After Calvin Johnson, there is a second tier of wide receivers that is in quite a state of flux. I'm going to do my best to help you choose between two of the fluxiest, Greg Jennings and Andre Johnson.
When I chose to write about these two, I wasn't sure who would come out on top. I believe I can make a case for both, but which case is better? That, sir or ma'am, is a good question, and one I'll try to answer if you'll just give me a second!
First, let's take a look at their career numbers:
The first thing I notice when looking at these stats is that Johnson's are a lot fatter, meaning he's been playing longer, meaning he's old (i.e. seven years younger than me). The second thing is that their numbers overall average out to be fairly close. But when you look closer, it's easy to tell who the superior player is.
Andre Johnson had back-to-back 100-plus-catch and 1,500-plus-yard seasons. That's elite. His size, speed, agility, hands, route running, everything is elite. If this were a post about who is the "better" wide receiver, I'd just write, A.J., drop the pen, walk out of the room and maybe have a bagel. But, and of course there is a but, Johnson has had trouble staying on the field the last two seasons. Lingering muscle and tendon problems, as well as knee issues, have plagued him.
When you peruse Greg Jennings' statistics, you see a player that's been fairly consistent, especially as a fantasy player. His four seasons with nine or more touchdowns stand out, especially in contrast to Andre Johnson, who has only reached nine touchdowns once.
Jennings also is more of a deep threat than Johnson, averaging almost two more yards a reception over their careers. But Johnson makes up for his lack of long touchdown receptions with total receptions. There is a clear distinction here in value, between points per reception leagues and non-ppr leagues. Jennings has only hit 80 receptions once in his career, whereas Johnson has seasons of 79, 86, 101, 103 and 115.
Andre Johnson is also easily the best receiving weapon on his team. Owen Daniels has shown promise but can't stay healthy and Kevin Walter, well, he's Kevin Walter. Johnson gets the safety help, but it doesn't matter, he is just that good.
Compare that to Jennings, who has Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley and an up-and-coming Randall Cobb taking away targets. If you look at last year's stats, Nelson was easily the fantasy star receiver of the Green Bay Packers, but that is deceiving. I'm not one to take the second receiver on his own team in the second round, so the fact that Jennings led in targets, 95 to Nelson's 62 when he went down with an injury, shows me that he is still the first fiddle.
Last season really looked pretty poor for Jennings. He ended up as the 17th-ranked fantasy wide receiver. He missed three games, but it still seems like a top-of-the-rankings receiver should be able to pull out a higher finish after just missing three games. Well, the good news is that he was ranked as the fifth-best fantasy receiver when he was hurt and much of Nelson's insane fantasy numbers coincided with Jennings being on the sideline.
Andre Johnson has only been a top 10 fantasy wide receiver in three of his 10 seasons and has never topped nine touchdowns. He gets targeted more than Jennings but still doesn't get into the end zone as often.
The numbers are close, but the Aaron Rodgers/Greg Jennings connection is just more potent, both in the red zone and outside.
The Houston Texans had to become a run-first team last season with the injuries to Matt Schaub and Johnson. And that recipe got them into the playoffs. Add to that a much-improved defense under Wade Philips, a healthy Arian Foster and Ben Tate, and there should be less passing than in the past.
The easiest answer here would be to say, grab Jennings in non-ppr and Johnson in ppr, but that is only if you have faith that Johnson can play a full season. He is now 31 (compared to Jennings, who is 28) and his body seems to be on the decline (he just pulled a groin in training camp). If he plays all 16 games, he is, of course, still worth a top pick, but unfortunately the odds of that are getting slimmer at this point in his career.
But a lot depends on where the two are going in mock drafts this season.
You can get Jennings at the end of the second round or possibly at the beginning of the third compared to Johnson, who you'll need to grab at the beginning of the second round. If Jennings falls to me in the beginning of the third, I'll be scooping him up every time. But overall, even if they were both going at the same time, I'd take Jennings for his touchdown production, "youth" and consistency.
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