If you have missed the trend, let me fill you in. Here at The Fantasy Authority, we have been taking a look at players with similar average draft positions and throwing down, writer versus writer. Today we take a look at two wide receivers going in between the 3rd and 4th rounds of many drafts, Randall Cobb & Jeremy Maclin. Who would you take?
Travis May Follow @FF_TravisM
Heading into last season Randall Cobb’s hype was building to ridiculous levels. Since sadly, Jordy Nelson went down with a season-ending injury in the preseason last year, many fantasy fans everywhere were ready to crown Randall Cobb king.
Randall was coming off a massive breakout season with 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. Now folks, if you’re new to fantasy, that’s what we like to call a crap ton of every relevant statistics you’re looking for. It seemed the sky was the limit with Randall Cobb.
Then what happened? Well, just about everything went wrong for Randall and the Packers. Randall Cobb came tumbling down to earth with a 79 reception, 829 yard and a 6 touchdown season. That’s really not an absolutely terrible season, but given the expectations it was disappointing.
If you didn’t watch many Packers games last year, let me bring you up to speed. Randall Cobb was the only viable passing option last year. James Jones faked it for a few weeks, but he was too old to play a full season very strong. Richard Rodgers, with concrete blocks for shoes, clogged the middle of the field where Randall Cobb likes to work. When defenses realized that Davante Adams couldn’t catch passes, all they had to worry about was Cobb.
He was dealing with bracketed or some kind of double coverage just about every week. It’s a miracle he ever got the ball in his hands. Given the coverage he dealt with, Cobb put up very respectable numbers.
So, now what? Well, this year the band is getting back together, albeit with a new bass player (Jared Cook at TE). Jordy Nelson will be back on the outside to take some attention away from doubling Cobb. Jared Cook, for all of his faults, is actually not a slow tight end. He should be able to stretch the seam, opening all sorts of holes in the defense for Randall Cobb.
If Eddie Lacy can get back to his formidable self of just two years ago, the offense as a whole should be better. The scoring opportunities should be greater. The Randall Cobb of 2014 has an opportunity to resurface as a trustworthy stud once again.
It has been said that “now we know Randall Cobb can never truly be a WR1” in fantasy. False. In fantasy football, we tend to have short memories. Just two years ago Randall Cobb was easily a WR1 in PPR formats.
It doesn’t matter if by real NFL standards Randall Cobb will never be a “feature” or “X” wide receiver who dominates on the outside. That’s not who he is. That’s not who Randall Cobb was ever going to be. He’s ran more than 80% of his career routes from the slot. A few years back that was looked down upon in fantasy. Not anymore. Victor Cruz, Randall Cobb, Larry Fitzgerald (big slot), and more have ran an insanely high number of routes from the slot and dominated the fantasy landscape.
Randal Cobb’s ceiling sits firmly inside the top 12 wide receivers this year in all formats. If someone tells you differently they probably weren’t even playing fantasy football two years ago.
Randall Cobb didn’t go anywhere in 2015. He overcame a crazy situation to fight for every yard last year. This year things will be business as usual with Jordy, Cobb, Aaron Rodgers & their new friend Jared Cook making this offense hum.
Jeremy Maclin is a solid wide receiver that I love, but here are a few fun facts. Randall Cobb actually outscored Maclin in 2012, 2013 (obviously, because of injury) & 2014 in PPR formats. The Green Bay Packers threw the ball 100 more times than the Kansas City Chiefs last year. Even in a “down” year for Cobb, he still had more receiving targets (129) than Maclin (124).
The opportunity will be there for both of these receivers to be borderline WR1 or 2 guys. However, last year was probably Maclin’s ceiling. With Jamaal Charles returning to form this year there should fewer targets last year for Maclin. Randall Cobb, on the other hand, had more targets (127 total) in 2014 even when he was the “WR2” in Green Bay. Fantasy football is about the relationship between opportunity and talent. Both Maclin & Cobb have tons of talent. Cobb simply has more opportunity. Take that and run with it.
Zack Marmer Follow @leagueedge
Jeremy Maclin has one of the more consistent floors of starting wide receivers in the league. Since 2011, he has only had 1 season (minus 2013 where he did not play) where he would not have averaged over 1,050 yards if he maintained his weekly yards per game average. There was a drop in yards per game last season coming from a high-powered Chip Kelly offense to a more conservative Andy Reid offense, but Maclin still put up 8 touchdowns and has hit double-digit touchdowns twice in his career. He is a threat in the red-zone despite being only 6 feet tall because of limited options elsewhere and his excellent ability to get open with superb route running.
Style of Offense
The most prevalent argument against taking Jeremy Maclin seems to be that he plays in the Chiefs conservative offense. While Kansas City did rank as the team with the 6th highest run percentage in the NFL, that still equated to passing the ball 52.04% of the time. The days of NFL teams running 60% of the time are over. Buffalo had the highest run percentage in the entire league, and they only ran the ball 52.26% of the time. The Chiefs will still pass the ball enough to make Jeremy Maclin at least a WR2 for fantasy purposes.
Last year, Maclin received over 26% of his team’s passing targets, which ranked as the 8th highest percentage in the league amongst all receivers and tight ends. The only changes to the offense this year will be that Jamaal Charles will be back, and another receiver may emerge as a decent WR2. Charles will steal a couple targets, but not enough to make a huge difference for Maclin. I also don’t see a WR2 emerging from the group that will garner enough attention to matter. Chris Conley could be great, but I think he may still be a year away from fantasy relevance despite what I believe will be a mini coming out party for him this year.
I actually think those pieces make JMac more attractive as they will move the offense more and allow for more offensive opportunities all around. Maclin is the clear-cut number 1 receiver option for Alex Smith, whereas Cobb is the clear-cut number 2. I would rather have a guy who will get the first looks when the offense is looking for someone to make a play.
It is true that the former Mizzou standout can get banged up, but other than the 2013 season which he missed entirely, he has never missed more than 3 games in a season. I don’t consider injuries to be a contributing factor in the argument against Maclin as he hasn’t shown a tendency to be extremely injury prone on a year-to-year basis.
The former Philadelphia Eagles first-round pick is 28 years old which means he is right in the prime of his career. For redraft leagues, he is the ideal age you would want him. In year two with the Chiefs, look for big things now that he and Alex Smith have a year’s experience working together. As we learned last year, Cobb’s value is tied to his surroundings whereas Maclin’s is not. With Maclin, only an injury to him would really hurt him, whereas there are a few players on the Packers who could affect Cobb with an injury, especially Jordy Nelson. Outside of 2014, Cobb has never put up a WR1 type of year, and for all we know that could have just been a flash in the pan. Take the player who you know is going to produce for you, and that’s Jeremy Maclin.