Fantasy Faceoff: Marshall vs. Jones

Fantasy Faceoff: Marshall vs. Jones
August 3, 2013, 10:00 am
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Mark Strotman

One of fantasy football owners' biggest quandaries is whether to draft safe or take upside risks.

And while quarterbacks and running backs selected in the early rounds are safe bets to put up double-digit points each week, wide receivers can go from nine-catch, 140-yard performances one week to putting up a two-catch dud the very next week.

So when NBC Sports' Evan Silva posed the question of which wide receiver to choose from between Chicago's Brandon Marshall or Atlanta's Julio Jones, it brought about the safe vs. risk discussion.

Marshall has been a model of consistency the last six seasons, catching between 81 and 118 passes with the Broncos, Dolphins and Bears. He peaked last season -- his first with the Bears, catching 118 passes for more than 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns. With Jay Cutler at his disposal and few other threats in the passing game, Marshall was going to see plenty of targets each week (194, to be exact).

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He caught touchdowns in nine different weeks, grabbed five or more passes in 13 weeks and topped 80 receiving yards in eight games. The sky's the limit for Marshall, especially with offensive-minded Marc Trestman at the helm, running a new brand of offense designed to maximize Cutler's potential.

On the flip side, Jones is one of the top young receivers in the league but, last year, defined boom-or-bust potential.

In five games, Jones had just 56 receiving yards or less, and while he did grab touchdowns in eight different games (10 total), he reached the 10-catch mark in just one game and had fewer than five receptions six different times.

Working against Jones, clearly, is Roddy White. Also a premier wide receiver, White does plenty to take double teams off Jones but, at the same time, also takes catches away. Last year White totaled 92 receptions, 1,351 yards and seven touchdowns. By themselves, White and Jones would probably be some of the best wide-receiver options in fantasy football.

In that case, Marshall is a vastly superior option to Jones. Then again, Jones is just 22 years old and is far from reaching his peak. Marshall likely peaked with last year's numbers, while there's a chance Jones overtakes White as quarterback Matt Ryan's top option. Marshall is the pick between these two, but if you've got faith in Jones improving once again there's reason to debate this one.