Talk about razor thin. Among receivers currently falling among the top 30 picks in Yahoo! drafts, there's not a narrower margin between two wideouts than that of Yahoo! cover athlete Braylon Edwards (20.9 ADP) and Steve Smith (21.4).
Here to argue the case that the Cleveland receiver rocks more is Andy Behrens. On the other side, Brandon Funston has the Carolina mighty mouse on his mind.
They get 250 words or less to state their opening arguments, while the readers, as always, get the last word. Let's get it started …
Behrens says: Let's begin by stating in the clearest possible terms that I'm making an argument for Braylon Edwards, not an argument against Steve Smith. If Jake Delhomme is healthy, you're not going to regret investing in Smith. He's great. A solid fantasy pick.
You'll just wish that you'd taken Edwards, that's all.
The 25-year-old Cleveland WR is a threat to reach the end zone on every possession -- seriously, every possession. Edwards caught 80 passes last season, and 16 of them went for touchdowns. Smith's best single-season TD total is 12, and that happened three years ago. Edwards has averaged 15.5 yards per catch during his three-year NFL career. He's an un-coverable vertical threat and, at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, he's a terrific red zone target.
The guy gets easy separation from the toughest corners...and you can ask Nate Clements if you don't trust me:
Edwards is simply a total-package wide receiver, and his ceiling isn't known. He gave you 212 fantasy points at age 24, and he enters this season as the most dangerous weapon in an exceptional offense. The Browns have one of the NFL's best offensive lines, an excellent ground game, a top-ten fantasy QB, an elite tight end, and they've added Donte Stallworth. Cleveland is going to score with impunity -- they averaged 25.1 PPG and 351.3 YPG last season -- and defenses won't have the luxury of focusing on any single player.
Advantage, Edwards. His 2007 season was just the beginning.
Funston says: The Jake Delhomme-Steve Smith connection might be the most intimate QB-WR relationship in the league.
Delhomme's affections for Smith are obvious. In two-and-a-half games last season before a season-ending elbow injury, Delhomme connected with Smith for four of his eight touchdown passes. In his past four full seasons, Smith has averaged 90 catches, 1,210 yards and 9 TDs. Simply put, Smith is the receiving version of Brian Westbrook, an ultra-quick dynamo that the team looks to get the ball to in a variety of ways – screens, bombs, slants, reverses, you name it.
Smith is going sixth, on average, among WRs in Yahoo! drafts because he was saddled with the unholy trinity of Vinny Testaverde, David Carr and Matt Moore at QB after Delhomme went down. But reports on Delhomme's comeback have been all positive, and the Panthers have addressed needs at offensive line, receiver and running back. They should be much improved across the board, offensively, which should help alleviate some of the intense focus that defenses place on Smith.
I don’t really have anything disparaging to say about Edwards. It’s just that there’s more mouths to feed in the Cleveland passing game with Kellen Winslow – second-most targeted TE in ’07 – and the addition of Donte’ Stallworth, who should see 100-plus targets starting opposite Edwards.
I like Smith to see more passes than Edwards, and I expect him to continue to catch a higher percentage of those looks. And that’s why I’m taking Smith by a nose.