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 four-game Divisional Round slate:
1. Antonio Brown $9800 at Broncos: 13 targets (if he’s active) – Brown is questionable for Sunday due to a concussion. If he plays, we know he’ll see plenty of Chris Harris. We also know that although Harris is one of the best in the game, Brown gave him 16-189-2 in Week 15. Averaging 13.9 targets per game across his last 10, Brown remains the premier play on the slate. If he’s out, the Steelers will ride with Markus Wheaton/Martavis Bryant in two-wide sets and Darrius Heyward-Bey in the No. 3 role.
Update: Antonio Brown has been downgraded to OUT this weekend. This should lead to boosts in targets for Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Heath Miller and Fitzgerald Toussaint.
2. Demaryius Thomas $7000 vs. Steelers: 11 targets — Peyton Manning played eight full games this year. Demaryius averaged 11.6 targets in those compared to 10.8 in Brock Osweiler’s six games. More importantly, DT was at 18.6 DK points per game with Peyton and 15.3 DK points with Brock. As noted repeatedly last week, I like using pass-catchers against the Steelers because they have the league’s No. 5 DVOA run defense and an offense that can handle themselves in shootouts.
3. Julian Edelman $7100 vs Chiefs: 11 targets – I don’t expect Edelman to be limited even though this is his first game since breaking his foot in Week 10. He practiced with the team ahead of both Week 16 and 17, suggesting he’s been close for nearly a month now. In eight games before the injury, Edelman averaged 10.3 targets per game. Tom Brady, who has floundered without his favorite receiver, is likely to look Edelman’s way a ton.
4. Emmanuel Sanders $5800 vs. Steelers: 9 targets – Sanders was at 10.0 targets with Peyton Manning and 8.8 with Brock. That included a 10-181-1 eruption for Manny in Week 15 with Osweiler when these teams met in Pittsburgh (#revengegame). Sanders gives us a $1200 discount on Thomas, but Demaryius’ 10.8 Average Depth of Target shows how much safer he is thanks to all the bubble screens. Manny is up at 14.8.
5. James Jones $4600 at Cardinals: 9 targets – In the five games since Mike McCarthy took back playcalling duties, Jones’ targets have read 7, 9, 11, 13, 11. He should see a lot of Justin Bethel in this game while Randall Cobb has to deal with Patrick Peterson. Frankly, it appears Aaron Rodgers has more faith in Jones right now than any of his other receivers.
6. Doug Baldwin $6800 at Panthers: 8 targets – Even in frigid conditions and a difficult matchup last week, Baldwin got seven targets and scored his 12th touchdown in the last seven games. This week, he should mostly avoid the coverage of Josh Norman. Norman plays 2 percent of his snaps in the slot (via PFF) while Baldwin lines up in the slot on 83 percent of his snaps. Baldwin will mostly run routes at Cortland Finnegan, who “retired” after getting cut by the Dolphins in March and then sat on the street until December.
7. Michael Floyd $5100 vs. Packers: 7 targets – Emerging as Carson Palmer’s No. 1 target, Floyd averaged 8.0 targets across his last seven full games. That included a 6-111-0 line on eight targets against the Packers in Week 16. If Sam Shields (concussion) can’t go again, Floyd will get a little boost.
8. Randall Cobb $5900 at Cardinals: 7 targets – Davante Adams’ knee injury isn’t great news for Cobb. It means he’ll be pushed outside more often to make room for Jared Abbrederis, who profiles as a strict slot man. So Cobb will be forced into the waiting arms of Patrick Peterson, PFF’s No. 5 cover corner on the season. Note that the Cardinals completely eliminated Cobb in Week 16, holding him to 3-15-0 on three targets.
9. Larry Fitzgerald $6500 vs. Packers: 7 targets — The 32-year-old Fitzgerald predictably slowed down over the last half of the season and only got 5.7 targets per game over the final four weeks. He’s one of the league’s best blocking wideouts and has been used in that role a lot. The good news is he remains a primary red-zone target, tying for 12th in the league in that category this season with 21.
10. Martavis Bryant $6000 at Broncos: 6 targets (if Antonio Brown is in) – Obviously, Bryant’s projections will take a leap if Brown is inactive. The problem is he’s not a load-bearing wideouts at all. He’s a vertical streaker and one that Ben Roethlisberger has openly complained about trusting. Bryant did post 10 catches in when these teams met in Week 15, but was held to 87 yards and no scores.