Cincinnati Bengals vs Philadelphia Eagles
A.J. Green vs LeSean McCoy
While it may sound crazy to compare an all-star wide receiver to a runner who hasn't seen the field in the last month you need to consider draft strategies. Next season, much like this one, the talent at running back will fall off faster than wide receiver. That's not to say that Green isn't worth an early selection. It just means that there is some hidden additional value based upon limitations at the running back position. Even if McCoy can't suit up again due to concussion complications, he will still have a tremendous amount of value on the line.
Bryce Brown's explosion onto the fantasy scene is the last thing McCoy owners wanted to see. Ideally, when you own a player that goes down with injury, you want the squad to suffer, showcasing the worth of the missing player. A great example here would be Maurice Jones-Drew and the slew of disappointing runners that Jacksonville has attempted to fill the void with. Brown, however, has come through in a big way, perhaps working his way into an RBBC approach when McCoy finally returns.
Both Green and McCoy look to be options after the middle portion of the first round. Drafters could have a decision to make as early as the tenth pick. If Brown takes off on another tear and A.J. Green continues his fantastic season the decision may not be as difficult as perceived now. Green has the potential to earn a ton of value while McCoy runs the risk of dropping from a top three pick to outside the first round.
New York Giants vs Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones vs Victor Cruz
We all know who the top guy at the wide receiver position is going to be next season as Megatron chases down Jerry Rice's receiving record. After Calvin Johnson though, there appears to be a void as to who the clear cut number two guy is? With Larry Fitzgerald continuing his fall from grace we begin to wonder who will be moving up and taking over. A.J. Green is certainly deserving given his impressive play. Roddy White's amazing consistency makes him a competitor for a top slot. Brandon Marshall's numbers are back to an elite level now that he's reunited with Jay Cutler. We can't forget Demaryius Thomas in Denver, either. Two of the rising stars throwing their hats into the ring will be squaring off this Sunday as the Giants take on the Atlanta Falcons. Where will Julio Jones and Victor Cruz place in the wide receiver race?
Both are incredibly explosive players, capable of taking any pass the entire scoring distance. Both are at the 1,000 mark, give or take a couple yards, and scoring hasn't been an issue as Cruz has nine and Jones has seven with three games remaining. This game is being dubbed a shootout as two of the better quarterbacks in the league are fighting for their teams' playoff lives. Whoever responds with most production between Jones and Cruz will have the inside track of finishing ahead of the other. Both will likely see top ten rankings but who will finish closer to the top five?
Both Jones and Cruz will make for potential second round picks in 2013. Their production this week should have a massive impact on both of their average draft positions and overall rank next season. If Manning and Ryan decide to turn this into a shootout, we could see an absolute slug fest between the two young dynamos.
Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears
Brandon Marshall vs Aaron Rodgers
Next season will contain a few new faces in addition to the usual suspects at the quarterback position vying for first round selection. In many cases, Rodgers was taken as the number one overall pick on draft day. While he's been good, he hasn't been what we were expecting. In fact, he's losing ground to quarterbacks that were selected well after him as Tom Brady and Drew Brees continue their dominance and Peyton Manning crawls back up the charts. With more and more options becoming available at the quarterback spot, Rodgers value begins to decline a bit.
While Rodgers value takes a bit of a hit, Brandon Marshall continues to rise back to the elite. In just his first season with the Bears, Marshall has become virtually the entire passing attack. He's catching everything and scoring touchdowns on a weekly basis. He's back to being one of the most trustworthy options at wide receiver. Our expectations will clearly be higher going into his second season in the Chicago offense.
With Rodgers moving back a little in average draft position and Marshall moving way up, owners could have a debate on their hands at the end of the first round. Do you go with the quarterback early or wait for a few rounds? Does Marshall's value supersede the former MVP? This question is still clouded a bit but this divisional matchup could offer some clarity. If Rodgers is able to find his usual five touchdown self, he'll obviously be on the climb back up to the top. But if he comes through with another single scoring outing and Marshall goes off against the weakened Green Bay defense, the plot will thicken and the debate will ramble on.
Washington Redskins vs Cleveland Browns
Robert Griffin III vs Trent Richardson
We've seen some crazy early potential first round mock drafts already taking place. One name that has popped up frequently is Robert Griffin III. In fact, in a few cases, he comes off the board just behind Tom Brady. Cam Newton saw a similar rise up the charts between his rookie and sophomore campaigns and has answered the call more often than not. Is Griffin worth taking ahead of the some of the better running back options, for example, fellow rookie Trent Richardson?
It could turn out to be second year man vs second year man in 2013 as both Richardson and RG3 will offer worlds of potential. Griffin has certainly pleaded his case as his passing numbers added to his rushing totals are nothing short of elite. Then again, the fantasy world has watched the workhorse back become almost extinct, making Richardson a good find. The potential for injury seems to be a wash as both have been dented up in their first year. Their playing styles make them both amazing yet high risk for missing time. Who will it be coming off the draft board first? Week 15 may be the deciding round in this heavy weight bout.
Minnesota Vikings vs St. Louis Rams
There is no one on the St. Louis team that offers half of the value of Adrian Peterson. Next week will be interesting as AP takes on Arian Foster for what should be a fight for the top pick next season but this week Peterson crushes the competition.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Miami Dolphins
This is just too ugly to attempt to find actual value in. Sadly, even though he hasn't played for what seems like an eternity, Maurice Jones-Drew is the only player on either team worth considering early on draft day. Enough said.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
Doug Martin and Drew Brees
Please take notice of the "and" as compared to the "versus" designation. The biggest question heading into 2013 could turn out to be who to select with the third pick of the draft? Do you go with Ray Rice or his clone Doug Martin? The Muscle Hamster has a chance to work his way past the Ravens' runner. This game against Saints is the perfect opportunity to pad his stat line and further his climb into the top three.
Martin is one of the only backs in the league that contributes in all three of the running back value areas; he receives a high volume of carries, he's a great receiving option, and he gets the goal line work. The only downside is that his competitor in this case, being Rice, offers the full package as well. With all of this in mind, it wouldn't be nuts to think that Rice could be unseated as a top three pick if Martin bowls over New Orleans.
Martin may not be in a head-to-head competition with Drew Brees, but the Saints quarterback is fighting for a high draft spot as well. Where will Brees fall in line with the other top gunners? Next season we'll see more sought after quarterbacks than ever before. Players like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Andrew Luck are going to go early and fast. People will hit the panic button once the first two or three are off the board. Will Brees be moved back due to the arrival of Andrew Luck and RG3? Will Cam Newton's recent play and added rushing value make him top three QB on draft day, pushing Brees further down the pecking order? Where will Matt Ryan fall after a big breakthrough year? Brees may not be going toe-to-toe with Martin but he's definitely in the middle of a gang fight.
Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne vs Andre Johnson
The positives and negatives on these two receivers are going to pour in like Niagara Falls heading into next season. Both will be said to be too old to rely on as others use the 2012 numbers as a defense. Some will cite Steve Smith's drop in production while others point to Tony Gonzalez's continuity with age. Whatever side you take, the numbers are going to be there regardless. As the excruciatingly annoying NBA player Rasheed Wallace would say, "Ball don't lie!" It's going to be tough to ignore their 2012 production when you want a wide receiver and their names are still on the board. Wayne will be moving up from his 2012 projections and Andre will likely be slipping down. There are just too many young receivers having fantastic years to consider Andre a top two or three receiver any more.
Wayne and Johnson will likely be available somewhere around the midway point to the end of the second round. Who are you more likely to pull the trigger on? Both get the chance to show us their worth as they square off for the first time this season. They're neck and neck in stats so who ever finishes this game ahead will make the loudest noise for an earlier selection in the second round. If...