For wide receivers, volume is necessary. These are the wide receivers I project to see the most targets in Week 4 (Sunday main slate only).
TOP-10 WR Target Projections
1. Antonio Brown: 12 targets – Always a lock for volume. Averaged 12.1 targets per game last year and is at 13.3 this year. Matchup with Chiefs’ risk-taking CBs Marcus Peters and Phillip Gaines is a good one.
2. DeAndre Hopkins: 9 targets – Of course Brock Osweiler and the Texans’ pass game struggled at Foxboro. Now they can get well at home against Perrish Cox, Jason McCourty and a Titans’ defense which funnels offenses to the air.
3. Amari Cooper: 9 targets – Cooper has seen 11, 9 and 9 targets so far this year. Box scores have been limited by close calls. Can easily roast top Ravens CB Jimmy Smith.
4. Julio Jones: 9 targets – The ankle and calf issues have clearly hampered Julio, who only has 20 targets through two games. But his ability to practice some on Wednesday bodes well ahead of a matchup with Carolina’s inexperienced secondary.
5. Marvin Jones: 9 targets – It’s yet another plus spot for Marvintron (hat tip @RotoPat) as he’ll match up with Tracy Porter and the banged-up Bears secondary. Jones may no longer be a “bargain” as his price has climbed to $7,300, but he’s also not overpriced.
6. Larry Fitzgerald: 9 targets – Much like last season, the 33-year-old Fitz is doing his best work early in the year. Has piled up three straight double-digit target games and now has a plus spot at home against the Rams.
7. Alshon Jeffery: 8 targets – We saw the Packers test Darius Slay plenty last week and the Bears won’t be afraid to do the same. Alshon appears healthy as he’s missed just nine snaps through three games.
8. Kelvin Benjamin: 8 targets – It’s a squeaky wheel spot as Benjamin played 61 snaps last week and got just one target. Cam Newton promised that can’t and won’t happen again. Benjamin has five inches on top Falcons CB Desmond Trufant.
9. Mike Evans: 8 targets – With 33-year-old Vincent Jackson now inept and Austin Seferian-Jenkins gone, Jameis Winston is locked onto Evans. He’s second in the NFL in targets with 39. The problem is he has arguably the worst possible matchup this week as the Broncos are in town.
10. Emmanuel Sanders: 8 targets – The Bucs have a funnel defense as they are stout against the run but can’t rush the passer and lack talent in the secondary. Sanders has emerged as Trevor Siemian’s favorite WR, out-targeting Demaryius Thomas 29-20.
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 a few wide receivers under $5,000 who I project for at least five targets.
1. Terrelle Pryor, Browns: $4,300
With Josh Gordon still on suspension and Corey Coleman (hand) out, Pryor is the Browns’ top pass-game option by a wide margin. He’s averaging 10.0 targets per game through three games and saw 13 from a quietly competent Cody Kessler last week. Throw in roughly 10 snaps at QB – snaps that will include both Wildcat runs and passes – and we have massive usage for a player at $4,300. That said, the Redskins aren’t dumb (I think). They saw last week’s game and will understand that stopping Pryor could shut down this entire offense. With Bashaud Breeland (ankle) out, it makes sense to use Josh Norman as a shadow on the wide receiver version of Pryor.
Projection: 8 targets
2. Kevin White, Bears: $3,400
You could make a pretty good case that White has been the worst wide receiver in the NFL since the preseason started. He can’t run routes and hasn’t shown top-end speed. But the uniquely athletic 2015 first-round pick showed some signs of turning a corner last week as he settled in with Brian Hoyer for a 6-62-0 line on 14 targets. He has 27 targets in three games and now gets a cake matchup. Top Lions CB Darius Slay will almost certainly shadow Alshon Jeffery, leaving White to work against debacle Nevin Lawson (PFF’s No. 91 coverage CB this year and No. 104 last year).
Projection: 7 targets
3. Brice Butler $3,000, Cole Beasley $3,900, Terrance Williams $3,100, Cowboys (if Dez Bryant is out)
Dez is nursing a hairline fracture in his knee. If he can’t go, look for direct backup Brice Butler to step into an every-down role and Williams/Beasley to increase their market share. Butler is a 6’3/215 specimen who ran a 4.37 at his 2013 Pro Day and splashes every preseason. Beasley is often Dak Prescott’s first read underneath, and already has 25 targets over three games. Williams gets a small boost, but will continue to run the clear-out routes deep down the field. Beasley is certainly the safest play in a full-PPR format like DraftKings, but Butler will likely go far less owned and has the big-play/red-zone appeal. Also note the Cowboys are playing the 49ers, who are predictably playing at the fastest pace in the league under Chip Kelly.
Projections: 7 targets for Beasley, 6 targets for Butler, 5 targets for Williams
4. John Brown, Cardinals: $4,300
Michael Floyd has been awful this season, recording just 9-134-1 on 24 targets. It’s time for the Cardinals to get John Brown going. He saw 11 targets against the Bills last week, catching six of them for 70 yards. Floyd is also working his way through the concussion protocol. So this is a nice spot for Brown as the Cardinals’ entire passing offense is in a bounce-back spot against a Rams’ secondary which showed its flaws in Jameis Winston’s 405-yard, 3-TD game last week.
Projection: 6 targets
5. Tyrell Williams, Chargers: $4,400
Over the last two weeks, Travis Benjamin has seen 13 targets and Tyrell Williams has seen 15. The 6’4/205 gazelle-like athlete is on the cusp of a big game and gets the Saints’ historically bad defense this week. The only way the matchup could be better is if it was in the Superdome, but Williams is still set up well. With Keenan Allen (ACL)/Danny Woodhead (ACL) out and Antonio Gates (hamstring) extremely questionable, Philip Rivers has no choice but to trust Tyrell.
Projection: 7 targets
6. Quincy Enunwa, Jets: $4,400
Eric Decker (shoulder) is questionable at best, Brandon Marshall (knee, ankle) is playing at less than 100 percent and Jalin Marshall (shoulder) is out. Quincy Enunwa has already piled up 25 targets in three games – and that was with everyone healthy. The matchup against Seattle is brutal, but note the place to attack the Seahawks’ defense is in the middle of the field. Enunwa has run 69.2 percent of his routes from the slot this year, via PFF.
Projection: 8 targets if Eric Decker is out
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