Taking a look at which wide receivers are in play for a full Week 16 slate of NFL.
Cream of the Crop
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (at BAL) – $9300
If you weren’t sure how matchup-independent Brown is in the Steelers’ offense, you saw that last week. Now he’s playing one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL over the past year. He’s $900 more than any other receiver, but I still think he’s worth the cost in cash games if you can find some cheaper options you like at other positions.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh (at BAL) – $5600
It’s rare to have two receivers on the same team as two of the top values, but how do you not like Bryant at this price? You have to think the Ravens are going to try to take Brown out of the game, at least deep. Again, I’m not worried about him, but it should open things up for Bryant, especially downfield. The Ravens have allowed 2.9 points per game above expected to opposing receivers over the past year.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville (at NO) – $7500
Robinson is the fifth-most expensive wide receiver this week, which I think is fine given that he’s truly an elite talent. He’s also in one heck of a matchup, although it is worth noting the Saints have been a lot better on the outside than over the middle of the field in the passing game.
Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City (vs CLE) – $6000
What if I told you that you could get the No. 1 receiver on an offense projected at 27 points—one who has at least nine targets in the past four games and four touchdowns over that time—and he costs just $6000? Oh, you can.
Middle of the Pack
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis (at MIA) – $4300
Moncrief is a bit of a risk because, even at this price, he’s not really a high-floor player. However, given the matchup and the fact that he’s seeing targets—17 in the past two games—I’m fine with rostering in cash games.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia (vs WSH) – $4400
Usually, Matthews gives you a 3/45 kind of line. Occasionally, it’s 8/150/1. I like that latter line better, don’t you? Given the cost and the upside of the Eagles’ offense, I’m okay with Matthews in GPPs if you just want to get some exposure at this cheap price tag. Washington is playing better on the outside, but Matthews lines up in the slot on almost every snap.
Amari Cooper, Oakland (vs SD) – $6000
There are a few concerns here for me with Cooper such that I think I’ll have less exposure than the field. For one, he just went off last week, so he will probably be over-owned. Second, the Chargers have actually allowed 1.4 points per game fewer than expected to opposing receivers over the past year. Still, Cooper is this high because he’s underpriced at $6,000.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay (vs CHI) – $7300
Elite talent. Bad pass defense. This is 100% a GPP-only play, but I’m going to take some shots with Evans-like players with red-zone scoring ability when they drop this low in salary.
Rest of the Field
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (vs SF) – $7400
See Evans, Mike.
DeSean Jackson, Washington (at PHI) – $5000
We have the revenge game narrative working here, which I’m not really concerned about other than it might actually limit my exposure to Jackson in GPPs because I think it will inflate his ownership. He’s certainly in a good spot, however, against arguably the league’s worst defense versus wide receivers (4.8 points per game above expected, which is insane).
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver (vs CIN) – $5800
The Bengals have allowed 1.3 points per game above expected to opposing receivers. I’m not entirely sure how much Sanders exposure I’ll have because I think there’s some more upside in other spots, and he doesn’t represent enough of a value to me for cash-game consideration.
Dez Bryant, Dallas (at BUF) – $5500
Yes, I get that Bryant is in a bad matchup with the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. But he’s Dez Bryant, and he costs $300 less than Golden Tate. What the hell am I supposed to do? This might be one of the rare times I roster a volatile receiver in a bad matchup in cash games just because of how much of a stud he is. But probably not because I’m a chicken.
Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, and most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.
Follow him @BalesFootball.