The top two wide receivers off the board in 2014 fantasy football drafts will be Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, and today we’re pitting them against each other to see which one you should take when you’re on the clock. Making the argument for and against both, we’ll dissect which one should be the first WR drafted. Both are studs, both could carry your fantasy team this year, but if you choose to take a wideout in the first round, which one should you take? Let’s discuss:
The Case For Calvin Johnson:
I kind of wish I could just say, “because he’s Calvin Freaking Johnson,” but that wouldn’t be very informative, would it? Look, the guy is an absolute animal. He’s big, tall, and unnaturally fast, and Matthew Stafford loves to throw him the ball. The fact that the Detroit Lions added a decent number two receiver this off-season in Golden Tate should actually help Johnson as he should see less triple teams (though he’ll still get doubled plenty often). Think about this: last season, Johnson missed two games while Thomas missed none yet C.J. still finished with more yards on the season (1492 vs. 1430). Megatron has dominated his position for the past three years. Since 2011, he has over 1,000 receiving yards more than the next-best wideout. And he’s still just 28, in the prime of his career. There should be no reason to expect less from him in 2014.
The Case Against Calvin Johnson:
While I personally see the presence of Tate as a positive, the argument could be made that Stafford won’t have to force feed the ball to Megatron every single play because he actually has someone else to throw it to now. I’m not saying I buy into that, but I wouldn’t dismiss it instantly. Other than that, what’s there to worry about? Health? Not really — in his entire seven year career, Johnson has never missed more than two games in a season. Another freak season like 2012 where he only caught five touchdown passes? Maybe, but there’s no way to predict that. I’m drawing a blank here.
The Case For Demaryius Thomas:
The Broncos losing Thomas’s running mate in Eric Decker could mean more balls coming Thomas’s way in 2014. They replaced Decker with a solid player in Emmanuel Sanders, but Peyton Manning hasn’t developed as much chemistry with him yet, which could lead him towards Thomas more, especially early in the season. D.T. has also been a model of consistency. Look at his last two seasons:
It’s almost a little spooky how similar those numbers are. It’s like he’s a machine programmed to pump out the same numbers year after year. When drafting a top-flight wideout that’s a very good thing. Thomas is a guy you can count on week in and week out. What’s more, at only 26, he’s two years younger than Megatron and could be at the perfect age where he reaches his top potential and puts up massive numbers, enough to claim the number one spot. Considering he barely lost out for the top spot to Josh Gordon last year, it’s certainly not some crazy pipe dream.
The Case Against Demaryius Thomas:
I know I just made the case that Johnson having a better supporting cast will help him, but I’m going to set a double standard here and say that Thomas has too much supporting cast. As freely as the balls fly in Denver, Manning has four solid options every single play. There’s only so many balls to go around. There’s a reason Thomas only gets 140 targets a year compared to the 205 C.J. got in 2012 — he simply has more competition for targets on his own teams.
Let’s not get cute here; the answer is Calvin Johnson. Thomas is an amazing receiver, but Johnson’s skills and size are just too much. He has the natural ability to do so much more on a football field than anyone else out there. That, coupled with the Lions lower quality of receiving targets outside of Megatron, make him the first receiver off the board in 2014.
*Photo Credit – K. Doebler via wiki commons.