Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the "old days," most NFL teams had an easily definable No. 1 receiver, who would dominate his team's offense in targets, yards, touchdown, receptions and fantasy production.
However, over the past decade with rules changes to help facilitate the passing games, a number of teams have developed a passing game so efficient that it can support two No. 1 quality receivers.
The New England Patriots of 2007 had Randy Moss (98 receptions, 1,493 yards, 23 touchdowns) and Wes Welker (112-1,175-8).
The Indianapolis Colts of 2004 went one better with three receivers who produced No. 1-type receiver totals in Marvin Harrison (86-1,113-15), Reggie Wayne (77-1,210-12) and Brandon Stokley (68-1,077-10).
For the upcoming season, we see five teams with the ability to host at least two 1,000-yard receivers and we're not even talking about adding tight ends into the mix.
Let's analyze the five pairs of receivers to determine which is the better fantasy value.
Roddy White (fantasyfootballcalculator.com ADP 30.1), Julio Jones (ADP 31.7) -
White led the NFL in targets in both 2010 and 2011 with 179. With the addition of Jones last season, White became the "possession" receiver and excellent red zone target. As Jones becomes more dangerous, opposing teams will game plan for his defense-stretching ability, and White should still be able to get close to his totals from 2011.
In just 13 games as a rookie, Jones almost cracked the 1,000-yard mark. And that was without training camp. With a year of experience under his belt, Jones will become the team's most dynamic weapon. Defenses will be torn as to which player to double cover. With the Falcons becoming a pass-first offense, both players should prosper. At this point, White is the "safe" pick, but Jones has the higher upside for the same price.
Dez Bryant (ADP 36.9), Miles Austin (ADP 46.6) - Bryant gets all the attention because of his physical skills and his ability to do something really special. Our problem is that he doesn't do it often enough, particularly in the second half. Most think he doesn't have the stamina to play a full 60 minutes at a high level.
Austin is currently being selected a round after Bryant and we believe that's a mistake. With Laurent Robinson gone, quarterback Tony Romo will seek out Austin while defenses key on Bryant. The Romo-to-Austin hookup should be the more dangerous combination as long as the wideout can stay healthy (he missed six games last season). Take Austin a round later and you will get the same or better stats than Bryant in the fourth round.
Greg Jennings (ADP 23.3), Jordy Nelson (ADP 40) - Opposing defenses let Nelson run wild last year, determined to take away Jennings' deep strikes. The strategy didn't work out very well as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers simply turned his attention the other way and found Nelson 68 times for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. It won't get any easier for the defense as Jennings and Nelson return as do Donald Driver, James Jones and improving second-year receiver Randall Cobb.
If you can get Nelson at the end of the fourth round, he'll give you the same production as Jennings at the start of the third round, therefore it's a no- brainer. Bypass Jennings and scoop up Nelson later in the draft.
New York Giants
Hakeem Nicks (ADP 37.4), Victor Cruz (ADP 34.2) - Nicks is the superior athlete of the two, but in 2011 opposing defenses were designed to stop him first, so Cruz had the better fantasy numbers. That likely won't change in 2012, though defenses will be more prone to play a "bend-but-don't-break" strategy against these two game-breakers.
Like the Falcons pair of receivers, both Giants wideouts should give you quality production, but in our opinion Cruz will be slightly better.
Mike Wallace (ADP 35.9), Antonio Brown (ADP 63.6) - Wallace was the Steelers' most productive receiver in 2011, but not many know that Brown was the guy Ben Roethlisberger targeted the most last year (124 targets). That's because Wallace almost always received the double coverage while Brown just had to beat a single man. That won't change in 2012 because Wallace is still the most dangerous wideout on the Pittsburgh roster.
However, the three-round difference is simply too much, particularly in PPR leagues, as Brown should haul in more passes this season. We like Brown as the better value of the two Steelers wideouts.