2014 Speed Bump 11 – Decker vs. Evans vs. Jackson – Sponsored by Fantasy Knuckleheads (Greg Brosh)
Continuing on our theme of covering many of the new high-end rookie wide receivers that have come into the fold, today we cover Mike Evans who joins the Tampa Buccaneers having been selected 7th overall in the draft. The new Tampa Mike will square off against two big name veterans switching teams in Eric Decker now of the Jets and DeSean Jackson now of the Redskins. FFW welcomes Greg Bosch of Fantasy Knuckleheads who will weigh in with who he likes in this one for the 2014 season.
When a player changes teams, examining their new situation and surroundings is a must and that may not be more true than for Eric Decker who goes from Peyton Manning and the plush 5500-yard, 55 TD offense of the Denver Broncos (a team that destroyed the NFL record books), to Geno Smith/Michael Vick and the Jets (a team that was 4th worst in the NFL last year in scoring at 18.1 points per game). However, Decker should now be a clear-cut #1 WR. Decker comes off a career-best season of 87 receptions and 1,288 yards, which he parlayed into a five-year, $36.25 million contract (with $15 million guaranteed). In terms of ADP, Decker is the slight underdog in this poll (Decker is the 87th player selected on average, one spot behind Mike Evans).
Mike Evans couldn’t have asked for a much better landing spot in the top 10 as he will get the opportunity to learn behind one of the better big receivers in the NFL today in Vincent Jackson. Evans enters the NFL after his Redshirt Sophomore season and having played just two years in college. Evans dominated though in college collecting many a long-ball from Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, which in part helped Evans be named as an AP first-team All-American in 2013. New Tampa QB Josh McCown showed what he can do with two jumbo WRs last year in Chicago – can he do the same in Tampa and is Evans up to the challenge as a rookie?
It was one of the more surprising off-season developments as star WR DeSean Jackson in the prime of his career was suddenly simply released by the Philadelphia Eagles on March 28th. Speculation and leaks came in that he was “tied to Los Angeles gang members” and the degree to which Jackson was reportedly insubordinate to HC Chip Kelly. However, it didn’t take long as offer sheets came flowing in. Jackson chose to stay in the NFC East and will play against the Eagles twice per year as a member of the Washington Redskins. Jackson comes into 2014 off a career season with 82 receptions and over 1300 yards (Jackson’s average over his first five NFL seasons were 55 receptions and 950 yards). In terms of ADP, Jackson is the favorite here.
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Decker vs. Evans vs. Jackson, Greg Brosh selects (07/24/14): DeSean Jackson.
In the receiver rankings section in our Draft Guide, DeSean Jackson is ahead of both Eric Decker and Mike Evans. However, it isn’t by much. In fact, all three receivers are within 10 players of each other. Add in the fact that all three players are playing on new teams and in new systems, this was the hardest decision I’ve had to make fantasy-wise in a long time.
However, in the end, I feel that Jackson has the most going for him and should be selected over Decker and Evans.
If you look at the Redskins, they are brimming with talent. WR Pierre Garcon played above what was expected in 2013. And when healthy, TE Jordan Reed is on the cusp of being one of the top tight ends in the league. Jackson goes into a situation where he doesn’t need to be “the” guy. Which means he won’t be double or triple teamed every game. This frees him up to make the big plays he was known for in Philadelphia. Jackson had his best season in 2013 with 82 catches, 1332 receiving yards and 9 scores in a new system. While it’s hard to see him match those numbers, 70 catches, 1100 yards and 8-9 touchdowns can be attainable. Jackson also has the best quarterback of the three players throwing to him in RG3. While Griffin slipped last year due to recurring knew problems, all signs point to a huge comeback under new HC Jay Gruden. That will go a long way in regards to Jackson’s value.
Decker, on the other hand, goes into a situation where he is forced to be the No. 1 receiver as the Jets severely lack offensive talent in the passing game. WR Stephen Hill, who once looked promising, is falling out of favor with the coaching staff. WR Jeremy Kerley is barely a blip on the radar. Throw in the mess at tight end and Decker is going to see a lot of defensive attention. It also doesn’t help that Decker has the worst quarterback situation of the three. First-year bust Geno Smith is battling an aging Michael Vick, who couldn’t get his job back once QB Nick Foles took over in 2013. I truly can’t see one of these quarterbacks playing all sixteen games. A quarterback carousel won’t do Decker any favors.
I was close to choosing Evans, but the sheer fact that he is a rookie made me rethink my decision. He does fall in a great situation, having WR Vincent Jackson across the field. Although, can he live up to the preseason hype? We’ve seen rookies look great in training camp, only to fall flat during the season. Or at the very least, not play as well as hoped. And what if QB Josh McCown reverts back to being nothing more than a backup? There is no doubt Mike Evans is a top dynasty option, but I’d prefer leaving him in the draft pile and going with a veteran instead of someone who “could” be great.
I am sure many who read this will disagree with my Jackson pick. Decker could put up big numbers just because there is no one else in the passing game who can. Owners will also argue that Evans has a better chance to score more touchdowns due to his size. But when all is said and done, SAFE is the keyword here. With all the reasons I gave above, Jackson is easily the safe option to take amongst the three.
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