The Alshon Jeffery hype has boiled over, and with it went any sense of value at his current asking price.
Thanks to a mixture of last year's output and expectations for his third year, fantasy owners have swelled Jeffery's average draft position to 3.01. Truthfully, it is hard to blame them—Jeffery is a rare talent and will be a top-10 receiver for a long time.
But for fantasy purposes, taking him off the board so early is inefficient drafting at best.
The slot makes him the No. 9 receiver off the board, which is interesting, as he coincidentally scored the ninth-most points at the position last season. As the numbers show, Jeffery has grown by leaps and bounds in just two years as a pro, and the arrival of offensive guru Marc Trestman surely has not hurt:
A deeper dive into those numbers shows why the hype is at a fever pitch. Jeffery scored in double digits eight times, and a 218-yard outburst in Week 5 produced 27 points while a 249-yard affair in Week 13 tallied him 36.
The problems with Jeffery, though, are numerous.
For one, the possibility of the South Carolina product already reaching his ceiling a year ago is quite real. That is, at least until he is the lone No. 1 option in the passing game at wideout—a title still held by Brandon Marshall, the fifth-best scorer at the position last year.
That in itself bleeds into the next issue.
Quarterback Jay Cutler and Marshall have a special rapport that spans multiple teams. It showed last year when Cutler was actually on the field in more ways than one, but as Jeffery's ESPN profile alludes to, the two simply did not have a good connection.
"Second, he never really got in a fantasy groove with Jay Cutler at QB, scoring only 10.1 points per game with Cutler under center versus 15 in backup Josh McCown's five starts."
Speaking of Cutler and health, the signal-caller has not played in a full 16-game season since 2009 and has missed 12 in the past three years. Should he go down again, there is no McCown to save the day—only Jimmy Clausen or Jordan Palmer.
Even with Trestman being a quarterback whisperer, isn't that a scary proposition?
Let's stay on the topic of Cutler for a moment. He has never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in a season, which means Jeffery in turn will see his fantasy production mostly based on yardage.
That's a very dangerous way to live, especially when his reception total from last year can only increase incrementally.
Much of the strategy that goes into drafting wideouts high is consistency. Jeffery has shown sporadic bursts of it at best. Those 200-yard showings are amazing, but the first was followed up by three points and the second by 14.
Remember, in exactly half of the season, he was held under 10 points. He also put up game totals of 11, 11 and 12 points.
Sorry, but an early third-round ADP might very well mean an owner is finally grabbing his No. 1 wideout, and boom-or-bust production each week is a good way to lose a league outright.
Further compounding the issue is the fact that Jeffery, who excels at high-pointing catches at 6'3" and 215 pounds, crumbled under the pressure of red-zone production last season and caught just four of 18 targets in the end zone, per ESPN.com's Mike Clay (subscription required).
A case of the dropsies when it matters most is a good way to lose all trust from the man in charge of dishing out the rock, especially on a roster that already has Marshall, running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett.
But those looking for their No. 1 receiver are in the wrong place and have the wrong guy from Chicago. Those taking Jeffery at his current ADP over other positions because of safety are in the wrong as well.
In all scenarios, though, there are receivers close behind Jeffery's ADP who will submit a much better return on investment (Randall Cobb, Keenan Allen, Pierre Garcon), including those sleepers who tout a similar mold and are set to break out for major numbers (Michael Floyd, Cordarrelle Patterson).
Jeffery is an elite player, but from a fantasy standpoint, he is in that awkward phase where only a perfect ADP—such as the fourth or fifth round—makes him a smart investment until he can prove his sophomore production was not a fluke.
Those willing to take the gamble in the first three rounds are playing with fire. A mistake in those rounds is nearly impossible to fix. Then again, fantasy leagues are won on major leaps of faith.
But the one Jeffery requires, based on most logic, is not worth it at a position with so many able bodies and surer returns on investment.
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