WATCH: AERIAL ATTACK – WEEK 14
For wide receivers, volume is necessary. These are the wide receivers I project to see the most targets in Week 14 (Sunday main slate only):
TOP-10 WR Target Projections
1. Mike Evans: 11 targets – The Chargers sold out to stop Evans last week, using underrated stud Casey Hayward plus help to limit him to six targets. The Saints don’t have the personnel or scheme to do the same.
2. Antonio Brown: 11 targets – Brown has seen just 13 total targets over the last two weeks, mostly because the Steelers have been nursing big leads in both contests. That’s unlikely to be the case this week as Ben Roethlisberger’s efficiency will likely go down but his volume will likely go up as he’s on the road at New Era Field.
3. Odell Beckham Jr.: 10 targets – Beckham continues to see more consistent volume than anyone in the league and his truly unique YAC ability gives him a big ceiling. OBJ is averaging 10.4 targets per game and has seen at least 10 in six of his last eight games.
4. T.Y. Hilton: 9 targets – Hilton and Andrew Luck have played 10 full games together this year. Hilton is averaging 10.3 targets per game in them, which would be fourth in the league behind only Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham.
5. Julio Jones: 9 targets – A toe issue caused Julio to only be in on 47-of-73 snaps last week. He also missed practice Wednesday. I expect Julio to play against Trumaine Johnson and the Rams Sunday, but there’s enough risk to limit him to tournaments.
6. Jordy Nelson: 9 targets – The matchup with Seattle’s No. 6 DVOA pass defense is obviously difficult, but no Earl Thomas (leg) is big and the game is in Lambeau. Jordy is averaging 11.6 targets per game over his last five as the Packers have wisely abandoned their inept run game.
7. Larry Fitzgerald: 9 targets – Carson Palmer is struggling badly to throw outside the numbers, John Brown (sickle cell) is on a snap count, and the ageless Fitz continues to win out of the slot.
8. Emmanuel Sanders: 9 targets – Manny Sanders continues to quietly rack up volume. He’s seeing a whopping 28.4 percent of the Broncos targets and ranks ninth in the league at 9.5 targets per game. Assuming Trevor Siemian (foot) can go, the matchup with Tennessee’s 24th DVOA pass defense is a green light.
9. Jordan Matthews: 9 targets – JMatt is expected to return from his ankle sprain for a dream spot. Carson Wentz knows DGB and Nelson Agholor are inept, so targets will funnel toward the slot. That’s where Matthews has the best matchup anyway as he’ll avoid Josh Norman/Bashaud Breeland and face terrible Kendall Fuller.
10. Stefon Diggs: 8 targets – Diggs should be fully healthy to serve the Sam Bradford check-down role which has been so profitable in a PPR format. Diggs has seen 13, 14, 15, 7 and 8 targets in his last five games. When he missed Thanksgiving, Adam Thielen played the role and got 11 targets.
WATCH: VALUE PLAY: KENNY BRITT
Figuring out the top-end guys (above) is relatively easy. The low-end wideouts are much harder – and more valuable. Each week, I’ll discuss wide receivers under $5,000 who I project for at least five targets.
1. Michael Floyd, Cardinals: $3,900
It’s been a nightmare season for Michael Floyd, who was pressing/underperforming so bad in his contract year that he got benched. But with John Brown (sickle cell) limited to around 20 snaps and undersized J.J. Nelson proving to be a limited streaker, Floyd is on the rise again. It makes sense as Floyd’s physical style fits this washed-up version of Carson Palmer better than Brown or Nelson. In last week’s win over the Redskins, Floyd played on 70-of-76 snaps – his highest rate since Week 1. Dolphins perimeter corners Byron Maxwell and Tony Lippett are certainly burnable, setting Floyd up nicely this week.
Projection: 7 targets
2. Tyler Boyd, Bengals: $4,900
With A.J. Green (hamstring) expected to miss again, we know where Andy Dalton will be looking at the wideout position. Over the last three weeks, Tyler Boyd has seen 23 targets while Brandon LaFell ($5,000) has seen 25. Both are obviously in plus spots this week as the Bengals take on a winless Browns team which is 31st DVOA vs. the pass, 31st in YPA allowed and dead last in passing TDs allowed. It is worth noting that LaFell leads the team in red-zone targets this season with 14, five more than Boyd.
Projection: 7 targets
3. Cameron Meredith $4,000 and Josh Bellamy $3,500, Bears
Marquess Wilson (groin) left after four snaps Sunday and didn’t practice Wednesday. Eddie Royal (toe) also appears likely to miss again. That would leave the Bears’ top-three wideouts clear-cut in Cam Meredith, Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson. With Matt Barkley looking surprisingly confident/competent and a plus matchup inside Detroit’s Ford Field, there’s a higher floor here than most would suspect. Bellamy has turned 15 targets over the last two weeks into 8-134-0 and we’re only two months removed from Meredith’s back-to-back 100-yard games.
Projection: 6 targets for each if Marquess Wilson and Eddie Royal are out
4. Will Fuller, Texans: $4,500
Brock Osweiler had no shot in the snowy conditions at Lambeau field last week despite the Packers’ leaky pass defense. This week should be a different story. Osweiler has a chance to at least be competent inside against a hobbled Vontae Davis and a Colts’ defense which ranks 29th DVOA vs. the pass. If that’s the case, Will Fuller will again be a candidate for big plays. He’s seen 12 targets over the last two weeks, catching 10 of them for 119 yards.
Projection: 6 targets
5. Robby Anderson, Jets: $3,000
Bryce Petty and Robby Anderson are backup BFFs. This is what happens when you spend all spring and summer on the same unit. Anderson was the Randy Moss of this year’s preseason, leading the league in receiving yards (264) and receiving TDs (3) while rankings third in catches (13). He caught three passes for 40-plus yards. Anderson and Petty carried that connection over to the regular season as Anderson racked up 12 targets against the Colts last week, one of which went for a 40-yard TD from Petty. Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa are still the top-two WRs here, but Anderson is the big playmaker Petty likes to look at.
Projection: 5 targets
6. Russell Shepard, Bucs: $3,500
The Bucs have the highest implied team total of the week and a decimated wideout corps. Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy were already done, and then Adam Humphries (concussion) and Cecil Shorts (torn ACL) left the Week 13 game. If Humphries is out Sunday, the Bucs will be down to Russell Shepard, Freddie Martino and practice squad call-up Josh Huff behind target monster Mike Evans. Last week, Shepard out-snapped Martino 50-29 — but only saw two targets. The floor here is very low, but if Jameis Winston hangs a big day on the Saints then Shepard will likely be involved.
Projection: 5 targets (if Adam Humphries is out)
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