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Tale of the Tape: Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. Garrett Wilson

By Kirk Hollis | 8/11/23

One of the most difficult tasks in drafting a fantasy football team is trying to decide between two players you think have identical value. Knowing how to break a tie is important, as often a pick comes down to a dilemma between Player A and Player B. The purpose of this article is to not only identify pairs of players that are considered of nearly equal value in 2023, but also take a look at the process of solving those dilemmas.

Our second installment in this three-part series focuses on two receivers whose careers are ascending and whose potential to exceed consensus projections is a real possibility.

Once the top eight receivers have been taken in a redraft league, these two wideouts will be on a very short list of best available.

Amon-Ra St. Brown & Garrett Wilson

The Strengths

Amon-Ra St. Brown is entering his third NFL season having topped 1,000 yards receiving for the first time last year. After a very impressive 119 targets during his rookie season in 2021, St. Brown was targeted by Jared Goff a whopping 146 times during his sophomore season. Only eight WRs were targeted an average of 9 times a game and St. Brown was one of them. He is seen as more of a possession receiver than a deep burner, but his YPC was also up in 2022 as he averaged a full yard more per catch than he did the year before. There is a clear chemistry between St. Brown and Goff and with Jameson Williams suspended for the first six games, Goff is certain to lean heavily on St. Brown for production. Itís also worth noting that when T.J. Hockenson was still playing for Detroit last season, St. Brown averaged 57 yards receiving per game. After Hockenson was dealt to Minnesota, that figure increased to over 76 yards receiving per game. The middle of the field is St. Brownís domain and Hockenson is still playing in Minnesota last time we checked.

On the flip side of this drafting dilemma is another player coming off a breakout campaign. Garrett Wilson emerged as a rookie who could easily separate from defenders and was targeted 147 times as a result. The fact that he was only able to catch 83 of those targets speaks volumes not about him, but about the quality of quarterback in New York. Assuming the Jets continue to feature Wilson as the primary option in their passing game (they will), he now has future Hall of Famer and four-time league MVP, Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. The fact that Wilson averaged over 13 yards a reception without Rodgers is a testimony to what heís capable of. And, while the Jets are bringing in some new mouths to feed (Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman), none of them are a threat to Wilsonís status or usage. Rodgers has turned several receivers into fantasy stars during his tenure in the NFL. In Wilsonís case, he doesnít have to turn him into anything - Wilsonís rookie year qualifies as outstanding already even in the midst of QB purgatory.

The Weaknesses

In the case of both St. Brown and Wilson, there is one glaring weakness that impacted both playersí fantasy status in 2022. While wide receivers like Davante Adams, JaíMarr Chase, and A.J. Brown all scored touchdowns on at least 10% of their receptions, St. Brown scored on less than 6% and Wilson was even lower with less than 5%. The Lions are especially fond of running inside the ten-yard line as evidenced by Jamaal Williamsís league-leading rushing TDs from a year ago. With the same offensive scheme in place and a rookie tight end (Sam LaPorta) with tremendous red zone potential also in the fold, itís difficult to see St. Brownís TD totals creeping into the double-digits. Keep in mind, Keenan Allen has never scored more than 8 TDs in a season and has actually averaged 5.2 per year since entering the league ten years ago. St. Brown profiles as a healthy Keenan Allen in his prime - which is to say that he has a high value floor, but also a ceiling that will likely keep him out of the top 8 at the position, especially in a non-PPR format.

Wilson will almost certainly improve on his touchdown totals in 2023 (4 TDs). That said, Aaron Rodgers has been known to be picky about who he utilizes in the red zone and near the goal line, and Lazard might vulture some scores and (heaven forbid) Randall Cobb might even steal a few. Sure, Christian Watson scored 7 TDs with Rodgers under center as a rookie, but five of those came in a two-week stretch while Rodgers ghosted him the final four weeks of the regular season. In the end, itís almost impossible to predict who Rodgers is going to trust near the end zone just as itís hard to know what sort of chemistry is going to develop between him and Wilson. We know thereís a solid chemistry between Goff and St. Brown. 196 receptions in two years state that case rather succinctly. In Wilsonís case, itís all speculation.

The Verdict

So, what statistic do we look at to resolve this neck and neck horse race between two outstanding pass catchers? Or, is there something we can grasp via the eye test that will tip the scales in one direction vs. another?

Itís easy to say that St. Brown is the obvious choice in PPR leagues based on his having 23 more receptions than Wilson last season, but keep in mind that targets for both receivers were 147 and 146 respectively. And, Rodgers completed exactly 10% more of his throws than Wilson did which means an extra 14.7 receptions if youíre doing the math.

Assuming that receptions should not be the determining disparity in this case, St. Brown passed the sophomore slump test with flying colors and now enters the first year of what should be his most productive years on the field.

Aaron Rodgers brings the upside and the fact that Wilsonís 2022 was so respectable without him gives us hope for a significant leap forward in 2023.

So, what sort of drafter are you and what are you looking for from your WR in the late second/early third round? If you want the player with the higher floor, I would suggest that St. Brown is your pick, especially with the Jameson Williams suspension and the team breaking in a rookie tight end.

However, if you want to take a swing at someone who could be top 3-5 at the position, Wilson is the recommended play. Either way, these two WRs are going to make plenty of fantasy managers happy this fall as both appear headed for their best seasons yet.

Projected 2022 Statistics:

Amon-Ra St. Brown: 108 receptions, 1,235 receiving yards, 7 TDs
Garrett Wilson: 100 receptions, 1,405 receiving yards, 8 TDs

Next up: Tale of the Tape – Running Backs

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