WATCH: PRICE CHECK WEEK 6
For wide receivers, volume is necessary. These are the ones I project to see the most targets in Week 6 (Sunday main slate only):
TOP-10 WR Target Projections
1. Antonio Brown: 12 targets – It’s yet another tasty matchup for the NFL’s most consistent receiver. The Dolphins are trotting out a converted WR (Tony Lippett) and a guy who was recently benched (Byron Maxwell) as their starting CBs.
2. Jordy Nelson: 10 targets – With Eddie Lacy (ankle) and James Starks (knee) both banged up, the Packers are brutally thin at RB. A healthy Nelson is now averaging 10.0 targets per game and has at least one TD in every outing so far.
3. Allen Robinson: 10 targets – Look for Robinson to feast on Bears shadow CB Tracy Porter, who is PFF’s No. 68 coverage CB this season. A-Rob has double-digit targets in 3-of-4 games this season.
4. A.J. Green: 10 targets – The Patriots are masters of eliminating the opponent’s top weapon, which is clearly Green in this case. The question is if he can overcome it with volume.
5. Marvin Jones: 9 targets – It’s an ideal spot for Marvin as the Rams lost franchise player and top CB Trumaine Johnson (ankle) one day after cutting Coty Sensabaugh. They’ll force in Troy Hill, a 2015 UDFA who is PFF’s No. 115 CB among 117 qualifiers.
6. T.Y. Hilton: 9 targets – Hilton is the only player in the NFL to see double-digit targets in each game this season. More on his changing role in this week’s usage article.
7. Amari Cooper: 9 targets – As noted by ESPN’s Mike Clay, Cooper projects to run a majority of his routes at Phillip Gaines while Michael Crabtree is likely to see more of strong Marcus Peters. Cooper is averaging 9.4 targets per game.
8. Odell Beckham: 9 targets – Even in a very plus matchup against a Sam Shields-less Packers secondary last week, OBJ managed just five catches for 56 yards and needed a garbage-time TD to salvage his fantasy day.
9. Jarvis Landry: 9 targets – It’s a big bounce-back spot for Ryan Tannehill and Landry. Prior to last week’s three-target debacle, he had seen double-digit targets in eight straight games. Much like the Brandon Marshall situation last week, the Steelers offense forces opposing pass games into volume.
10. Julio Jones: 9 targets – Look for Richard Sherman to shadow Julio, who is still dealing with nagging issues in his lower-legs.
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. Cam Meredith, Bears: $4,100
The Bears have run 85 offensive snaps since Kevin White’s injury. Cam Meredith has been on the field for 80 of them and leads the team with 15 targets during that span. There are two paths for chemistry with starting quarterback Brian Hoyer here. First, this duo spent a lot of time together on the second unit leading up to the season. Second, Hoyer clearly has an affinity for the flanker position in this offense – he targeted Kevin White 23 times on his final 93 snaps even though White was performing at an extremely low level. So I’m expecting a lot more volume for Meredith again, this time against an unimposing Jaguars secondary.
Projection: 8 targets
2. Sammie Coates, Steelers: $4,700
There are a fistful of concerns with Coates this week. First, he’s dealing with a hand issue after needing multiple stitches to close a wound sustained last week. Second, Eli Rogers (toe) is back, which could force Markus Wheaton into more outside reps where Coates plays. Third, Ben Roethlisberger’s home/road splits are extreme and the Steelers are on the road this week. Fourth, Coates is still only playing on roughly 60 percent of the snaps each week. Finally, Coates’ price has risen from $3,600 to $4,700. All that said, we have an exceptional physical talent facing the Dolphins’ inept corners. He’s going to get deep shots down the field and only needs to connect on one to smash his salary-based expectation.
Projection: 7 targets (if healthy)
3. Michael Thomas, Saints: $4,300
Michael Thomas racked up 11 catches, a team-high five red-zone targets and 20 overall targets in the two games before the Saints bye. Willie Snead (toe) was out for one of those games and possibly limited in another, but it’s clear Drew Brees has faith in his rookie. Thomas will at least be a red-zone threat at 6’3/212, towering over Brandin Cooks and Snead. The matchup is also right as the inexperienced Panthers secondary is 22nd in pass defense DVOA and have the impossible task of slowing down Brees in the Superdome.
Projection: 6 targets
4. Kamar Aiken, Ravens: $3,000
Steve Smith (ankle) is not expected to play Sunday. Expect Aiken to slide in as the primary inside receiver, with Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman sticking outside. It’s a familiar role for Aiken, who racked up 127 targets last year while operating as the Ravens’ No. 1 WR for a large portion of the season. It’s also a good matchup as the Giants struggle far more against slot receivers than they do vs. outside ones. They’ve already been hit by Randall Cobb for 9-108-0, Jamison Crowder for 4-78-1, Willie Snead for 5-54-1 and Cole Beasley for 8-65-0.
Projection: 6 targets (if Steve Smith is out)
5. Allen Hurns, Jaguars: $4,700
Bears CB Tracy Porter isn’t very good, but he’s the best the Bears have right now and he’ll likely shadow Allen Robinson. That will leave Hurns in a reasonable spot to post his first breakout game of the 2016 season. Hurns is playing on 87.7 percent of the snaps and getting 6.7 targets per game, right in line with his 86.8 percent snap rate and 6.9 targets per game from 2015.
SUB-$5,000 HONORABLE MENTIONS
6. Chris Conley – Conley’s vertical skill set does not fit with Alex Smith, but he’s playing on 86.4 percent of the snaps and averaging 5.7 targets per game. Now comes a matchup with the Raiders 29th-ranked DVOA pass defense.
7. Brice Butler (if Dez Bryant is out) – After a meh matchup and brutal game-flow against the Bengals, Butler is set up perfectly this week if Dez (knee) sits again. The Packers’ elite run defense funnels offenses to the air and there’s a good chance the Cowboys will be trailing.
8. Tyler Lockett – A sprained PCL limited Lockett severely prior to the bye. If he’s truly back to 100 percent, he’ll push for 5-plus targets against the Falcons.
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