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Judgement - Steal or Stretch: Dissecting the top WR Tandems


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You don’t need me to tell you that Greg Jennings should be drafted before Jordy Nelson (hopefully), but I’m here to explain why some of these studs are either being drafted too high or too low. In addition to said Green Bay Packer duo, the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants are sporting wide receiver tandems that are being drafted in the Top 15 of wide receivers. Consistency is king, and history needs to be taken into account when considering stats and injuries. Draft for reliability.

Green Bay Packers: Greg Jennings vs. Jordy Nelson

Jennings is the eighth wide receiver being drafted in points per reception leagues. Last year he amassed 215 fantasy points in only 12 1/2 games. He left the Packers’ Week 13 game against the Oakland Raiders in the beginning of the third quarter with a knee injury and did not play another down during the regular season. His TPE (Total Points Extrapolated assuming a 16-game season) for 2011 is 275. The Packers offense is going to be as powerful as ever, and Jennings’ injury last year is not a concern at all.


Verdict
: Greg Jennings is a STEAL as the eighth overall wide receiver. He should be third behind Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.

Nelson is the 14th wide receiver being drafted in points per reception leagues. He hauled in an impressive 15 touchdowns on his way to 284 fantasy points last year. Unfortunately, as Dwayne Bowe proved last year and many others before him, touchdowns are not a stat that can be relied on from year to year. A good amount, 77, of Jordy Nelson’s fantasy points came in the last three weeks of the season (mainly in only two games) when Greg Jennings was not on the field. That is 27 percent of his season total. More importantly, 33 percent of his targets for the entire season came when Greg Jennings was out.


Verdict
: Jordy Nelson is a STRETCH being drafted as a high-end WR2. He undoubtedly deserves to start on your fantasy team, but he shouldn’t be relied on over the likes of Marques Colston, who is currently being drafted as the 19th WR.

Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White vs. Julio Jones

White is the ninth wide receiver being drafted in points per reception leagues. He never misses games and is always near the top (if not at the top) in targets for a season. He produced 277 fantasy points with a mediocre (at best) quarterback last year. He has been a Top 10 wide receiver the past four years and still managed to put up his second-best fantasy season ever with Julio Jones in the mix.


Verdict
:  Roddy White is a STEAL as the ninth wide receiver (and he will most likely slide back as the season approaches). Julio Jones will apparently be more involved in the offense this year (if he can stay healthy), but when it comes to a stud WR1, Roddy White should be drafted ahead of injury bug regular Andre Johnson and the unproven A.J. Green.

Julio Jones is the sixth (it is ridiculous that he is being drafted ahead of Roddy White) wide receiver being drafted in points per reception leagues. He has lightning speed and is an incredible talent. He is capable of putting up numbers expected of a WR1 when he is on the field; however, a knee injury in college, a broken foot at the combine, and a hamstring injury that forced him to miss three full games (plus parts of others) in his rookie season are a cause for concern. He put up a respectable 202 fantasy points last year, and his TPE was 248. Even if Julio Jones played all 16 games last year, he still would have had significantly less targets than Roddy White.


Verdict
: Julio Jones is a major STRETCH as the sixth wide receiver and cannot be counted on as a WR1. He has way too many injuries, and Roddy White will continue to be Matt Ryan’s reliable first look. Dont be that guy who drafts Jones ahead of White!

New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks vs. Victor Cruz

Nicks is the fourth wide receiver being drafted in points per reception leagues. Nicks has his injury problems, but he is one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers when he is healthy and on the field. By far the best talent in the New York Giants’ receiving corp, he is Eli Manning’s go-to target in the red zone. Nicks still put up 237 fantasy points despite missing one game in Week 9 against the soft New England Patriots defense.

Verdict: Today, Hakeem Nicks is a STRETCH
as the fourth wide receiver given his injury issues. With his current broken foot and the Victor Cruz hype over the next two months, I think Nicks will slide into a STEAL on draft day and he should be taken as the seventh wide receiver off the board. Hakeem Nicks is equal to Andre Johnson. They are both WR1’s on a high-powered offense that can be expected to miss one or two games a season.

Cruz is the 10th wide receiver being drafted in points per reception leagues. Cruz exploded onto the scene in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 29-point performance and he quickly took over the WR2 spot for a concussed Mario Manningham. He put up 1,519 yards and nine touchdowns in the 14 games that he started for the remainder of the season.

Unfortunately, if you happened to watch any New York Giants games last year, you know that this type of season is not repeatable. He had five catches that went for scores that were at least 68 yards long, and numerous bobble catches that went his way every time (except the one bobble that resulted in a game-losing interception against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5). These five catches accounted for of his fantasy points (25 percent) for the year. He doesn’t have a major height and size advantage at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, nor does Cruz possess sure hands or breakaway speed.

Verdict: Victor Cruz is a major STRETCH as a low-end WR1 today, and it will only get worse given the foot injury to his cohort Hakeem Nicks. If you take away the five long scores (which you should if you saw the plays), Cruz would have outscored the likes of Dez Bryant by only three fantasy points on the year. Victor Cruz is a low-end WR2 at best. Brandon Marshal and Mike Wallace are players that should be drafted before Cruz.


Can Jordy Nelson catch 15 touchdown passes? Of course it’s possible . Can Julio Jones stay healthy and get more targets than the league leader over the past two seasons? Of course it’s possible. Can Victor Cruz put up 1,500-plus yards with numerous SportsCenter Top 10 catches? Of course it’s possible. Can Blaine Gabbert lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to a Super Bowl victory this season? Of course it’s possible. Draft for reliability; consistency is king.