It has become conventional wisdom among the fantasy football literati that Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews will be a major fantasy “sleeper” in 2014. Matthews’ size/speed combination; work ethic and productivity within college football’s best conference (the SEC) are major reasons for the optimism. And I would agree that Matthews has the ability to eventually become the Eagles number one wide receiver in the near future.
But not this year.
Rookie wide receiver Josh Huff will be the Philadelphia Eagles breakout rookie in 2014. There are three principal reasons for my bullishness on Huff.
Familiarity with the Eagles Offense
The chart below demonstrates one of the major reasons for my optimism for Huff:
Eagles Receiver/# of Years in Philadelphia Eagles head coach Kelly’s Offense
Jordan Matthews 0
Josh Huff 4
As you can readily see, among all of the Eagles top receivers, only Josh Huff has the benefit of four years experience in Chip Kelly’s offense. In fact, no other rookie receiver coming into the league in 2014 has the opportunity to make such an immediate impact as Josh Huff does with the Eagles. And this includes three first round wide receivers Sammy Watkins (Buffalo), Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina) and Mike Evans (Tampa Bay), who will probably draw starting wide receiver assignments with their respective teams by NFL Week 1.
Josh Huff does not have the prototypical body type of an NFL wide receiver. He is not a smallish speed receiver, like Mike Wallace of the Dolphins, nor a tall wide-body receiver like Vincent Jackson of the Buccaneers. Huff is built more like a running back than he is a wide receiver. Think wide receiver Anquan Boldin of the San Francisco 49’ers. Smaller, bur solidly built, able to make the catch in traffic and then break tackles for impressive yardage gains. Huff’s skill and body type can be used to great advantage in Coach Kelly’s offense. He is tied for the most touchdown passes in school history at Oregon. In my opinion, Huff will become the underneath replacement to former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, and be used in motion, running screens and short crossing routes that will feature his after the catch running ability.
The Kelly-Huff Bond
Most Eagles fans know that Josh Huff was the first Oregon Duck ever selected by Chip Kelly in the NFL Draft. When “215” appeared on Huff’s phone on Draft Day Two, he reportedly had tears in his eyes, knowing that he would be reuniting with Coach Kelly. And for Kelly’s part, he had this to say about Josh Huff after the draft: “Great work ethic, an explosive player who really can change direction very quickly. He’s big, physical. He’s a dynamic kid.” Since Kelly has had the opportunity to coach Huff for three years, he knows him very well. I expect very big things from Huff in 2014.
While Jordan Matthews will be groomed to eventually play all three receiver positions in the Eagles’ offense during 2014, Josh Huff will be showing him how it’s done. With Eagles camp now here, we will find out soon enough.