With a new NFL regular season just days away from kicking off, a flurry of Fantasy Football drafts are about to be completed.
Sure, some commissioners procrastinate on setting up their draft times, while others intentionally wait for the end of the preseason, in hopes to see position battles get resolved.
So, as you ponder which players you wish to add, consider the following options at the wide receiver position. This analysis compares players and each’s average draft position (ADP) in ESPN Fantasy leagues. For WR’s with a similar ADP, here’s who you should pick, and why:
Fantasy Football: Draft Him, NOT Him – Wide Receiver Edition
Draft Larry Fitzgerald (ADP: 34.0) and NOT Brandon Marshall (ADP: 22.5)
On average, Larry Fitzgerald is falling off draft boards one round later than Brandon Marshall. The obvious reasoning is last year’s stats between the two: Marshall (118 rec, 1,508 yds, 11TD) vs. Fitzgerald (71 rec, 798 yds, 4 TD). It’s clear that Fitzgerald was arguably the biggest wide receiver disappointment in Fantasy last season. This year, however, Bruce Arians (big passing game in Indy last year) is the head coach in Arizona and Carson Palmer (4,018 passing yards in 2012) is his starting quarterback. Therefore, look for a huge rebound.
As for Marshall, well, the big play ability it still there, but there have been some question marks raised regarding a hip injury that is still not 100 percent. A hip injury isn’t something you want to mess with. On top of that, it is yet to be seen just how Marc Trestman’s offense will work in the NFL. Therefore, I like Larry Fitzgerald over Brandon Marshall – and I also like him over a lot of other key top receivers in the league (e.g. Demaryius Thomas – ADP 26.2).
Draft Antonio Brown (ADP: 66.7) and NOT Eric Decker (ADP: 57.1)
Eric Decker is dropping off draft boards nearly ten picks sooner than Antonio Brown. It makes some sense if you look at the stats from 2012, where Decker scored 13 touchdowns with the Broncos. With Peyton Manning throwing to him, he clearly has value. However, Denver also added Wes Welker to the mix, and it is to be expected that he will swipe away stat lines from both Decker and Demaryius Thomas.
On the other side of the fence, Mike Wallace has left Pittsburgh, leaving Antonio Brown to potentially take over as the team’s top Fantasy receiver. Add to that fact that Pittsburgh has some major question marks in its running game, coupled with an aging defense, and you could see Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers throwing the ball often. As a result, look for big numbers from Brown in 2013. Also, keep an eye on Emmanuel Sanders in the later rounds.
Draft T.Y. Hilton (ADP: 87.9) and NOT Tavon Austin (ADP: 82.1)
As they say, “speed kills”, which is why so many critics and Fantasy owners have a crush on rookie Tavon Austin, who has 4.34 40-speed. But will his 5’ 9”, 174-pound frame stand up to the beating in the NFL? He’s also a rookie in a St. Louis offense that currently is a major question mark.
Over in Indianapolis, T.Y. Hilton – going later in Fantasy drafts – has established himself as a key second receiver behind Reggie Wayne. In the second half of the 2012 season, Hilton posted four 100-yard games and double-digit Fantasy point totals in six of his final nine contests. Even with Bruce Arians moving on to Arizona, Hilton should be a steady addition to your group of receivers.
Draft Vincent Brown (ADP: 127.5) and NOT Kenny Britt (ADP: 113.7)
A number of you likely don’t even know who Vincent Brown is. Due to injuries by Darnario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd, he’s the likely top receiver to emerge with the Chargers. Say what you want about Philip Rivers, San Diego will find ways to score points, especially facing teams like the Chiefs and Raiders on multiple occasions.
Meanwhile, Kenny Britt – who is on average, being selected 14 picks sooner – is a talented, but over-hyped and injury prone receiver. The Titans do not have as strong of an offense, and Britt is a much bigger Fantasy question mark. When selecting this late in the draft, there will be very few number one receivers on the board, and Vincent Brown is easily the best value option.
Kevin Paul (The Wife Hates Sports) is a freelance sportswriter that is also a Fantasy Football regular. He is a regularly league winner, including last season. Last year’s team featured a roster of Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Reggie Wayne, Vincent Jackson and Wes Welker. He’s also posted a combined 417 victories against the spread over the last three NFL seasons.