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.google photos
This is the final push before most championships start, and I wish every reader the best of luck in your penultimate fantasy endeavors!
Tyreek Hill had an amazing week, catching 6 of his 9 targets for 185 yards and two touchdowns. With Alex Smith having the dominant fantasy showing that he did, those balls had to go somewhere. A few early strikes went to tight end Travis Kelce, but it was Hill who was the primary beneficiary, reeling in 36.5 PPR fantasy points in the outing.
The thing about Tyreek Hill is that he vacillates wildly between good and bad, with few middling week’s in-between. There is no floor, so even when he puts up weeks like this, and even though he’s the fifth wide receiver on the season, trusting him on a week-to-week basis is difficult. There’s no rhyme or reason to when he does well versus when he does poorly, and attempting to cash in on his value carries that risk.
At this point, however, with the playoffs now beginning, it’s hard not to play Hill. The kind of upside he presents is readily apparent, and when the entire point is to win this specific match-up the hit to points for isn’t quite as devastating. He also has three consecutive games in Arrowhead Stadium, which is usually good for wide receivers. It is worth noting, however, that his five worst games of the season were at home, including all four of his sub-ten point performance, an odd delineation that’s worth keeping an eye on.
Nelson Agholor proved why he’s the best flex play in town this week, catching 7 of 12 targets for 141 yards and a touchdown. I was in part pretty happy about this, I’ve always been a believer in Nelson Agholor, but I was a bit sad that he was on my bench because I had forgotten to slot him into my lineup after the last minute trade. Nothing quite like being vindicated in brutal fashion, eh?
Agholor has a higher upside than most flex plays because he’s on such a high-octane, pass offensive team, and is the third person to get looks on the team. Alshon Jeffery usually draws heavier coverage, which has somewhat limited his viability compared to Agholor, and this week tight end Zach Ertz had left the game with a concussion. I don’t think he’ll have the same twelve target volume that he got this week, especially in a losing effort, but Agholor has proven he can succeed and I’m absolutely in love with him as one of the best flex plays in the league. Firing him up this next week, even if his floor is quite literally non-existent.
A.J. Green had an absurd number of looks this week, catching 7 of a monstrous 17 targets and bringing them in for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The yardage wasn’t quite there this week, his fourth highest on the season, but the touchdowns were enough to propel him to this elite standing and give him a statistically great performance. Which, as of late, Green has really been hurting for. Green is Andy Dalton’s favorite target, if the 17 looks aren’t enough to prove that nothing I can say will dissuade you.
Having said that, the topsy-turvy year the Bengals has been having have hurt Green’s bottom line; while he’s still the seventh wide receiver on the year, his floor has been shakier than you would hope from someone considered an elite WR1. Green has had two single digit performance and three that came up with just eleven points, which is hurting his value. You need to start him for the upside, but going into next year’s draft I question whether he should be considered a draft prospect for the first two rounds.
Keen Allen had another great performance, catching 10 of 14 targets for 105 yards and a touchdown and clinching the number four spot for back-to-back weeks. This also makes it three consecutive weeks that Allen has put up 100+ yards and a touchdown. The Chargers have been absolutely electric in the back-half of this season, and Allen is far and away the biggest representative of that. The biggest question in the minds of analysts regarding Allen is simple: will this streak continue?
Frankly, I’m not confident one way or the other. It’s a pretty easy schedule for a wide receiver for the rest of the stretch, Redskins-Chiefs-Jets-Raiders, so there’s no reason for Allen to regress back to his earlier numbers. The Chargers are fighting the Chiefs for the division, which should make games all the more intense. The rationale for a great rest of season is there, but the early season struggles make me wary. Streaks don’t last long in the NFL for a reason, defenses target players, and even if the Chargers continue to succeed I don’t know if Allen personally will. You have to fire him up regardless, but it’s worth taking into consideration.
Larry Fitzgerald had a wonderful game, catching all 10 of his targets for 98 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals didn’t win the match-up, albeit no one expected them to against the Rams of all teams, but Fitzgerald has blossomed in spite of the struggles his team faces. There was a lot of worry that when Carson Palmer went down, Fitzgerald would too; outside of struggling for a week or two, however, he’s been more or less fine.
A good chunk of his value came from the catches, of his 25.8 points it’s a good ten of them, which may somewhat limit his value outside of PPR contests. Having said that, having a receiver who can catch every target heading into the playoffs is not something you want to bench in any league. His floor is significantly lower than it once was, even though it’s the competent Blaine Gabbert at the helm now, but he’s worth the play in my opinion.
Jermaine Kearse caught 9 of 10 targets for 157 yards. My timing with Kearse has just been terrible this entire season. When I say he’s gonna be good, he’s bad. When I say he’s gonna be bad, he’s good. Quite frankly I don’t know what to think about him because everything I think seems to be the opposite. Personally if I had Kearse I would be playing him this upcoming week, he seems like a good flex option to me even against a team like the Broncos. Having said that, he’ll likely put up a stinker, because I am always wrong about Kearse.
Antonio Brown caught half of 16 targets for 101 yards and a touchdown, another solid showing from an excellent wide receiver. Brown is the best wide receiver on the season yb a large amount. Don’t get cute, don’t look at the numbers, don’t worry about the floor; just start him. He will deliver, and he will continue to deliver for the foreseeable future, this season and the next and so on. There’s a lot of question marks in fantasy football, but Antonio Brown is not and should never be one of them.
Marqise Lee had a pretty good game, catching 7 of 10 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown. For someone you can grab off of waivers at this point – he sits at 60% ownership in ESPN leagues – these are great numbers. It’s worth noting that the Jaguars were playing the Indianapolis Colts, one of the worst defenses in the league, and that Blake Bortles decided this week he would go with the heavy pass offensive. It was a great match-up for Lee, but the lack of floor just means he was a flex play that paid off; worth a roster spot, but of debatable starting value against the Seahawks.
Robby Anderson delivered again, catching 8 of 12 targets for 107 yards and rushing once for 7 yards. The touchdown streak was broken but Anderson still delivered solid fantasy value, especially in PPR formats. The touchdown streak in of itself isn’t necessarily important, nice as it was for his fantasy value, but rather what it’s led to. Josh McCown trusts Anderson now, to the tune of 12 targets this game; his fantasy value is solidified, and he is a must-start at this point. I think he’s either the worst WR1 or the best WR2 on the season and will challenge anyone who insists he’s a flex or WR3 play.
Kenny Stills caught just 5 of 13 targets, but brought them in for 98 yards and a touchdown, albeit with a fumble along the way. It’s interesting to see Jay Cutler turn to Stills, since generally he’s only been good when Matt Moore was piloting the team. Perhaps the value he provided with Moore piqued the teams interest and the team’s gameplan was switched to favor him? Either way, he’s an interesting flex option going forward, and someone I’d be willing to start depending on my needs for the week.
Ryan Grant had a boom week, catching 5 of 9 targets for 76 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Grant normally puts up unstartable numbers in the range of 4-8 points, but occasionally has big weeks like this one. Ryan Grant is a decent desperation play if you’re in a 12 team league and hurting for a flex as a result of recent suspensions and injuries, but he’s only delivered in 25% of the games this year. If you like his match-up, go for it, but 9 targets or not he’s not getting enough volume i general for me to risk it.
Michael Thomas did pretty well for himself, catching 5 of 9 targets for 70 yards and a touchdown. Thomas struggled last week, losing his status as a consistent WR2, but makes up for that performance with a low-end WR1 performance this week. No one is sitting Michael Thomas, and hopefully a week like this was enough to get him into your starting lineup given his excellent performance in Thursday Night Football against the Falcons.
Marquise Goodwin had a pretty great game, catching all 8 of his targets for 99 yards. It was fairly similar to the output Larry Fitzgerald had this week, minus a few catches and a touchdown, and you’re getting that out of someone who was a waiver pick-up and is still available in over 60% of leagues. With a solid rookie in Jimmy Garoppolo now sending him his passes, I have high expectations for Goodwin. Which hurts a bit to say, since I’m playing against him in a game I need to win for a playoff spot in my main league, but it is what it is.
Dez Bryant was pretty solid this week, catching 5 of 7 pass attempts for 61 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys were struggling to figure out what to do with the loss of Ezekiel Elliott, but seemed to get it together this past-week. The ground game has gotten started, Dak Prescott can get his play-action passes rolling, and Dez has a shot to get his former ceiling back. I’d rate him as a WR2 that should be started in spite of the difficulties the Cowboys had before this past week.
Mike Wallace had a good game, catching 5 of 8 targets for 116 yards. The Ravens are a team that wants to pass the ball, and lately they’re best option has been Mike Wallace. He has that big playability, this isn’t the first week he’s made the list, but his floor is quite literally zero. I don’t trust Joe Flacco enough to want Mike Wallace as my starter, even though he’s the best receiving option there, especially given the emergence of Alex Collins and Danny Woodhead for their running backs.
DeAndre Hopkins does it again, catching 8 of 14 targets for 80 yards. Hopkins has gotten the yardage and the targets fed to him throughout the season, so much that he’s maintained his spot as the number two wide receiver on the season in spite of the expected lower production in having Tom Savage over Deshaun Watson. Hopkins has a firm floor in this WR2 territory, and should be started every week. His ceiling hasn’t been quite as explosive, but the numbers are there.
Exactly tied with DeAndre Hopkins is Devin Funchess, who caught 4 f 7 pass attempts for 60 yards and a touchdown. Funchess has delivered since the trade of Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills, asserting himself as the number one passing option on the Panthers. Part of this is because Greg Olsen hasn’t been able to play in a significant capacity, and the question of what volume he’ll take from Funchess is still present, but I think Funchess has earned his spot in the rotation and will continue to put up solid numbers. At the very least he’ll be a good WR3, but I see him more as a md-tier WR2 with occasional WR1 upside.
Trent Taylor of all people had a good night, catching all 6 of his targets for 92 yards. He’s had mild performances most weeks, but underestimating the connection between a young wide receiver and a young quarterback can be a fatal mistake. As far as lotto tickets go, Taylor is one of the better ones because his potential is there. I wouldn’t go starting him, he’s a fifth round pick who hasn’t really delivered this year, but I don’t hate the pick-up.
Golden Tate caught 8 of 10 passes thrown his way for 69 yards, one of the few bright lights in a bad game from Matthew Stafford. Tate’s floor is lower than most would imagine, but he did deliver in a game with a tight match-up and shouldn’t be sat going forward. It’s more likely to bite you than you may hope, but the upside is there and the stellar match-ups are also there. Tate’s a solid WR2 with occasional dips into WR1 and WR3 territory.
T.Y. Hilton caught half of his 6 targets for 51 yards and a touchdown. Almost all of his value, particularly in standard leagues, came on the back of one 40 yard touchdown reception. In a way, that was him booming, but 14.1 PPR points isn’t exactly the ceiling one would hope for from a big week from T.Y. Hilton. If you like the Colts match-up and need a flex play with an insane ceiling, Hilton’s your guy. But in spite of the potential he has, I’d personally be benching him in the vast majority of situations.
Keelan Cole caught all three of his targets for 49 yards and a touchdown, a big beneficiary of a heavy passing game. He hasn’t really done much this season, and unlike someone like Trent Taylor I don’t expect him to thrive most weeks. Even with the Jaguars trying to get more into the passing game, I don’t expect the third option in Keelan Cole to really succeed. He’s on waivers in just about every league, and should stay there.
Cordarrelle Patterson caught all four of his targets for 97 yards against the Giants, rushing twice for a gain of one yard in the process. Patterson, along with Seth Roberts, was a frequent pick-up due to the injury of Amari Cooper and suspension of Michael Crabtree. Of the two, Patterson was the one who did well enough to be fantasy relevant, particularly in standard leagues. If Cooper is still out he may still have some value, but the return of Crabtree likely means he should go back to the free agency.
Dede Westbrook caught 6 of 9 passes for 78 yards, continuing the WR3 emergence he’s had since his return. I actually accidentally played Westbrook this week over Agholor, and was actually happy with the accidental decision until I saw Agholor emergence once again. Having said that, Westbrook provides solid value in three receiver leagues as a decent WR3 option as well as a low-risk flex option. I like him the rest of the season, even if he’s the lowest ranked Jag receiver on the list this week.
Doug Baldwin is the final WR2 this week, catching 5 of 7 passes for 84 yards. This is about where you would expect his floor to be most weeks, even though he’s had three sub ten-point performances. Russell Wilson is good at spreading the ball around, but ultimately Baldwin is going to be the high-upside number one target most weeks. Benching him is giving up that ceiling, even if he’s had a few games that are disappointing over the year.
Marvin Jones caught half of 8 targets for 90 yards. Jones didn’t find his way into the endzone in spite of being peppered with targets, but it wasn’t an objectively terrible performance in spite of that. Depending on the week Jones and Tate flip-flop who the WR1 is, so it’s a bit hard to determine who’s going to lead on the week. Having said that, while Jones’ true floor is lower than this, this is about as bad as it’ll be for Jones outside of terrible games for the Lions, and I like him to take the WR1 more often than Tate for the rest of the season.
Sammy Watkins caught 3 of 4 targets for 38 yards and a touchdown. I was a bit worried about Watkins being unable to perform given that he was covered by an amazing corner in Patrick Peterson, but Jared Goff didn’t force him the ball and only targeted him when it was feasible. Watkins has big playability, and I like him as a flex option in spite of a disappointing first half because he’s been able to deliver recently. Having said that, he’s not my favorite receiving option on the Rams.
Josh Gordon caught 4 of 11 targets for 85 yards and by all accounts should have had even more. Gordon could have gotten two touchdowns if quarterback DeShone Kizer hadn’t overthrown or underthrown him, he was making great separation in spite of battling an excellent corner in Casey Hayward. In spite of the disappointing result, the targets tell you everything you need to know; Gordon is the favorite target on his team and is talented enough to consistently make great plays. He’ll only go up from here as he build chemistry with Kizer, as far as I’m concerned.
Cooper Kupp caught 5 of 6 targets for 68 yards, a solid outing that should be expected from a great offense. It’s a bit underwhelming, a lot of people including me assumed that Kupp would benefit from Watkins being in good coverage, but the lack of a touchdown relegates him to WR3 standing. I think Kupp is one of the best WR3’s on the season, he has upside that means he can hit WR2 or even WR1 numbers on the week given the team he plays for. Him and Watkins are both solid in this capacity, but personally I see more in Kupp’s future.
Josh Doctson caught 3 of 5 targets for 26 yards and a touchdown. It’s not exactly a flashy stat line, almost all of it comes from a 14 yard touchdown reception, but Doctson has been a pretty consistent performer as of the last three weeks. They’re not great numbers, but it’s enough to make him an option as a WR3. Personally, however, the ceilings not high enough for me to want him in that capacity, since the consistency is more of a recent thing.
Jarvis Landry had a bit of an underwhelming week, catching 5 of 6 targets for 62 yards. In a down week that’s enough for relevancy, but as someone who’s supposed to be a PPR monster the lack of targets is disconcerting. Having said that, this is one of his lower performances and he still made the list, so he should still be fired up as a solid WR2 with WR1 upside. If trades were still possible, I’d love to acquire Landry on a down week like this, but as it is no one in their right mind is going to cut him.
Braxton Miller of all people had a decent week, catching all 4 of his targets for 71 yards. Miller benefited from injuries to Will Fuller and Andre Ellington, but banking on him isn’t exactly ideal given that he’s not Hopkins and his quarterback is Tom Savage. It’s a moot point, however, because he has a concussion and won’t play the next game, so any reason to pick him up as a desperation flex play is rendered moot.
Johnny Holton was fed targets on the depleted Raiders wide receiver corps, catching 3 of 7 of them for 38 yards and a touchdown. A fumble along the way hurts his bottom line a little bit, ending with just 10.9 PPR points, but this isn’t the first time Holton’s hit the end zone on the year. The problem is that, outside of one game, when he hasn’t hit the end zone his score is a whopping zero points. Holton’s a desperation play, especially with Crabtree returning to action, and trying to predict a touchdown from him may as well be throwing a coin into a wishing well.
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