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Which Receiver Should Come Off the Board After Megatron? The Candidates Are…

Brandon Marshall

Calvin Johnson had three broken fingers during the 2012 season. He also caught 122 passes for nearly two thousand yards. Yeah, he’s going to be first WR drafted in 2013 fantasy football drafts, that’s not up for discussion. What is up for discussion, however, is who deserves to be drafted as the 2nd WR.

An argument can be made for about five wideouts to be selected after Calvin, but the three true contenders, and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th WRs being drafted according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com, are A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, and Dez Bryant. Figuring out who deserves to be the second WR off of draft boards isn’t an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, but looking at the situation from different angles will certainly provide us with a good idea.

Breaking down the triplets:

The fact that all three of these receivers had very similar 2012 campaigns makes this decision tough. Here’s how 2012 played out for our three candidates.

NAME AGE GMS TRGS/G RECS/G YDS/G TDS/G FPS
A.J. Green

24

16

10.25

6.06

84.38

.69

202.8

Brandon Marshall

28

16

12.00

7.38

93.88

.69

216.6

Dez Bryant

24

16

8.62

5.75

86.38

.75

207.7

Brandon Marshall slightly out-performed Green and Bryant in every category except touchdowns, where Bryant caught 12 compared to 11 each for Green and Bryant. Marshall’s better performance in terms of receptions, yards and fantasy points, is likely due to the fact that Jay Cutlerforces the ball to him every game, as seen in the Wide Receiver Career Graphs App.

app

While this force-feeding of Marshall may sometimes hamper Chicago as a football team, it aids Marshall’s fantasy performance substantially. No player is ever a 100% sure stud, but when you know a player is going to have the opportunity to make plays every game, his chances of becoming a bust drop by a large amount. All three receivers are within two inches and 20 pounds of each other. Their styles of play are nearly as similar as the stats they posted in 2012. To show exactly how similar these three receivers are, when A.J. Green is plugged into the ADP Arbitrage App, two of the three comparable players are none other than Marshall and Bryant.

Now that we have a grasp on how all three players performed in 2012, we can use the WR Similarity Score App to give us an idea on how receivers who had similar seasons performed in the following season. Because all three players are so similar, many of the past seasons their 2012 campaigns are being compared to are the same. While the vast majority of players Green, Marshall, and Bryant are comparable to experience a drop in their fantasy production, the decrease in their fantasy points per game the following season was very low. It is understandable to see a drop in production the following season from the players Green, Marshall, and Bryant are being compared to, because they had great years, which are hard to duplicate or improve on the following season. The WR Similarity Score App also provides us with a projection of what we can expect a players fantasy production per game too look like in the upcoming season along with a projected ceiling and floor. These numbers, of course, are based on the seasons the players they are being compared to had the following year.

A.J. Green

Fantasy Points Per Week

Low

7.3

Median

9.5

High

11

Diff. Between Low & High

3.7

 

Brandon Marshall

Fantasy Points Per Week

Low

8.8

Median

11

High

13.1

Diff. Between Low & High

2.3

 

Dez Bryant

Fantasy Points Per Week

Low

8.7

Median

10.5

High

11.5

Diff. Between Low & High

2.8

The difference between low and high scores places a number on how much of a “sure thing” each player is. Players with a large difference between their low and high scores may have high ceilings, but also low floors, making them a riskier pick than players with smaller scores. While none of these players appear risky, there is certainly a difference between the three. Brandon Marshall has the lowest floor, highest median, highest ceiling, and is also the smallest risk between the three. Marshall’s massive involvement in Chicago’s offense and his large frame heighten his chances of repeating his 2012 season. While Marshall’s projected numbers don’t blow their other two receivers out of the water, there is certainly something to be said for sweeping all four categories. With the race to be the second receiver off of fantasy boards behind Johnson being so close, any small differences found become substantial.

Marshall is in a better position to succeed in ’13 than he was in ’12:

No large changes have been made to the Chicago Bears’ offense during the offseason, but a few differences in the 2013 roster may give Marshall a little boost. The Bears’ offensive line struggles were well documented in 2012, especially after Cutler got physical with tackle J’Marcus Webb on the field. The Bears used their first round pick in the 2013 draft to take Kyle Long, a guard out of Oregon, who will step in immediately on the right side of center Roberto Garza. The Bears also signed Towson University’s pride and joy Jermon Bushrod to play left tackle, which will allow Webb to slide over to the right tackle position. While these moves are not a huge upgrade to Chicago’s awful offensive line, it is an improvement. The big-bodied Martellus Bennett, who had a solid year down the stretch for the Giants, will make his Bears’ debut in 2013, which should help take some coverage away from Marshall. The Bears targeted tight ends through the air fewer than other team in 2012. Bennett will undoubtedly change that.

While the Bengals also added a new TE of their own by drafting Tyler Eifert in the first round, Jermaine Gresham is already in Cincinnati which means Eifert may only see the field in two TE sets or be occasionally lined up in the slot. While Eifert certainly gives Green help, his addition is not as helpful as Bennett’s addition is to Marshall. Marc Trestman comes to Chicago to replace Lovie Smith. Trestman is a pass-happy coach and was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco during Jerry Rice’s great 1995 season. Marshall has already been quoted by the media saying he loves the new offense being brought in by Trestman. While exactly how Marshall will be used by his new head coach is a mystery, there haven’t been any indications suggesting it will have a negative effect on his fantasy numbers.

Marshall by a nose: 

After using the RotoViz apps to get a grip on what can be expected from Green, Marshall, and Bryant in 2013, Marshall should be taken as the 2nd WR in fantasy drafts. Although a strong argument can be made for any of the three wideouts, B. Marsh looks to be in store for another productive season in 2013. But don’t be surprised if Green and/or Bryant are on par with, or outperform his numbers, as there’s very little separation between the three.

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