TSO Report: Detroit Lions WR - Marvin Jones

Photo Credit: Tom Uhlman/Associated Press

Photo Credit: Tom Uhlman/Associated Press

There are some players whose talent transcends their surroundings and situation (Adrian Peterson). Unfortunately for 99% of players that is not the case. That's where the Talent, Situation and Opportunity Report comes in. The TSO Report puts an individual under the microscope and analyzes that player through three different lenses to determine their fantasy outlook:

Talent: What does the player bring to the table? Do they have any trump cards? Will an area of weakness prevent the player from reaching their potential?

Situation: Will the player be used correctly? Are they an integral part of a good offense? Do they fit the offensive scheme well? Is the arrow pointing up or down for the offense?

Opportunity: Where do they sit on the depth chart? Do they have a role carved out in their offense? Are they stuck behind an elite talent?

Background:

Name: Marvin Jones

Height: 6'2"

Weight:  199 LBS

College: California

Drafted: 5th Round, 166th Overall by Cincinnati in 2012

Experience: 5th Season

2015 Season Stats: 65 Rec, 103 Targets, 816 Yards, 12.6 YPC, 4 TD 

Talent:

In 2013, Marvin Jones had a breakout sophomore campaign with the Cincinnati Bengals hauling in 51 Rec, 712 Yards and 10 TD's on just 77 Targets. Jones missed all of 2014 with a variety of foot and ankle issues but bounced back with an impressive 2015 campaign where he set career highs in receptions, yards, targets and snaps.

As seen in the clips below Jones has made a name for himself as a deep threat opposite AJ Green. Jones makes the most difficult acrobatic over the shoulder catches look routine. Jones has ballerina like footwork along the sidelines which makes him a Quarterback's best friend on back-shoulder throws and comeback routes. A polished and refined route runner Jones is also underrated with the ball in his hands. An elusive runner after the catch, Jones forced 12 missed tackles in 2015. 16th best among WR according to Pro Football Focus. Incredibly surehanded, Jones has never fumbled in the NFL and only dropped two passes in 2015. Jones' drop rate of 1.9% was better than Calvin Johnson's 2.7%.

Overall I think it's fair that Jones isn't considered an elite talent. He can struggle against press coverage and is lacking a true elite trait but I will say that Jones is a player who has been underrated for far too long. Part of that may be due to him missing all of 2014 coming off his breakout 2013 season.  But he was underrated throughout the draft process as well. I know many in the NFL Draft community who viewed Jones as a sure-fire day 2 talent rather than the 5th round pick he was.

Situation:

Jones arrives in Detroit after signing a 5-year, $40 million dollar contract this offseason. $20 million of which is guaranteed. The Jones signing happened to be just one of many major changes that occurred this offseason for Detroit. In January, they hired Patriots Director of Pro Scouting, Bob Quinn, to be their new General Manager. The team also announced that Jim Bob Cooter will be the teams Offensive Coordinator on a permanent basis, which is good news for Lions fans.

Cooter took over as the OC following the Lions Week 9 BYE in 2015 and in their final 8 games averaged 26.1 points per game. A big improvement from the 19.9 they averaged with Joe Lombardi calling the shots. The transition from Lombardi to Cooter was truly the turning point in the Lions season.

The Lions played inspired ball down the stretch winning 6 of their last 9 games. Matthew Stafford played some of the best football of his career and much like the Lions season it should be viewed in two separate halves.

Under Lombardi (7 Games): 65.02 Comp%, 1,866 Yards, 12 TD, 9 INT, 86.8 QB Rating

Under Cooter (9 Games):  69% Comp%, 2,396 Yards, 20 TD , 4 INT, 105.1 QB Rating

One thing that was consistent between both coordinators is the pass heavy approach. In 2015 the Lions had the highest pass-run ratio (64%-36%) in the NFL. The reliance on the passing game eventually led to them finishing last in the NFL in rushing yards and 26th in YPC (3.8) in 2015. 

Detroit has been one of the more one-dimensional offenses this past decade but it's not for lack of trying to get the running game on track. The Lions again went to the offensive lineman well in the 1st round after taking Riley Reiff in the 1st in 2012 and Laken Tomlinson in 2015. This time, the Lions selected Ohio State OT Taylor Decker at #16 overall. They continued to address the offensive line throughout the draft taking Michigan C Graham Glasgow in the 3rd and Washington State OT Joe Dahl in the 5th. The Lions also brought in veteran Geoff Schwartz via Free Agency to compete.

The additions made to the line through free agency and the draft will hopefully open up more holes for the talented 2015 2nd Round Pick, Ameer Abdullah, who had a rollercoaster rookie season.

My one cause for concern is what Matthew Stafford will show up and will the young playmakers like Ebron and Abdullah take the next step. Ebron's drops and Abdullah's fumbles affected too many of the Lions drives last season. On the bright side Detroit will not be handing the ball off to poor Joique Bell 90 times this year.

Opportunity:

There has been one major offseason event that I haven't exactly addressed and that would be the retirement of Calvin Johnson. The departure of Megatron leaves a huge hole to fill in the passing game. Johnson was targeted on nearly 24% of passing plays in 2015. Targeted 149 times in all.

This is where Marvin Jones comes in. Although not in the same stratosphere of physical talent as Calvin Johnson, Jones can win in many of the same ways Calvin did. He can serve as that big play deep threat and will fit in nicely opposite Golden Tate. Naturally Jones will be fed the ball quite a bit more than he was in Cincinnati. No longer will Jones be a third option in the passing game behind elite talents like AJ Green and Tyler Eifert. Now I wouldn't expect Jones to be targeted on 24% of passing plays. A portion of those targets will likely be spread evenly amongst WR Golden Tate, TE Eric Ebron, RB Theo Riddick and others, but Jones playing a more prominent role in a pass heavy attack certainly has his fantasy arrow pointing upward.

It will also be interesting to see who steps up as Matthew Stafford’s primary red zone target now that Calvin Johnson has retired. The last two seasons Calvin hauled in more touchdowns (17) than Golden Tate and Eric Ebron combined (16). Again, usage should trend up for everyone in the Lions passing game but this certainly appears to be an area where Jones should have plenty of opportunity to shine. Jones has the skill-set to emerge as the primary red zone threat and has a 10-touchdown season already under his belt.

Outlook:

Jones will never be confused for Calvin Johnson and it’s fair to assume that he did benefit from being surrounded by AJ Green and Tyler Eifert. We also don't know how Stafford will play for a whole season without having his security blanket that he's been able to rely on his whole career. What we do know though is that Jones is an impressive player in his own right and is in a situation where his talents and opportunity can be maximized.

Jones and Tate will serve as a nice 1-2 punch for Detroit. If healthy, Jones should again set career highs for receptions and yards and it’s realistic to believe he’ll flirt with 1,000 yards and 8 TD with obvious upside for more.