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 in Week 13 (Sunday/Monday main slate only):
1. Antonio Brown vs. Colts: 13 targets – Even when Brown was shadowed by Richard Sherman last week, Ben Roethlisberger targeted him 12 times. A potential matchup with Vontae Davis doesn’t scare me – Davis has quietly had a “meh” season. He’s 31st in passer rating when thrown at (via PFF) after leading the entire league in that category last year.
2. Julio Jones vs. Bucs: 13 targets – Expect the Falcons to rectify last week’s criminal usage of Julio that netted a meager seven targets. The Bucs quietly have the No. 2 DVOA rush defense and No. 24 pass defense. It’s an ideal spot to get back on Jones.
3. DeAndre Hopkins at Bills: 12 targets – No one is going to want to roster Hopkins after he burned the entire world with last week’s game-flow induced dud. Although Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby can play, teams have had success spreading the ball out and throwing against the Bills all year. In terms of raw yards allowed, they give up the 10th-most in the league (254 per game).
4. Odell Beckham, Jr. vs. Jets: 11 targets – I won’t go as far to say Darrelle Revis is a shell of himself at age 30, but this is a matchup that Beckham should dominate. I enjoyed this column on the matchup from the New York Daily News. It’s also worth monitoring Revis’ concussion – he didn’t practice Wednesday.
5. Alshon Jeffery vs. 49ers: 11 targets – In Alshon’s five full games this year, he’s seen at least 11 targets in every one and is averaging 12.8. The 49ers defense is one that I prefer to attack when they go on the road, where they give up 6.9 yards per play. That’s the worst mark in the league.
6. Brandon Marshall at Giants: 10 targets – We know exactly how the Jets will generate offense – through Marshall and Eric Decker. The former is averaging 11.4 targets a day over his last five with five touchdowns during that span.
7. Larry Fitzgerald at Rams: 9 targets – This should be the healthiest John Brown (hamstring) and Michael Floyd (hamstring) have been in a while. Still, Fitz’s targets are secure thanks to the quick-hitters out of the slot. They’ll be needed against a Rams defense that ranks fifth in sacks.
8. T.Y. Hilton at Steelers: 9 targets – It’s a funnel spot for the Colts, who have no prayer of generating a run game against the Steelers’ stout front. Hilton is averaging 9.5 targets per day with Matt Hasselbeck vs. 9.4 with Andrew Luck.
9. A.J. Green vs. Browns: 9 targets – Joe Haden (concussion) didn’t practice Wednesday. It’s a situation to monitor as Haden has owned Green throughout his NFL career.
10. Jarvis Landry vs. Ravens: 9 targets – The firing of Bill Lazor is slightly concerning, as it probably had something to do with how pass-heavy he was. But Rishard Matthews (ribs) is out and the Ravens are far easier to attack via the air.
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 vs. Eagles, $4800
Amendola’s quote on why he didn’t play against the Broncos is a little concerning: “I didn’t think it was bad at first, then I couldn’t run. … I didn’t want to hobble around out there and get killed.” Still, Amendola is practicing this week and appears on track to play a full complement of snaps against the Eagles. With Julian Edelman out, that means somewhere near 90 percent. Note that Amendola was very effective in the first game without Edelman, going 9-117-0 on 12 targets despite only lasting 46 snaps (of a possible 69).
Projection: Nine targets
2. Brandon LaFell vs. Eagles, $4800
LaFell has seen at least six targets in all six of his games this year and is averaging 7.8. Now comes a dream matchup against a crumbling Eagles team that has turned on itself. On top of all the other issues in Philly, overperforming RCB Nolan Carroll broke his ankle versus the Lions on Thanksgiving. That means LaFell will get to run routes at scared money Byron Maxwell (PFF’s No. 102 coverage CB) and overmatched rookie Eric Rowe. It’s the worst starting CB duo in the NFL right now.
Projection: Eight targets
3. Donte Moncrief at Steelers, $4600
The Colts have officially given up on Andre Johnson, letting him play just 44.0 percent of the snaps in the last three games. Before that, he was in the 65-80 percent range weekly. That’s led to some more consistent chances for Moncrief, who has seen 8 and 9 targets of the last two weeks. He’s also gotten sustained love from Matt Hasselbeck, averaging 7.25 targets in his four games vs. 7.71 with Andrew Luck. This week’s matchup against the Steelers is elite, as the Colts have zero chance of running the ball against the top-9 DVOA run defense and will therefore funnel action to the air.
Projection: Eight targets
4. Vincent Jackson vs. Falcons, $4700
V-Jax is averaging 7.2 targets per game on the year, but has cleared 60 yards just twice and has one game over 76 yards. It’s really weak production despite some really solid opportunity. Falcons LCB Desmond Trufant does not shadow and the Bucs move Mike Evans/Jackson around plenty, so there’s not a matchup downgrade here. But I’d be more comfortable with V-Jax as a GPP-only play as his outcome range is so wide.
Projection: Seven targets
5. Stevie Johnson vs. Broncos, $4700
The Chargers’ broken running game led Philip Rivers to 40+ attempts again last week, the sixth time that’s happened in 11 outings this year. And with Keenan Allen done, Stevie Johnson has predictably emerged as Rivers’ go-to guy underneath. In the three games since Allen’s injury, Stevie has recorded 10, 8 and 10 targets and never getting more than eight in the first six games of the year. The concern this week, of course, is an elite Broncos defense that allows the fewest yards per play in the league (4.5) and a matchup with slot corner Chris Harris (PFF’s No. 3 CB this year and No. 1 last year). The three following games against KC, MIA and OAK will yield far better spots to get on Stevie.
Projection: Seven targets
6. DeVante Parker vs. Ravens, $3300
Rishard Matthews left after three snaps last week due to multiple fractured ribs that will end his season. After that, DeVante Parker played on 61-of-75 snaps compared to 54 for Kenny Stills and 19 for Greg Jennings. With Matthews done and the Dolphins’ season in the toilet, they might as well throw Parker into the fire. It appears that he’ll run in all two-wide sets with slot man Jarvis Landry. Parker, the gifted first-round rookie, went a garbage-time aided 4-80-1 on 10 targets against the Jets last week.
Projection: Six targets
7. Marvin Jones at Browns, $3800
At some point, the Marvin Jones breakout game is going to happen. He’s playing on 83.9 percent of the snaps and has seen at least five targets in seven straight games – averaging 7.7 during that span. The problem is it’s very difficult to project when the breakout is coming because Jones is big-play dependent and the Bengals have so many options. If Tyler Eifert (neck) can’t go it will narrow down the market share a bit.
Projection: Seven targets
Honorable mention: Kendall Wright (six targets), Kamar Aiken (seven targets), John Brown (six targets), Willie Snead (six targets), Ted Ginn (five targets), Anquan Boldin (eight targets)