It’s been awhile since anyone debated more than one person with the last name Baldwin, but that was largely left to the celebrity gossip magazines anyway. Fantasy football owners now may be left choosing between two Baldwins that play wide receiver: Doug of the Seattle Seahawks and Jonathan of the Kansas City Chiefs. Both guys are entering their second NFL seasons as well, so the similarities don’t end with their surname.
Some fantasy owners may be left with choosing between these two guys with a late-round pick in their drafts, so which one is the better option? I’ll give my analysis of both, then make my choice.
Baldwin came out of nowhere as an undrafted rookie in 2011 to lead the Seahawks in receptions (51), receiving yards (788) and receiving touchdowns (four). He clearly benefited from injuries and uncertainty around him in Seattle’s group of wide receivers, and despite the additions of Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards recently, he should still be a primary option for whoever starts under center for the Seahawks, be it Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson at this point.
Balwin’s value could increase if Sidney Rice struggles to get fully healthy to start the season after offseason shoulder surgeries, or if Owens and Edwards don’t make the final roster for some reason. Uncertainty under center with Flynn and Wilson both being unproven also caps his upside, but there is value to be had here at the right spot in a draft or dollar value at auction.
Baldwin’s rookie season got off on the wrong foot when he suffered a thumb injury during a training camp fight with teammate Thomas Jones, which caused him to miss five games, and an injury to quarterback Matt Cassel (hand) further hampered his production when was in action. But he did have one productive game with Cassel under center against the San Diego Chargers in Week 8, with five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, so that lends some hope for 2012 with Cassel back healthy and Baldwin having a full offseason to adjust to the NFL level.
Baldwin’s physical tools helped make him a first-round pick (26th overall) last year, and the prospect of an increased role this year gives him nice upside potential. The contract situation of Dwayne Bowe is still in flux right now, perhaps creating more opportunities early in the season for others in the Chiefs’ passing game, and it may only be a matter of time before Baldwin usurps Steve Breaston both on the depth chart and in the pecking order in the Kansas City passing game.
I think the choice here depends on your league format. Doug is worth considering as a WR4 in standard leagues, with more upside in PPR formats since he should at least see a fair amount of targets and provide some level of consistency on a weekly basis. Owners in single-season leagues should consider this Baldwin first on draft day.
As for Jonathan, his overall upside is higher and he is worth considering as a late-round flier or with a final auction bid in deep leagues. If you are in a dynasty league, this Baldwin is the one to hold in higher regard due to his potential and this may be the year to get him at a discount in that format.