth round ADP, and he’s old enough to own some of the same Now That’s What I Call Music! CDs as Roman. Win-win.