In this series, we will take two Dynasty Nerds writers and pit them against one another concerning certain players or topics. In this specific article, Corey Easterday (@CoreyEasterday) and Mychal Warno (@DynastyDadMike) debate on which first-year Alabama WR you want for your dynasty team: Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith.
This debate will focus on two Alabama receivers going into their second season. I will be taking the Jaylen Waddle side of this debate and before we get started, let’s first look at the numbers. Waddle finished 2021 with 104 receptions, 1,015 receiving yards, and six receiving touchdowns. His 140 was 11th in the NFL and let’s keep in mind that he has done that with one fewer game than most ahead of him due to missing Week 15 after testing positive for COVID-19. Waddle and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa have chemistry together, going back to their time at Alabama. Tua’s low air yard percentage throws will keep Waddle fed early and often. Waddle also broke Anquan Boldin’s rookie reception record.
Depending on your league format, it is hard not to argue Waddle is a WR1, especially in PPR formats. Since Week 11, according to numberfire.com, Waddle ranks fourth in PPR formats in fantasy points per game behind Cooper Kupp, Devante Adams, and Justin Jefferson. That’s some pretty elite company he is with. I feel Waddle’s potential has not been reached yet as Miami’s passing offense can continue to evolve more. At the same time, Smith’s upside is currently limited due to Philadelphia’s potent rushing attack. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have either Waddle or Smith on my roster, but I will take Waddle if I am given the option.
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The comparisons between these two rookie WRs are uncanny. Both are currently playing in the NFL alongside their QBs from Alabama, were drafted four picks apart, and are even the same age (23) with birthdays 11 days apart. Not to mention Philadelphia traded back from the sixth pick, where Miami took Waddle in the draft. We are not the first to debate Waddle and Smith, and their careers will likely be compared as long as they both play. At this point, it still feels like a coin flip to me for fantasy purposes. I’m more than happy to debate the merits of choosing Smith as your dynasty building block.
Waddle leads Smith this season in many statistical categories and has been the better fantasy option in most weeks (especially PPR). However, Smith has also performed very well, and both WRs are playing above expectation while adjusting to the NFL. Per Fantasy Pros, Smith was the PPR WR30 in total points while putting up double digit PPG (10.9). He played in all 17 games and has seen six or more targets in 11 games while putting up 64 receptions, 916 yards, and five TDs.
Both teams have questions on offense, but even with the Eagles’ renewed running game focus, they have relied on Smith. The former Heisman winner has elite ability and will only keep getting better. I’m also a believer in Hurts’ development in the future, so I’m in on this offense and his connection with Smith. DeVonta is a star in the making, and the foundation has been laid for him to become a top WR in both the NFL and fantasy.
Shout out to Mychal for bringing this Dynasty Debate series together and allowing me to be a part of it! Be sure to follow me on Twitter @CoreyEasterday and become a member of the Nerd Herd/Dynasty GM. Dynasty Nerds has all the tools you need to dominate your fantasy league year-round!