Be my Bebe
Here’s a situation you may find yourself in this year: you’re drafting in the late second or early third round and you want a wide receiver because you don’t buy in to RB-RB-RB or even RB-RB-RB-RB-RB. The big four – Calvin, Dez, Brandon and AJ – are all gone. The two best options on the table are Demaryius Thomas and Julio Jones. Which one do you take?
The sim scores favor Thomas, but only slightly. Thomas has a higher floor projection, and a slightly higher median projection, but the high projection is tied:
According to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP ratings, a slight majority favors Julio in PPR and standard formats. He has an ADP of 22 in standard and PPR. DT has an ADP of 26 and 23, respectively. However, should I find myself choosing between the two this year, I’m taking Demaryius all day long. Here’s why:
Last year, Julio posted seven games under 12 points in PPR. Five of those games were under 10 points. In basketball parlance, he shot you out of as many games as he shot you into.
Our hero had only three games under 12 points and two under 10. He had eight games over 20 points compared to Julio’s five. He’s a safer week-to-week option than Julio and he gives you the same monster upside. His low projection of 13.2pts/game is higher than all of the receivers going in front of him save for Brandon Marshall.
Yards per target
The table shows us that Thomas was more efficient on more targets last year, his 3rd season in the league and his first with Peyton Manning at the helm. Thomas has an additional year under his belt, so I wanted to compare Thomas’s efficiency in his 2nd year to Julio just for giggles. Unfortunately, Tebow was pelting the mile-high turf with wounded ducks in Thomas’s second year, so an apples-to-apples comparison isn’t readily available.
Welker’s impact on Denver’s passing game is overstated
ESPN’s blurb about Thomas says Welker’s presence means that “some of his ultra-high potential is curbed.” This is silly. Thomas and Welker are both wide receivers, but they essentially play different positions. They won’t be running the same routes or competing for snaps. Welker’s presence underneath could actually benefit Thomas, as he’s likely to see more single coverage over the top.
If you think Welker’s presence will negatively affect Thomas, you’re assuming Welker takes a lot of his targets. I think this is unlikely. Thomas’s 141 targets in 2012 were only the 12th most of any wide receiver, and you saw how efficient he is. So we expect the Broncos are going to stop throwing it to the man-child because they have an upgrade at slot receiver? Please. The Manning-led Broncos have already proven they have no problem feeding multiple fantasy relevant receivers, as DT was the #6 WR and Decker was #10 in 2012.
Julio wasn’t the best fantasy receiver on his team last year
Do I love this argument? No, I don’t. But it would be foolish to ignore the fact that Roddy White is still very much alive. The two will obviously have a lot of fantasy value playing side by side, but in three of the five games Julio posted less than 10 points last year, Roddy had more than 20. Roddy’s tendency to go bananas from time to time can hurt Julio. Thomas will have to deal with the same from Welker and Decker, but as stated, Welker can go nuts and DT will still get his. He had to deal with Eric Decker’s coming out party last year and he did fine.
Thomas might just be better
DT was 1.8ppg better in PPR last year and 1.1ppg better in standard. Some hold him up as the quintessential 3rd year breakout wide receiver – however, I would argue that his 1st season with a real quarterback had more to do with his progression than his experience.
Julio is entering his magical 3rd year in the NFL. His competitors for targets are another year older, and we can realistically expect that he’ll continue to improve. However, if you’re drafting him ahead of Thomas, you’re gambling on the expectations that 1) Jones will get more targets or Thomas will get fewer targets, or 2) if that doesn’t happen, Jones will get more efficient while Thomas gets less efficient, or 3) Jones will improve at a much greater rate than Thomas improves.
If you think I hate Julio, you’re wrong. I would love to have him on any of my teams. Hell, if I’m going after a wide receiver and the guy in front of me takes Thomas, I’ll take Julio in a heartbeat. However, I believe that Demaryius Thomas is more likely to have a better year, and he’s much less likely to put up a stinker that costs you your matchup that week. You’re also getting a smidgen of a discount based on the fear that Welker will siphon targets away.
If player A offers the same ceiling as player B but has a higher floor, wouldn’t you take him? Turns out you might get the chance.