Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football 2014: the Wide Receiver tidal wave

 

Wide receiver is all flash and glam in the NFL and Fantasy Football. With tons of production, who deserves elite billing? Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part one of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.

 

TODD:

Continuing our coverage of early offseason fantasy football rankings, we come to wide receivers.

In past years, the wide receiver position was often considered overrated in fantasy. Receiving touchdowns were too unpredictable and some wide receivers just didn’t produce like we thought they would week in and week out. While that is still sort of true, passing offense has exploded so much that even inconsistent receiving weapons are worth taking early.

According to ESPN, as many as a dozen WRs could/should be taken in the first three rounds of drafts. This seems like a high number until you consider the following two factors: good depth doesn’t preclude owners from taking better players, and the lack of elite running backs forces receivers up draft boards.

The first point is that just because wide receiver is deep (which it is), doesn’t mean there aren’t better guys at the top worth grabbing. However, 2014 is tough because there really aren’t tiers to these guys. They kind of taper off pretty consistently after number one.

Number one is, of course, Calvin Johnson. After he goes in the first round, there is a small group of secondarily elite guys, but it’s debatable when that group actually ends. Sure, Demaryius Thomas, AJ Green, Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall are all in there. But shouldn’t Julio Jones be there too? And is Jordy Nelson or Alshon Jeffery that much worse than Jones? And are Antonio Brown, Vincent Jackson and Randall Cobb that far away from Nelson or Jeffery?

You see the problem here. The position has no tiers to it. There are no distinct groupings to gauge where and when certain guys should go. This makes it harder to draft, but the fact that we can get to twelve, thirteen, or even more guys and continue to wonder if they belong with that top group just speaks to the talent at the position.

I can scan all the way down to the 30′s and name five or six wide receivers who I’d be happy having as my starters each week. This SHOULD mean owners should wait forever to take a wide receiver. Except the thirty guys already drafted are all good and even a little bit better. So what’s an owner to do?

 

DAN:

My poor, sweet brother; it does no good to complain about a welcome problem. You speak many truths leading to draft day dilemmas, and yet I’m not with you. I LOVE the tidal wave of wide receivers that is about to decimate the early rounds of fantasy football drafts. You can’t go wrong. Well let me rephrase that; there is one way you can go wrong when drafting your wide outs.

If you are aiming to lose in fantasy football then make sure to draft wide receivers on teams with poor or rookie quarterbacks. Now sure, a rookie like Johnny Manziel may surprise us all and dominate the league. But the more likely outcome is missed targets, interceptions, and lots of “I can’t believe the ball went there” plays that lead to your wide receiver not scoring points. Poorer quarterbacks like whoever is on the Dolphins, Buccaneers, Titans, Texans, Raiders, etc. lead to inconsistency for your wide receivers. Go peak at the top thirty names on the list that ESPN put together and try to find a poor quarterback throwing to any one of them. Andre Johnson in Houston, ranked eleventh, is the lone exception. There is always one. I don’t trust Vincent Jackson at twelve for a second in Tampa Bay.

So now that you know how to lose, I’ll tell you why I love the depth at wide receiver. It’s not a problem for owners, at least not one worth considering. We could talk for days about how much luck is involved in fantasy football, but this new age of wide receivers is putting some intelligence back into the game. Past performance is surely important, but much like how quarterbacks are the highest scoring and most important players on a fantasy team, they are the most important factor for a wide receiver. I’ll admit that the best receiver on an awful team with an awful quarterback can surely put up good numbers, but I won’t be drafting him. You are chalking your season up to luck at that point. We have the opportunity to go deeper in our draft analysis and consider team factors when picking receivers. I love this game because it screws up so many fantasy owners. Go ahead, over think your selections. I’ll be saving my discord for running back and defense.

I’m going to lay down some tiers for you in part two on Sunday, but let me first give them some names because they certainly exist. To say everyone is on par after the top spot is just a mind game you’re playing. I know you. You want to confuse your opponents and you consider every other person, every reader, an opponent. Let us think Victor Cruz and Jeremy Maclin are on par and you’ll ride that wave to victory. Well I’m not sorry and our readers are getting the inside scoop on the wide receiving breakdown.

The five fantasy football wide receiver tiers:

1- Calvin Johnson
2- the “I think I’m Jerry Rice ” tier
3- the “I’m really more Michael Irvin ” tier
4- the “Big stats, little reliability ” tier
5- the “I’m nothing without my quarterback ” tier

[Part two - Receiver tiers: Calvin to Jerry Rice]

Tags: 2014 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Fantasy Football 2104 NFL Sports Debate

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