The stat lines for Brandon Marshall and Dez Bryant were remarkably similar in 2013, with Marshall having the advantage in receptions (100 vs. 93) and yards (1,295 vs. 1,233) while Bryant had a slight edge in touchdowns (13 vs. 12). Looking a little deeper they were also targeted almost the same amount, with a slight edge for Marshall in total (163 vs. 160) and Bryant being targeted 21 times in the red zone to Marshall’s 20 red zone targets.
Bryant and Marshall belong in the top tier of fantasy wide receivers this year, but is one a better option than the other?
The Case For Dez Bryant
Bryant has 90-plus catches, at least 1,200 yards and double-digit touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. He has matured into a top wide receiver and a primary target for Tony Romo, and motivation will not be an issue this year with Bryant looking to prove he’s worthy of a big new contract entering the final year of his rookie deal.
Bryant had a touchdown in each of the final five games of 2013, and 10 touchdowns over the final eight games of 2012. Strong finishes are great for fantasy owners at a critical time, and Bryant has played all 16 games in each of the last two years after missing five games over his first two seasons.
The Case For Brandon Marshall
Reuniting with Jay Cutler has been great for Marshall, with over 100 receptions in each of the last two seasons and his career-highs in catches (118 in 2012), yards (1,508 in 2012) and touchdowns (12 last year) coming over his two seasons with the Bears. Alshon Jeffery’s emergence did not hurt Marshall last year, and Cutler will continue to look Marshall’s way often.
Marshall said he feels like hip surgery heading into last season held him back, even suggesting he had a “down year.” While his catch, yardage and target totals did drop from 2012, it’s a great sign that Marshall has high expectations of himself and anticipates bigger things this year.
Once the likes of Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas and perhaps A.J. Green are gone, Marshall and Bryant will be the next two wide receivers off the board in a lot of fantasy drafts. Both are worthy of a significant investment as a WR1, and I would not be surprised if Marshall and Bryant post similar numbers again this year. But Bryant has more upside potential and that makes him my choice, ever so slightly.