I find that much of my wide receiver selection is dictated by injuries to running backs. When running backs get injured, their cheap backups are almost always in play since running back fantasy production is so dependent on getting touches. One of the common traits of the daily fantasy pros I interviewed in my latest book on DraftKings strategy is that they don’t fade guaranteed running back touches at a cheap price.
That means that the DeMarco Murray injury will play a huge role in how I structure my lineups this week. It will obviously change my running back strategy, but the cap space that’s left over will also dictate how I approach other positions.
If Murray is good to go, it’s going to be another week to search for cheap wide receiver production since there just isn’t much cap relief available at running back.
Top Five Wide Receivers
Odell Beckham Jr., NY Giants at St. Louis, $9000 – I would probably be a millionaire if it weren’t for Odell Beckham Jr. Not literally, but almost literally. I don’t think I’ve rostered him one time all year. Now that he’s the most expensive receiver on DraftKings, I’m ironically probably going to roster him once just because I will go into a rage if I don’t and he goes off again. For real though, I think he’s severely overpriced here against a Rams defense whose numbers against wide receivers look way worse than how they’re playing – as arguably a top-two defense over the past month.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh vs Kansas City, $8800 – We can pencil in Brown for six catches, 90 yards, and maybe a score, with room left for some upside. The question is just whether or not he’s worth the cost at $100 more than Calvin Johnson, $200 more than Demaryius Thomas, and $1100 more than Jordy Nelson. I think he is if you find cheap running back production (Joseph Randle, perhaps?) and can pay for one expensive receiver in cash games. In tournaments, I’d still generally prefer someone on an offense with more upside.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit at Chicago, $8700 – It sure looked like Johnson was going to rip through the Vikings defense in Week 15, but he managed just four catches for 53 yards. I think the previous two weeks proved he’s at least close to 100 percent, and there’s no better cure for a lack of receiver production than the Chicago defense. I’m not really on Megatron in cash games, but you have to find a way to get him into your GPP lineups. This just smells like the 200/3 breakout we’ve been waiting for.
Dez Bryant, Dallas vs Indianapolis, $8600 – This matchup is really interesting to me because I think the Colts are going to need to decide if they want to stop Bryant or the Cowboys’ running game. Whether or not DeMarco Murray plays, I think the answer is to first contain Bryant. The Colts have the third-best defense against opposing receivers, and I imagine Bryant seeing a lot of double-teams. Vontae Davis is a cornerback who could actually stand up to Bryant in the red zone, too.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver at Cincinnati, $8500 – Thomas is in a similar situation as Bryant as a dominant receiver in a difficult matchup. The main concern with Thomas is that Denver is running the ball so much, lessening his role in the offense and shortening games. I think we’ll see Thomas’s market share of yards/touchdowns actually increase, but that doesn’t mean his bulk stats will do the same. I like Thomas by himself more than the Broncos’ passing game as a whole, though.
Five Others to Consider
A.J. Green, Cincinnati vs Denver, $8200
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago vs Detroit, $8000
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay at Tampa Bay, $7700
Julio Jones, Atlanta at New Orleans, $7700
We of course need to monitor Jones’ health throughout the week, but I’d imagine he’ll give it a go in Week 16. He’s in a dream matchup in the Superdome, too, but it’s important to make sure that he isn’t on a snap count or being used as a decoy. If he can’t play, Harry Douglas and Roddy White will again see significant boosts.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis at Dallas, $7600
Five Mid-Priced Wide Receivers
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver at Cincinnati, $7200 – I think Sanders is the player who loses the most with the Broncos’ recent play-calling shift. He’s fairly dependent on targets/catches for production, so he loses a lot of value as Denver passes the ball less frequently. I don’t think the Broncos are going to continue this trend indefinitely, but I do think they’ll come out running against Cincy again this weekend.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay at Tampa Bay, $7100 – Cobb hasn’t scored in five games, but he’s pretty clearly underpriced here. I think the same is true of Jordy Nelson at $7700, so a Rodgers/Nelson/Cobb stack makes a lot of sense this week as Green Bay has plenty of scoring to go around. It’s important to note that Cobb had 13 targets on Sunday, so Rodgers is still chucking the ball his way. He’s very much in play in both cash games and GPPs.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay vs Green Bay, $6700 – Evans has just 58 total yards over the past two games, but he also scored three times during that span. With 11 touchdowns on the year, Evans is showing that he’s basically what we thought he’d be as a dominant red zone presence. He’s pretty reliant on those touchdowns for upside in fantasy, so he’s probably not the best cash-game option, but you have to love him again this week in tournaments.
Roddy White, Atlanta at New Orleans, $6600 – White’s value is completely dependent on the health of Julio Jones. If Jones is out or looks like he’ll be limited, White is immediately in play. If Jones is close to 100 percent, I think White is probably accurately priced or perhaps even slightly overpriced. I’m not a huge White fan in general, but I am if he’s the No. 1 option on an improving offense against one of the league’s worst pass defenses.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina vs Cleveland, $6600 – In Derek Anderson’s two starts, Benjamin has 14 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown. I don’t think there’s any reason to downgrade him whatsoever if Cam Newton can’t go. I also think Benjamin is the type of physical receiver who could potentially give Joe Haden some problems, although Vegas has the Panthers projected at only 22 points in a game that could very well turn into a run-fest.
Five Others to Consider
Julian Edelman, New England at NY Jets, $6500
Josh Gordon, Cleveland at Carolina, $6400
Gordon is the perfect example of why picking players isn’t all about value. Even with Johnny Manziel at quarterback, I think Gordon is underpriced and offers value due solely to his skill set. I can’t think of a good reason he should ever be cheaper than Julian Edelman. Because there’s so much risk here, though, it’s tough to roster Gordon because there’s a very high probability of him giving you what Kevin O’Leary would call a “nothingburger.”
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston vs Baltimore, $6300
Kenny Stills, New Orleans vs Chicago, $5700
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay vs Green Bay, $5600
Five Value Wide Receivers
Harry Douglas, Atlanta at New Orleans, $5600 – If Jones is out, Douglas is good to go. If Jones plays, Douglas is very overpriced. Sometimes fantasy football isn’t so difficult.
Brandon LaFell, New England at NY Jets, $5300 – I like LaFell a whole lot more than Edelman, especially at $1200 cheaper. The Pats always do a really nice job of taking advantage of the opponent’s biggest weakness, so I see them coming out in lots of four and five-wide sets and just throwing the ball all over the Jets on Sunday. I think there’s enough meat on the bone to roster Brady, LaFell, and Gronk together.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo at Oakland, $5300 – Watkins has just one game since Week 7 with more than four catches. He’s a talented player on a sub-par offense in a surprisingly difficult matchup. Vegas has a total of just 39 points for this game – one which might see a relatively low number of total plays. I could see a pretty wide range of outcomes for Watkins on Sunday, but he’s not really someone who’s on my radar.
Mike Wallace, Miami vs Minnesota, $5200 – I’m not sure why Wallace’s price didn’t jump much after going for 5/104/1 in Week 15. The matchup is moderately difficult and Wallace doesn’t really benefit from DraftKings’ PPR scoring, but Vegas likes the ‘Phins to score 24 points. Lamar Miller is my favorite player in this game, but I’ll be on Wallace because of the discount.
Marques Colston, New Orleans vs Atlanta, $4600 – The Saints are the top-projected team in Vegas in Week 16 at 31 points. The problem is that you don’t know who the hell is going to get the ball. Colston has stepped up since the Brandin Cooks injury with three touchdowns in the past four games. He’s arguably a poor GPP play, even at the price, because of a lack of targets, but I think you can trust him in this matchup for your cash-game lineups.
Five Others to Consider
Andre Johnson, Houston vs Baltimore, $4600
Torrey Smith, Baltimore at Houston, $4600
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh vs Kansas City, $4300
Bryant was one of the most popular receivers again in Week 15, but he’s not going to give you any sort of consistent production because he doesn’t see the field enough. He has to hit on a long touchdown to return value, which isn’t going to happen at the rate it did to start Bryant’s year. This is basically Donte Moncrief on a less explosive offense.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis at Dallas, $4300
Steve Smith, Baltimore at Houston, $4300