San Diego Charger fans may be worried over the loss of former pro bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers via free agency, but they shouldn’t be. When looking in-depth at Jackson statistics, you will find he is drastically overrated and that Robert Meachem, who is Jackson’s replacement, will be just as productive as Jackson was.
On the surface, it may not appear to be a great swap. Jackson’s had over 1,000 yards receiving in each of the last three full seasons. In 2010, he only played in five games due to a lengthy holdout. Meachem, on the other hand averaged 660 yards per game over the last three years. Since the 2008 season, Jackson has 28 touchdowns receptions to Meachem’s 20, he also boasts 201 catches to Meachem’s 141.
Yet, the only real difference between Jackson and Meachem is that Jackson has received an average 107 targets per season, while Meachem has received an average of just 67. Considering Meachem has averaged 10.3 yards per target over the last three years and additional 40 targets each season would yield an extra 414 yards. Meachem’s averaged 660 yards a season but his projected average with 107 targets per season is 1,074.
Jackson’s yards per target average over his last three full seasons was slightly better at 10.5, however he caught a touchdown once every 12.84 attempts compared to Meachem, who caught a touchdown once every 9.55 targets. Meachem also caught 67 percent of his targets compared to the 60 percent clip posted by Jackson.
A bit of digging shows that on a per target basis, Meachem is at least on par with Jackson in terms of production, and in some categories exceeds him. According to those statistics, and based off his three-year averages, if Meachem receives 107 targets this season, he will catch 71 passes for 1,102 yards and score 11 touchdowns.
Those are no.1 receiver kind of numbers, in the NFL and in fantasy football. Reasonably, we could expect Meachem’s production to dip slightly with an increased number of targets but not much.
The averages compiled are over a three-year period in which he was targeted 191 times. One may point out that he had Drew Brees as his quarterback, yet before last season, Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers was considered elite and still should be. He did have a bit of a down year but only compared to his previously high standards.
Unbeknownst to most fans and observers, Rivers completed 62 percent of his passes last season, threw for 4,624 yards, 27 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He averaged 289 passing yards per game and posted an 88.7 passer rating. There are a ton of teams in the NFL that would love if their quarterback had that “bad” a season.
Rivers is an outstanding quarterback and Meachem is the ideal fit for the Chargers vertical passing game. Considering Meachem is a 6’2″ 215-pound receiver that runs a 4.40 in the forty-yard dash and it’s easy to see why the Chargers gave him seven million dollars a year to come to San Diego. It will be money well spent because not only can Meachem replace Jackson as the team’s top deep threat, with an increased workload that he never got in New Orleans, Meachem has the potential to become a no.1 receiver.
So what does this mean for fantasy football owners? It means fantasy owners should draft Meachem, then jump up and down excitedly every time he scores a touchdown this season, as the fellow owners wonder why they did not pull the trigger on Meachem before you did.
Robert Meachem 2012 PPR Fantasy Football Projection: Factoring in a slight decline in his production with a greater number of targets, FantasyPPR.com projects Meachem for 67 receptions for 1,067 yards and 10 touchdowns. That works out to an average of about 14.67 fantasy points per game; from a guy that will likely come off the board in rounds 8-10 in the majority fantasy drafts.
Even if Meachem suffers a bigger decline than he is projected too here due to the increased numbers of target he will receive this season, as long as he produces anywhere near the same level he did with the limited opportunities he received in New Orleans, Meachem will be at worst a WR2 in PPR leagues and that is not bad value at all for a mid-round draft pick.