Figuring out the top-end guys (click here) is relatively easy. The low-end wideouts are much harder — and more valuable. Each week, I’ll discuss wide receivers under $5,000 who I project for at least five targets.
Mike Williams, LAC at NE, $4,700 — There was a time earlier this season Williams was laughably playing behind both Travis Benjamin and Tyrell “the Gazelle” Williams. That’s changed, as Mike Williams has earned — not been given — a bump in role. The Chargers won five of their last six regular season games, and the 2017 No. 7 overall pick scored six touchdowns during that span while holding a solid 16 percent target share. Despite his limited snaps for much of the season, Williams ranked 11th in the entire league in targets inside the 10-yard line. This week’s matchup against the Patriots is not a great one, as Stephon Gilmore was ProFootball Focus’s No. 1 CB among 131 qualifiers and Jason McCourty was No. 7. But Williams’ red-zone reliance, natural ability and rising overall role can’t be ignored.
Projection: 5 targets
Ted Ginn Jr., NO vs. PHL, $4,400 — Ginn (knee) came off IR in Week 16 and promptly saw eight targets for a 20 percent share. He did that despite being third on the team in routes run behind Michael Thomas and Keith Kirkwood. Ginn then rested the knee during Week 17 plus the wild card, leading to reasonable belief he’ll be ready for a full-time role against the Eagles on Sunday. The Saints certainly could use him as they’ve struggled to generate field-stretching offense while Thomas and Alvin Kamara dominate underneath. Ginn has seen at least six targets in all four of his full games this season and annually is among the league leaders in both yards per reception and aDOT. Meanwhile, the Eagles gave up the third-most pass plays of 20+ yards during the regular season.
Projection: 6 targets
Sammy Watkins, KC vs. IND, $4,500 — The Chiefs are likely to take a pass-heavy approach with Kareem Hunt gone and the Colts ranking fourth in rush defense DVOA. Patrick Mahomes also is likely to keep his foot on the gas for four quarters, as Andrew Luck almost certainly will have success against a Chiefs defense that allowed the most pass plays of 20-plus yards and ninth-most passing touchdowns. So even though Watkins (foot) hasn’t played a full game since Week 8 and is practicing with his foot heavily taped this week, there’s a chance for a major role on a team likely to lead the slate in touchdowns. Watkins saw at least five targets in seven of his nine full games.
Projection: 6 targets if healthy
Chris Hogan, NE vs. LAC, $3,900 — Josh Gordon’s latest suspension yielded a role change for Hogan. He went from part-time player and backup in the slot to an every-down outside role. In Weeks 16 and 17, Hogan played on 88 percent of the snaps and ran a route on 100 percent of Tom Brady’s dropbacks. Of course, we know this outside role in the Patriots’ offense has a low floor — Hogan was held under 50 yards in each of the season’s first three games without both Gordon and voluminous slot man Julian Edelman. He also had zero targets against the Bills in the aforementioned Week 16. But as we saw in Week 17 when Hogan garnered 11 targets, the ceiling is there.
Projection: 5 targets
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