We’ve all heard it before. The middle rounds will be where a draft can be won or lost. That can be very true, to a degree. Once in the middle rounds, your draft preparation has to come into play, as you have to make the tough calls between players on the same tier. This holds true more than ever when it comes to the wide receiver position. As you creep deeper down the rankings at receiver, a lot of players start to mesh together and it’s hard to decipher where to go with your selection. According to Fantasy Football ADP Data (via Fantasypros.com), the Saints’ Willie Snead and the Buccaneers’ new speedster, DeSean Jackson are two players that you may have to flip a coin on. The tough decisions like this are what could make or break your season, and that’s what I am here to help you with. Let’s jump into the numbers and figure out which receiver will be the better player in your draft.
Willie Snead: ADP 87
Snead found himself taking a back seat to rookie Michael Thomas in 2016. Snead came out of the gates with 172 yards and a score in Week 1, followed by another score in Week 2. Bu that would go down as Snead’s only 100-yard performance all year, and he only found the end zone twice more in the remainder of his games (both TDs in Week 10). As Thomas became more acclimated in the offense, Snead became more of a chain-moving receiver and an afterthought. He finished with 72 catches and 895 yards, which is not bad as a third option on an offense. His 8.6 yards per target last season ranked 16th among qualified receivers, showing that he is a trusted part of this offense. The lack of scoring is what killed his overall stat line for Fantasy owners in 2016.
With the departure of Brandin Cooks to New England, Snead now finds himself back in the WR2 role for Drew Brees and the Saints offense. But the true question for Snead is whether or not he can capitalize on the opportunity. He will miss the first three games of the season serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse. As it stands now, the coaching staff is talking up the newly acquired Ted Ginn Jr., and the possibility of a bounce-back for Coby Fleener, so Snead’s role could quickly be carved into. The positive for Snead is that there will continue to be plenty of passes to go around from Brees, which should mean that Snead should pile on the targets once he returns. His appeal will lie more in PPR formats where he will have weeks in which he stacks up the catches. But with lack of touchdown potential he provides, he loses some luster in standard leagues. A selection of Snead will really depend on the format in which you play. Finally, rookie Brandon Coleman could become a factor if the Saints insert him in Snead’s spot for the three weeks he is out. Coleman could have some value in deep leagues if he makes a good impression subbing for Snead.
DeSean Jackson: ADP 88
Playing with Kirk Cousins last year. it was the first time in a few seasons in which Jackson went over 100 targets. But even with all the targets, Jackson could only muster a total of 56 catches by the end of the year. His 17.9 yards per catch average was second in the league. But with that high total, Jackson only converted those big plays into four scores, which was quite low. But the fact is that he did most of his damage later in the year. Four of his five 100-yard games came in the final six weeks of the 2016 season, so the knock on Jackson was that he came out a little too slow to start the year.
After taking the free agent money and heading down to Tampa Bay, Jackson now finds himself playing in a potentially high-scoring offense with Jameis Winston under center. He will be the unquestioned number two receiver opposite Mike Evans in 2017. But with Evans being a target monster in this offense, can Jackson garner enough attention to be worth starting as a WR3/Flex in your weekly lineups? Time will have to tell on that. The fact is, this offense is on the way up, and there will be plenty of options for Winston to utilize this season. Which may make Jackson, and his home-run ability, quite the headache to solve week to week. I have him projected for 58 receptions for 927 yards and five TDs, making him more of a threat in standard formats as opposed to PPR.
This decision will come down to one simple fact in your draft, and that is what type of league do you play in? If it is a PPR format, you may find yourself leaning more toward Snead. In standard formats, Jackson and his long-play potential could be your guy. With the two players being back to back in current ADPs, this decision will be one that many owners face during drafting season. As for me, I am taking Snead in the end. When it comes down to it, it’s a trust thing. I trust the Saints offense and Brees more than I do Tampa Bay with Winston. Even though Snead is not the biggest producer in the touchdown department up until now, the opportunities in terms of targets and catches will be there. Give me that all day over the hope that Jackson can burn a defensive back enough times to get over the top. Go with Snead in your draft for 2017, and thank me later.