Dec 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions fans hold up a sign for wide receiver Calvin Johnson (not pictured) during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Which NFL Wide Receiver Duo Is The Best "Bang For The Buck"?

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For years the Detroit Lions have been searching for a side-kick to play alongside super star Calvin Johnson. During the past offseason, the Lions added Golden Tate via free agency and now, they hope that they have finally found their guy.

Tate has been the leagues surest handed receiver since 2011, and joins a team that led the league in drops last year with 44.

The Johnson/Tate tandem appears to be one of the best 1-2 combos in the league. But where, exactly, does it rank?

And which duo is the most cost-effective tandem?

Lets take a look.

Brandon MarshallAlshon Jeffery (Chicago Bears)

Alshon Jeffery had a breakout 2013 season. The Bears wide receiver took off for 89 receptions, 1,421 yards and 7 touchdowns and Marshall had over 1,000 receiving yards for the seventh consecutive season. Both were reliable targets for the Bears quarterback, Jay Cutler who recently re-signed with Chicago.

Jeffery has said publicly that himself and Marshall are the best duo in the league, and until someone knocks them off the top of the mountain, it’s hard to disagree with him.

Demaryius ThomasWes Welker (Denver Broncos)

Thomas has basically carried the team on his back the past two seasons and at 26, he is just entering his prime. Wes Welker played well in his first season with the Broncos racking up 778 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

The chemistry of the Broncos WR corps will continue to grow in 2014. Even without Eric Decker, who is now in New York.

Of coarse, there’s also that Peyton Manning guy who throws them the football which is likely to help.

Jordy NelsonRandall Cobb (Green Bay Packers)

There is a reason why Green Bay didn’t blink when Greg Jennings or James Jones departed in free agency during the past two offseason. The reason is Nelson and Cobb. Nelson is one of the NFL’s best receivers, and Cobb was enjoying a breakout season prior to fracturing the tibia in his right leg last season.

Both players are capable of having a great year in 2014 with Aaron Rodgers under center.

If they can stay healthy that is.

DeSean JacksonPierre Garcon (Washington Redskins)

Admittedly, this combination may have some work to do this year. Jackson has to learn a new offense after coming over from division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and Garcon must show us that spark that we seen so often during his days in Indy. Redskins signal caller, Robert Griffin III has to be better too.

If these things can come together, the NFC East had better watch out.

Anquan BoldinMichael Crabtree (San Francisco 49ers)

Despite what Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman thinks, Crabtree and Boldin are a great receiving duo.

When healthy anyways.

Crabtree missed most of last season with an Achilles injury.

Roddy WhiteJulio Jones (Atlanta Falcons)

Once again, health concerns come into play with these two. When healthy however, the are a very potent combo.

With Jones injured, White had an off-year last season. The wideout only came up with 711 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. The drop-off snapped a six-year streak with at least 1,000 yards.

As long as White is not on the downside of his career, do not underestimate this pair.

Calvin Johnson — Golden Tate (Detroit Lions)

Finally, Detroit found a young receiver with speed to complement Calvin. Nate Burelson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles are all honorable mentions who failed to take enough pressure off Johnson.

Johnson had 1,492 yards last year, and Tate had 898, giving them 2,390 as a duo.

Tate’s production should grow now that he’s moved to the Lions’ pass-heavy scheme, which was a major reason he left the Super Bowl champions for Detroit to begin with.

The Lions already featured one of the better tailback combos in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, and now seem to have a receiver combo that stacks up well against the league’s best.

I’ll let you decide which duo is the best, but before you do, take a look at how they compare thanks to help from Pro-Football-Reference:

Top NFL WR Duos
Duo (2013 Combined Stats) Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns
Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jeffery 189 2,716 19
Roddy White/Julio Jones 104 1,291 5
Anquan Boldin/Michael Crabtree 94 1463 8
Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb 116 1,747 12
DeSean Jackson/Pierre Garcon 195 2,678 14
Calvin Johnson/Golden Tate 148 2,390 17
Demaryius Thomas/Wes Welker 165 2,208 24

Which WR duo is the best combo in the NFL?

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Now we’ll take a look at the financial aspect of the NFL’s top wide receiver combinations.

Based on contract info obtained by CBSSports.com, the average team in the NFL, as of 2014, spends $12.58 million on wide receivers going into the season.

WRCostByTeamGraph640

Thanks to CBSSports.com

(Click to enlarge)

Here is a look at how it affects each respective teams salary cap space for 2014.

Thanks to CBSSports.com

Thanks to CBSSports.com

(Click to enlarge)

Basically, spending cash on wideouts equates to chewing up cap space. But there’s a difference between being cheap and being frugal when it comes to how you pay for production.

Most importantly, how do these teams look from an efficiency standpoint using 2014 projections?

CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson was able to determine the dollar figure with help from fellow CBSSports writer Dave Richard’s 2014 fantasy projections.

Thanks to CBSSports.com

Thanks to CBSSports.com

(Click to enlarge)

What you end up with is the average cost per wide receiver receiving yard per team in the NFL to be $4,410 (roughly the giant red line). Expensive when you think about it.

“You want to marry production and cost. It helps if there’s a good quarterback on your roster, sure. But even teams with good quarterbacks aren’t immune to overpricing wideouts.”-Will Brinson, CBSSports.com

Taking all of this into consideration, the Bears seem to have found the best middle point. Marshall continues to play well and recently signed a new contract while they also found a gem of a value in Jeffery.

With the cost Chicago’s incurring — and assuming similar production in 2014 — it’s hard (even for Lions fans) to disagree with Alshon from a statistical or financial viewpoint.

 

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Tags: Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Golden Tate

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