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Dynasty Debate: Justin Blackmon vs. Michael Floyd

Justin_Blackmon

Remember this debate? Nine months after the NFL Draft in which they were taken at #5 and #13, respectively, Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd have taken different paths to once again find themselves in comparable situations. While Blackmon has been considered to have the better work ethic and can separate on his routes better while Floyd is more explosive, the original debate intensified because the receivers possessed many similar skills, namely good hands and the ability to stretch the field. To go from the intangible to the tangible, let’s take a look at the 2012 numbers for both players.

Justin Blackmon, WR JAX

Ultimately tied for #15 among all wide receivers with 134 targets in 2012 (along with Julio Jones), Blackmon started off as any first year receiver would be expected to begin his career – slowly. Through the first nine games of the season, Blackmon scored only one touchdown while averaging fewer than three receptions and 28 yards per game. Week eleven at Houston was when he seemingly turned a corner, scoring four touchdowns in the final seven weeks while averaging over six receptions and 100 yards receiving per game (though it should be noted that two outliers included seven reception, 236 yard and one reception, nine yard games).

For Blackmon, the trend in performance paralleled his trend in targets. Through the first nine games, the young receiver was targeted an average of 6.5 times per game. In the last seven games, his targets jumped to nearly 11 per game. These targets translated into 64 receptions (just under a 50% rate), 865 receiving yards, 13.5 yards per catch and five touchdowns. By the end of the year, he had averaged 11 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues (seven PPG in standard leagues), good enough to be #31 among wide receivers and a mid-WR3.

Beyond an increasing level of comfort and understanding of the offense that comes with experience, Blackmon’s improvement coincided with two significant changes to Jacksonville’s offense in week 11 –  Laurent Robinson’s placement on IR prior to the game against Houston and the beginning of the Chad Henne era at the helm. The apple of Henne’s eye saw decreased competition for targets as Cecil Shorts missed two of the final seven games due to injury, and though Jordan Shipley caught on at the end of the season as well, he played a much different role in the offense. The status of this receiver corps and the quarterback position are still very much in limbo heading into 2013, which could spell trouble for Blackmon as he struggled when Gabbert and Robinson were starting.

Michael Floyd, WR ARI

Much further down on the target list at #50 was Floyd. Having plowed through four different starting quarterbacks in 2012, Arizona wasn’t in much of a position to provide fantasy value to, well, anyone. Larry Fitzgerald ended the season with 170 PPR fantasy points, even less than Blackmon. With a mess o fan offensive line, quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton each spent significant time on the sidelines due to injury and ineffectiveness. Floyd stood little chance to be relevant.

This is why, all things considered, Floyd’s season was not as desolate as the lack of recognition and statistics would make it appear. Targeted 86 times, his 45 receptions were at a more efficient rate than Blackmon’s (with the aforementioned issues at the quarterback position, to boot). Much like his rookie counterpart, Floyd also performed better in the second half of the season. Through seven games, only one touchdown supplemented one reception and 13 receiving yards per game (including two complete shutouts to start the season).

Starting in week eight, however, an increase in targets (2.5 per game to 6.5 in the final nine games) translated to 4.1 receptions and over 50 yards per game. The statistic that stands out the most is that he caught nearly two thirds of the passes thrown his direction after week seven, whereas Blackmon caught just 52% of his targets.

What does all this mean?

For dynasty owners looking to acquire a second-year receiver, Floyd will likely provide better value. While Blackmon’s 176 PPR fantasy points put Floyd’s 105 to shame in 2012, the Jaguar was recently drafted in a DLF mock #57 overall compared to the Cardinal at #90.

If Arizona addresses their offensive line issues through free agency and/or the draft (Eric Fisher or Chance Warmack are possibilities), allowing the quarterback to stay upright in Bruce Arians’ new vertical offense, Floyd could thrive opposite Larry Fitzgerald. Add to the equation that Floyd’s superior explosiveness and height (he is 6’3 versus Blackmon at 6’1) makes him a better red zone target and you’re looking at more upside in the latter rounds.

Rather than taking Blackmon in the fifth round, use that pick on a RB2 or WR2 and snatch up Floyd a few rounds later. With more consistent quarterback play, Floyd’s ceiling could be much higher. The debate here may not be about which player is better, it’s about which can provide you with better value.

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Mark Rockwell
9 years ago

Nice article! Opened it preparing to defend Floyd only to be pleasantly surprised.

9 years ago

Your final point is the right one – it’s about value. Floyd can be had much later or more cheaply in a trade. Have him as my WR5 on my SC team – happy.

9 years ago

Great article Jaron. These are two guys who, with upgraded QB play, could really explode over the next couple of years. Floyd especially represents a unique buy-low opportunity right now.

Chuck Gordon
9 years ago

Floyd’s value may never be this low then it is right now. He may be the guy you regret that you didn’t pull the trigger on two years from now.

Ken Dogson
9 years ago

I was offered Floyd or Blackmon + a 2014 First for Almo. I turned it down, but I do think both WRs have significant value moving forward, especially in PPR formats. I’d prefer Floyd given his size and current cost. I was also offered Decker + a 2014 2nd for Almo- so there’s some comparison in terms of how people are valuing WRs. Turned that down as well. There are still a lot of Morris unbelievers out there, but I digress.

As a side note, Arizona went 7 weeks without a passing TD. On a team with Fitz, Andre Roberts, Housler, and Floyd. That’s some unbelievably shitty QB and OL play.

My only criticism of this piece, which was overall very good, is that I failed to see any discussion of Blackmon’s troubled past with the booze. You did mention Floyd’s perceived lack of work ethic.

I wonder how this is going to impact their ADPs. I suspect that FFers will discount players like this, along with concussion cases like Shorts. That could lead to major rewards for those that jump on them.

mccerd
Reply to  Ken Dogson
9 years ago

Who is Almo?

Lotto4Life
Reply to  mccerd
9 years ago

Guessing Alfred Morris

Tommy L.
Reply to  Lotto4Life
9 years ago

Is it to the point where we need a list of sanctioned nicknames? I’ve seen a few odd ones on the boards recently. I have no idea why people are doing it. Just confuses people.

Chad Scott
9 years ago

Loved the article, Jaron! You nailed it in your conclusion- Floyd holds more VALUE because of ADP.
Enjoyed this one…thank!

Cyrus Miller
9 years ago

I feel like I paid too much for Floyd then, based on what people are saying, but I am heartened by the posts about Floyd possibly exploding.

(I gave Chris Johnson for Floyd and the 2.05)

Ray Voeller
9 years ago

Key point to article VALUE. Never was it mentioned that Floyd was the superior on field NFL WR to Blackmon only that Floyd being 2″ taller somehow makes him better in redzone. Again Floyd is better VALUE for dynasty fantasy football in trades and draft NOT better NFL WR. Great article! Just disagree that 2 years from now Floyd will be better than Blackmon. Blackmon has proven in college and 1st year in NFL he is and probably always will be superior to Floyd.

Jon
9 years ago

I enjoyed the article as well. Well done. I agreed with nearly all of it. I don’t however agree that because one (floyd) is almost 2 inches taller that he is or will be a better red zone target. I think this is a common misconception.

Players with good hands, good leaping ability, good route running, body control, concentration, etc, can and are good red zone targets. 6’3 or 6’1 really makes no diffence those two inches can be easily compensated for by a number of other variables that contribute to what it’d take to make a successful NFL wr.

Long term – I see both of these young wr as potential top 10-15 in their position. I guess based on ADP, Floyd is a bit better of a deal right now. I like their upside and youth and the fact that they started to trend up toward the later part of their rookie season. With improvments to their Qb situations and or O-line – we should see steady improvement out of each of them. Both are blue chip talent type players.

9 years ago

I realize there’s a value argument being made here as you can get Floyd for less. However, there’s a reason for that. Blackmon is the #1 WR on his team and looks to be emerging as a very good WR after a slow start. His college performance was superior and so is his professional performance.

You win by having great players, Blackmon might be one of those while Floyd will fight for WR2 time with Andre Roberts and will not be displacing Fitzgerald as the #1 WR on Arizona. It’s unlikely that Floyd will accumulate the targets necessary to be an elite WR until Fitzgerald begins to fade, while Blackmon is already getting them. Blackmon needs to do more with his targets, but I’d bet on the guy already getting them.

CokeAndBacardi
9 years ago

The two inch height difference shouldn’t be ignored, but I prefer Blackmon by a wide margin in the red zone. He looked like the more natural end zone beast of the two in college and grabs fade routes over the shoulder as well as anyone.

Red Zone targets in 2012:
Blackmon – 6-12, 35 yards, 3 TD
Floyd – 1-5, 8 yards, TD

Blackmon caught 2 of 8 passes thrown into the end zone and Floyd caught 1 of 5.

Obviously small sample sizes, but just thought I would put the numbers out there. You can’t really draw much from them. Brandon Marshall caught just 3 of 25 end zone targets (no drops in 2011) but turned that around with 8 of 22 in 2012 with a competent quarterback. It makes a huuuuuge difference in that part of the field.

These two had some the worst QB situations in all of football this year. Curious to see how things shape up in the next 2+ years in that regard. I’ve never been a huge Floyd guy (and I’m an ND fan) but hope I am wrong.

Chris R.
9 years ago

I just don’t see what there is to really like about Floyd.

IF they upgrade the offensive line.
IF they upgrade the QB position.
Then you still have Fitz as the lead dog and #1 WR for awhile to come. He’s not going to slow down any time soon. So at best you have the #2 option on a team that needs massive upgrades before the #2 WR has much value.

I know situations changed frequently it happens all the time. But at least with Jacksonville Blackmon is the #1 WR and target, and the slightest upgrade at QB made him blow up as a rookie, it’s not like Henne is Tom Brady, he just needed an average arm back there.

Floyd seems like a guy destined to be on your bench for too long for me to be interested. I don’t see a realistic time table of when you could start him as a WR3, it took Kurt Warner to be in AZ slinging the ball all over the place to support Fitz and Boldin. That’s betting on a lot of things to go absolutely right there, I’d rather gamble on a guy with a much easier path to starting like Chris Givens.

@nightowlsinc
9 years ago

Clearly neither is a 5th round pick. But, when doing a comparison, barring a significant disparity in the offensive production of the teams, my bottom line is, who is, or has the potential to be, a #1 WR on their team? As I see it, Blackmon will be afforded the opportunity to prove himself to be a #1 in Jacksonville both because of ability and draft position, whereas Floyd is destined, over the near and medium term, to be a #2. Further, when I look at the Cardinals I see a base 3 WR offense similar to the Giants with Andre Roberts in the slot, further eroding target opportunities. Blackmon doesn’t risk a similar target erosion.

All things being close to equal, starting from scratch, I’d take Blackmon.

stoney curtis
9 years ago

Bruce Arians is the difference. He loves to throw the football. This just in —— Michael Floyd is a KeepA

Russ Knopf
9 years ago

Yesterday i traded Sproles & Greg Olsen for Torrey Smith and Mike Floyd. So, now I don’t have to worry about this as I now have BOTH Blackmon & Floyd!

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