A.J. Jenkins vs. Mario Manningham vs. Quinton Patton vs. Kyle Williams vs. Austin Collie (SF)
The Niners will be without Michael Crabtree until November at the earliest, which has led to a lot of question marks in the team's receiving core outside of newly acquired Anquan Boldin. One would assume Jenkins has the early lead, considering the team drafted him in the first-round in 2012, but he has done little to separate himself from the other candidates and has yet to record a catch in a regular season game. Both Williams and Manningham are coming off of knee injuries, and have yet to suit up this preseason, so they are both likely out of the mix unless something changes soon. All it is going to take for Jenkins to earn his spot is one solid game, which will hopefully come in the upcoming weeks so we can finally see this college football standout make an NFL career for himself.
With the running game being the main asset in the Niners offense, it is hard to say jsut how many targets any of the team's wide outs will receive outside of Boldin and Vernon Davis. However, in deep leagues both Jenkins and Patton are worth adding late in fantasy drafts, as long as both make the cut. At best, they will be bye week fill-ins consideirng their lack of experience in the team's offense.
Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Jarius Wright vs. Jerome Simpson (MIN)
After signing Greg Jennings this offseason, the Vikings are now in search of their No. 2 wide receiver, which has come down to three players in Patterson, Wright and Simpson. Wright is the smallest of the receivers, so he is better suited to be sued in the Percy Harvin role rather than an outside receiver, which will be the likely landing spot for him. Now between Patterson and Simpson, it is hard to believe the Vikings will want to role with a raw rookie wide receiver opposite Jennings while the team is in "win now" mode. This leaves Simpson as the early frontrunner to take the starting spot, which he can more than handle as long as he can keep his nose out of trouble (that may be asking too much).
The fantasy production in the Vikings receiving core is going to weigh heavily on the arm of Christian Ponder, who has yet to establish himself as a good NFL quarterback. Although the targets amy be inconsistent, Simpson has the ability toi make a lot out of nothing as we witnessed in his days with the Bengals. However, he should not be targeted outside of the last few rounds, considering he will be a WR 3 at best this season.
Andre Roberts vs. Michael Floyd (ARI)
After a strong finish to the 2012 season, Floyd has now made the second wide receiver slot a battle between himself and Roberts. Both players ended up with similar production a season ago, but with newly acquired Carson Palmer under center there will be a lot more targets to go around. The Cardinals are expected to go with a lot of passing plays, unlike what we have seen over the last few seasons, so there is a good chance both players will be on the field at the same time with Larry Fitzgerald. So it basically comes down to upside, and Floyd clearly is the more athletic player of the two, which should give him the early edge for the starting job.
Considering the new team's new offensive scheme, there is a lot to love about what the Cardinals are doing. With that said, both Floyd and Roberts have good fantasy value heading into the season, but unless one of the two go down with an injury, they will likely receive around the same amount of targets. On draft day both players are worth adding, especially with a gun-slinger like Palmer under center.
T.Y. Hilton vs. Darrius Heyward-Bey (IND)
Although Hilton had a solid first season in the NFL, the new offensive coordinator had Heyward-Bey ahead of him on the first unofficial depth chart, starting opposite Reggie Wayne. This was really a head-scratcher, but Hilton hasn;t let it bother him, and had produced well through the preseason thus far. Hilton's size is better suited for the slot, but he can make big plays downfield, which will be hard to deny come Week 1. Heyward-Bey is all speed, which could be utilized in the new West Coast offense, but his poor route-running will likely leave him behind, unless he finishes the team's last two preseason games on a high note.
No matter who ends up winning this position battle, both players are worth owning, considering how often the team will likely go in three-wide sets. Hilton has the clear upside over Heyard-Bey and could take a big step forward in his progression if given the ample amount of targets. In the end, we could see Hilton become a solid WR 2 in both PPR and Non-PPR leagues if he continues to make big plays once the ball is in his hands.
: T.Y. Hilton
Ryan Broyles vs. Nate Burleson (DET)
Injuries to a few wide receivers last season opened the door for Broyles to display his playmaking ability, and is now in a fight with Burleson to work opposite Calvin Johnson in the Lions passing game. There is a lot of hype around Broyles in training camp, but has yet to pass the injury-prone Burleson, who is bound to go down at some point this season. We all know the Lions love to pass the ball, so no matter who ends up being the favorite to win the job, both players will likely be on the field together, making this battle not much to monitor at this point.
When Broyles emerged last season it was clear that his aiblity to haul in tough catches will be tough to keep off the field. Now there is only one player standing in his way between beocming an everyday fantasy starter and a bye-week fill-in, and that is Burleson. With that said, Broyles is definitely someone to target in the later rounds of fantasy drafts this season, as he has the ability to give his owners a great return on investment if he gets the playing time.
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Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him at email@example.com. Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information. And, to make setting your Fantasy Football lineup easy, be sure to utilize RotoInfo.com’s new NFL Lineup Grids.