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WR vs. WR

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The number inside of the parentheses is the Fantasy Sharks' average ranking  as of 8/14/12.

Victor Cruz (6) and Hakeem Nicks (13)

Last season we saw Cruz burst onto the football field, and he never looked back. Many are calling for Cruz to be a bust in 2012, but I hardly think that will be the case. His numbers should be expected to decline a bit, simply due to the fact that last year was a team record-setting year. But added to that, is the notion that he’ll simply demand more defensive attention. Last season Cruz was able to play off of Nicks, while in 2012 the two are set to play off of each other. Nicks’ broken foot so early in organized team activities has sent his ranking through the floor. Many hit the panic switch and dropped him clear out of the Top 10. It’s amazing how quickly we forget in the world of football. Nicks is a unique mixture of size, hands, and speed. In terms of physical build, he places just a few spots behind the likes of Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall. With Nicks and Cruz being able to play off of each other’s presence on the field, I believe that both will be in for great fantasy seasons. With that in mind, I’ll take the track record and potential of Nicks over Cruz. Both will finish as a fantasy team’s No. 1 receiver, but Nicks’ red zone potential puts him over Cruz in the season-ending fantasy points column. If you are wondering which receiver with the New York Giants finishes higher up on the points list, I’d say that Nicks is the better bet.

Julio Jones (7) and Roddy White (12)

Jones put on quite the show in his first season in the big leagues. He showed blazing speed, good hands and fantastic big play ability. The Atlanta Falcons’ offense seems to be transitioning from a run-first format to an aerial attack. With Matt Ryan under center, the potential for Jones is extremely high. But let’s not forget about Roddy White. White finished last season with the eighth-most receiving yards and crossed the goal line with the pigskin eight times. Both are fantastic options as your No. 1 fantasy receiver, but just don’t go in thinking that defenses aren’t going to be familiar with Jones. Much like Hakeem Nicks with Cruz, Roddy White could find himself against less coverage thanks to his speedster teammate. White is a consistent, solid, elite wide receiver that you know exactly what you’re getting right on draft day. White may not have the ESPN highlight plays, but at season’s end his stats will be there. Julio Jones has the ability to almost single-handedly win you a week, but his production will most likely be very up and down. Again, both are solid bets, but until Jones officially passes Roddy White in the stats department I’ll continue to put my chips on White over Jones. It’s very odd to see White’s numbers and then see him ranked as the 12th-best option. I guess all the people that are sold on Jones are under the assumption that White will significantly regress. That’s some pretty amazing value if he slides that far down on draft day.

Greg Jennings (5) and Jordy Nelson (9)

This is like splitting hairs. I’ve seen these two guys ranked just one spot apart (eight and nine) on our Sharks' rankings just a few days ago. To me, picking between Aaron Rodgers‘ Top 2 guys is like deciding what Playboy Playmate you want to spend the weekend with. You know you can’t lose either way, but you still want to make sure you get the better one. To me, it just comes down to the fact that I don’t see Nelson hitting pay dirt as often as last season. Honestly, how could he? Jennings is the faster, more complete receiver and has a history of putting up numbers. We’ve only seen Nelson do it once. Jermichael Finley will be a larger portion of the offensive game plan in 2012, as long as he avoids injury. Randall Cobb could be pushing for some outside work as well. Both of those factors will seriously impact Nelson’s bid at double-digit touchdowns this year. You’ll notice that throughout all of these comparisons that I’m not urging you to avoid one or the other, except for the Pittsburgh duo (see below). All of these receivers have tremendous ability and potential. It’s just a matter of who on the team will finish higher up the total points list. Taking a look at Greg Jennings‘ stats, I can’t help but to think what could have been if he had avoided injury. In this particular case, I agree completely with the overall assessments of Jennings and Nelson with Jennings being just a little higher on the board, but higher nonetheless.

Miles Austin (19) and Dez Bryant (18)

It’s extremely difficult to really put this picture into focus right now. Up until this point I would have argued in Austin’s favor. But the latest hamstring pull is the last thing that we wanted to hear so close to draft day. On the other side of the coin we have Dez Bryant. Since he was drafted, we have been waiting to see him reach the elite potential that we all know he possesses. He’s come close but he has yet to fulfill his draft day hype. All of his off field issues added to the latest and greatest comments from Jerry Jones are not exactly churning out positive vibes, either. Both are injury concerns to some degree, but both are also capable of putting up Top 10 wide receiver numbers. As of now, I’d actually argue in Bryant’s favor. To hear that Austin is already having hamstring issues is very troubling considering that was the same issue that knocked his production off course last season. Apparently, it’s going to be an issue moving forward, a la fellow Texas wideout Andre Johnson. I’m extremely interested to see what Dez Bryant is capable of if he stays out of trouble and on the field for a complete 16-game season. He and quarterback Tony Romo have seemingly not been able to find the field at the same time. This is a big year for both Romo and Bryant as the big boss man is noticeably growing tired of pretty much everything in Dallas. Bryant and Romo have to play at an elite level in 2012 or big changes could be coming. With the pressure to perform, I’d take Bryant on the hopes that he finally delivers. Long story short, I expect Dez Bryant to finish ahead of Miles Austin in 2012.



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