Fantasy drafts are inching closer and closer as the calendar flips to June. There’s not much in the way of news (unless you fall on a football), which leaves plenty of time to break down position battles on draft day. This is a good practice, especially when it comes down to two players who look similar on the surface, making a decision difficult. Enter Doug Baldwin and Jarvis Landry, currently the 15th and 16th receiver taken respectively according to MFL data. Neither are sexy picks, nor are they anywhere near the elite level of players like Odell Beckham Jr. or Julio Jones. But they provide solid value for being on the WR1/WR2 line and make for a difficult decision when it’s your pick. They are the subject of this week’s player showdown.
Both Baldwin and Landry are small-ish receivers who do a lot of their work in the slot. Last year, Baldwin ran 73.7 percent of his routes from there, while Landry ran 72.7 percent. They also don’t see many long passes — Baldwin’s average depth of target was 8.8 yards or 107th out of 130 receivers, while Landry’s aDOT was even lower, 6.8 yards, good for 125th. Yet, despite their short game (neither has seen more than 18 targets of more than 20 yards in any season), they have both been highly productive. Baldwin averaged 86 receptions for 1,098 yards and 10 touchdowns the last two seasons, while Landry has averaged 102 receptions for 1,147 yards and four touchdowns in the same span.
In Baldwin’s case, he just doesn’t drop many passes. He finished 11th in drop rate among 51 receivers with at least 87 targets last year and finished second the year before that. He ranked even better while in the slot, finishing fourth in drop rate in the slot of all receivers that saw 45 targets and finishing first in that same category the year before that. For Landry, it’s about making the most of his opportunity and using the playmaking ability that made him a second-round pick in 2014. For example, last year Landry finished seventh in yards per route run at 2.25. It’s even more impressive when you consider who the six receivers were that finished ahead of him: Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, A.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, and Antonio Brown, all of whom will be the top receivers on fantasy teams this season.
Advantage: Baldwin. Both Baldwin and Landry are low-key some of the better real-life receivers out there and have no obvious weaknesses in their game, but I’m giving the edge to Baldwin due to his impressive catch rates.