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.
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Wide receivers who rely on touchdowns for a large chunk of their fantasy production are naturally going to be more volatile than those who don’t; touchdowns are relatively low-frequency events that obviously occur less often than things like receptions.
For that reason, I believe the greatest inefficiencies in pricing tend to be found with these touchdown scorers. It’s very uncommon for someone like Julian Edelman—who relies on lots of short targets—to put together even a few poor games consecutively. If he has, say, a 60 percent chance of reaching “value” in any given game, the odds of him failing to do so three straight times are just 6.4 percent. That means Edelman’s price typically won’t drop that far below what he’s “worth.”
Touchdown scorers and other receivers who don’t rely on bulk targets for their production are more likely to see swings in performance that affect their price, however. That’s why I believe players like Mike Evans—who we know are going to be up and down throughout the course of a season—make for the best “buy low” candidates at the wide receiver position.
Cream of the Crop
Willie Snead, New Orleans (vs ATL) – $3300
Snead was a pretty clear value in Week 5 against the Eagles, and not much has changed in Week 6. If you are playing in Thursday night cash games, I think Snead is pretty much a must-play. The Saints are home dogs and his salary increased just $300 from last week. ALL THE SNEAD!
Randall Cobb, Green Bay (vs SD) – $7300
The Chargers have been decent against opposing wide receivers, but it isn’t often you can get the top wide receiver on one of the league’s top offenses—and the second-highest projected offense in Week 6—at this price. This is an opportunity to buy low on a player coming off two poor performances.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville (vs HOU) – $5900
This is another example of pure price-sensitivity for me, as I believe Robinson is going to be an elite wide receiver in the NFL, and that’s tough to pass on at this price against any opponent. The matchup isn’t good, but it isn’t awful, either, as Robinson won’t draw any elite cornerbacks against the Texans.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans (vs ATL) – $5700
I prefer Snead to Cooks for the value, but I do like a Brees/Snead/Cooks double-stack in Thursday leagues. Cooks finally broke out in Week 5, and there’s a good chance we’re going to see a 40-plus-attempt sort of game out of Drew Brees in Atlanta. The game has the second-highest total of the week, behind only NE-IND.
Middle of the Pack
Odell Beckham, NY Giants (at PHI) – $8900
Beckham should be your top-projected wide receiver this week in terms of bulk points, and it shouldn’t really be close. He’s in a dream scenario in Philly, with the Giants projected as 3.5-point dogs (a good thing for pass-catchers). The price is a bit steep for me to use him in cash games, especially considering he tweaked his hamstring (monitor that throughout the week), but I will be on him in GPPs if he appears good to go.
Julian Edelman, New England (at IND) – $7600
Edelman has at least 16 points in every game this year and I think you could argue he’s the safest wide receiver in the NFL for his cost. There’s probably a little bit of a low ceiling here—although honestly not that low relative to his price—but Edelman is a must-play in 50/50s for me right now just because I know he’s not going to tank.
Jarvis Landry, Miami (at Tennessee) – $6200
Landry, who has double-digit targets in every game this season, is a poor man’s Edelman. I still prefer the Pats’ receiver because there’s so much more upside in that offense, but I think you could do a lot worse than Edelman/Landry/Snead as your receivers in cash games.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia (vs NYG) – $6200
With three straight performances with fewer than 11 DraftKings points, Matthews’ price has dropped every single week this year and is now down $1,000 since the start of the season. There’s a very strong correlation between pricing changes and value, so this might be an opportunity to find value and relatively low ownership in tournaments. The crowd tends to overreact to recent performances.
Rest of the Field
Calvin Johnson, Detroit (vs CHI) – $7300
I’m interested to see what sort of tournament ownership Megatron has this week. He’s clearly out of cash-game talk, but this price is attractive in a really nice matchup against the Bears. Even though Matthew Stafford looks like total crap, this is still Calvin Johnson we’re talking about. My guess is we see fairly low usage, and he’s someone I won’t be able to pass on in tournaments. This seems like Larry Fitzgerald 2.0 to me.
Michael Floyd, Arizona (at PIT) – $3000
Don’t ask why. I don’t know. I just feel like this is his spot. You can’t use Floyd in cash, obviously, but a Palmer/Fitz/Floyd stack in the Milly might not be such a bad idea. You still need to limit exposure since there’s a good chance he gives you next to nothing. The Steelers have been the second-worst defense against opposing passers over the past year after adjusting for DraftKings salaries.
Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City (at MIN) – $6500
This isn’t really a strong matchup and I’m not even really thrilled with the price, but Maclin is getting a ton of targets and he only figures to see more with Jamaal Charles out for the year. My only problem is he’s too expensive for me to use in cash games and I don’t think he has all that much upside for GPPs.
Andre Johnson, Indianapolis (vs NE) – $4300
Who are the Patriots going to try to shut down in Indy? My guess is T.Y. Hilton, which could leave Johnson and Donte Moncrief with single-coverage. I’ll roll the dice on Johnson with a $700 cheaper price tag.