When is there a bad time for a fantasy football owner to have a pair of 1,000-yard receivers on his/her roster? When those two receivers wear the same uniform.
Here is a word of sage fantasy advice: Do not draft two wide receivers from the same NFL team for your fantasy squad. Even if both are amazing, uncoverable, 1,300-yard, 13-TD future Hall of Famers, having two receivers from the same team is a recipe for disaster akin to having Terrell Owens balance your checkbook.
If that team is on a bye, you are screwed. If that team’s starting quarterback is taken out thanks to a Gregg Williams bounty, you are screwed. If that team is playing a game in 60-mph winds or an Alaskan-like blizzard, you are screwed.
But it is better to have two awesome receivers from the same NFL team than two lousy ones from different teams, right? So for argument’s sake, if you had to draft two wideouts from the same team, which dynamic duo would be the best one to have next season? Here are my top 6 receiving duos for next year!
1. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Cruz was the breakout fantasy star of 2011, going from almost being cut during the preseason to setting the single-season receiving record for the Giants with 1,536 yards. Nicks was no slouch himself, racking up 76 receptions for 1,192 yards and seven scores. If opposing defenses double one of these guys, then the other is a shoe-in for 100 yards. Pick your poison, coordinators!
Cruz and Nicks were the only WR pair that both finished in the top 12 in receiving yards last season, and there is no reason to think they will not repeat the feat in 2012. Eli Manning is throwing them the ball and has now become the elite quarterback he said he was.
Nicks gets nicked up here and there but finds the field enough. It does not look like Cruz is a one-hit wonder a la the Vapors. If you are a Giants fan or a lover of explosive receivers who wear matching outfits, draft these two and enjoy 2,600 yards and 18 touchdowns.
2. Julio Jones and Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
White was always lacking a quality running mate, which made some of his past outstanding seasons even more amazing considering it was not like Brian Finneran or Michael Jenkins were preventing him from getting triple-covered.
That’s why Atlanta traded up to draft Jones high in the first round last April. The Alabama burner piled up 959 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing three full games and parts of others with nagging hamstring problems.
With Jones occupying safeties’ attention with his sprinter speed, White was able to go about his business and catch 100 passes for 1,296 yards and eight touchdowns. Now just think what White might do when Jones stays healthy and has another year of experience under his belt! Pencil this pair in for 1,000 yards apiece.
There is “Megatron” and then there is everyone else at wide receiver. Johnson was fantasy football’s premier pass catcher in 2011 and the only way he won’t be in 2012 is if Matthew Stafford separates another shoulder. Bank on 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns, at least.
Young really opened eyes during his rookie campaign. The Boise State product ended up with 607 yards and six touchdowns, but he reached the end zone four times over Detroit’s final four regular season contests. Expect a super sophomore season, not a sophomore slump, out of Mr. Young as he supplants Nate Burleson as Detroit’s No. 2 WR.
4. Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
Fantasy owners already knew Jennings was money in the bank. The dependable veteran has broken the 900-yard-barrier five seasons in a row and would have had five consecutive 1,000-yard years if not for missing three games in both 2007 and 2011.
But Nelson was the revelation last season, going from Green Bay’s third option to a top-flight target thanks to his 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Jennings is no longer Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy. Jennings and Nelson are both his main men.
With Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback in the game, whizzing accurate snowballs at them, Jennings and Nelson could amass 2,400 yards and 25 touchdown trips between them.
5. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Do not count out this culpable couple. Sure, this combo combined for many dropped passes, missed games, alligator-armed attempts, injuries, illnesses, suspensions and wrong routes, yet they still teamed for 1,820 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
In 2010, Jackson and Maclin combined for 2,020 yards and 16 TD catches and were so beloved in Philly they were probably about to get their own cheese steaks named after them. But Jackson’s contract troubles, Maclin’s health problems and Michael Vick’s on-and-off ailments caused these birds to fly too low for fantasy owners.
Look for Jackson and Maclin to bounce back in big ways. The only issue is that Jackson might not be in Philadelphia at the season’s start. The Eagles could trade him away after what he put the organization through in 2011.
6. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
You will find no more talented twosome than Dallas’ super-skilled Romo receivers. Austin and Bryant have it all—size, speed, hands, leaping ability and big-play prowess. You cannot teach all of the natural gifts both of these fellows possess, so they are ahead of most receivers.
But Austin and Bryant battled as many leg problems last year as Ric Flair’s opponents did in the 1980s and 1990s. Missing weeks and sometimes playing at less than 100 percent caused to have 928 yards nine touchdowns when he could have had much more, and Austin to finish with a paltry 579 yards and seven touchdowns.
Austin and Bryant have the tools to be the numero uno receiving duo by season’s end. Putting this pair on the field with tight end Jason Witten at the same time gives secondaries nightmares and ulcers. If you have to take both of them because of the way your draft shakes out, don’t sweat it.
Others receiving votes: Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown (had to give some love to the AFC, although Wallace is a restricted free agent and might not re-sign with the Steelers) and Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin.