In this edition of Draft Decision we will be looking at the scenario of choosing between the top two slot receivers in the NFL, Wes Welker and Victor Cruz. The two quite interestingly have a lot in common: both are slot receivers, will be catching passes from a QB named Manning, were undrafted free agents and will most likely be drafted in the same round of your fantasy drafts, perhaps even a pick or two away from each other. Let’s evaluate who brings more value to the table.
Welker: In the past six seasons, there has not been any receiver with more receptions than Welker. The 32-year-old receiver put up absurd numbers in his six years with the New England Patriots posting 672 receptions with five seasons of at least 110 receptions. While Welker was a receptions machine, he failed to reach double-digit touchdowns in any of his years in New England, only giving him high value in PPR formatted leagues. With Welker now in a crowded receiving situation for the Denver Broncos, it is unlikely that 2013 will be his first double-digit touchdown season, but the healthy amount of receptions will surely follow him to Denver.
Cruz: New York Giants fans can now watch Cruz this season knowing that his foreseeable future will be in Big Blue. Cruz signed a six-year, $45 million dollar extension making him the second-highest paid slot receiver in the league. In his short time in New York, Cruz has developed a strong rapport with QB Eli Manning and it has shown on the field. In his first two seasons, Cruz has 19 touchdowns while bringing in 168 receptions for 2,628 yards, establishing himself as a legitimate playmaker in the NFL. Cruz is also in a somewhat crowded receiver situation in New York, but fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks struggles to stay on the field. Nicks has yet to play a full 16-game season in his career and played injured basically throughout all of last season. Luckily for the Giants, Cruz tends to excel with the absence of Nicks. In the three games Nicks missed last year, Cruz had 20 catches for 200 yards and four TDs.
Draft Decision: In a standard league, I would say that Cruz would be have to be the pick for your fantasy team simply because of the touchdowns. In PPR leagues, however, the decision gets a bit tougher. Welker will give you close to 100 catches, but could really struggle to find the endzone with big receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas on the field. Peyton Manning could tend to look their way more often in the endzone having already played one full season together. Cruz already has two great years with Eli and is one of the main sources of offense on that team. In the end, I would have to pick Cruz over Welker just because I know what I’m going to get from Cruz. Welker will still be a great weapon for Peyton, but there are a bunch of heads to feed on that offense and the days of Welker being a lock for 100 catches could now be behind him.