Breakout or Bust: Will Alshon Jeffery Emerge As A Viable Fantasy Option?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

A lot was expected of Alshon Jeffery in his rookie season after being drafted in the second round out of South Carolina.  Unfortunately the production just wasn’t there, with 24 receptions for 367 yards and 3 TD in just 10 games.  What exactly was the problem?

According to teammate Brandon Marshall (in a quote courtesy of Dan Pompei of The Chicago Tribune):

“He was softer last year, much softer,” Marshall said. “Now he’s strong. He’s a beast.”

According to the article Jeffery spent six weeks working alongside Marshall, which certainly should go a long way.  A lot of the questions surrounded his conditioning, but Marshall apparently has helped get him straight.  In another quote:

“He’s like a sponge,” said Marshall, a four-time Pro Bowler. “I say, ‘Hey bro, this is how you take care of your body.’ So he’s eating right. Got a chef. Seeing a chiropractor. Getting massages. Studying film. Working out hard. I can’t say enough about what he put in.”

With Marshall taking the bulk of the attention in the passing game and Matt Forte helping to keep defenses off balance, the opportunity is certainly there for Jeffery to flourish.  He’s expected to start opposite Marshall this season and should get plenty of looks from Jay Cutler.

Touchdowns may be tough to come by, with Marshall likely dominating the red zone targets and Forte/Michael Bush getting ample carries.  You also have the addition of Martellus Bennett, giving the offense another wrinkle and another viable receiving candidate.

That said, Jeffery had 88 receptions and 1,517 yards back in 2010, showing the type of talent he possesses.  Prior to the 2012 draft Walter Football (click here for the profile) compared Jeffery to the Seahawks’ Mike Williams saying:

“Jeffery’s game is similar to Williams of the Seattle Seahawks. Both are big receivers who have to keep their weight down in order to be effective. Jeffery and Williams can both use their size to make tough catches over defensive backs. Neither of them burns corners with speed, but as possession receivers, they are adept at making contested catches. Jeffery isn’t quite as big as Williams, but they have a similar game, and Jeffery could turn into a receiver like Williams in the NFL.”

NFL.com (click here for the report) had some similar concerns:

“Jeffery is an elite jump-ball prospect, but he does not stand out as fast on tape and is such a long strider that at times he looks to be moving in slow motion. Speed will never be his game, but he needs to become more comfortable in his routes to work the corner and truly gain separation.”

We have to like the talk about his improved conditioning and with Marshall and Bennett stretching the field, Jeffery should flourish and help the team continue to move the chains.  That could mean much more value in PPR formats, because chances are he won’t eclipse 6 TD this season.

Baseline Projection – 60 receptions for 750 yards and 6 TD

Those are fine numbers, and he easily could eclipse the reception and yard numbers.  That makes him an intriguing depth option, though there’s too much risk to consider him anything more than a WR4.

What are your thoughts of Jeffery?  Do you think he will breakout in 2013?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out all of our 2013 preseason rankings:

Breakout or Bust: What Should Our Expectations Be For Rueben Randle In 2013?
Post Hype Sleeper: Can Mark Ingram Finally Breakout In 2013?

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