By Grant Playter | Staff Writer
Howdy loyal readers, Grant here with your weekly round-up of wide receivers you should be eyeing for this upcoming week. If you want to know who you should start in your fantasy league, these rankings should be an excellent tool to advise you.
A word of warning before we get into it, however. Everyone gets hot and cold streaks, and just because someone performed one way this week doesn’t mean they’ll repeat it next week. But if someone is consistently in the top ten despite getting little to no fanfare from leagues at large, it might be a prospect worth considering.
The statistics used to determine these rankings come from ESPN.com, so if you’re favorite player is low, blame them, not me. I’m just the guy crunching the data.
Robert Woods had an excellent week, catching 8 of 10 targets for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. But before we go any further, allow me to refer to my analysis from last week, where Woods had fallen as the #6 wide receiver of the week:
Woods benefited from a great match-up and game script, and expecting weeks like this to consistently happen is not good. Todd Gurley means the Rams will continue to be a run heavy team, which will usually cap Woods value, outside of the occasional excellent week such as this.All of what I said there holds just as true here. Woods is a talented wide receiver, I’d be the first — okay, maybe not the first, but relatively high up on the list — to say that it is not a coincidence that Woods is doing as well as he is. There is more talent there then Sammy Watkins or Cooper Kupp, at least in my opinion.
Having said that, he still benefited from the Rams match-up. The Houston Texans have been an utter mess since the loss of Deshaun Watson, and I think any quarterback would be able to trounce them. In fact, any quarterback did that the week prior, when the Colts dominated the Texans. More than anything this says about Woods, I think this just shows that the Texans defense is exhausted since the offense can no longer stay on the field. With that in mind, look to stream lower-tier wide receivers against them. With that in mind, it would not shock me if someone who’s faded into relative obscurity, like a John Brown, could have a big week against them next week.
I got offers of people trying to trade me Woods this week for obscene value. Someone tried to give me Woods for Mike Evans straight up. These offers are obviously going to be rejected, but if you do have Woods and want to sell him, you could probably get a pretty solid RB2 for his current evaluation. And given how difficult the Rams schedule going forward, I do think we’ve seen one of the last great games we will see from Woods.
Adam Thielen continues to deliver even with Stefon Diggs back in the mix. This week, that arose through 8 receptions on 12 targets for 166 yards and a touchdown. Thielen has been one of the most consistent receivers throughout all forms of scoring, although obviously his value skyrockets in PPR scoring. Thielen has 56 receptions through nine games, an average of over 6 receptions a game that is simply incredible.
A lot of people say the Vikings schedule is tough and that now is the time to sell on Thielen. I am not one of those people, and would absolutely be content buying him from a panicking owner who read that somewhere. The consistence and volume is just so great, the Vikings clearly want to get the ball to him, that I can’t part with him even if the schedule is rough. I’m not sure if I’d value him quite as highly as his stat line would suggest, but definitely as a WR1 for the rest of the season.
Devin Funchess might not be getting as many targets as owners would hope for, but clearly, he is trusted by the Panthers offense. Funchess converted 5 of his 6 targets into 92 yards and two touchdowns, which is a ridiculous amount of gain relative to his volume. The changes to the Panthers offense are beginning to take shape, and it seems like Funchess is going to be a vital component of that.
Having said that, Funchess is entering his bye, and I immediately traded him after this game for Amari Cooper. I think Funchess was helped out by the Miami Dolphins being a terrible team and the Panthers utterly blowing them out. If the game script wasn’t that good for him, I don’t think he continues to put WR1 numbers like this. He’s the best receiver on his team so he’s definitely worth a roster spot, but if you need to win this upcoming week and know someone who severely overestimates his performance this week, don’t be afraid to trade him away.
In the wake of the injuries to…well, to basically the entirety of their wide receiving corps, the New York Giants have turned to Sterling Shepard to fill in the gaps. And while that didn’t result in a touchdown this week, it was still plenty impressive. Shepard caught 11 of 13 targets and brought them in for 142 yards, which gets him into the discussion for top five on the week.
I honestly love receivers who can make it this high on the list on the back of yardage more than those who get a few touchdowns. It means it’s clear that they’re clearly an integral part of the offense and the volume can be trusted going forward. Shepard is going to be used to drive the ball and make big plays, and a passable offense is the only thing the Giants have going for them right now. It’s hard to buy now after a week like this, but if the owner is down on the Giants as a whole getting the right price for Shepard — who could very well be a WR1 for the rest of the season — is definitely possible.
Here’s someone no one expected to be talking about for… well, for just about anything other then “yeah, he’s in the NFL.” Chester Rogers had a great night, catching all 6 of his targets for 104 yards and a touchdown, as well as rushing for three yards at one point. It’s a bit surprising to see a member of the Colts do well, even more so considering that they were playing an elite defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it being Chester Rogers of all people is baffling.
I’ve seen the occasional pick-up of Chester Rogers after this week, probably in the hope that if T.Y. Hilton can’t establish solid chemistry with Jacoby Brissett, who is in concussion protocol, and Scott Tolzien, maybe a different wide receiver can. It’s fundamentally flawed thinking, but people want to believe in any given team having a capable offense. The points have to go somewhere, right? Unfortunately for anyone who picked him up, Chester Rogers will not repeat this performance, and he most certainly will not on his bye week.
A.J. Green had a pretty good week, which is less surprising than the other Bengal wide receivers, who we’ll be talking about in a few entries. Green caught 5 of 7 targets for 115 yards and a touchdown. It’s about as boring a stat line as you can have when exceeding, which just goes to show how talented a guy like Green is. He’s going to deliver, but with skill like his, it almost feels ho-hum at this point.
I do worry about Green for the rest of the season. An often-mentioned worry is that Green has the single hardest schedule for a WR1 for the rest of the season, and while the talent will likely shine through come the final stat line, preparing for a few bad games is an inevitably. Green has already had issues being a top tier WR1, so if you can find someone who sees him as that then trading him might be a calculated risk you should take. Personally, I’d hold on to him for talent’s sake, but I can’t hate the move.
Golden Tate took over for Marvin Jones Jr. in a big way this week, likely as a result of Kenny Golladay eating into the latters snap count. Tate helped the Lions significantly in their comeback victory, receiving 6 of his 7 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown. Tate has been one of the most consistent wide receivers on the season, with occasional glimpses of his sheer star potential in games like this.
Tate, for my money, is someone that you want to trade for. Some bad games early on are hurting his value, and he’s currently going for a WR2 while putting up WR1 numbers. I traded an RB2 for Tate a few weeks ago and have been happily reaping the rewards from that decision. If Jones and Golladay are eating into each other’s value, the wide receiver worth having is the guy on the field: Golden Tate.
- Brandon LaFell (Cincinnati Bengals)
So evidently Brandon LaFell exists again, and boy did his existence came sharply back into focus. LaFell caught 6 of 10 targets for 95 yards and a touchdown, putting him slightly behind his WR1 teammate. What he does have on his teammate; however, is more looks, outpacing Green in targets 10 to 7.
Of course, good things can only last for so long, and that holds true for LaFell’s performance here as well. The only other week LaFell put up serviceable numbers was in Week 7, which at just 12.8 points wasn’t even all that impressive. It took so many targets to get real production out of LaFell, and I just can’t see Andy Dalton feeding those to him unless the game script is excessively generous.
Larry Fitzgerald had a feast this past week, even if the Cardinals ultimately couldn’t get it done. Fitzgerald caught 10 of 14 targets for 113 yards, which as I discussed in Sterling Shepard’s entry, the kind of stuff you love to see. Whenever Drew Stanton was in a pinch, he tossed the ball to Fitzgerald, time after time after time. Stanton’s not a good quarterback, but if he gets this kind of volume Fitzgerald can hold on to a similar relevance as someone like DeAndre Hopkins.
With Stanton now out, however, that volume might not necessarily be there. Blaine Gabbert is a better quarterback than the injured Stanton, but his priorities will almost certainly be different/ There’s a good chance he spreads the ball around more, and while that’s fine with someone like Carson Palmer at the helm, it’s in this weird middle-ground where it could hurt Fitzgerald’s bottom line even more. I would always prefer to own a receiver with more stability at the quarterback position, so I’d be trying to see if I could get a WR2 for Fitzgerald this week based on the fear of the unknown.
The New Orleans had an impeccable rushing offense this week, but Michael Thomas still managed to etch out a spot in the offense. Thomas had his best week since Week 4, catching 9 of his 10 targets for 117 yards. I love that kind of volume, and it speaks to the consistency Michael Thomas has had throughout the season, even with the lack of touchdowns bringing him down.
I keep worrying about Michael Thomas and whether he’ll be phased out of what seems to have fully transformed into a rushing offense. (As I predicted, which I’ll hold on to as my sole correct prediction.) But he keeps putting up at the very least serviceable numbers, and is one of the best wide receivers out there in that regard. Michael Thomas has been a great WR2 because of this, and he might even end up as a WR1 come the end of the season by just being a steady presence. At this point e’s worth holding onto for the floor, unless you really need a great ceiling and don’t think you’ll see that from a receiver on the Saints.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers)
JuJu isn’t always going to have the best week of his career, but just outside the top ten is a relatively soft landing point everything considered. JuJu caught 5 of his 7 targets for 9 yards and a touchdown, and it seems like he’s earned the trust of Ben Roethlisberger given that his sole touchdown came from a red zone target. He’s still relatively new in being a major part of the offense, so there are definite concerns about where his floor actually is, but the ceiling is high enough for me to keep putting him in my WR3 spot.
Davante Adams seems to be the sole piece of the Packers offense that is salvageable under Brett Hundley, making the list for the second consecutive week. Adams caught 5 of 8 targets for 90 yards and a touchdown, which is a nice upside for someone who was considered a WR3 for most of the season. I’d be willing to say Adams is a mid-to-low tier WR2 at this point, and would be willing to trade off value to that extent to get him. I think he’s in a good groove for the offense, and the floor will be there for him…albeit not for any other player on the Packers.
Emmanuel Sanders came back to life in Sunday night’s loss to the Patriots, catching 6 of 11 targets for 137 yards. There has been a lot of concern as to whether or not Brock Osweiler can sustain his wide receivers with targets, but in spite of his own poor fantasy value, Sanders was force fed enough targets to stay relevant. Whether or not this can sustain itself, I don’t know, but there is more reason for hope after this game. Personally, I see Sanders as a high-end WR3 with potential for being a high-end WR2 or low-end WR1 any given game, and would value him in that range for consideration.
Blake Bortles really wanted to pass the ball this week, and Marqise Lee won big because of it. Lee caught 6 of 11 pass attempts for 55 yards, a touchdown, and a two point conversion. It’s odd to see the Jaguars, who up to this point have been a run-first, throw-last team, to make 51 passing plays. With concerns over Leonard Fournette‘s health; however, Marqise Lee is a good stash for a team that may switch to a more pass-orientated offense. He’s likely not as owned as in many leagues as other notable Jaguars receivers, and has similar boom-bust upside.
Robby Anderson continued his touchdown streak with another pass caught in garbage time, catching 4 of 7 targets for that and 85 yards. Calling Anderson touchdown dependent is true, but it’s also misleading,because he has been the favorite target for red zone plays and has consistently got enough looks to make it happen each week. He most likely won’t have a touchdown a game for the rest of the season, but it’s not a low enough a chance in any given game to not roll him out as the WR3, with the highest upside in any given week.
- DeAndre Hopkins (Houston Texans)
Hopkins caught half of 14 targets for 111 yards, although could not find the end zone for the first time in quite a few weeks. The hit to Hopkins has been real in lieu of his starting quarterback’s injury, but he continues to be force-fed enough targets that he’s putting up decent numbers. He’s not going to be the WR1 he once was, but he still has that upside with a yet-to-be-determined floor. The time to sell him, even though he’s putting up decent numbers. He’s not going to be the WR1 he once was, but he still has that upside with a yet-to-be-determined floor. The time to sell him for full value has likely passed, but weeks like this make it still possible — if you can get an RB1, even a low-end RB1, on the back of his prior performances, then I would do it in a heartbeat.
- Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings)
Stefon Diggs made a lot out of little this week, catching 4 of 5 targets for 78 yards and a touchdown. It seems that he’s returned to top form, but I don’t know if that means he’ll continue to put up WR2 numbers and the beginning of the season was an aberration, or if he’ll have that WR1 upside. Investing in Diggs is a calculated risk team on the edge looking into playoffs may want to make, because he does have the WR1 upside for WR2 or in some cases WR3 value. But the floor is low and the tendency for injury is very much there.
Goodwin had a great week on the field, although the passing of his unborn son makes it bittersweet at best. Goodwin made two major plays this week, rushing once for 18 yards, and catching 1 of his 2 targets for an 83-yard dash to the end zone. This was the 49ers first week of success heading into their bye, and I’d be willing to do a speculative add on Goodwin following the announced change to Jimmy Garoppolo after the bye. He has big-play potential like a Will Fuller V type because of his past status as an Olympic runner, and Garoppolo may be more likely to make those plays at a more frequent pace than Beathard.
- Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
Emmanuel Sanders may have had the better fantasy day, but Demaryius Thomas got the touchdown this week. Thomas brought in 5 of 8 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown. Thomas is, at this point, a WR2 with a low floor and a good ceiling. With Osweiler under center I can’t be all that confident in Thomas, but selling him off now would not be getting his full value. Thomas can thrive even with a bad quarterback under center, and unless the other party is paying for that I wouldn’t sell him off.
Jarvis Landry had a fairly similar week to Thomas, catching 5 of 9 targets for 42 yards and a touchdown. The garbage time touchdown spared him from hitting his floor, but that would have been an acceptable 9.2 points in PPR scoring. Landry retains great value in that format, with definite WR1 upside, and is a low-end WR2 in standard scoring. The worry about his domestic violence case may cause some to trade him off off suspension worries, but I doubt that will happen and would be looking to buy on him if the chance presented itself.
Dontrelle Inman benefited from Trubisky switching to a more pass-oriented style this week, netting 6 receptions on 8 targets for 88 yards. Inman is the go-to WR1 on the Chicago Bears, and definitely worth a speculative bench add in most leagues. Having the best receiver on a team is never bad. Unfortunately, it’s also the Chicago Bears, who most weeks are going to take a run first, pass never approach, and his floor is dangerously low because of this. If you do add him, keep him on the bench — unless you really, really need the boom-bust flex value – until he can more consistently put up good numbers.
Doug Baldwin did pretty well for himself this week, picking up 5 of 6 targets for 95 yards, but his value was capped by not finding the end zone. Baldwin’s floor is usually going to be in this range, a low-end WR2, but he gets the ball so much and has such touchdown potential that he’s a WR1 in my opinion. If someone needs to trade for someone who is more boom-bust, I would be more than happy to take on a floor as good as Doug Baldwin’s.
With Evans out on suspension, it was D-Jax who stepped up this week. D-Jax caught 6 of 10 targets for 82 yards, being used as the primary driver of the game. I don’t expect this success to replicate all too often with Evans back in the game, but this sort of upside is definitely there; this isn’t the first time he’s made it onto the list. He’s probably one of the better WR3’s out there, but I wouldn’t bump him to the WR2 category unless he could more consistently perform.
A name no one expected to see was Bruce Ellington, who with the injury to Will Fuller V looks to be force-fed targets at a rate similar to his, ultimately picking up 4 of 9 targets for 41 yards and a touchdown. I’d actually be very happy to have Ellington on my team, as someone needs to step up until the vacuum and Ellington already looks to be headed for that role. If you really need a WR3, he’s an okay plug-in, but I’d personally rather hold onto him, plug him into my bench, and see how he performs with a full game on his own. If he delivers, I’d be more certain of his role in the offense, given that this could easily be a one-and-done performance.
- Allen Hurns (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Allen Hurns did fine for himself this week, picking up 7 of 9 targets for 70 yards. If the Jaguars fully switched to a passing offense, this is likely where his floor would be, Hurns should have had a touchdown this week, but was hurt by unfortunate circumstances. The issue getting him is that the owner is likely to jack up the price based on this week’s performance, when his floor on a rushing offense is almost entirely nonexistent. I’d much rather get Marqise Lee, who isn’t quite as good, but doesn’t have as hefty a price tag attached, unless the owner would be willing to offer Hurns as a complement to another package.
- Joshua Bellamy (Chicago Bears)
Joshua Bellamy was another beneficiary of Trubisky’s change in play, picking up just 2 of his 7 targets for 57 yards and a touchdown. The only reason Bellamy is fantasy relevant this week is that one was a big play, a 46-yard touchdown run, but the volume of targets was definitely there for him. I’d be willing to pick him up if not for the atrocious completion rate; most week’s he gonna bust, and it’s not worth the occasional bust. There are boom-bust options with better floors out there, especially since we don’t know if the Bears will keep up the passing attack.
- Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots)
Brandin Cooks had a decent week, picking up 6 receptions on 11 targets for 74 yards. It’s not close to where his ceiling is, but given his lack of floor, 13.4 points, it’s still a decent output for his owner’s roster. If you want to buy low on Cooks for his boom-bust value, especially with Chris Hogan out, I’d go for it; having said that, I doubt the owner would go for it. Having a talented wide receiver on the Patriots is a hard thing to pass up unless the value is there for them, which you obviously don’t want to give up.
- Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis Colts)
Donte Moncrief had a single target this week, but brought it in for a 60=yards touchdown run. This isn’t the first week he’s been on the list, but it’s usually the result of one big-play rather than more sustained volume. For that reason, I’m not particularly interested in picking him up, especially not on his bye week. In most leagues, he’s gonna be on waivers, and he’ll usually be available if you like the Colts’ match-up on the week.
Tying exactly with Moncrief is Maurice Harris, who I didn’t even know about prior to this week. Harris caught 2 of 3 targets for 50 yards and a touchdown, is another player on the docket, who got onto the list on the back of one major-play. In Harris’ case, this was a 36-yard touchdown run. Unless you really believe in the Redskins offense, I can’t see any reason to pick up Harris — who has never scored before this week — over a bevy of other boom-bust selections available.
- Devante Parker (Miami Dolphins)
DeVante Parker put up okay numbers this week, netting 6 receptions on 9 targets for 66 yards. The Dolphins did not have a great game, but Parker is a talented enough wide receiver that he still managed to get some volume and put out an okay fantasy showing. This is probably about where his floor is; unfortunately, but I don’t know how often we’ll see him down here. Jay Cutler’s performance has me worried, but I’m hopeful for Parker, and would look to buy low if his owner had grabbed Parker for WR2 value.
- Roger Lewis (New York Giants)
Roger Lewis, like a lot of the people at the end of this list, made it here, because he scored a touchdown. Lewis caught 3 of 4 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown, which while good for him, is about as high as his potential goes. He’s getting a decent number of looks, but he’s not critical enough to it for me to be confident in him being more likely to get the touchdown than one of their more high profile receivers. Unless you need a desperation play, look elsewhere.
- Sammy Watkins (Los Angeles Rams)
Rounding off the list is Sammy Watkins, who has underperformed so severely for most of the season that it’s a good thing for him that he even made it into the top thirty-two. Watkins was 2 for 3 on receptions, picking up 41 yards and a touchdown. As the Rams schedule gets more difficult, I don’t expect Watkins to put up weeks like this. Given that his floor is quite literally 0 points, I’d look for better WR3 options, big name or no.
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©2007-2017 The Capital Sports Report. Please honor copyright! Piracy hurts writers, devalues their works, and puts you and your employer at risk of lawsuits. All original materials contained on this website are protected by the United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcasted without the prior written permission.
Any Corrections?. You can contact Anthony Caruso III, Publisher at email@example.com.
©2007-2018 The Capital Sports Report. Please honor copyright! Piracy hurts writers, devalues their works, and puts you and your employer at risk of lawsuits. All original materials contained on this website are protected by the United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcasted without the prior written permission.