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 5 (Sunday/Monday slate only):
1. Julio Jones: 12 targets – The Redskins have been among the hardest teams in the NFL to run against for the last two seasons.
2. Demaryius Thomas: 11 targets – Broncos offense is a shell of former self, but DT does have 50 targets in four games after leading NFL in the category last year.
3. Odell Beckham Jr.: 10 targets – This is an eruption spot for Beckham as the 49ers’ youthful secondary has no answer for him.
4. Julian Edelman: 10 targets – Always a good cash-game play at $7000 given PPR format. Has seen at least ten targets in ten straight games.
5. Keenan Allen: 9 targets – Stevie Johnson (hamstring) and Malcom Floyd (concussion) are both in doubt for this dreamy matchup against the Steelers.
6. Calvin Johnson: 9 targets – The deep shots and big plays are way down, but Johnson still has 46 targets through four games.
7. Randall Cobb: 9 targets – Bounceback spot for Cobb at home against burnable Rams slot CB Lamarcus Joyner.
8. Amari Cooper: 9 targets – The matchup against the Broncos is brutal, but Cooper hasn’t seen any fewer than nine targets in each of his first four NFL games.
9. Antonio Brown: 8 targets – Virtually unrosterable with Michael Vick until his price comes way further down (was $9200 Week 4, is $8700 Week 5).
10. Emmanuel Sanders: 8 targets – Peyton only had to attempt 27 passes last week against the Vikings. Expect him closer to 35 against the Raiders.
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. There are some interesting ones in Week 5:
Note: The Following projections are based on Sunday/Monday games only.
1. Leonard Hankerson, Falcons – $4000
Careful observers knew 33-year-old Roddy White was done last year when he got outplayed by Harry Douglas on a per-snap basis. Things got even hairier for White when Kyle Shanahan was brought in as OC. Shanny is among the league’s best at identifying his top talent and feeding those players the ball. So when the Falcons signed Leonard Hankerson – a toolsy prospect whose time with Shanahan in Washington was derailed by injury – we knew there was upside there.
Everything has gone according to plan so far, as Hankerson posted 15-222-2 over the last three games while playing 66 percent of the snaps. Meanwhile, Roddy has 2-8-0 during that span. The matchup this week is pristine at home against a funneling Redskins defense is second in the NFL in rush defense this year and was 12th last year. Their already talent-deficient secondary is also banged up with injuries to DeAngelo Hall among others. And no, I’m not worried about White’s selfish rant in which he complained about his role on the 4-0 Falcons. Dead horses don’t get fed.
Projection: Seven targets
2. Willie Snead, Saints — $3000
Here comes Willie. Snead is a player I had my eye on since the preseason, when he forced his way onto the team by racking up 11-148-1 in four games. In Week 1 he played on 24.3 percent of the snaps, Week 2 was up to 50.0 percent, Week 3 was 61.1 percent and Week 4 was 65.8 percent. He has at least six targets in three straight games and now gets a dream matchup with the Eagles. Snead is slightly ahead of both Marques Colston and Brandon Coleman.
Projection: Six targets
3. Jamison Crowder, Redskins – $3500
Andre Roberts was a healthy scratch in Week 4, officially declaring the changing of the guard at the Redskins’ slot WR position. It’s now fourth-round rookie Jamison Crowder’s job and he’s played on 69.9 percent of the snaps over the last two weeks, producing 15-110-0 on 18 targets. Pierre Garcon and Ryan Grant will remain the primary outside receivers if DeSean Jackson (hamstring) can’t go, but Crowder against Phillip Adams in the slot is a nice matchup. The Redskins also project to be trailing plenty as they are 7.5-point dogs.
Projection: Six targets
4. Michael Crabtree, Raiders — $4600
Even though Crabtree missed about a quarter of the Week 4 game at Chicago, he still finished with finished with 5-80-0 on six targets. That gives him a whopping 39 targets through four games, an outrageously high number for someone priced at $4600. The matchup against the Broncos All-Pro caliber corner trio of Aqib Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby means I’ll probably be avoiding Crabtree this week. But he’s still a great bet for eight targets.
Projection: Eight targets
5. Kamar Aiken, Ravens – $3800
Steve Smith (back, ribs) is doubtful, Michael Campanaro (back) is on IR and Breshad Perriman (knee) remains sidelined. That leaves Kamar Aiken as the no-doubt No. 1, with support from Marlon Brown, Darren Waller and Chris Givens. Tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf) is also very questionable. All this means Aiken, a reasonable athlete at 6’2/215 with 4.45 speed, should see at least 80 percent of the snaps this week. The Browns have talent in the secondary with Joe Haden and Tramon Williams, but have underperformed sharply this season.
Projection: Six targets
6. Michael Floyd, Cardinals – $3000
Once a tantalizing and physically imposing prospect that was 13th overall in the 2013 draft, Floyd has understandably become a forgotten man. He was essentially a situational deep threat last year, ranking ninth in the league in aDot (average depth of target) at 16.9 yards. So even though his snap count is rising and he’s seen 12 targets over the three weeks, this one scares me a bit. Still, any talented player at min-salary getting work against a Lions defense that is a threat to funnel toward the pass is worth considering.
Projection: Five targets