To draft Eric Decker or Brandon Marshall, that is the question.
While it would be a fool’s game to say that Decker is an overall better receiver than Marshall, Fantasy Football exists on its own plane of reality. When looking at these two, it does not necessarily boil down to who is the better receiver, but who is the better value.
Marshall and Decker were the beneficiaries of some Fitzmagic from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but repeating their magical 2015 season will be an uphill battle due to their tougher schedule this year.
The schedule features the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, as well as the AFC East; the New York Jets will not have a cupcake soft schedule as they did in 2015.
Given just the amount of talent Brandon Marshall has, it would be easy to give him the nod over Decker, but this choice is not as clear cut as it may seem.
Draft Eric Decker or Brandon Marshall?
- (2015): 15 GP, 80 receptions for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns. 172.7 Fantasy points (11.5 points per game)
- (2015): 16 GP, 109 receptions for 1,502 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. 234.2 Fantasy points (14.64 points per game)
Marshall’s 2015 season was a tour de force. He dominated just about every team he faced, recording over 100 yards in 10 games and scoring a touchdown in 12 games.
Decker was just as consistent, but not as flashy. He scored a touchdown in 12 games, but only eclipsed 100 receiving yards once. He is the prototypical WR1(B). Decker can do so many things well but is much better with a true No. 1 receiver ahead of him.
The eye test shows that Marshall should always be picked over Decker. Given how hard it is for both of them to repeat their 2015 numbers this year, value is key for Marshall and Decker.
With Marshall being so dominate in 2015, he is now being overvalued in 2016. An ADP of 19 is too high for Marshall as a tougher schedule will only lead to a steep decline in his point totals.
Decker is a bit more affordable at an ADP of 52 and overall a better value.
To put this in perspective, those hovering around Marshall’s ADP will bring more value to your team. The likes of Doug Martin and Eddie Lacy can be had and with the running back corps being so weak and so much depth at wide receiver, investing in Marshall may not be wise.
If you look at who is around Decker, it shows the dramatic drop off a few rounds can have. The closest running backs to Decker are Matt Jones, Dion Lewis, and Ryan Mathews. Jones is a huge question mark, Lewis is in the always changing New England Patriots backfield and Mathews is well, Ryan Mathews.
There are so many late-round wide receivers that can be potential starters that gambling on Marshall to repeat his 2015 numbers is not a smart move. Decker is a “safer” bet to repeat his numbers (or at least come close) as he will likely see a lot of one-on-one coverage.
For those who are scoffing at my ADP value and demand satisfaction; let’s take a look at the big game matchups and how Decker and Marshall should perform.
Week 3 @ Kansas City Chiefs
This will be the first test to see how the Jets hold up against an elite defense. The Chiefs allowed only 231 passing yards per game in 2015, and are now led by Marcus Peters. Odds are that Peters will go one-on-one with Marshall. Peters led the league in passes defended and tied for most interceptions. He should blanket Marshall all game long and not allow Marshall to get into a rhythm.
The Chiefs No. 2 CB as of now is Steven Nelson, an unknown second-year player who should be easy picking for the savvy Decker. Marshall will get his looks, but the advantage goes to Decker by a long shot on this one.
Week 4 vs. Seattle Seahawks
Odds are both Decker and Marshall, as well as the whole Jets offense will struggle against the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman and Co. should continue their run of being a top passing defense. I do not see either player having much success against Sherman or Jeremy Lane, who is the No. 2 corner.
If one of them does get a few early catches, odds are that safety Earl Thomas will just bracket cover them. No advantage here for either player.
Week 6 @ Arizona Cardinals
Marshall draws yet another top cornerback in Patrick Peterson. Rookie Brandon Williams will likely line up against Decker. For those keeping track at home, Marshall did have 68 receiving yards and one touchdown against the Cardinals back in 2012.
Decker gets the slight edge here because of the more favorable matchup.
Weeks 12/16 vs New England Patriots
The Week 12 matchup against the hated Patriots may be the most important for Decker and Marshall in terms of Fantasy. Head Coach Bill Belichick loves to take away a team’s top weapon. Which in this case is Marshall.
If Marshall struggles in the Week 12 matchup, it will be very hard to trust Marshal come Week 16. Expect Malcolm Butler to follow Marshall in each game, with Logan Ryan on Decker. Butler showed last year that he can be a true shutdown corner, and with another year under his belt, he could take away Marshall for both games.
I will give Marshall the advantage because he did have one good game against the Pats in 2015 (115 receiving yards and two TDs), showing that he can beat Belichick in a big way.
Sprinkle in the Buffalo Bills twice, and the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jets’ schedule is not looking favorable by any stretch of the imagination.
While I may not be that high on either player, Decker has the better value here. Marshall’s price tag is too high for a player who will see a lot of top defenses and strong CBs. With the WR position so deep, there is no reason to give up a high draft pick chasing Marshall’s 2015 season.
Decker should produce right around 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns for 148 Fantasy points (9.25 points per game). Expect Marshall to be very close to him with around 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns for 180 Fantasy points (11.25 points per game).
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