When you think of some of the most valuable rookie wide receivers from 2008, the deep threat sensation DeSean Jackson and sure-handed Eddie Royal have to come to mind. No one was giving serious consideration to either of these players at this time in the 2008 season but now we are drafting both in the top 100 (make sure you subscribe to our Dominator Service to find out about 2009's breakout rookie WRs!). These two guys are surprisingly similar but on closer look there is more than meets the eye.
First I'd like to talk about the 2008 Regular Season though for these two young speedsters.
Eddie Royal immediately turned heads last year when he busted onto the scene with a 9 reception, 146 yds, 1 TD performance in week 1. Royal definitely had his doubters after that game though because Brandon Marshall wasn't playing. People expected Royal to tone it down a notch after Marshall would return for game 2. Royal showed everyone what he was made of though and quickly became a favorite target of Cutler (now banished to no man's land playing for the Bears). He finished 7th in the league with 91 receptions (above Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings and Roddy White). He doesn't drop the ball a lot and he fumbles rarely, making him a sure-fire talent for any fantasy team.
DeSean Jackson also caused a lot of commotion in fantasy football leagues early on, but maybe for different reasons. After his week 1 performance where he caught 6 passes for 106 yds, some people decided to gamble on him in week 2 @DAL. During this game Jackson dropped the ball on the one yard line with no one touching him, earning official knucklehead of the year and losing some trust in fantasy circles. DeSean Jackson might have only caught two touchdown passes last year, but he's caught countless fantasy owners' eyes in the 2009 preseason.
After it was all said and done, Royal ended the season with more yards, receptions and touchdowns. So what kind of argument can I really have here? Isn't Royal the better option from these two? Let's discuss some things that have changed...
Since last year, Eddie Royal has lost Jay Cutler in exchange for the king of neckbeards Kyle Orton. Now I hate to knock on a guy who played for Purdue but Orton is no Cutler. Orton's game features quick throws to the running back and tight end prominently. We all know how Devin Hester turned out last year. Royal isn't the #1 deep threat on the team but it's nice to have a quarterback with the option to get it deep if need be. I really don't like Orton in the Denver offense this year so I don't see Royal becoming a premiere WR in the league this year. He will still get his receptions but the touchdowns will not be there as you can see from his preseason stats: 13 rec, 134 yds 0 TD
On the other hand, only good things have happened for DeSean Jackson. Jackson is now the #1 receiver in a new offense that will utilize the wildcat. Last year we even saw DeSean Jackson take a few snaps from under center and do some rushing plays. With Michael Vick in the mix now, who knows what kind of crazy things might happen? Andy Reid will utilize this kid's eye-popping speed and make sure he gets his touches. I love the prospect of McNabb throwing to Jackson and apparently McNabb does too. On first look of Jackson's preseason numbers (7 rec, 103 yds, 1 TD) you would think otherwise but if you paid attention to McNabb during the games, he looked to Jackson before looking at his other options.
So in conclusion, if you want a reliable WR that will get you receptions (PPR leagues) and yards each week, get Eddie Royal. If your league doesn't count receptions you may want to bring your attention to the upside of DeSean Jackson. I feel like in the Philly offense, much more TDs will find their way to Jackson.