WATCH: VALUE ALERT – TED GINN
For wide receivers, volume is necessary. These are the wide receivers I project to see the most targets in Week 16 (Saturday main slate only):
TOP-10 WR Target Projections
1. Mike Evans: 9 targets – Evans has only seen 23 targets over the last three weeks as teams sell out to stop him. However, Drew Brees’ ability to dominate at home makes a shootout far more likely in this spot. I would note that Evans has been shut down by the Saints in their last three meetings, going 4-42-0 in Wk 13, 3-39-0 in Wk 14 of 2015 and 0-0-0 in Wk 2 of 2015.
2. Jordy Nelson: 9 targets – Nelson is likely to see shadow coverage from physical Xavier Rhodes, but it doesn’t matter too much. Jordy’s chemistry with Aaron Rodgers and red-zone role is elite. He leads all players with 32 red-zone targets, eight more than second-place Michael Crabtree.
3. T.Y. Hilton: 9 targets – The Raiders’ oversized corner duo of Sean Smith and David Amerson has struggled for much of the year with smaller, fast receivers. So it’s a nice spot for Hilton, even with Donte Moncrief (hamstring) expected back.
4. Julian Edelman: 9 targets – As noted in this week’s usage article, Edelman’s snap count has been slashed dramatically over the last three games. But it hasn’t affected his target share as he’s seen 12, 15 and 12 during that span. The Jets feature the league’s No. 32 pass defense DVOA and the No. 3 run defense.
5. DeAndre Hopkins: 9 targets – Aggressive Tom Savage finally relieved Brock Osweiler last week and immediately rejuvenated Hopkins. Savage targeted Hopkins 13 times leading to eight catches and Nuk’s best game since Week 2. Note that Hopkins is priced at $5,200 after opening the season at $8,800 and being at $7,400 in Week 8.
6. Julio Jones: 8 targets – If we get word that Julio’s sprained toe is close to 100 percent, I’ll raise his projection. For now, all we know is he’s practicing and says he feels good. Julio’s last three games against the Panthers have resulted in 12-300-1, 9-178-1 and 7-88-0.
7. Michael Crabtree: 8 targets – Crabtree has out-targeted Amari Cooper in four of the last five games and leads him in red-zone targets 24-16. However, the pricing gap has gotten much tighter this week. Crabtree is only $400 less than Amari after being $1,200 less last week.
8. Michael Thomas, 8 targets – It’s a near-perfect spot for Thomas as he’ll see a lot of Bucs’ CB Vernon Hargreaves, who has allowed the most receptions, yards and fantasy points in the league (via ESPN’s Mike Clay). The only concern is how Drew Brees spreads the ball around – Thomas has had six or fewer targets seven times this year.
9. Brandin Cooks, 8 targets – Cooks complained after seeing zero targets against the Rams in Week 12. Since then, he’s seen nine, ten and eight targets.
10. Larry Fitzgerald: 8 targets – Fitz is limping to the finish line again with zero TDs since Week 5 and has a difficult matchup at Seattle. But he keeps getting volume because Carson Palmer can’t throw outside the numbers. Fitz is averaging 8.0 targets per game over his last five.
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 five wide receivers under $5,000 who I project for at least five targets.
1. Cameron Meredith, Bears: $4,700
Matt Barkley is quietly playing at an elite level. Over the last month, only Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have earned better PFF grades and Barkley is averaging 16.9 DK ppg during that span. His favorite target continues to be Cam Meredith, who is averaging 8.5 targets per game with Barkley. Even with Alshon Jeffery (suspension) back last week, Meredith played on 86.3 percent of the snaps and led the team in targets with 13. This week, Meredith is set up nicely as the strength of the Redskins’ floundering pass defense is on the perimeter with Josh Norman.
Projection: 7 targets
2. Robby Anderson, Jets: $4,800
We now have a very large sample of Bryce Petty’s affection for Robby Anderson. In the preseason, Anderson led all WRs in yards, touchdowns and catches of 20+ yards. Since Petty took over three weeks ago, Anderson is leading the Jets in targets with 9.66 per game. He’s turned that opportunity into 4.6 catches, 80.0 yards and 0.66 TDs per game. Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall (knee, foot, ankle) is limping toward the finish and caught a pathetic 1-of-11 targets last week. Anderson’s matchup with the Patriots isn’t ideal, but we can at least look for some garbage-time volume – the Jets are 16.5-point underdogs.
Projection: 7 targets
3. Rishard Matthews, Titans: $4,900
The Titans finally did the right thing and committed to Rishard Matthews as their No. 1 WR seven games ago. Since then, he’s played on 89.6 percent of the snaps and seen 7.4 targets per game, turning that usage into a 4.3-68.7-0.71 average. Simply put, Matthews is an underrated talent playing with a quarterback whose pocket passer skills are equally underrated. Unfortunately, the matchup against the Jaguars is very difficult as their pass defense ranks 4th in pass yards allowed, 4th in YPA allowed and 5th in pass TDs allowed. Matthews could also see shadow coverage from impressive rookie Jalen Ramsey, further weakening his spot.
Projection: 7 targets
4. J.J. Nelson, Cardinals: $4,400
Nelson’s big chance went as expected last week. With Michael Floyd gone and John Brown (sickle cell) limited, Nelson played on 78.0 percent of the snaps and saw 11 targets. He paid off with a 5-38-1 line and could have had a lot more if he didn’t drop a long touchdown. Of course, that was at home against the Saints and this week’s matchup is infinitely more difficult in Seattle. I doubt I will use Nelson in cash like I did last week, but the way to beat the Seahawks’ secondary is with small/fast players. Nelson’s 4.28 forty was the best at the 2015 Combine.
Projection: 6 targets
5. Allen Robinson, Jaguars: $4,600
As noted in this space last week, Allen Robinson has been among the worst WRs in the league this season. After the miserable 2-15-0 outing against the Texans, he sunk to 113th in catch rate. Over the last five weeks, he’s played on 95.8 percent of the snaps and seen 6.4 targets per game but hasn’t topped three catches of 31 yards in any of them. So I’d normally say that he’s completely safe to ignore, but the matchup this week at home against the Titans is arguably the best possible one for a wideout. Only the Packers have given up more DK points than salary-based expectation to the position over the last calendar year. We just have to realize that last week’s 2-15-0 is well within Robinson’s range of outcomes despite his target and snap projection.
Projection: 7 targets
6. Pierre Garcon, 8 targets: Been among the most consistent sub-$5K WRs, averaging 7.8 targets over the last six weeks. Helps if Jordan Reed (shoulder) is out or limited.
7. Tyler Lockett, 6 targets: Got his nose in front of Jermaine Kearse last week. Not expecting Patrick Peterson to shadow anyone Saturday.
8. Ted Ginn, 6 targets: With Kelvin Benjamin struggling badly, Ginn has at least six targets in seven of this last nine games.
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