For wide receivers, volume is necessary. That’s especially true in cash games, where we sacrifice depth of target and ceiling in exchange for a lot of chances.
TOP-10 WR TARGET PROJECTIONS
These are the receivers I project to see the most targets during the two-game Conference Championship slate:
1. Julian Edelman $7500 at Broncos: 12 targets – Edelman played his first game since Week 10 last week and was not limited in any way. He was on the field for 87.9 percent of the snaps and saw 16 targets (38.0 percent market share). That’s a big upgrade on the 10.3 targets he averaged during the regular season, but it makes sense with the offense so desperate for his role as an extension of the inept run game. Chris Harris’ (shoulder) return to a full practice Wednesday isn’t the best news for Edelman’s outlook, but his ability to improvise off a high-percentage route tree makes him borderline matchup-proof.
2. Demaryius Thomas $7000 vs. Patriots: 10 targets – During the regular season, Demaryius averaged 11.6 targets with Peyton Manning (compared to 10.0 for Emmanuel Sanders). Last week, each wideout got eight targets. The production wasn’t there for DT as Manning slightly overthrew him on what should have been a long touchdown pass and Thomas dropped yet another easy one. But the concentration here is strong and the low aDOT (10.8 during the regular season) thanks to bubble screens keeps the floor high.
3. Larry Fitzgerald $6900 at Panthers: 9 targets – I’m not sure the Cardinals were “saving” Fitz for the playoffs only so they could unleash him to the tune of 8-176-1 on 12 targets in the OT win over the Packers. I do think Carson Palmer trusts Fitzgerald more than Michael Floyd/John Brown. I know that Fitzgerald has the best matchup this week as Josh Norman only goes into the slot 2 percent of the time and Fitz runs out of the slot on 58 percent of his snaps. Panthers slot corner Cortland Finnegan was on the street until a couple months ago.
4. Emmanuel Sanders $6300 vs. Patriots: 8 targets – When these two teams met in late November, Sanders posted 6-113-0 on nine targets and Demaryius sputtered to 1-36-0 on 13 targets. The production obviously won’t be so skewed this week, but Sanders will likely come with lower ownership than DT at a similar projection. He’ll likely see more Malcom Butler but Logan Ryan is no picnic either.
5. John Brown $5200 at Panthers: 7 targets – I suspect more people will want to roster Michael Floyd over John Brown. Note that the latter is averaging 7.57 targets over his last seven games, including nine against the Packers last week. Also note that Brown had 18 red-zone targets during the regular season and converted seven of them compared to 12 red-zone targets and four conversions for Floyd. I know one is 6’2/220 and the other is 5’11/179, but Brown has just as good of a shot to score here.
6. Michael Floyd $5300 at Panthers: 7 targets – The Panthers have used Josh Norman in shadow coverage against elite outside receivers such as Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, T.Y. Hilton and Dez Bryant. It’s unclear if they’ll give Floyd the respect of that treatment, or just allow Norman to stick on one side. Either way, Floyd and Brown have more difficult matchups than Larry Fitzgerald this week.
7. Ted Ginn $4300 vs. Cardinals: 5 targets – Last week’s zero-catch game on one target was a little puzzling. But the Panthers coasted out to a 31-0 lead, Ginn was possibly hampered by a lingering knee issue and the Seahawks are top-3 DVOA against the pass. The matchup this week isn’t good either as Ginn will likely see plenty of Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals are No 4 in DVOA pass defense. But in a potential shootout, the speedster will see more chances.
8. Brandon LaFell $3300 at Broncos: 5 targets – There’s not much to say here other than Brandon LaFell is simply not good enough. He’s averaged 6.6 targets per game from Tom Brady all year yet has zero touchdowns and zero games over five receptions. He’s averaging a pathetic 6.59 yards per target. Now LaFell has to match up with Bradley Roby and Aqib Talib – he’s unlikely to snap out of his season-long funk.
9. Corey Brown $2800 vs. Cardinals: 5 targets – The snap rate against the Seahawks last week was Brown 75.4 and Devin Funchess 33.9. That’s been a consistent theme all year, as the Panthers have played Brown over Funchess whenever the former has been healthy. It’s highly unlikely to change this week. Philly (aka Corey) has seen at least four targets in six straight games, averaging 5.1 during that span. If Patrick Peterson does end up shadowing Ted Ginn, Brown will be a very interesting play at $2800.
10. Jerricho Cotchery $2400 vs. Cardinals: 4 targets – We know what we’re getting with the 33-year-old, 12-year vet. He’s going to play around 50 percent of the snaps, operate exclusively out of the slot and get 3-5 targets. We also know he won’t see any of Patrick Peterson. I prefer the ceiling of Brown if we’re reaching down this low, as Cotchery has a painful 8.7 aDOT (average depth of target) compared to Philly’s massive 15.5.