The Chicago Bears made a shocking move in early March by shipping wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets in return for nothing more than the fifth-round draft selection in the 2015 NFL Draft (which was ultimately used to draft a safety).
Poor Brandon. As if Jay Cutler wasn’t bad enough, now he’ll be trying to catch balls from Geno Smith. Marshall's fantasy potential has definitely taken a hit, his stock plummeting when news of the trade was made public.
So how does Brandon Marshall rank among wide receiver in 2015 and where you should be draft him this season? Let's take a closer look to answer these questions.
Last Act in Chicago
After a disappointing 2014 season in which he failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since his rookie year with the Denver Broncos, Marshall was deemed unworthy of the $10 million cap hit by the Bears. While the seasonal numbers weren't up to his standards, it should be noted that before a season-ending injury in Week 14 against the Cowboys, Marshall was on pace for slightly fewer than 1,000 yards, but more than 10 TDs.
Entering 2014, Marshall was one of the first 20 players drafted in the majority of fantasy leagues, but after missing three games (and hobbling through a few more) Marshall finished 30th among receivers in terms of fantasy production using standard scoring rules.
Marshall's Potential with the Jets?
Could it be a bit premature to drastically downgrade Marshall, just because he's now a member of the Jets? After all, Marshall is still a 6'4", 230-pound elite touchdown threat who averages about 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns a season since he became a starter in 2007.
Can Marshall's below-average 2014 season be largely attributed to poor QB play and an uncharacteristic string of injuries? After all, Marshall career stats speak for themselves and there are no other dips in production that are cause for worry.
Sure, as Marshall ages he might not be the deep threat that he once was, but even if he isn't catching bombs he still has the potential to be a solid red zone threat for the Jets.
Inconsistent Quarterback Play in New Ork
The big problem that Marshall will face in New York is the quarterback situation. He probably thought it can’t get much worse than Cutler, but Marshall will be in for a rude awakening with Geno Smith leading the offense.
Even if Smith is not the starter come Week 1, the next QB in line will most likely be rookie Marcus Mariota. Any way you slice it, Marshall will be dealing with severe inconsistency at the quarterback position in 2015. How Marshall responds mentally to that adversity remains to be seen, but his willingness to be patient with the QB situation will surely play a part in his on-field production.
A Silver Lining in New York
Fortunately for Marshall, he will not have to play second-fiddle to Alshon Jeffery in New York. Marshall will undoubtedly be the focus in Chan Gailey’s offensive system. Marshall comes in as the best receiver on the team, light years ahead of 2nd-year Jet Eric Decker. Decker has a chance to stake his claim as the #1 wide receiver in New York, but last season proved he is better suited as the complement to proven play-maker.
Also, remember that the Jets traded Percy Harvin to the Buffalo Bills, further clearing the way for Marshall to be the go-to-guy. Harvin only played in a few games for the Jets last season, but his departure means the Jets will be trying to implement a vertical passing game, which suits Marshall's style.
The Final Prognosis for 2015
Brandon Marshall’s biggest obstacle in 2015 will be inexperience and inconsistency at the quarterback position. He will more than likely be a frustrating player to own in 2015, the kind of player that does nothing when you start him, but goes off for 200 yards and two touchdowns when you sit him. When you combine inconsistent QB play with the fact that Marshall himself will be getting acclimated to a new team, it makes it very difficult to predict when a big performance may be looming.
Marshall is not a wide receiver that should be targeted in the top 20 at that position. Marshall is at best a WR backup in 2015. He is the type of player to start when your starter is injured, or you need a bye-week replacement. Marshall will provide the most value when he's in your opponent’s starting lineup, not yours.
Do you agree with this assessment of Brandon Marshall? Tell us about it in the comments below. Or, tell us why you think we're off.