It’s a deliciously deep wide receiver class, but where do fantasy owners turn after the consensus Big Three (Amani Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker) are off the board? Depends; do you want to swing for the fences with the vast potential of freakish size and speed—and enough off-the-field red flags to set up a slalom course down the Matterhorn—or do you prefer a tad less size, but strength, ball skills, and a guy who actually played football last year? Which will it be: Dorial Green-Beckham or Jaelen Strong?
If you’re into the tangy zip of upside, you’re probably willing to overlook the parade of red flags in DGB’s past. After all, he’s a Megatron-sized (6-5, 237) wideout with speed, hands, and athleticism, and when he’s been on the field he’s been a playmaker. Of course, the problem is that he didn’t play a snap last season after transferring to Oklahoma from Missouri after a couple suspensions, multiple failed drug tests, and a domestic violence situation. Missing a year of football means Green-Beckham is a raw talent with plenty to learn about the game—and if his off-the-field resume is any indication, about life as well.
Though he’s three inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter Strong is hardly a slouch in the size department; in addition he uses his body well and has long arms, strong hands, and a 42-inch vertical to win contested balls. While he can make plays down the field Strong isn’t a burner, taking time to ramp up to his top speed, and like many college receivers his route-running still needs polish.
To roll with DGB in this battle you need to talk yourself into buying that he’ll grow out of his youthful indiscretions… and that he’s closer to actually being the next Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson than one of the many size/speed freaks (Justin Hunter, Stephen Hill, et. al.) who have drawn that comparison in the past. In Strong you’re likely getting the solid productivity of an Anquan Boldin or Marques Colston—a lower ceiling than Green-Beckham, to be sure, but significantly lower bust potential. Maybe your dynasty team has the luxury of swinging for the fences; otherwise, Strong is the safer selection with enough upside that the chance of regret for passing on DGB will be slim.