DeSean Jackson is a Must-Have Fantasy Football Flex

by Joshua Kellem · Draft Strategy

DeSean Jackson popped in Week 1 of last season for fantasy football gamers. At home against the Washington Football Team, Jackson commanded a 25.6-percent Target Share, also leading the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. His 69.2-percent Route Participation mark was third behind fellow receiver Alshon Jeffery‘s 84.6-percent clip and Zach Ertz‘s 71.7-percent. Lastly, Jackon’s 70.0-percent Snap Share ranked behind only Jeffery’s 85.7-percent and Ertz’s 84.3-percent, showing that he wasn’t just utilized on Deep Balls as a part-time player.

Keep in mind, this was in Jackson’s first game with Carson Wentz. Ever. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Jackson suffered an injury in Week 2. He opted to not have surgery, and only played in two more games for the rest of the season. Though we don’t know how he would’ve performed if he stayed healthy, we know the 33-year-old receiver is undervalued in 2020 in terms of ADP as WR55, according to FFPC data. Let’s use PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats and metrics to build his case as a value in fantasy football drafts.

The QB Fit

Carson Wentz attempted 69 (No. 10 among qualified quarterbacks) Deep Balls in 2019 and had a 34.8-percent (No. 19) completion percentage on those throws. This plays to DeSean Jackson‘s strength as it relates to fantasy football. In addition, Wentz threw for 2,267 (No. 9) Air Yards, with a competent 64.9-percent (No. 20) Play-Action Completion Percentage.

In Week 1 of 2019 alone, Jackson accounted for 147 of Wentz’s Air Yards. Even if he is only a boom-bust flex in 2020, dependent on one big play, he’s running deep routes for one of the most frequent deep-ball passers in the league with little target competition.

The 2020 Surrounding Cast

Entering Week 1 of the 2020 season, DeSean Jackson is the frontrunner to lead the Eagles receivers in targets and fantasy points. Though, with the Eagles leading the league in TE targets in each of the last two seasons, Zach Ertz is likely to lead the team in targets for the third year in a row. Alshon Jeffery won’t start the season on the PUP list, but he’s likely to miss at least a few games. When Jeffery returns to the field, we’re waiting for at least one game to see how he looks before starting him as well.

In addition, Jalen Reagor reportedly won’t be back from a shoulder injury until Week 2. This means that Jackson is one of the few receivers on the Eagles with an established rapport with Carson Wentz. Greg Ward and 2019 second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are the other two. Whereas Ward came on late in 2019 for the Eagles and will start in the slot in 2020, Arcega-Whiteside caught just 10 passes. Arcega-Whiteside, however, entered the league with a 42.7-percent (86th-percentile) College Dominator Rating. For context, anything over 45-percent is considered elite-level production, and adds to said player’s potential to transition into an NFL team’s No. 1 receiver. Arcega-Whiteside showed none of that potential in 2019.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Eagles averaged 40.6 (No. 7) Team Pass Plays Per Game in 2019 and 39.9 (No. 7) in 2018 as well. Considering the team’s top receivers down the stretch last year were Ward and Arcega Whiteside due to injury, it’s safe to say they won’t shy away from passing in the absence of both Jeffery and Reagor to start 2020.

The Potential Outcome For Fantasy Football in 2020

Now, let’s get practical. Simply put, basic math, assuming the Eagles’ passing volume remains comparable in 2020, ensures Carson Wentz throws the ball at least 35 times in Week 1. For context, Wentz failed to eclipse this threshold on four occasions in 2019. Furthermore, after factoring in nine targets for Zach Ertz and five for Dallas Goedert based on 2019 per-game target data, there are at least 21 targets up for grabs. There were 10 games, including the last eight games of the season, which Wentz threw the ball 39-plus times. Let’s stick with 21 up-for-grab targets for now, though. After accounting for Miles Sanders‘ and Boston Scott‘s 2019 average of a combined six targets per game, that leaves basically DeSean Jackson with 15 targets to account for.

Keep in mind, 35 attempts is a modest number. It’s in the realm of possibilities that the Eagles throw it 39-plus times Week 1 if Wentz picks up where he left off in 2019. Remember, there are roughly 15 targets up for grabs for the receivers to account for Week 1. Potentially, that number balloons to 20. Important to note: these are per-game averages and do not account for Game Script. Bottom line: Jackson is in a favorable position to start the season.

Check out DeSean Jackson’s 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:

Outside of DeSean Jackson for fantasy football, there’s no logical next receiver in the target pecking order. Greg Ward will mix in while the Eagles line up in 11 personnel, but that’s not enough usage to make him a fantasy commodity. For context, the Eagles passed out of 11 personnel in 2019 at a 42-percent (No. 30) clip, according to Sharp Football Stats. The team’s receiver situation heading into 2020 is comparable to what it was at the end of 2019. That said, the Eagles passed out of 12 personnel at a 52-percent (No. 1) clip. This indicates that Jackson’s competition to command weekly double-digit targets to start the season will often be against just one other receiver on the routes he runs.

Jackson’s Week 1 Target Share can potentially reach 30-percent. The Washington Football Team traded away their top corner, Quinton Dunbar, in the offseason and will field a combination of Ronald Darby, Kendall Fuller, and Fabian Moreau. Considering where you’re drafting him in fantasy football, this type of potential Target Share is unprecedented at his ADP. Also, considering where you’re drafting him, he is not an expected weekly contributor.

That brings me to my next point: It doesn’t matter if he can’t do this for 16 games. Fantasy football is a weekly game. Jackson’s monster Target Share legitimately might only be a two-week fad. However, if you draft him, that’s potentially two weeks he carries your team from the Flex spot. Even with Jalen Reagor returning Week 2, Jackson should maintain a heavy Target Share until Alshon Jeffery returns. Assuming Jackson is effective. In addition, Reagor reportedly will take a backseat to Jackson, and his best shot at making an impact is unseating Ward for his slot role.


DeSean Jackson‘s fantasy football ADP can pay off with just the monster weeks he potentially has while Alshon Jeffery is out. That can only be two games. If so, depending on roster construction, Jackson is the ultimate sell-high to start the season, or we wait and see. Remember, Jeffery is coming off a Linsfranc injury. There’s no guarantee he is the same player from 2019. He’s had injury-shortened seasons dating back to his time in Chicago, and is on the wrong side of 30.

Ironically helping make the case for Jackson is that Jeffery commanded 16 targets in the last game where he was fully healthy in 2019. He was the only Eagles receiver with a pedigree down the stretch. That’s now Jackson’s role, and be brings massive upside with Jeffery and Jalen Reagor out of the lineup for Week 1. In a worst-case scenario, Jeffery reverts back to 2019 form and Jackson returns back to the boom-bust flex you initially drafted. Jackson, in this scenario, will still have his weeks. Just not as consistently. That’s fine at his ADP.