Even though there are just four games this weekend, the selection of elite wide receiver is pretty awesome. I think the gap between some of the top options and the rest of the field is so great that it makes sense to pay up for wide receivers this week, particularly in tournaments, which should be made easier by the fact that there’s at least one obvious cheap running back play (Josh Harris).
The Elite Five
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh vs Baltimore, $8900 – In Brown’s worst fantasy performance of the season, he still caught eight passes for 74 yards. He has scored at least 20 points in six straight games, capping off one of the greatest seasons for a wide receiver in the history of PPR fantasy scoring.
Facing the Ravens on Sunday, Brown is prepared to go off. He beat Baltimore for 18 catches and over 200 yards in the regular season, and the Ravens finished the season as the third-worst defense in the league versus opposing receivers. It’s tough to say if the loss of Le’Veon Bell will help or hurt Brown, but because he’s so difficult to double-team, I don’t think it’s going to hinder him all that much.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit at Dallas, $8800 – I could see a very wide range of outcomes for Megatron in this game. You have to think that the Cowboys, who surprisingly sported the fifth-best defense versus opposing wide receivers in 2014, are going to focus all of their attention on Johnson. Maybe they’ll truly be able to limit him, but Megatron is just so much better than anyone Dallas has on defense that I doubt it.
Vegas has the Lions as seven-point underdogs in this contest, so they’ll be throwing it early and often. That’s good news for Megatron, although Detroit is projected at only 20.5 points. Johnson will need a high market share of Detroit’s fantasy points to return an elite ceiling, although I love his chances of scoring against the small Dallas cornerbacks in the red zone.
Dez Bryant, Dallas vs Detroit, $8500 – Of all the receiver options, I think Bryant is the most attractive to me this week. Vegas loves the Cowboys, and there’s a good chance they’ll throw the ball more than usual with Ndamukong Suh back and stuffing the run up the middle.
If Vegas likes Dallas at 28 points and we assume that Romo will air it out 35-40 times, you have to like Bryant to take advantage of the Detroit secondary. The main issue here is if the Lions can get adequate pressure with four rushers, they might be able to double-team Bryant regularly. Unlike Brown in Pittsburgh, the Cowboys aren’t particularly efficient at utilizing their top receiver when he’s doubled.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati at Indianapolis, $8000 – Green is still very much a question mark for this game. I think he’s going to give it a go, and a game-time decision could actually be the best thing to happen for those who roster him. You need to set your DraftKings lineups on Saturday at a time when we might not know about Green’s status. As long as you don’t use Green and T.Y. Hilton together, you can roster Green on Saturday, hope for low usage, and then just swap down to Hilton if he’s ruled out.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis vs Cincinnati, $7800 – Outside of Dallas, Indy is Vegas’s favorite offense this weekend. I think you’re going to have a heck of a time deciding if you want to play Hilton or pay up the extra $700-$1000 for Bryant/Johnson. The ability to roster a backup running back in Pittsburgh could mean that you can afford both options. I like Hilton in a stack with Andrew Luck since their production is so correlated.
Middle of the Road
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina vs Arizona, $5900 – Benjamin is the sixth-most expensive receiver in the Wild Card round, but he represents a massive $1900 savings from Hilton. As well as Benjamin has played this year, I don’t think he has truly elite 150/2 sort of upside like the top tier of pass-catchers, especially with Cam Newton running the ball more often of late. That doesn’t mean Benjamin isn’t valuable, especially given the cost, but I think this you’re going to run into massive ownership here.
Golden Tate, Detroit at Dallas, $5500 – Tate had 99 catches this season, but the majority of his big performances came when Megatron was either out or hobbled. Tate has scored only four times this season and hasn’t produced very much since Johnson has returned to form, racking up his last 100-yard game in Week 10.
Having said that, I actually kind of like Tate because 1) it should be a favorable game script for Detroit’s passing attack and 2) I know the Cowboys are going to double and triple-team Johnson at all costs. The Cowboys have the ability to struggle over the middle of the field with their pass defense, and Tate ran 58.6 percent of his routes from the slot in 2014.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore at Pittsburgh, $5400 – One of the questions I ask myself when selecting a wide receiver for GPPs is “Can this player realistically score two touchdowns on a semi-consistent basis?” Despite his size and mediocre offense, I think Smith is one of those players. His ability to get into the end zone from anywhere on the field is the reason he managed 11 touchdowns this year despite a pretty horrible start. Smith is hurt in PPR formats, but I still like him a lot this week in Pittsburgh.
Michael Floyd, Arizona at Carolina, $5200 – How the hell did Floyd go for 8/153/2 in Week 17 against the Niners? I think he’s a really talented receiver, but Ryan Lindley at quarterback is a major problem. Vegas has Arizona projected at 13.5 points this week – 13.5 points! – and that’s pretty much all I need to know to avoid their passing attack.
Steve Smith, Baltimore at Pittsburgh, $5000 – I’m probably not going to be on Smith much since (the other) Smith is just $400 more expensive and has a superior chance of scoring. The older Smith has been catching a decent number of passes lately and probably represents value in the strict $/point sense, but I don’t like his range of outcomes, which likely limits his access to a league-winning type of ceiling.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona at Carolina, $4700 – I don’t like Fitzgerald for the same reasoning I don’t like Floyd. I actually prefer Floyd if I’m going to roster one of them, even at $500 steeper of a price tag. Fitzgerald has limited value if his offense can’t get in position to score, as evidenced by his two touchdowns on the year.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis vs Cincinnati, $4300 – I think Fitzgerald is a much better receiver than Wayne at this point in their careers, but Wayne is probably the superior tournament option on DraftKings just because of the offenses. For Fitzgerald to give you a line of, say, 5/80/2, he’d need to capture a massive percentage of Arizona’s total passing production. That same line for Wayne might represent only one-third of the fantasy points generated by Andrew Luck.
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati at Indianapolis, $4200 – Sanu has been a disappearing act since Green has returned to the field. If Green can’t go on Sunday, Sanu is immediately in play and probably the best wide receiver value on DraftKings. If Green is healthy, Sanu is basically unplayable. He had seven catches over the final five games combined, never once topping 19 yards receiving. Holy crap.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh vs Baltimore, $4100 – I haven’t played Bryant once this season because he doesn’t see enough targets to warrant it. He’s a really talented receiver and a huge threat to score when he’s on the field, but he can’t be counted on without more looks. I’d probably throw him into a lineup or two if I thought it would be unique, but Bryant’s high weekly usage relative to his workload probably makes that a poor decision.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis vs Cincinnati, $3600 – Moncrief is very much like Bryant in that he’s an extremely talented rookie on an explosive offense, but doesn’t see many targets. Of the two, I prefer Moncrief because he’s on an even better offense and will save you $500.