Every single person who plays Fantasy Football needs to understand one of the most important aspects of winning your league.
You don’t win with your early picks.
Sure, the guys you select in the first five or so rounds are a lot more enticing than the later guys, but if you manage to hit with one of your late round fliers, you will be a very happy camper come the end of the season. So, with that being said, I thought it would be helpful to debate two young, high-upside receivers that owners will be drafting in the later stages of their drafts. Both are coming off average rookie campaigns, but both can take a big step forward in 2013. So, Michael Floyd or Alshon Jeffery?
Making the case for Floyd
Floyd was practically non existent to start the 2012 season. The rookie took two weeks to post his first career catch, and was only targeted 10 times in the first four weeks. Of course, the Cardinals’ quarterback situation didn’t help much, but Floyd did finish his rookie campaign strong. He had 14 catches for 213 yards and a score in the final two weeks of the season against the Bears and 49ers, two of the best defenses in the league. Going into his sophomore season, there is a lot to like about Floyd. At 6’2″, 220 lbs and the ability to run a sub-4.5 40-yard dash, the combination of size and speed makes him the logical choice to line up opposite Larry Fitzgerald as the team’s number two receiver. During OTAs, Floyd ran with the first team offense more than Andre Roberts, so there is signs of Floyd taking the next step. Also, the arrival of both Carson Palmer and new head coach Bruce Arians should benefit Floyd and the downfield passing game. Floyd was only targeted 86 times last season, but I fully expect that number to increase in 2013. Palmer and Arians will sling the ball around quite a bit, and while Fitzgerald draws opposing defense’s attention, Floyd will have a better opportunity to produce than last year. With Fitzgerald reportedly lined up in the slot during OTAs, perhaps Floyd wil be the guy to stretch the field, and will likely see his fair share of single coverage. I think Floyd is in line for a breakout season, and fantasy owners could be getting WR3 production for a WR4 price tag.
Making the case for Jeffery
Jeffery is another guy with serious breakout potential in his second season. During his rookie campaign, he showed some flashes, despite missing six games with knee injuries. It’s hard to really analyze his play in his rookie year, considering he only caught 24 balls and was plagued with injuries. So, let’s look at what I like about his fantasy prospects heading into the 2013 season. First, Jeffery was training with teammate Brandon Marshall in April, which should help his growth and overall game, learning from one of the best in the game. New head coach Marc Trestman stated that Jeffery has some serious potential, and I believe 2013 may be the year he fulfills it. Speaking of Trestman, his presence should give Jeffery more looks in the passing game. Trestman is a coach that has typically been pass-oriented. I mean, back in 1998 with the Cardinals, Larry Centers, a fullback, caught 69 balls. If Trestman is as high on Jeffery as he says, there is no reason to believe he won’t become an important part of this offense. Quarterback Jay Cutler has one of the strongest arms in the league, and loves to show off his vertical passing game. Jeffery, not Marshall, may serve as the best candidate to haul in some of those long passes and make big plays (four 30-yard catches in 2012). Also, Jeffery may even serve as more of a red zone option than Marshall. If the offensive line can keep Cutler upright, Jeffery could also be looking at a breakout sophomore campaign.
First of all, both of these guys are extremely similar. Both are around 6’3″, 220 lbs, have elite wide receivers across from them and will be seeing upgrades in the passing game (Palmer, Arians/Trestman). However, with that being said, I’m all in on the Bears this season, so I’ll slightly lean towards Jeffery. I’m a strong believer in what Trestman is bringing and remember, Floyd was quiet throughout his entire rookie season. I want to see how Jeffery fairs in a full, 16-game season.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.