2014 Fantasy Football: Drafting Alshon Jeffery Over Brandon Marshall a Wise Choice

By Sean Cordy
Alshon Jeffrey
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Chicago Bears‘ WR duo consisting of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery quickly became the preeminent WR pair in the NFL. Only three spots separated their fantasy rankings, with Marshall as the fifth ranked and Jeffery at the eighth spot. They were nearly identical in fantasy production both in season total and consistency. So there are whispers that maybe even as the team’s WR2, Jeffrey could be the more dominant of the two among the fantasy world this season.

In 2012, Marshall was targeted 40 percent of the time in his first season in the Windy City. Last season he was only targeted 29 percent of the time. That has a lot to do with the emergence of Jeffery who saw 26 percent opposed to 10 percent during his rookie season. That great upward trend is very telling, and the targets for this young receiver should reach equilibrium this season.

His catch rate is also trending upwards, catching 60 percent opposed to 50 percent his rookie season. That should continue to rise near 65 percent as he continues to mature this offseason. That being said, his targets should be around 160 this season (opposed to 149 last year) and he should be able to hang on to more this season now that Jay Cutler is back. All in all, he could be in store for over 100 receptions (or at least very near the century mark), and there could be two Bears reaching that milestone this season.

Another hopeful sign is that he’ll continue to increase his yards per reception. Last season he reeled in 16 yards per catch with 89 receptions, whereas he saw less snags his rookie season and only averaged 15.3 yards. So assuming that he can only maintain that 16 YPC, he’d be in for a 1,600-yard season.

The only bad thing for Jeffery is that Marshall will continue to see the red zone targets, receiving more touchdowns. It’s likely that Jeffery can’t get over his seven touchdowns from last season. He’ll probably see the same mark or dip down to six, but even with that he’d be a worthy WR1 for your team totaling over 200 fantasy points this season.

Now that’s not to say that Marshall will dip in his production that much, just that Jeffery’s improvement will only add to the total production for the WR duo. So both will be very similar this year, but Jeffery will be the more worthy pick.

At the moment, the two wideouts are separated — on average — by a round. Marshall is averaged as the 16th pick whereas Jeffrey is targeted at the 25th slot. So you’ll get nearly identical output from the two but for a lesser cost with Jeffery. Draft wisely.

Sean Cordy is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.  You can follow him on Twitter @RagingTaxiDrver and you can add him to your network on Google

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