ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Julio Jones #11 and Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrate Jones' touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Georgia Dome on January 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The NFL has several elite wide receiver duos this year, leaving fantasy owners a tough decision to make. We break down the fantasy implications.
Wide receiver is the deepest we've seen the position in years. This season there are multiple teams with more than one top-ranked receiver, leaving a difficult choice to make for some fantasy owners.
Can receivers coexist to benefit the fantasy football world? Of course they can. Deciding who will score more points, though, is a different story. Let's break down the best receiver duos in the league and see which one can outscore the other.
Nelson broke out in a huge way last year after finishing with 63 catches for 1,263 yards and a whopping 15 touchdowns, shattering his previous high of two. Jennings was on pace to post the highest number of receptions in his career, but a knee injury cut his season a month short. Keep in mind that Nelson caught 17 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns in the last three games without Jennings in action.
Both receivers will benefit from having arguably the best quarterback in the league throwing their way, but Jennings, assuming he can stay healthy, has the upper hand. Nelson is extremely unlikely to repeat his incredible touchdown mark again. If you're looking for who to own between the two, Jennings is still a clear favorite.
This is another case of a breakout player with questions of repeating last year's success. Cruz jumped onto the scene in 2011, and now is being drafted as a WR1. Nicks continues to struggle with injury issues, but when he's healthy he can be elite. The Giants playoff run last season showed that teams honed in on Cruz, and Nicks benefited from it by catching 28 passes for 444 yards and four touchdowns in four games. Cruz in the playoffs? 21 receptions for 269 yards and just one score.
If Nicks misses any playing time, Cruz is Eli Manning's go-to-guy. However, he did most of his damage out of the slot in 2011, so can he be effective if he lines up outside? Nicks is more experienced and a better red-zone threat. When he's healthy, which he appears to be for now, he's the top receiver for the Giants.
While Mike Wallace was away doing his best impression of Chris Johnson from 2011, Antonio Brown put together a solid preseason, totaling 11 catches for 204 yards and three touchdowns. The receiver roles are changing in Pittsburgh from what we saw last year. Brown finished with a higher average of yards at the catch, and Wallace saw a lot more short yardage targets. Both receivers take pressure away from the other, but Brown has built better chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger this preseason, and Wallace has yet to play a game in 2012. Brown still has to figure out how to find the end zone more often. However, he's looking like a safer bet heading into the regular season.
White seems to be a forgotten man in Atlanta. After leading the NFL in targets last year, he's not going anywhere this season. Jones, though, is looking like he'll be exploding in his second pro season. Hamstring issues kept him out almost four games total his rookie season, and he still finished will nearly a thousand receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Jones has been the focal point of the Falcons starting offense in preseason, leading the team in catches, receiving yards and targets. Dirk Koetter, Atlanta's new offensive coordinator, is showing he's not afraid to let Matt Ryan throw the ball. There should be enough passes to help both receivers finish towards the top of all receivers in fantasy points. White will still be a reliable weapon for Ryan every game, but Jones has the clear upside here. He's an incredible athlete, and brings down just about anything thrown his way.
There's no denying the potential for both of these receivers with Tom Brady throwing the ball to them in 2012. But, one question remains: Are there enough targets to go around in the Patriots offense? Lloyd is very familiar with Josh McDaniels. The two managed to produce huge fantasy points in Denver, and even made it work with the Rams dreadful offense last year. Everyone will be quick to point out how dominant the McDaniels-Randy Moss duo was with the Patriots several years ago, but don't expect the same results with Lloyd.
Welker is Brady's go-to guy, there's no denying that. New England also heavily relies on Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, a different scenario than what McDaniels worked with back in 2007. Stick with Welker here, but keep in mind Lloyd will be a big downfield threat if he and Brady can figure out their chemistry.
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