WATCH: Should fantasy football owners trust the Rams’ receiving corps?
EDITOR’S UPDATE: Per multiple reports, Texans QB Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL in practice Thursday and will miss the remainder of the season.
EDITOR’S UPDATE: Ezekiel Elliott was granted a temporary stay request by the Second Circuit Court. He is now eligible to play on Sunday against the Chiefs.
Figuring out the top-end wide receivers is relatively easy. The low-end guys are much harder — and more valuable. Each week, I’ll discuss under-$5,000 wide receivers whom I project for at least five targets on the DraftKings main slate.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts ($4,900)
It has been a predictably rough ride for Hilton lately, as he has battled QB Jacoby Brissett’s performance, plus a string of very difficult matchups. Over the last five weeks, Hilton has been held to 30 yards or less four times, scoring zero TDs during that span. However, Hilton did have three wildly difficult matchups during that stretch (at SEA, vs. JAX, at CIN). In his two good matchups (vs. SF, at TEN), he went 7-177-0 and 1-19-0.
The good news is that this run of mostly anemic production has caused a massive price slash on Hilton, who opened the season at $6,900 and now is the cheapest he has been on DK since 2013. This week’s matchup against the Houston Texans on the road isn’t great, but this is a middling secondary that’s ranked 14th in pass-defense DVOA and 28th in yards per attempt allowed. The Colts’ coaching staff also made it a point this week to tell the media they have to find ways to get Hilton involved.
Projection: Eight targets
Corey Davis, Titans ($4,400)
It’s easy to forget about Davis, who piled up six receptions for 69 yards on 10 targets in Week 1 before aggravating a nasty hamstring pull in Week 2. He has been out ever since, watching Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker struggle to give Tennessee’s offense anything dynamic. There’s always risk in trusting a player who’s coming off such a serious soft-tissue injury, but the Titans desperately need their No. 5 overall pick and already have said they’ll start him Sunday — likely opposite Matthews. That leaves Decker and Taywan Taylor off the bench, and also note that tight end Delanie Walker is dealing with a painful bone bruise on his ankle.
The bottom line is Davis likely will be featured if he can go the whole game. The biggest issue is the matchup, as the Baltimore Ravens boast the NFL’s No. 2 DVOA pass defense and are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts.
Projection: Seven targets
Paul Richardson ($4,700) and Tyler Lockett ($4,600), Seahawks
It’s certainly close between Richardson and Lockett as they battle for targets behind Doug Baldwin in Seattle. Richardson has the slight usage edge — he played on 71 percent of the snaps and run 115 routes in the Seahawks’ previous three games, while Lockett played 55 percent of the snaps and ran 87 routes in that same time span. Richardson also has seen four targets inside the 10-yard line, tied for 17th-most in the league, while Lockett has zero targets inside the 10-yard line. Lockett is the more explosive/talented player, and he’ll also see more slot reps, so he’ll likely avoid Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman more often. There are cases to be made for both.
Projection: Five targets for Richardson, six targets for Lockett
Jeremy Maclin, Ravens ($4,000)
The good news is Maclin has seen at least five targets in five consecutive games. The bad news is he didn’t clear 53 yards in any of those games, played on just 64 percent of the snaps in them and averaged just 9.1 yards per reception, and Mike Wallace (shoulder) should return to the Ravens’ lineup Sunday. So while the volume for Maclin is reasonable in a very good matchup against a Titans pass defense ranked 23rd in DVOA, the projected ceiling here is low.
Projection: Six targets
Robert Woods, Rams ($4,300)
The Los Angeles Rams come off their bye to face a New York Giants team that has fallen off the rails. The Giants’ offense is predictably hitting league-worst levels without Odell Beckham or a semblance of the run game to hide washed QB Eli Manning. The defense has regressed sharply, and the coaches have lost control, being forced to suspend Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last month and top cornerback Janoris Jenkins for Sunday’s game. That’s good news for Woods, who has consistently outplayed Sammy Watkins all season and averages 6.2 targets per game, 2.1 more than Watkins. Woods has seen at least six targets in five consecutive games.
Projection: Six targets
Russell Shepard, Panthers ($3,100)
With Kelvin Benjamin shipped off to the Buffalo Bills, the Carolina Panthers have moved Devin Funchess to the “X” position. Expect Shepard to get the first crack at the “Z” in two-receiver sets, then shifting into the slot for three-receiver sets, with rookie Curtis Samuel coming on to play outside. Kaelin Clay and Christian McCaffery also are candidates to soak up bits of Benjamin’s seven targets per game, so while I’m hesitant to give anyone here a big bump, we at least know Shepard is looking at an increase in playing time.
Of course, this is a fifth-year former undrafted free agent who has never caught more than 23 balls in a season. Expectations should be tempered for both Shepard and Samuel.
Projection: Five targets
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