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I’m Drafting Demaryius Thomas Over Calvin Johnson, Here are Six Reasons Why

demaryius_thomas

In some circles it may be blasphemous to consider another wide receiver when Calvin Johnson is available. It’s difficult to nitpick one of the greatest WRs in NFL history. Choosing the highest-scoring first-round pick can change the outcome of your season though so every option must be explored. As crazy as it may sound to most, these are the reasons I’m taking Demaryius Thomas first in PPR Redraft leagues.

Peyton Manning WR rankings

Take a look at how Peyton’s WRs have ranked by total PPR pts over the years.

99′

00′

01′

02′

03′

04′

05′

06′

07′

08′

09′

10′

12′

13′

Marvin Harrison

1

1

1

1

5

5

9

1

101

36

 

Reggie Wayne

51

20

9

16

4

2

13

3

3

 

Brandon Stokely

16

64

118

 

 

 

 

59

Demarius Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

1

Eric Decker

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

9

Wes Welker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21

Manning has had a WR1 in 13 of 14 years. Four of those seasons he supported two WR1s. No one is arguing that DT won’t be a WR1. I’m just showing this to emphasize how safe of a pick the guy is.

Contract Year

Thomas will be a free agent in 2015. His next contract could be the largest of his career so there is plenty of motivation for a big season in 2014. Even if you believe recent studies that say the contract year doesn’t matter, it can’t hurt right?

Calvin’s Target Regression

Johnson has never had a reliable number two WR playing opposite of him. That is about to change with Golden Tate coming to town. The Lions also added a pass catching tight end in Eric Ebron in the draft. These two weapons are sure to steal some looks from Johnson in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s scheme that loves to spread the ball around. Lombardi comes from the Sean Payton coaching tree where no Saints pass catcher has had over 150 targets in a season since 2006. Johnson has averaged 173 targets the last 3 years. He requires volume to put up the gaudy numbers he has in the past.

Demaryius’ Probable Target Increase  

Eleven WRs and one TE had more targets in 2013 than Demaryius did and yet he still led all pass catchers in PPR scoring, 319 pts. Eric Decker received 137 targets in 2013, just five less than DT. With Decker’s departure, Thomas’ targets should increase as well as his odds of scoring more than he did in 2013.    

Quarterbacks and Catch Rates

Calvin’s career catch rate per target with Matt Stafford is 57 percent. Thomas’ catch rate with Manning is 65 percent. If Johnson’s targets sink below 150 based on his catch rate, he won’t have more than 85 receptions. He caught 84 in 2013.  If Thomas somehow picks up 20 of Decker’s 2013 targets, he’ll have 100+ receptions based on his catch rate with Manning.

I used the Rotoviz AYA app for 2012-2013 to further my point of efficiency. Manning to DT has been a more efficient connection than Stafford to Megatron.

QB REC Targets Catches Yards TDs INTs AYA
Peyton Manning Demaryius Thomas 282 185 2860 24 3 11.37
Matthew Stafford Calvin Johnson 356 202 3382 16 12 8.88

Go with the Bigger Ceiling

My reasoning for choosing Thomas over Johnson is because as I’ve shown above, I don’t think we’ve seen what DT is fully capable of. We’ve probably already seen Johnson’s career best. While Johnson certainly isn’t a bad first-round pick, he doesn’t have the upside that Thomas does in 2014.

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