Dave Hunter
Author

Demaryius Thomas vs. Dez Bryant

Aug 29, 2014 8:45 AM EST

Is there any doubt that Calvin Johnson is the unequivocal, unchallenged and downright unquestionable No. 1 wide receiver in 2014 fantasy football drafts? *

Well, I can tell you that you won’t find many fantasy football owners out there that will pass on Johnson for another wide receiver. And, all major fantasy websites I’ve seen this year have Megatron ranked highest at wide receiver. But who do you draft next if Megatron is gone? Demaryius Thomas? A.J. Green? Dez Bryant? There are a few others I could conceivably toss into the mix, although Thomas and Bryant are the two that stick out most to me. Green is close, but just misses being in the “versus” mix for me.

So what about narrowing things down between Thomas and Bryant? Choosing between the two is tough and I know it’s difficult for you as well. For me, it’s like choosing between a maple bar and a glazed buttermilk donut on Sunday morning – almost impossible. That’s usually why I just get both, but unfortunately I can’t have both Thomas and Bryant. Boo.

Before I get into the numbers, here’s an explanation of some of the less obvious stats I’m using for this write-up:

Catch Rate (CR %) – The number of passes caught compared to targets.

Yards Per Target (YPT) – Average yards produced per target.

Deep Pass Percentage (Deep %) – The number of pass targets 15 yards or greater.

Yards After Catch (YAC) – Yards gained after catching the ball (I know you know this one, but it helps explain the next one).

Yards At The Catch (YATC) – Yards gained at the point of the catch, not including yards gained or lost after the catch.

Big Plays – Number of receptions that were 25 yards or more.

Looking at last season’s numbers you can see that Thomas and Bryant were pretty close in overall production:

Player

G

YPR

Rec

Yds

RecTD

Tgts

%Tgt

YPT

CR%

Demaryius Thomas

16

15.5

92

1430

14

142

21.2

10.1

64.8

Dez Bryant

16

13.4

93

1249

13

159

27.5

7.9

58.5

Man, they sure earned their paychecks, didn’t they? It’s a definite edge for Thomas when you look at YPT and CR percent as he certainly had a downfield advantage over Bryant and caught more of the balls thrown his way. It’s also telling to me, looking at Targets, that Peyton Manning had more options to throw to in the Broncos passing game. But we could’ve just figured that out remembering all those Broncos highlights, right? Tony Romo didn’t quite have the weapons that Manning had in 2013.

Take a look here, if you will, at the next table.

Player

Deep%

Drops

Drop%

YATC

YAC

Big Plays

Demaryius Thomas

28.9

8

5.60%

712

718

17

Dez Bryant

27.7

6

3.80%

716

517

12

Deep ball percentage is pretty close, but that ties into downfield presence in which I still give the advantage to Thomas. What really jumps out to me though is Thomas’ YATC compared to his YAC, and how many Big Plays he had for the Broncos. Thomas did it all in 2013, producing at the catch and after the catch and almost perfectly even at that.  We all know that Bryant is a talented receiver himself, but he isn’t quite as nimble as Thomas once he has the ball. I do consider Bryant a bit more physical, however, which is always nice when drafting a receiver for your club.

We all know I hate basing a “versus” decision like this just on last season’s stats, so here are the last two seasons for each stud muffin receiver.

Player

Year

G

GS

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

Demaryius Thomas

2012

16

16

94

1434

15.3

10

2013

16

16

92

1430

15.5

14

Player

Year

G

GS

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

Dez Bryant

2012

16

14

92

1382

15

12

2013

16

16

93

1233

13.3

13

Does it get any more consistent than this for the last two seasons played? Yow-za.

It’s quite apparent that each receiver is a Top Three option in the league, and you can easily throw A.J. Green into the mix. Taking any of the three as your first wide receiver off the board is lovely, assuming Calvin Johnson is gone, but I like Thomas more than Bryant (and Green) for these reasons:

  • Better downfield presence leading to more Big Plays.
  • Equal output at YATC and YAC.
  • I prefer Peyton Manning throwing to my receiver over Tony Romo.
  • I trust the Broncos offense more than the Cowboys offense in general.

There you have it. If I wasn’t clear for any reason, give me Demaryius Thomas. Happy drafting!

*Redundant synonym usage added for your enjoyment.

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