What A Difference A Year Can Make
Last August I started a 1 VS 1 player versus player series comparing runningbacks and receivers who were alike in skill sets, comparing them in a variety of categories. I would compare two similarly ranked and drafted players putting them up against each other, comparing them in a variety of categories such as 2016 stats, quality of offensive line, draft pedigree, age, combine results, measurables, teams time of possession, percentage of rushing attempts, snaps played, PFF grades, and depth chart competition. In an attempt to determine which of the two players will be the superior dynasty asset. Looking back one year later there have been a significant amount of changes, and some of the players I declared winners no longer appear to be the better of the two players. After starting with runningbacks I will continue with the wide receivers that I examined last year to highlight just how much can change over the course of a year in the NFL.
Keenan Allen VS Jarvis Landry - When I compared these two players a year ago I gave the edge to Keenan Allen, and a year later I still give the advantage to Allen. Landry who has been the model of consistency over the course of his career is now apart of the Cleveland Browns. I fully expect him to succeed with his new team regardless of weather it's Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield targeting him. Landry is without a doubt the most dangerous receiving weapon on the Browns especially with the uncertainty surrounding Josh Gordon. With that being said there is no denying the incredible chemistry between Phillip Rivers and Keenan Allen. Rivers always looks Allen's way without hesitation regardless of coverage or situation, more often than not with positive results. Although the gap between these two talented wide outs is slight I still give the advantage to Allen.
DeAndre Hopkins VS Allen Robinson - After comparing these two incredible wide receivers I had to give the advantage to Hopkins at the time mainly due to the ineffectiveness of the Jaguars offense. Unfortunately Robinson went down on the first offensive series of the 2017 season with a torn ACL. The situation has since improved for A-Rob as he is now a member of the Chicago Bears and will likely be the centerpiece of an ascending offense. He is reportedly back to 100% following his 2017 ACL surgery and has looked great in training camp. Despite all the positive news and changes I personally don't believe that Robinson is on the same level as Hopkins. Hopkins is my number one ranked dynasty wide receiver and I expect him to have another incredibly successful season. He is an absolute nightmare for defensive backs and is capable of making circus catches in contested situations. I am giving the advantage once again to Hopkins.
Davante Adams VS DeVante Parker - When I paired up these receivers for comparisons sake both were considered to be somewhat disappointing. Despite that fact I had to give the advantage to Adams mainly due to having Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. Well fast forward a year and one of these receivers is still being labeled as a disappointment and the other is a top five dynasty receiver. What a difference a year can make in the NFL. Parker has steadily battled injuries, been criticized for his practice habits and regularly had his work ethic called into question. Adams on the other hand had an incredible 2017 season and is now considered one of the best wide outs in the league. Not too mention when it comes to the quarterbacks that are throwing these two receivers the ball it really isn't even close, with Aaron Rodgers being far superior to Ryan Tannehill. That is why I give a convincing win to Davante Adams.
Odell Beckham VS Mike Evans - After my initial comparison I had given the advantage to Mike Evans although it was very close. Both receivers had down 2017 seasons for vastly different reasons, OBJ only played in four games before suffering a season ending injury. Evans had what would be a very impressive season for most receivers with 71 receptions for 1001 yards and 5 touchdowns. However that is essentially the worst statistical season of Evans impressive young career, which says a lot of how incredible he has been in the NFL. These two receivers are incredibly talented and both have long term concerns regarding their quarterbacks. When it comes to a strictly Beckham versus Evans comparison it is very close for me so I'm going to call it a draw.
Amari Cooper VS Michael Thomas - When I compared these two talented young receivers a year ago it was essentially a dead heat, although I gave a very slight advantage to Cooper. The 2017 season changed that as Cooper had by far his worst statistical season with only 48 receptions for 680 yards, with the only bright spot being a career high seven touchdowns. In Coopers defense he only played in 13 full games and battled injuries for a significant portion of the season. He will likely bounce back to his 2015-2016 averages this season which is 77 receptions, 1110 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns and 131 targets. Thomas had a very impressive 2017 season with 104 receptions, 1245 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns, on a whopping 149 targets. Both possess next level ability but with Cooper entering a new Gruden led offense it's hard to say what his 2018 season will look like. So therefore I am giving the advantage to Michael Thomas.
Antonio Brown VS Julio Jones - In my comparison a year ago between these two veteran receivers I gave the edge to Julio Jones. Jones had himself an incredible season with 88 receptions, 1444 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, on 148 targets. Despite those excellent numbers Brown out performed him in every statistical category. As he put up a ridiculous 101 receptions, for 1533 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns, and an incredible 162 targets. Brown just keeps posting hall of fame caliber numbers year after year and has yet to show any signs of age related decline. Jones despite an impressive season of his own was a victim of the Falcons offense regressing without Kyle Shanahan at the helm. For some reason Jones just doesn't end up with an abundance of touchdowns for whatever reason. He has only reached double digit TD's only once in his career and averages only 6 touchdowns per season despite averaging 132 targets annually. They are both immensely talented but I'm giving the advantage to Antonio Brown.
TY Hilton VS Doug Baldwin - In another incredibly close comparison I gave a very slight advantage to Hilton when comparing them a year ago. Hilton had himself a down season due to star quarterback Andrew Luck missing the entire season with a shoulder injury. But still managed a respectable stat line with 57 receptions, for 966 yards, and 4 touchdowns, on 109 targets. Baldwin had his fifth consecutive quality season hauling in 75 passes, for 991 receiving yards, for 8 TD's, on 116 targets. Russell Wilson established himself as an elite quarterback in 2017 and Baldwin reaped the rewards with a pro bowl level season. Andrew Luck was considered a top quarterback but hasn't thrown a pass in the NFL in nearly 18 months so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back. Both teams have terrible offensive lines and elite young quarterbacks at the helm but I am going to have to give the upper hand to Doug Baldwin.
Sammy Watkins VS Brandin Cooks - When comparing these two wide outs prior to last season it was very tight but I gave the edge to Cooks. For the second straight season both of these enigmatic young receivers have changed teams, which is hard to believe considering their talent level. Watkins played nearly every game but was somewhat disappointing hauling in only 39 passes, for 593 yards on only 70 targets but manage an impressive 8 touchdowns. He will now be catching passes from the unproven but undoubtedly talented Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City. Watkins will most likely see statistical increases but will be playing second fiddle to Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill in a traditionally conservative Andy Reid offense. Cooks was traded from New England to the Rams after seeking a huge pay day, something the Patriots rarely do for anyone not named Tom Brady. Shortly after becoming a member of the Rams he received a large contract extension, and should excel as Jared Goff's deep threat in Sean McVay's system. I still believe Cooks is the receiver to own here.
A.J. Green VS Dez Bryant - When comparing these two veteran receivers going into the 2017 season I gave the advantage to Green, a year later only one of these two are still relevant fantasy options. Green posted his sixth 1000 yard season in seven years and was dominant as the centerpiece of the Bengals offense. He has showed no signs of slowing down and has recently said he plans to play several more seasons despite being 30 years old. A.J. has done nothing but dominate at the NFL level and does so with a mediocre quarterback in Andy Dalton that in itself it impressive. Bryant put up respectable numbers in 2017 with 69 receptions, for 839 yards, and 6 touchdowns, on 132 targets. Unlike AJG you can see the decline in Bryant's game as he has lost a step and at times looks like he is dragging dead weight behind him while running routes. Dez is currently a free agent and there has been some mutual interest between him and Cleveland. There is also a possibility he doesn't end up on a roster this year as he is four years removed from his last 1000 yards receiving season, and still demands WR1 money. It's all A.J. Green for me in this comparison.
Tyreek Hill VS Adam Thielen - It was difficult for me to give the upper hand to Tyreek Hill last season as I personally can't stand him due to multiple domestic violence allegations. I did however, as I was not sold on Adam Thielen as he was clearly behind Stefon Diggs entering the 2017 season. All Thielen did in 2017 was completely dominate and show that he had incredible chemistry with Kase Keenum. Thielen had a career year, and he looked the part of a true WR1, hauling in 91 receptions, for 1277 yards, and 4 TD's, on 143 targets. He will be catching passes from a new quarterback this season in Kirk Cousins, who I personally believe is an upgrade over Keenum. Hill also had a very productive 2017 campaign catching 75 passes, for 1183 yards, adding 7 touchdowns, on 105 targets. Hill also has a new quarterback under center for the 2018 season in the former 10th overall pick from the 2017 draft in Patrick Mahomes. I will be the first to admit I underestimated Adam Thielen heading into last season, and now give him the upper hand over Hill for the 2018 season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster VS Cooper Kupp - These two impressive rookies had excellent seasons and look to build on their success as sophomores. At the time I gave the edge to Kupp as I was unsure if JuJu would command enough targets to be relevant in the explosive Steelers offense. Kupp dominated from the slot position at times with 62 receptions, for 869 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns, on 94 targets. He was Jared Goff's favorite target for the vast majority of 2017 and will likely improve his stats this upcoming season. Smith-Schuster also had an excellent rookie season hauling in 58 passes, for 917 yards, and 7 TD's, on 79 targets. Those numbers are even more impressive considering he only played in 13 games for Pittrsburgh. These two wide outs are incredibly talented and have bright futures ahead of them as they are both tied to quality quarterbacks. Last years comparison was very close and a year later I'm calling it a draw between the two of them. Until one of these two manages to separate themselves from the other it's impossible to declare an outright winner.