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Washington’s offense was surprisingly one of the most effective in the league through the air last season, as quarterback Kirk Cousins took a big step forward in his first real chance to start every week. Jordan Reed emerged as a real weapon in the middle of the field, and the receiving corps received solid contributions from the likes of Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder in the short game.
However, for much of the season, the offense was missing that big-play component. That component should be available much more this season after an injury-riddled 2015 for DeSean Jackson. Jackson didn’t put up huge numbers last season, and Fantasy owners seem to be sleeping on the speedy veteran, who is currently going off the board as the No. 35 wide receiver at FantasyPros.com.
|REC: 30||YDS: 528||TD: 4|
Overlook him at your own peril. Jackson didn’t make much of an impact last season, finishing with just 30 catches for 528 yards, however he was a key to the improvements the Redskins‘ passing game made overall. Jackson was active for 10 games total, but really only played in Weeks 8 through 16, and you can see how much better Cousins fared with Jackson in the lineup:
|w/o Jackson (Weeks 1-7, Week 17)||8||196||283||69.3%||1913||12||4.2%||8||2.8%||6.8|
|w/ Jackson (Weeks 8-16)||8||183||260||70.4%||2253||17||6.5%||3||1.2%||8.7|
Cousins’ completion percentage didn’t change much, but he was much more effective overall, averaging nearly 2 more yards per pass attempt in the games Jackson played in. It’s not particularly hard to see why, either, as Jackson was the only receiver on the team with more than 11 catches to average more than 12 yards per catch. Washington’s receiving corps is pretty good across the board, but without Jackson, it didn’t have any way to stretch the field.
Jackson’s season-long numbers were certainly disappointing, but extrapolating them over a 16-game schedule looks a lot better. All of a sudden, he’s at 60 catches, 1,056 yards and eight touchdowns, comparable to what the likes of Eric Decker, Emmanuel Sanders or Allen Hurns managed a year ago, and all of them are being drafted ahead of Jackson.
Jackson’s numbers also look quite a bit better when you consider he really only played eight games, and was somewhat limited even in a few of those games. Jackson played 68.4 percent of the team’s snaps on offense in those eight games, and saw just 18.5 percent of Cousins’ targets as a result. It isn’t crazy to expect both of those numbers to improve as he enters the season at full health.
Jackson has been around for a while, but is still just 29, and didn’t exactly look like he lost a step once he was able to get past his injuries. He was the only Redskins player with more than three receptions on passes more than 20 yards down the field, and he finished the season with 392 yards on 17 such targets; his 23.1 yards per target on deep passes led all receivers with at least 15 targets last season.
Owning Jackson can be a frustrating experience even when things are going relatively well, of course, because he tends to be a pretty boom-or-bust type of receiver. In 2014, for instance, he topped 1,150 yards, but still failed to record at least seven Fantasy points in seven of 15 games. However, even in a down season, he was a top-20 receiver in four of eight games played last season, and he finished as a top-20 receiver four times in six seasons from 2009 through 2014.
Jackson is in the second half of his career, and you might be scared off as he is coming off his worst season as a pro. However, he was still good enough when he played to be worth starting, and his 16-game pace would have been good for 14th in standard scoring formats last season. Given the vital role he is expected to play in his offense once again, Jackson could be an absolute steal at his current draft value — he has been available as late as the ninth round in recent mock drafts we have done.
There aren’t many players with Jackson’s kind of game-breaking ability, especially not ones with a track record like his. While everyone else is scared off, or looking for the shiny new thing, Jackson could be a difference maker for your Fantasy team.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / 2016 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Don’t forget about DeSean Jackson