Eagles Slot Receiver Battle: Jordan Matthews vs. Nelson Agholor

by Andrew Persanyi ·

As July comes to a close and training camp opens up for numerous NFL teams, daily Rotoworld blurbs become increasingly meaningful.  One of the more bizarre storylines we’re being told to watch is the apparent duel between Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor.  The latter, according to Geoff Mosher at FanRag Sports, has a strong chance to become the Eagles’ primary slot receiver.  Matthews, on the other hand, was hampered with knee issues throughout the off-season but is now cleared to fully participate in camp.  Let the battle for the slot ensue, where the presumed winner is in line for more fantasy points than the consensus projects.

Nelson Agholor Persistent Inefficiency 

Selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, Nelson Agholor was a compelling prospect.  Agholor’s 32.4-percent (58th-percentile) College Dominator Rating, coupled with proficient workout metrics, provided plausible upside as a potential fantasy asset in the future.  Despite his promise, Agholor disappointed quickly.  From an efficiency standpoint, his rookie and sophomore campaigns were abysmal.

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Nelson Agholor Advanced Efficiency Metrics 2015-2016

Last season, Nelson Agholor accumulated a total of 69 targets (nice).  That said, his Hog Rate was only 7.8-percent (No. 102).  In other words, Agholor is barely targeted when on the field.  Perhaps his lack of a rapport with Carson Wentz is due to his 7.2-percent (No. 13) drop rate.  Moreover, Agholor only lined up in the slot on 11.5-percent (No. 70) of his snaps, where his yards per reception was 11.0 (No. 91).  Agholor has given us very little reason to expect him to annex the job from the incumbent Jordan Matthews.


Check out Jordan Matthews & Nelson Agholor on the Updated PlayerProfiler Seasonal & Dynasty Rankings:


Jordan Matthews Rebound?

After a quiet WR2 fantasy season in 2015, Jordan Matthews underwhelmed in 2016.  The subsequent signings of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith buried Matthews’ ADP, making him one of the most overlooked wide receivers in fantasy football.  This is further illustrated by Mike Medeiros, who makes a great case for Jordan Matthews as a fantasy sleeper in 2017.  The lack of wide receiver depth in Philadelphia forced Matthews’ slot rate to drop to 36.9-percent (No. 23) last season.  With Jeffery and Smith now on the team, Matthews will comfortably revert back to his slot role.  Furthermore, Jeffery is now the clear No. 1 receiver in Philly, and he will draw the most attention from opposing defenses.

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Carson Wentz Adjusted Yards per Attempt by Receiver (Per RotoViz)

Jordan Matthews clearly has the upper hand over Nelson Agholor.  In the worst season of his career, Matthews still produced a superior catch rate, yards per target, and yards per reception than Agholor.  Matthews, 6-2, also possesses the prototypical size and stature to operate on the outside in addition to the slot.  If Alshon Jeffery gets injured, or if Torrey Smith turns out to be washed up, Matthews could slide in as the virtual handcuff to either one.

Will Alshon Jeffery Steal the Show?

As it turns out, fantasy points are hard to come by when faced with a revolving door of quarterbacks such as Matt Barkley and Jay Cutler.  Who knew?  Now that Alshon Jeffery has a seemingly capable quarterback, he’s expected to return back to his glory days as a high-end fantasy receiver.  Not so fast, fantasy owners.  Jeffery and his new supplier, Carson Wentz, are far from a perfect match.  Jeffery is a premier deep threat, posting a 14.3 (top 15) target distance in 2016, while Wentz’s 7.5 average attempt distance was No. 30.  Even when Wentz fires the cannon, he only completes 31-percent of his deep passes, putting him outside the top 20 quarterbacks.  Not even PEDs could make that pairing work.  At Jeffery’s current 4th round ADP, buyer beware.

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Alshon Jeffery Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Conclusion

Don’t believe everything you read.  This job is Jordan Matthews‘ to lose.  His sustained production both inside and out makes him a massive favorite over Nelson Agholor, who despite his athletic tools has been nothing but disastrous.  With uncertainty surrounding the rest of the pieces in the Eagles’ high-volume pass attack, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Matthews jumped ahead as the leading receiver in Philly.  One thing is certain: 2017 will be the year Agholor zealots (if any remain) are buried once and for all.