Written by Josh Haymond Follow on Twitter: @JPesoFF
The conundrum – elite scoring potential, mass appeal and big, meaty mitts versus health, safety and the unknown.
Hakeem Nicks, NYG
It doesn’t get much better than a healthy Hakeem Nicks. After a promising rookie year, in 2010, the North Carolina native posted a whopping 19.3 PPG. A fluke he did not appear to be – he looks the part. For this, it’s understandable that Nicks has kept a relatively high market value.
Though “just” 6’1’’, 208 lbs, Nicks boxes out defenders with ease. When the football is in his sights, Nicks shows a catch radius resembling that of a man much larger than he.
Earlier this week Victor Cruz signed a 6-year pact with the Giants. We’d also be wise to factor in second-year pro Rueben Randle, the team’s best third receiving option in the past 20 years. But Nicks, when healthy, will score at a high level no matter his teammates, and more importantly, no matter the team – his game translates to any system.
Though Nicks is just 25 years old, his health remains the lone dark cloud. Various lower body injuries have caused him to miss time in each of the last three years – certainly not a model for consistency.
2013 Projection: 14 games / 70 catches / 1070 yards / 9 TD = 231 PPR / 16.5 PPR PPG
Torrey Smith, BAL
Whereas Nicks must be aware of the football’s location, Torrey Smith doesn’t even care to know. Smith touts elite ball tracking ability that all but rivals Larry Fitzgerald, and conjures up images of Sidney Rice’s scorching 2009, adjusting his periphery to 84 catches, 1312 yards, and 8 TD.
This trait, when coupled with Torrey Smith’s elite long speed make for one of the league’s most lethal deep threats.
As a rookie, Smith tallied 50 catches for 841 yards and 7 TD. He followed up his rookie season with 49 catches for 855 yards and 8 TD in last year. Anquan Boldin is gone, and although Smith received top coverage much of last season, the stove just got a lot hotter; no longer is a lethal deep threat enough. Along with Dennis Pitta and Ray Rice, Smith will be leaned on to be a key passing game cog in the Ravens’ Super Bowl defense.
The question is not whether Torrey Smith takes a next step, it’s whether or not he takes THE next step in becoming an above average NFL WR1 (forget fantasy for a second). Either way, he’s a safe dynasty asset as compared to go the going rate. With that said, I don’t think he will ever be hyper elite.
2013 Projection: 16 games / 70 catches / 1180 yards / 9 TD = 242 PPR / 15.1 PPR PPG
Both players reside in my dynasty WR10-15 tier. Admittedly, Nicks has a higher upside; however, Smith’s relative upside and production to date are enough for me to go with the safer player, and safer in this battle is Torrey Smith.