Marvin Jones is entering his third year in the NFL and seeking to become an established widereceiver in the league. Playing along the sidelines, he has the speed to beat most corners and the height (6’2) to out jump them as well. He was drafted in 2012, the year after Andy Dalton and A.J. Green were selected. He was only a fifth round pick, falling behind fellow Bengals widereceiver Mo Sanu (3rd round, 83 overall). Of the two, Cincinnati has given Sanu more opportunities to succeed, but every indication shows the team is finally leaning towards Jones going into 2014, as they did late in 2013. Head coach Hue Jackson was quoted this offseason stating, “Marvin Jones came on like gangbusters (last year) and he’s got to go chase A.J. (Green). Why not knock A.J. off the pedestal? When you have the friendly competition among your teammates, that’s when things get really, really good, in my opinion.” While he has little chance to catch Green, that’s some high praise and expectations coming from the head coach. Jones has his spot on the offense locked down and will receive a substantial boost in playing time.
Marvin Jones demonstrates stronger all around receiving abilities compared to Sanu, which can be seen in the statistics. Jones recorded 51 catches, 712 yards, and 10 touchdowns on only 542 snaps (47.9%). Sanu chalked up 47 catches, 455 yards, and 2 touchdowns on 750 snaps (66.3%). Despite the large difference in time on field, Jones saw 81 targets and Sanu had only 78, indicating Dalton was looking for one receiver more than the other. If you give Jones 66.3% of the snaps, his numbers roughly translate to 71 catches, 996 yards, and 14 touchdowns. In the last game of the 2013 season, he saw 77.7% of the snaps, which is a more standard number for a number two wideout. Some secondary receiving threats saw even higher percentages, with DeAndre Hopkins, Brian Hartline, Eric Decker, Harry Douglas, and Michael Floyd all seeing between 86% and 88%. At 77.7%, Jones’ numbers over a full season would equate to 82 catches, 1,139 yards, and 16 touchdowns. In a PPR league, those numbers would have placed him at no. 8 among all WR’s, just ahead of Alshon Jeffery. But projections can be inaccurate and sometimes numbers do lie, so let’s take a closer look at how Jones was so efficient last season.
Last Season (2013)
Like any second year receiver, he definitely ran into his inconsistencies. His per game yardage over the first 5 games were unspectacular at 7, 35, 38, 0 and 39. Then, he found another level over the next 4 weeks, posting 71, 57, 122, and 66 yard performances. This was followed by extremely disappointing 2, 9, and 12 yard games. He did finish the season strongly though, which is always an important factor for young players from year to year, showing up with 60, 48, 85, 61, and a critical 130 yard game in the playoffs. Improving his week to week yardage should be doable with more opportunities and of course, a strong work ethic and a dedication to every play.
What really sticks out about Jones is his whopping 10 touchdowns in such limited time. People are quick to judge his numbers based on a matchup with the Jets in which he hauled in 4 TD’s. While that game does sit as an outlier, it’s still not enough to overshadow his production. Even taking away 3 of those scores, he still managed 7 touchdowns as the third receiver on the team. Unlike Eddie Royal last year who surprised with a couple multi-touchdown games early on, Jones spread his scores throughout the year. In fact, that Jets game was his only multi-touchdown performance. While he may never realistically grab 16 touchdowns in one seasons, he has gotten to the endzone consistently enough to expect a solid 7-9 scores per season with increased reps in the offense.
Now that last year’s numbers are a little bit clearer, let’s take a look at the system he is working in. Last year Andy Dalton finished the year 8th in pass attempts. Cincinnati enjoys throwing the ball, but also features more talent in the backfield this year. Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard provide a fearsome duo to any NFL defense, while Green-Ellis will still vulture some carries if he is not cut by the regular season. This helps and hurts Jones because it could cause the defense to load the box more and commit to the run, but could also result in a loss of production to the runningbacks. A.J. Green will definitely get his catches, but again this weapon can help redirect the defense. Looking to further eat into Jones’ production will be Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, and Mo Sanu. Dane Sanzenbacher is replacing the departed Andrew Hawkins, but that should have little effect on Jones’ numbers. Overall, the offense will be more explosive if anything. Most everything has stayed the same in the passing game, except this year Sanu won’t be jamming the widereceiver depth chart. Despite A.J. Green's presence, there is production to be had in this offense and Marvin Jones looks like a prime candidate for the job. If Dalton can progress and play well in his contract year, watch out.
If you want a comparable, Jones is very reminiscent of another Cal product Keenan Allen. About 10 lbs lighter, Jones has similar sticky hands and can run after the catch. Allen came into the NFL with more polished route running skills, but both of these players show good all around abilities and feature the athleticism to go up and get the ball in the redzone or chase a 50 yard bomb over the safeties. Don’t expect Jones to be as efficient as he was last year, but a bump in production is inevitable with increased playing time. Look for a decent second widereceiver type stat line of about 70 catches, 900 yards, and 8 touchdowns (which isn’t that large of a gap from last year) with the potential for much more. That line would place him as the 24th widereceiver last season. His positional ADP is 44 on Yahoo!, 59 on ESPN, and 53 on NFL.com. Feel free to target Marvin Jones with a late round flyer and watch his stock soar.