The New Black
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Fantasy owners seeking to find the best wide receiver this year have been flocking to Detroit's standout Calvin Johnson with good reason - he's a great receiver.
But Johnson isn't the best "value" at the position. The award for best fantasy value from a wideout is going to go to Pittsburgh's No. 1 receiver Antonio Brown.
The top-10 receivers based on the latest fantasyfootballcalculator.com information is as follows: Johnson (ADP 5.3), Demaryius Thomas (8.0), Dez Bryant (10.6), A.J. Green (12.4), Brandon Marshall (15.1), Julio Jones (16.4), Jordy Nelson (21.0), Brown (22.7), Alshon Jeffery (24.8) and Randall Cobb (27.3).
Let me explain why Brown will be your best option.
Yes, Johnson is a great receiver who has averaged 1,332 yards and 9.4 touchdown receptions per season. But the Lions finally brought in a quality receiver to play across from "Megatron" in Golden Tate and a talented rookie pass-catching tight end in Eric Ebron. The team also attempted just 634 passes, the fewest in the last four seasons and their rushing attempts (448) were the most since 2000.
As much as fantasy owners like the Peyton Manning-to-Demaryius Thomas hookup, the Broncos' quarterback likes to share the wealth with all his receivers. Wes Welker will get his share as will newcomer Emmanuel Sanders and even rookie Cody Latimer. Meanwhile, tight end Julius Thomas is headed to stardom and should see 125 targets.
Nelson and Cobb will take turns being the receiving star each week depending on the defense. Jones has to share his workload with Roddy White. Brandon Marshall has the same problem with Jeffery. Actually, Marshall's problem is worse because Jeffery is just starting to show off his considerable skills whereas White is on the downside of his career.
Leaving three receivers to battle for the title of best value at the position. With Bryant, you have the media always hyping his name. He's always in the news doing something, or not doing something. That notoriety is why he's the third receiver off the board at the end of the first round. Well, that and the fact that he's averaged 1,307 yards and 12.5 TDs the past two seasons. What concerns me here is the health of starting quarterback Tony Romo. Two back surgeries in the past two offseasons. Struggling to throw the long ball in preseason. And the number of hits he's taken over the past few seasons. I would not want my fantasy title resting on the arm of Brandon Weeden or Caleb Hanie.
I like Green a lot too. What's not to like as he's improved his game and fantasy totals in each of his first three seasons. He's averaging 1,277 yards and 9.6 TDs per campaign. But I think he reached his upper limit last season. Mohamed Sanu and when Marvin Jones returns around Week 5 will provide more targets for Andy Dalton and the improvement of Giovani Bernard out of the backfield will slow Green's statistical improvement even if the receiver himself continues to get better.
Which bring us to Brown.
Brown put up more receiving yards (1,499) than any receiver not named Josh Gordon. He's also got virtually no competition for looks from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Markus Wheaton and an aging Lance Moore are no threat to Brown seeing 190-plus targets in 2014. He only was targeted 166 times last season. And to top off what should be a 1,600-yard receiving performance in 2014 is his ability to return punts. That was worth 409 yards and a touchdown for leagues which include return yardage. He'll also still be available early in the third round which makes him the "steal" of the draft at wide receiver.