DeSean Jackson's 2013 Fantasy Outlook Following Breakout Week 1 Performance
In case you haven't heard, Chip Kelly's high-octane offense is translating quite well to the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles are running at a rampant pace, attempting 53 plays from scrimmage in one half during Kelly's NFL debut.
Perhaps no player has benefited more from the introduction of a new system than wide receiver DeSean Jackson—a player whose fantasy outlook is significantly brighter than we'd presumed.
Jackson was absolutely sensational, catching seven passes for 104 yards and one touchdown during Philly's 33-27 win over the Washington Redskins. He worked the open field, displaying prowess on intermediate routes that we've never before seen, flashing the look of a genuine star.
It's safe to say Kelly is helping the offense.
The Eagles have 26 points at halftime, a mark they reached only ONCE last season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 10, 2013
Jackson is reaping the benefits.
Jackson was once a fantasy football star, accumulating 2,212 yards and 15 touchdowns in 29 games during the 2009 and 2010 regular seasons. In 2011 and 2012, however, Jackson's numbers dropped to 1,661 yards and six scores.
Per ESPN, the result is Jackson's average draft position falling to 71.8 in 10-team leagues. Don't expect that number to remain steady after dismantling the Redskins.
In one short game, Jackson is doing something that we've never seen him do during his five-year career: He's becoming an every-down receiver.
Jackson has made his money as one of the NFL's premier big-play receivers, using his blazing speed to get behind defenses for long receptions. That's why 75.9 percent of his career receptions have gone for either touchdowns or first downs.
Will DeSean Jackson return to start status under Chip Kelly?
After catching just 45 passes for 700 yards and two touchdowns in 2012, however, Jackson's fantasy value was gone.
In 2013, however, Jackson has already displayed the potential to become Michael Vick's No. 1 every-down receiver. He caught seven passes during the Eagles' Week 1 win, running a variety of different routes and succeeding in every phase.
You can thank Jeremy Maclin's season-ending injury for that.
Without Maclin, Vick truly doesn't have any other star wideouts to turn to on a play-by-play basis. Jason Avant is one of the most reliable receivers in the NFL, but his career best is also 53 receptions in one season.
If you're looking for a point-per-reception threat, Jackson is the player you want to turn to—who thought we'd ever say that?
There's no question that the Eagles will run the football with Vick and LeSean McCoy in the backfield, but Kelly has long promoted efficiency through the air. Players such as Marcus Mariota and Dennis Dixon starred at the University of Oregon, and Vick should see the same success in Philly.
On the receiving end of those passes will be Jackson, and that's why you need him on your team.
Big-Play Ability Is Back
As previously alluded to, Jackson is one of the fastest players in the NFL, regardless of position. He's used that trait to get behind even the best defenses, and when he does, he can be trusted to make the big play.
Under Kelly, expect him to exploit the opposition more than ever.
What Kelly's up-tempo offense does is not only enable the Eagles to run a high number of plays, but it tires out the defense. There's no time for defensive substitutions when the offense is going up-tempo, and with Vick and McCoy in the backfield, the Eagles have the weapons to make that work.
With tired legs in the defensive backfield, that means Jackson will have his greatest opportunity to date to tear into the open field
It's already working in Philadelphia, as Jackson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass during the first quarter. He also has a 26-yard reception, and his newfound understanding of the short-to-intermediate game means Jackson will become unpredictable.
A word we could never use to describe his on-field strategy.
Assuming this isn't just a flash in the pan, and Kelly's pedigree suggests it isn't, Jackson will return to star status. He plays in a division with relatively weak defensive backfields and will be the focal point of Philadelphia's passing game throughout the remainder of the season.
The system caters to his strengths, and Vick doesn't have any other star options—get Jackson on your fantasy football team.
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