We saw it again in Week 9: the Millionaire Maker winner, this time Hardfour, hit on his wide receivers in a big way. With DeAndre Hopkins, Jeremy Maclin, Mike Evans, and Anquan Boldin, Hardfour secured 119 points from his receivers, which was 47.8 percent of his total.
With DraftKings’ PPR scoring system and the ability to start up to four wide receivers, pass-catchers are more important than ever. The position is also an exploitable one in that, unlike running back, much of fantasy production comes via talent and not simply opportunities. Whereas it’s easy to spot a breakout like Jeremy Hill’s in Week 9, that’s not necessarily the case with someone like Evans.
This week, try to build your Millionaire Maker lineups around your favorite wide receivers, emphasizing touchdown-scoring ability whenever possible.
Top Five Wide Receivers
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh at NY Jets, $8700 – Brown has averaged a staggering 26.6 fantasy points per game in 2014 – two full points more than second-place wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. He’s the ultimate combination of a high floor and high ceiling, especially against the Jets this week. To me, he’s almost a must-play in cash games, regardless of the opponent or weather, because you know he’s going to give you quality production.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver at Oakland, $8500 – Is it possible that Thomas could be underutilized this week in the Millionaire Maker? He faces a pretty good pass defense in Oakland, but there’s really no reason to think that the Raiders are going to be able to consistently contain Thomas. The fact that Brown is only $200 more in a better matchup makes me think Thomas could see something like half of Brown’s usage.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia vs Carolina, $8300 – Maclin has 18 catches, 345 yards, and four touchdowns over the past two weeks alone. He’s personally killed some of my lineups because I’ve faded him, but I think that’s going to happen again this week. That’s not because of the absence of Nick Foles – I think Mark Sanchez will be fine in Chip Kelly’s offense – but rather because I’m not paying top dollar for a receiver who is 1) clearly at his peak relative to his career history, 2) can’t sustain his current level of touchdown-scoring, and 3) probably isn’t as safe of an option as he appears given how much he relies on deep completions.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver at Oakland, $8100 – You could make an argument that Sanders is very much like Maclin with fewer targets. The main differences are that Peyton Manning is throwing passes to Sanders and that he sees a bunch of high-percentage looks. The Broncos screen so frequently that it means Sanders isn’t really big-play dependent, even though he gets downfield looks as well.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay vs Chicago, $7600 – When I wrote my quarterback breakdown, I predicted that Rodgers-to-Nelson will be this week’s most popular stack. I don’t think Nelson’s price tag of only $7600 does anything to change that prediction. Great price, great player, great matchup. He’s in play in all formats.
Five More to Consider
Randall Cobb, Green Bay vs Chicago, $7400
Calvin Johnson, Detroit vs Miami, $7100
This is a situation in which a player is underpriced, we know he will be highly owned, but you probably still shouldn’t fade him. I think this matchup is extremely difficult for, but Johnson has 200-yard upside in any game and the matchup quality is priced into his salary.
Golden Tate, Detroit vs Miami, $7000
Julio Jones, Atlanta at Tampa Bay, $6600
Dez Bryant, Dallas vs Jacksonville (in London), $6400
Five Mid-Priced Wide Receivers
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo vs Kansas City, $6200 – As you’d expect from a rookie wide receiver, Watkins’ production has been very volatile in 2014. He has three games with at least 117 yards and a touchdown, but only one touchdown in any other game this year and four performances with 31 yards or fewer. He’s a clear GPP-only option in my opinion, and I don’t even really like him there.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago at Green Bay, $6000 – Along with Brandon Marshall, who is somehow $400 cheaper than Jeffery, this is perhaps the most underpriced wide receiver duo in Week 10. You can run a Cutler/Jeffery/Marshall stack without really running into salary cap trouble, which isn’t something you could have done to start the year. The only downside is that Cutler is perhaps slightly overpriced.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay vs Atlanta, $5900 – I love Evans’ long-term prospects and I think he’s basically Vincent Jackson 2.0, but this price is an overreaction to Evans’ Week 9 breakout game. It’s worth noting that Mike Glennon has been benched, so Evans’ fantasy upside might have taken a hit with Josh McCown’s inability to consistently find receivers downfield.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay vs Atlanta, $5700 – I don’t really like any Bucs receiver in cash games, even against the Falcons, but you could make an argument that Jackson is the worse GPP play. He’s a better value, but perhaps a worse tournament option if you have Jackson and Evans projected similarly. That’s because Jackson figures to have higher usage (although I could be wrong). Of course, if you believe Jackson is the clear-cut better option, that idea goes out the window.
Steve Smith, Baltimore vs Tennessee, $5600 – Smith has totaled only 11 catches for 138 yards and no touchdowns over the past three games. I think we’ve seen what we all should have expected – a decline in efficiency as the season has worn on – and I don’t expect Smith to return to early-season form again in 2014. Even if he drops a bit in price, I probably won’t use him in the near future.
Five More to Consider
Brandon Marshall, Chicago at Green Bay, $5600
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco at New Orleans, $5600
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh at NY Jets, $5500
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona vs St. Louis, $5400
Percy Harvin, NY Jets vs Pittsburgh, $5300
Harvin is a player with whom I’m really struggling. I don’t really think he’s as talented as many people believe – I’d much prefer Eric Decker in real life – but he’s going to be difficult to ignore if the Jets continue to use him like they did last week when Harvin caught 11 passes. We can’t expect that level of production every week, but Harvin might be an interesting cash-game play due solely to workload and an expected high catch rate out of the slot.
Five Value Wide Receivers
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco at New Orleans, $5000 – Crabtree is the type of player you’re just hoping can capitalize on his skill set, even though he never seems to do it. The potential is there, but he just comes through so infrequently that you have to be scared off, even at this price point. Over the past five games, Crabtree has scored once and hasn’t topped 49 yards in a single week.
Eric Decker, NY Jets vs Pittsburgh, $4900 – I’m still very much on board the Decker train, no matter who is at quarterback for the Jets. I think he and Harvin are two very different players, with Harvin being a cash-game consideration and Decker being the smarter GPP play because of his ability to find the end zone. The lack of offensive consistency means I won’t have Decker in my cash games.
Odell Beckham Jr., NY Giants at Seattle, $4800 – Like Harvin, Beckham is going to cause me some pain this week as a player I don’t normally use who is going to be on my radar if he becomes a high-usage weapon for his offense. Beckham is the same price as teammate Rueben Randle. Despite Randle’s lack of recent success, I still prefer him more in the Millionaire Maker because of a higher probability of scoring. In reality, though, I don’t think I’m going to have too much Giants exposure against the Seahawks.
Mike Wallace, Miami at Detroit, $4700 – Wallace is the type of receiver who needs time to get downfield, but I don’t think he’s going to get that against the league’s top pass-rushing unit in the Lions. Detroit has allowed the fewest fantasy points to both quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2014. The Dolphins’ pass defense is stingy, too, so I think this could be a surprisingly run-heavy, low-scoring contest. Vegas has the total at just 41.5 points.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia vs Carolina, $4500 – Matthews isn’t an option for cash games, but I kind of like the prospects of Sanchez finding the rookie wide receiver with whom he’s worked on the second team. I won’t have a huge amount of exposure to Matthews, but he certainly has two-touchdown upside and will likely be low-owned.
Five More to Consider
Marques Colston, New Orleans vs San Francisco, $4400
Andre Holmes, Oakland vs Denver, $4400
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans vs San Francisco, $4300
It isn’t very often that you can get the top two receivers on an explosive offense for the same price as the most expensive receiver option, but that’s what we have in Colston and Cooks (same combined price as Antonio Brown). If you’re bullish on the Saints offense, you’ll probably be stacking Brees with Jimmy Graham. That doesn’t mean you can’t also start either Cooks or Colston, but you’d likely be limiting your upside if you use all three pass-catchers. If it comes down to the best tournament option, I think I still prefer Colston; despite his lone touchdown on the year, he’s the better bet to find the end zone for New Orleans.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina at Philadelphia, $4200
Michael Floyd, Arizona vs St. Louis, $4100