This is the second of a miniseries of debates on fantasy football's top position prospects, geared to help you win your league. Click HERE for our running back debate.
Jordan Schultz On Calvin Johnson:
Calvin Johnson isn't just great ... he is sensational.
In just his fifth year in the NFL, the 6 foot 5 inch 236 pound receiver has become an unstoppable force in every sense of the word. Last season, despite having three different starting quarterbacks -- two of whom were Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton -- he amassed over 1,200 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns, good enough for second best in the league.
With Matthew Stafford fully healthy now and prime for a monstrous third season, we should expect Johnson's numbers to improve. "Megatron" displays game-breaking speed -- hence his league-leasing 87-yard touchdown last year -- but what really separates him is size and strength. With his 45-inch vertical and gargantuan hands, he is perhaps the premier red zone target in the league and, with Detroit lacking a power running game, such chances won't be squandered.
As dominant as Andre Johnson is, he has to deal with Arian Foster near the goal line. While Foster does break off long runs, much of his damage last season was also done inside the 10-yard line. Johnson has never caught more than 9 TDs in one NFL season.
The other problem with Andre is his propensity to get injured. While his recent finger issue is nothing to fret about, his history of missing games is cause for concern. In 2010, he played in just 13 and appeared labored in a couple more with a nagging ankle and Achilles that hampered his explosion off the line and overall leaping ability. No doubt a warrior, you have to admire such toughness, but nevertheless it's also a slight downgrade when we're talking about taking a receiver as high as the first round.
Of course with fantasy football, schedules also play a key role. The Lions have one very distinct advantage that most teams don't, in that their home games are at Ford Field, which has a retractable roof. Schedule wise, Detroit has a mixed bag of favorable and not-so-favorable match-ups, just like anyone else. In week 15, the team travels to Oakland, who after losing All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to free agency, will struggle all season defending the pass. In week 16, the Lions host a pesky San Diego defense that ranked first in pass yards against just a year ago. The solace we can take here is that with the game indoors, the aerial attack is about as ideal as it can be come December.
If it's consistency that you want, than Calvin is your man. Since 2007, he is one of only nine wide receivers who have scored more than 600 fantasy points, and after his second career 1,100-plus yard, 12-touchdown season, he now ranks sixth among active receivers during that time.
Daniel Treadway On Andre Johnson:
To put it simply, if Calvin Johnson is Megatron, Andre Johnson is Optimus Prime.
Both are supremely talented players and arguably two of the most athletic specimen in the entire league, but there’s a reason that Andre Johnson is widely considered the best of the best. From consistently getting open deep to punishing opposing players who attempt to bring him down, Johnson has proven consistently that he’s simply more talented than just about every defensive back in the league. In addition, the former Miami star’s ability to simply keep his mouth shut and do his job better than everyone else channels another historically consistent receiver: Marvin Harrison.
While Detroit has the potential to have an explosive offense, the Texans are a proven entity. Andre will not face the kind of coverage that Calvin will this season simply because the Texans offense is too balanced to focus too much attention on the run or the pass. Matt Schaub has proven he can stay healthy and consistently deliver the ball where it needs to go. Matt Stafford on the other hand, while he may have a comparable arm to Schaub’s, has not been able to stay healthy throughout his NFL career. A lot of Calvin Johnson’s value is attached to Stafford’s oft-injured shoulder.
Another strong case for Andre is the division he plays in. While most of the other teams in the AFC South are on the decline, the Texans offense is expected to be better than ever this coming season. Andre’s division match-ups against Tennessee, Indianapolis and Jacksonville look a whole lot more promising fantasy-wise than Calvin’s match-ups against Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota. The NFC North is a very tough division and Calvin Johnson will have to work extremely hard for every yard he gains.
Andre put up great numbers for the Texans last season despite playing most of the year with a hobbled ankle. This season he’s back at 100 percent in the prime of his career and he appears to be ready to lace up for week one -- Johnson accumulated 100 yards on only four receptions against the Saints in his only pre-season action thus far.
Calvin Johnson may very well dethrone Andre as the top receiver in the league in coming years, but not this year. His combination of size, speed and raw talent, in addition to the talent surrounding him, are but a few of the reasons why in the world of fantasy football, there’s Optimus Prime and there’s everybody else.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask me questions about anything fantasy-related at @206Child for my upcoming mailbag.
Plus, check out my brand new HuffPost sports blog, The Schultz Report, for a fresh and daily outlook on all things sports.
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