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.
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TOP-10 WR TARGET PROJECTIONS
These are the receivers I project to see the most targets in Week 12 (Sunday/Monday main slate only):
1. Julio Jones vs. Vikings: 14 targets – Julio is on pace for 142 catches and 1,902 yards. The NFL records are 143 (Marvin Harrison 2002) and 1,964 (Calvin Johnson 2012). Kyle Shanahan gets this man fed no matter what the situation.
2. DeAndre Hopkins vs. Saints: 12 targets – The Texans won’t be afraid to test Delvin Breaux early and often. Hopkins has double-digit targets in every game this year and is averaging 13.6 per day. He’s the chalk at WR this week.
3. Antonio Brown at Seahawks: 12 targets – DeAngelo Williams is a poor bet for success against a Seattle defense that ranks 6th in YPC allowed and 10th in run-defense DVOA. That’s fine by Ben Roethlisberger, who has targeted Brown an outrageous 37 times in their last two games. The Seahawks’ elite pass defense fares far worse against the small/quick WRs than the big/strong ones.
4. Odell Beckham Jr. at Redskins: 10 targets – The last time these two teams met (Week 3), the Redskins were able to contain Beckham with physicality and double teams. It felt like he was a bit fortunate to end up with 7-79-1 on nine targets.
5. Demaryius Thomas vs. Patriots: 10 targets – The first game with Brock Osweiler resulted in eight targets on 27 attempts. Expect the Broncos to be forced into more throws against the Patriots, giving Demaryius more opportunity. The ceiling on DT is back with the very capable Brock in and Peyton Manning out.
6. Larry Fitzgerald at 49ers: 9 targets – The matchup against Jimmie Ward is ideal. It will help if Michael Floyd (hamstring) or John Brown (hamstring) are out/limited again.
7. Mike Evans vs. Colts: 9 targets – Evans’ projection ceiling certainly takes a hit with Vincent Jackson healthy. Last week, Evans got seven compared to V-Jax’s six.
8. Jarvis Landry at Jets: 9 targets – When the Jets and Dolphins played in Week 4, Darrelle Revis was on Landry for 25-of-47 pass routes (via PFF’s Mike Clay). This week, Revis is not expected to play due to a concussion.
9. Brandon Marshall vs. Dolphins: 9 targets – Eric Decker has the softer matchup, as Marshall will see Brent Grimes. But it’s one Marshall can dominate. He’s averaging 11.5 targets per day across the last three weeks.
10. A.J. Green vs. Rams: 8 targets – With all the mouths to feed in Cincy, Green’s volume has been concerning. He’s averaging just 9.2 targets per day, below similarly priced Larry Fitzgerald (9.8), Demaryius Thomas (11.1) and Mike Evans (10.2).
CHEAP PRICE, HIGH VOLUME
Figuring out the top-end guys (above) is relatively easy. The low-end wideouts are much harder – and more valuable. Each week this season, I’m going to discuss wide receivers under $5000 who I project for at least five targets.
Note: The Following projections are based on the Main Slate Sunday/Monday games only.
1. Danny Amendola at Broncos, $4700
Amendola left Monday night’s win over the Bills in the fourth quarter due to a knee sprain. Before going down, he moved into the Julian Edelman role seamlessly with 9-117-0 on 12 targets. The good news is Amendola returned to a limited practice on Thursday, giving him a chance to play against the Broncos Sunday. The bad news is we likely won’t know Amendola’s status until roughly 630pm ET Sunday night, and he also has one of the worst possible matchups against Chris Harris. It’s a hairy situation that will need to be monitored Sunday morning.
Projection: Eight targets (if healthy)
2. Stevie Johnson at Jaguars, $4500
The Chargers have zero chance of running the football against a Jags defense that currently leads the entire league in YPC allowed (3.37) and ranks second in run-defense DVOA. That’s going to force Philip Rivers into another voluminous attack even though his effectiveness has been thwarted by injuries the line and receiving corps. The steadiest target remains Stevie, who has seen 18 targets in his last two games and caught 14 of them.
Projection: Eight targets
3. Jeremy Maclin vs. Bills, $4700
Maclin has faced Jason Verrett, Aqib Talib/Bradley Roby and Darius Slay over the last three weeks. Predictably, that’s resulted in three straight games under 40 yards. But before that, he was averaging 88.5 yards per day on 6.5 catches per day. Now comes a matchup against a Bills defense which is overrated against the run but still funnels volume toward the pass. Maclin, who opened the season at $6900 and was $6200 as recently as Week 8, is way too cheap relative to his role in this matchup.
Projection: Eight targets
4. Vincent Jackson at Colts, $4700
Jackson was finally able to return from his knee injury last week and play on 76.5 percent of the snaps, compiling a 4-56-1 line on six targets. This week, V-Jax isn’t on the injury report at all. So he should be around 90 percent of the snaps against a Colts defense that has Vontae Davis scuffling and Greg Toler 92nd in PFF’s grades. Jackson is certainly back in play as a weekly GPP boom/bust guy.
Projection: Seven targets
5. Kendall Wright vs. Raiders, $4400
Wright is expected back from the knee injury that has sidelined him since Week 8. He gets a soft landing spot, as he’ll often square off with Raiders inept slot corner D.J. Hayden, who is PFF’s No. 106 corner. Wright was averaging 6.6 targets per game before his injury.
Projection: Seven targets
6. Tyler Lockett vs. Steelers, $3000
It’s quietly an excellent spot for Lockett, who has played 76.2 and 68.8 percent of the offensive snaps in the last two games. While all the ownership will be on chalk RB Thomas Rawls, we can gain a lot if he fails and the pass game goes ham. Lockett, who scored two touchdowns last week, is also the Seahawks’ primary return man on both punts and kickoffs. He correlates with both Russell Wilson and SEA D/ST.
Projection: Five targets
Honorable mention: Willie Snead (six targets), Cecil Shorts (five targets)