For wide receivers, volume is necessary.
TOP-10 WR Target Projections
These are the wide receivers I project to see the most targets in Week 2 (Sunday/Monday only):
1. Antonio Brown: 13 targets – Le’Veon Bell suspended, Martavis Bryant suspended, Heath Miller retired, Markus Wheaton (shoulder) hurt. It’s a perfect storm for Antonio to have a truly historic season.
2. Julio Jones, 11 targets – Two concerns with Julio this week: The nagging ankle issue he appeared to aggravate Week 1 and Sean Smith/David Amerson being able to match up from a size perspective. Still, Smith was humiliated by the undersized Brandin Cooks Week 1 and eventually got benched.
3. DeAndre Hopkins, 10 targets – We saw Hopkins’ market share sink a little in Week 1 as impressive first-round rookie Will Fuller piled up 11 targets. That should swing back toward Nuk in Week 2 and the place to target the Kansas City defense is on the road.
4. A.J. Green, 10 targets – It’s another funnel spot for the Bengals. Much like the Jets defense, the Steelers defense is far better against the run than the pass. With Tyler Eifert (ankle) out and Marvin Jones/Mohamed Sanu gone, Andy Dalton is locked onto Green.
5. Alshon Jeffery, 10 targets – Jeffery only got six targets in Week 1, but he came out healthy and now gets to go home for a better matchup. The Eagles will likely be without starting CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), leaving room for Alshon to run routes at seventh-round rookie Jalen Mills.
6. Odell Beckham, 10 targets – It’s an incredible matchup for Beckham. He’s at home facing an abysmal Saints secondary which won’t have top CB Delvin Breaux (leg). Last year, Beckham went off for 8-130-3 in the Superdome and Eli Manning threw for six TDs.
7. Jarvis Landry, 9 targets – Landry wasn’t overly productive in two meetings with the Patriots last year, but he did pile up 19 targets. The target magnet will almost certainly be in the 8-12 range again.
8. Allen Robinson, 8 targets – Robinson should expect shadow coverage from Jason Verrett. He went 5-56-1 on 11 targets when the Jags played the Chargers last November.
9. Jordan Matthews, 8 targets – With Zach Ertz (rib) down, a paper-thin Eagles pass-catching corps is even thinner. Matthews piled up 14 targets on Carson Wentz’s 37 Week 1 attempts.
10. Mike Evans, 8 targets – Elite shadow CB Patrick Peterson will almost certainly be assigned to Evans here, especially with Brandon Williams struggling and Justin Bethel (foot) in doubt.
Figuring out the top-end guys (above) is relatively easy. The low-end wideouts are much harder – and more valuable. This week I’m going to discuss wide receivers under $4500 who I project for at least five targets.
1. Travis Benjamin $4,400 & Tyrell Williams $3,700, Chargers
Keenan Allen’s devastating ACL tear leaves the Chargers entire offense in shambles. The good news is that they have a home game against a Jaguars defense which has allowed 2.1 more DK points than salary-based expectation to wideouts over the last calendar year (via Fantasy Labs). Here is Philip Rivers’ target count from the 39 snaps following Allen’s injury against the Chiefs last Sunday: Travis Benjamin 7, Tyrell Williams 4, Dontrelle Inman 3, Danny Woodhead 3, Antonio Gates 1 and Hunter Henry 1. The WR snaps were Inman 38, Benjamin 34 and Williams 33. Note that they stayed in a 3-WR base set even though they had a big lead and Allen was out.
Williams ($3700) is the 6’4/205 athletic specimen with 4.43 speed and a 39.5-inch vertical. He’s certainly in play for this matchup in large field tournaments. Benjamin is the safer play as the guy who the Chargers scheme screens to and try to get in space. Inman will play the low-upside slot role.
Projection: Eight targets for Benjamin, six targets for Williams
2. Tajae Sharpe, Titans: $4,100
Those who followed preseason usage knew that Sharpe was the Titans’ No. 1 wideout by a big margin. He dominated snaps in Week 1, logging 64 compared to 37 for Harry Douglas, 35 for Rishard Matthews and 34 for Andre Johnson. Sharpe easily led the team in targets with 11. He’s the apple of the coaches’ eyes and more importantly the apple of Marcus Mariota’s eye. Sharpe isn’t going to burn anyone deep, and has a low TD-expectation in this run-heavy offense, but he is going to get volume weekly.
Projection: Eight targets
3. Will Fuller, Texans: $4,200
As noted in this space last week, Fuller shined as the clear-cut complement to DeAndre Hopkins throughout the preseason. That carried over to the regular season, as he put a 5-107-1 line on the Bears via 11 targets in Week 1. The Week 2 matchup against the Chiefs is more difficult, but they’re more vulnerable this year with Justin Houston (knee) out, Tamba Hali (knee) playing limited snaps and Sean Smith in Oakland. Most importantly, Fuller’s price has only gone up $500 despite his big NFL debut.
Projection: Seven targets
4. Vincent Jackson, Bucs: $4,000
V-Jax disappointed in Week 1, catching just two balls for 18 yards against the Falcons. But he ran into the coverage of Desmond Trufant a lot and the usage was there – Jackson got seven targets and played on 52-of-65 snaps. This week, we can get him $400 cheaper and at reduced ownership in an even better matchup. Dominant Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson is a near lock to shadow Mike Evans, likely leaving third-round rookie Brandon Williams on Jackson. (Normal No. 2 CB Justin Bethel is fighting a foot injury and only played special teams in Week 1). Williams did not look NFL-ready against the Patriots, getting roasted by Chris Hogan for a touchdown and failing to tackle Malcolm Mitchell on another play that led to a score.
Projection: Seven targets
5. Kenny Stills, Dolphins: $3,400
DeVante Parker (hamstring) could return this week. Even if he does, the frustrating second-year man has missed a ton of practice time and was running behind Kenny Stills in the preseason anyway. So we have a spot where Stills is coming off a very quiet 1-16-0 game, but was targeted five times during an impossible spot against the Seahawks’ suffocating perimeter pass defense. Note that he did drop an easy bomb from Ryan Tannehill that would have been a 71-yard TD – and also would have raised his price/ownership. This week, Stills faces a still difficult yet softer spot against the Patriots. Look for Bill Belichick to try to take away Jarvis Landry as he did last year (6-71-0, 6-72-0 in two meetings), leaving more room for Stills to operate.
Projection: Six targets
6. Davante Adams, $4,200 – Played on 85.3 percent of snaps and got seven targets even with Jordy Nelson (knee) healthy.
7. Michael Thomas, $4,000 – Saints featured their smaller WRs against the Raiders’ big CBs in Week 1. Perhaps that changes this week. Thomas did play 77.5 percent of snaps.
8. Eli Rogers, $4,100 – Rogers has a pristine matchup against Bengals’ weak/injured slot corners. Big Ben clearly trusts the 187-pound 2015 UDFA.
9. Terrelle Pryor, $3,500 – The quarterback change isn’t great for Pryor, who fit nicely with RG3’s deep shot-taking. But TP is playing every down at a higher level than Corey Coleman.
10. Chris Hogan, $3,500 – Hogan out-snapped Danny Amendola 56-20 in Week 1. If Rob Gronkowski (questionable, hamstring) sits again, Hogan will be a big factor once again.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is AdamLevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.