The final week of the season is here, and the NFL is still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 23.4 points per game per team.
But scoring has dropped precipitously as injuries have mounted, game tape has accumulated, weather conditions have worsened, pace of play has slowed and divisional opponents have rematched.
Four of the five lowest-scoring weeks this season have been played in the month of December.
- Week 13: 21.4 points
- Week 14: 21.8 points
- Week 15: 19.3 points
- Week 16: 22.7 points
Year over year, scoring is up, but within 2018, we’ve seen a very notable downward trend, which could continue into this weekend, given that Week 17 tends to have a preseason-esque randomness thanks to the mixed motivations of each team.
Regardless, with no Thursday and Monday Night Football, we have the largest main slate of the regular season (15 games), and many teams are playing to win. The action kicks off on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
In this positional breakdown, I’m looking at four wide receivers at the top of the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
NOTE: This week especially, the players at the top of our Models might change radically as we get more news regarding how teams with no need to use their starters plan to deploy their players. Be sure to check our Models regularly for updates.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news feed.
For updates on Vegas spreads and over/unders, check out The Action Network Live Odds page.
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Model Wide Receivers
- Tyreek Hill: $8,400 DraftKings; $7,800 FanDuel
- Robert Woods: $6,900 DraftKings; $7,600 FanDuel
- Kenny Golladay: $6,600 DraftKings; $6,800 FanDuel
- Chris Godwin: $4,300 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
Tyreek Hill: Kansas City Chiefs (-14) at Oakland Raiders, 52.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (12/30): Running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) is officially questionable but expected to play.
On the Week 17 edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast, we talked about the Chiefs as a team to stack this week.
Hill has been relatively quiet over the past two weeks with “only” 132 scoreless yards on 16 targets, eight receptions and five carries. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 11, but he’s third among all wide receivers with 12 all-purpose touchdowns this year. He’s still every bit TyFreak.
With a win, the Chiefs will secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes can lock up the MVP award with a solid performance: We should see the Chiefs at their best, and they have a slate-high implied Vegas total of 33.5 points.
Although they have lost three of their past five games, the Chiefs still lead the AFC, and on a per-game basis they’ve …
- Outscored their implied total by 6.5 points (No. 1 in NFL)
- Exceeded their game total by 9.9 points (No. 1)
The Chiefs rank first in scoring at 35.3 points per game, and Hill is a key contributor to their success, leading the team with 1,514 scrimmage yards, 1,378 receiving yards, 1,780 air yards and 11 touchdowns receiving. Hill is a volatile player: He leads the position in salary-based value with his +5.63 FanDuel Plus/Minus, but he has a Consistency Rating of just 46.7%. But he’s a top-three wide receiver with his 17.6 FanDuel points per game and should always be in consideration in guaranteed prize pools: He’s the best deep-threat receiver in the league.
Using five different criteria including separation stats and deep ball catch rate, the 1st Annual Next Genny Award for Best Deep Threat Wide Receiver goes to… Tyreek Hill! Tyler Lockett an incredibly close second.
— James Koh (@JamesDKoh) December 28, 2018
Hill has something of a mixed matchup. There are a number of factors in his favor. The Raiders rank 31st against the pass with a 27.8% mark in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, and when the Chiefs faced them in Week 13, Mahomes passed for 295 yards and four touchdowns. The Chiefs have the slate’s most explosive passing-game matchup.
On top of that, the Chiefs have the week’s highest pass funnel rating at 88.71. In a vacuum, there’s little reason to expect Hill not to have a big game.
But Hill had literally his worst game of the year against the Raiders in Week 13, scoring a mere 5.5 FanDuel points, and he was lucky to get even that many: He turned his six targets into just one 13-yard reception and was “saved” by his two rushes for 37 yards.
And his performance wasn’t entirely fluky. The Raiders have bizarrely had success against No. 1 wide receivers, ranking second in pass defense against them (-31.5% DVOA). They’ve been destroyed by tight ends and slot receivers, but when the Raiders have wanted to shut down an outside wide receiver, they’ve been able to do so.
But this week they might struggle: The Raiders now have a significant matchup disadvantage. They will certainly be without cornerback Daryl Worley (shoulder, injured reserve), and corner Gareon Conley (concussion) missed last week and is uncertain for this week. Absent their two starting outside corners, the Raiders will be highly exploitable.
This, however, is not a great spot for Hill. Throughout his career, Hill has had notable reverse home/away and favorite underdog splits, which have significantly impacted his usage and production.
- Home (23 games): 6.2 targets, 4.0 receptions, 1.3 carries, 65.5 yards, 0.39 scrimmage touchdowns
- Away (23 games): 7.7 targets, 5.5 receptions, 1.4 carries, 92.0 yards, 0.78 scrimmage touchdowns
- Favorite (34 games): 6.5 targets, 4.2 receptions, 1.4 carries, 71.9 yards, 0.38 scrimmage touchdowns
- Underdog (12 games): 8.0 targets, 6.2 receptions, 1.3 carries, 98.0 yards, 1.16 scrimmage touchdowns
Basically, Hill has been at his worst as a home favorite.
- Home favorite (22 games): 6.2 targets, 3.9 receptions, 1.4 carries, 64.5 yards, 0.36 scrimmage touchdowns
- All other situations (24 games): 7.6 targets, 5.5 receptions, 1.3 carries, 91.8 yards, 0.79 scrimmage touchdowns
Under head coach Andy Reid (since 2013), no home team has made under bettors more money than the Chiefs have with their 17-29-1 over/under record, good for a 22.9% return on investment (per Bet Labs).
The outdoor and raucous Arrowhead Stadium is a hard place to play, especially once the weather is cold, and it’s not just road teams that have played worse in Kansas City this season (per the RotoViz Game Splits App).
- Chiefs Home Games: 52.86 o/u, 52.14 points scored, Chiefs 32, Opponents 20.14
- Chiefs Road Games: 55.19 o/u, 72.87 points scored, Chiefs 38.25, Opponents 34.62
Throughout the Reid era, the Chiefs have scored 2.81 fewer points at home and opponents have scored 6.04 fewer points in Kansas City. Divisional games after Week 10 have a 286-365-15 over/under record since 2006. It’s possible that the Chiefs could score fewer points than expected given the circumstances, and that would almost certainly impact Hill.
But of all the expensive wide receivers, Hill might have the best combination of health, matchup and team motivation. If you roster Hill in GPPs, you might want to use our Lineup Builder to stack him with Mahomes, both of whom are in one of our top stacks of the slate.
Hill has a position-high nine Pro Trends and 99% Bargain Rating on FanDuel, where he’s the No. 1 wide receiver in the Bales, CSURAM88, Koerner and SportsGeek Models.
Robert Woods: Los Angeles Rams (-10.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers, 48 O/U
After losing two games in a row, the Rams got back on track last week against the Cardinals with a 31-9 road victory, and now all they have to do is win a home game against the 49ers to secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Running back Todd Gurley (knee) has been ruled out for Week 17, so it’s possible that the Rams could rely on the passing game more than usual, especially since the 49ers rank dead last in the league with their 41.8 Pro Football Focus (PFF) coverage grade.
Although the Rams returned to form last week, their offense has really struggled (especially in the passing game) since wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee, IR) suffered a season-ending injury in Week 10.
- With Kupp (eight games): 33.4 points, 3.03 points per drive, 34.3 pass attempts, 23.8 completions, 329.6 passing yards, 2.12 passing touchdowns, 0.75 interceptions
- Without Kupp (seven games): 30.3 points, 2.21 points per drive, 38.0 pass attempts, 23.0 completions, 267.3 passing yards, 1.57 passing touchdowns, 1.0 interceptions
With significantly more attempts, the Rams without Kupp have completed fewer passes for way fewer yards and points.
But the Rams are still third in the league this season with 31.9 points per game, and the 49ers have been one of the worst road teams of 2018, allowing 30.3 points per game outside of San Francisco. The Rams should be able to put up points.
Although he underwhelmed for the first four seasons of his career, Woods has been a significant contributor to the team’s success since signing with the Rams last offseason, and this season he leads the team with 127 targets, 84 receptions, 1,195 yards receiving, 1,435 air yards and six touchdowns receiving. And he’s coming off one of his best games of the season, a 6-89-1 receiving and 2-15-1 rushing performance.
There’s nothing exceptional about Woods’ numbers, but he’s one of the most consistent receivers in the league: Only once this season has he not had at least 60 yards receiving in a game — and that was Week 1, when he still got nine targets and one carry.
Over the past two seasons (including playoffs), Woods has exhibited some notable Kupp-based splits.
- Kupp plays fewer than 60% of snaps (10 games): 18.1 DraftKings points per game, 38.3 snaps in slot, 24.9 snaps out wide, 8.6 targets, 5.7 receptions, 82.0 yards receiving, 11.6 yards rushing, 0.40 touchdowns
- Kupp plays at least 60% of snaps (18 games): 15.9 DraftKings points per game, 16.6 snaps in slot, 38.2 snaps out wide, 7.8 targets, 5.1 receptions, 72.1 yards receiving, 2.9 yards rushing, 0.44 touchdowns
Woods has seen more targets without Kupp, and he’s been employed much more in the slot, and where he lines up could matter this week.
49ers cornerback Richard Sherman is having a renaissance season. Just one year after rupturing his Achilles, the future Hall-of-Famer is having an epic age-30 shutdown campaign. He’s allowed just one touchdown in his coverage all season, and he’s been targeted just 39 times in 508 coverage snaps.
But Sherman is almost exclusively a left cornerback. He’s played just 16 slot snaps all season. It’s possible that Woods will be able to avoid Sherman for the supermajority of his snaps.
With Sherman sticking to one side of the field, opposing quarterbacks have wisely avoided his coverage and instead attacked his teammates, who are imminently exploitable.
Starting right cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (knee, IR) is out. In his place, the 49ers have used rookie Tarvarius Moore over the past two weeks: Unsurprisingly, he’s been mercilessly singled out by quarterbacks, allowing two touchdowns on 16 targets since Week 15.
Slot corner K’Waun Williams (knee) has missed most of the past three weeks with an injury, but he’s expected to play this week. He’s allowed a 74.4% catch rate this year. If Williams is unable to play or if he serves as a backup, the 49ers will use fifth-round rookie safety D.J. Reed Jr. at slot corner, as they have since Week 14. Over the past three weeks, as the team’s primary Y defender, Reed has allowed a 100% catch rate on the 11 targets in his coverage.
The 49ers have literally not one linebacker or safety with a PFF coverage grade of even 70.
Against a defense that has allowed a league-high 23 touchdowns receiving to wide receivers this year, Woods should smash.
On Sunday morning, I might bet the over on Woods’ reception prop. With Kupp and Gurley out and Sherman on the outside, I expect the Rams to funnel targets to Woods in the slot. To find the best bets in the props market, use our Player Props Tool, which is powered by our industry-leading projections. Since Week 1, the props with a bet quality of 10 have gone 222-103-12, good for a 66% win rate. Without question, you should supplement your DFS action with player props.
Tied for the position lead with seven Pro Trends, Woods is the No. 1 DraftKings wide receiver in the Levitan and Koerner Models.
Kenny Golladay: Detroit Lions (+8.0) at Green Bay Packers, 45.5 O/U
UPDATE (12/30): Running back LeGarrette Blount (knee) is questionable but tentatively expected to play.
It’s hard to trust Golladay because the Packers-Lions game has zero postseason implications, but both teams played their starters last week even though they were officially out of the playoffs, so they both might put forward good-faith efforts this week.
It’s at least notable that the Packers have a 43-34 over/under record at home with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This game means nothing for the playoffs, but it could see more points than expected.
Golladay has impressed in his second season, putting up 1,063 yards and five touchdowns receiving. He should enter 2019 as the presumptive No. 1 wide receiver for the Lions. He has a great combination of size (6-foot-4, 218 pounds), speed (4.50-second 40) and agility (7.00-second three-cone). In each of his two seasons at Northern Illinois, he had 1,100-plus yards from scrimmage and 10-plus touchdowns. He’s a legitimate NFL producer.
And he has a good matchup against the Packers, who have allowed a top-four mark of 34.1 FanDuel points per game to wide receivers. When Golladay faced the Packers in Week 5, he scored 17.8 FanDuel points with a 4-98-1 receiving performance on nine targets. And the Packers are stretched thin in the secondary, with cornerbacks Kevin King (hamstring) and Davon House (shoulder) on IR and Jaire Alexander (groin) extremely questionable to play after exiting last game with an injury and missing practice all of this week.
But Golladay hasn’t scored a touchdown over the past five weeks, and he’s had fewer than 60 yards in three of his past five games.
And I don’t think Golladay’s short-term struggles are happenstance.
In Weeks 1-8, the Lions seemed to be a team on the rise with an exciting group of skill-position players in Golladay, wide receivers Golden Tate and Marvin Jones and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson.
Golladay is the last man standing.
In Week 9, the Lions traded Tate to the Eagles. Jones (knee, IR) hasn’t played since Week 10, and Johnson (knee, IR) hasn’t played since Week 11.
Golladay’s splits based on the presence and absence of these players is instructive.
- With Tate, Jones & Johnson (Weeks 1-8): 11.5 FanDuel points, 6.3 targets, 4.3 receptions, 68.1 yards, 0.43 touchdowns
- Without Tate, with Jones & Johnson (Weeks 9-10): 11.9 FanDuel points, 8.5 targets, 4.5 receptions, 62 yards, 0.5 touchdowns
- Without Tate & Jones, with Johnson (Week 11): 21.3 FanDuel points, 15 targets, eight receptions, 113 yards, one touchdown
- Without Tate, Jones & Johnson (Weeks 12-16): 9.3 FanDuel points, 8.6 targets, 4.6 receptions, 69.8 yards, zero touchdowns
The samples are small and thus potentially unrepresentative because of randomness and matchups, but the splits make sense.
With two strong receivers around him and the support of an improved ground game, Golladay was efficient with his opportunities in the first half of the season. Without Tate, Golladay saw more targets, but he also saw more defensive attention, so his production in Weeks 10-11 was similar to what it had been earlier in the year.
In Week 11, without Jones but with Johnson, Golladay enjoyed a massive increase in targets, and while he was the secondary’s primary focus, the defense couldn’t sell out to stop him because the running game was intact. But since Week 12, with an inefficient LeGarrette Blount/Zach Zenner-based ground game, Golladay has been the team’s lone playmaking threat, and he’s fallen victim to the inability of his own offense and the attention of opposing defenses.
At the same time, it’s possible that Golladay’s lack of recent production has more to do with his matchups than with anything else. He’s faced a cornerback gauntlet over the past five weeks.
- Week 12 (Bears): Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller
- Week 13 (Rams): Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters
- Week 14 (Cardinals): Patrick Peterson in shadow coverage
- Week 15 (Bills): Tre’Davious White in shadow coverage
- Week 16 (Vikings): Xavier Rhodes in shadow coverage
With an advantageous matchup and no one to encroach upon his target share, Golladay could have a big performance. In his five games without Tate, Jones and Johnson, the dominant Golladay has had a massive, league-leading 0.52 market share of air yards. This is a blowup spot.
Babytron is the No. 1 FanDuel wide receiver in the Freedman Model.
Chris Godwin: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2) vs. Atlanta Falcons, 52 O/U
The over/under opened at 49.5 points but has crept up from there, with 50% of the tickets and 79% of the bets on the over. In a week that could see some low scores, Bucs-Falcons has a slate-high 72.98 pass funnel rating. Unlike most divisional matchups late in the season, this game has significant shootout potential.
Field-stretching wide receiver DeSean Jackson (Achilles) is officially doubtful and expected not to play after missing practice all week. In his place, Godwin will play as a locked-in full-time player this week. As such, Sacred Victorious warrants strong consideration. He will likely be one of the most popular wide receivers on the slate.
A versatile receiver with the ability to win deep because of his speed (4.42-second 40) and in contested situations because of his size (6-foot-1, 209 pounds), Godwin is an important contributor to a Bucs team that ranks first in the league with 4,784 yards passing, second with 366 first downs and third with 6,215 scrimmage yards.
Of course, the team has also been hamstrung by its issues with turnovers and the constant changes at the quarterback position. The Bucs are dead last in the league with 25 interceptions, 34 turnovers and a 19.8% turnover rate on a per-drive basis. A large part of that is because of quarterback Jameis Winston, who has 15 interceptions and seven fumbles in just 10 games, only eight of which have been starts.
But Winston has managed to throw just two interceptions since returning as the starter in Week 12, and he’s in a good spot this week, which bodes well for Godwin.
The Falcons are 29th in pass defense (18.6% DVOA), and in Week 6 against the Falcons (with Winston at quarterback), Godwin scored 14.6 FanDuel points with 6-56-1 receiving on nine targets. He’s massively disappointed over the past three weeks with a cumulative 4-52-0 receiving line, but he’s still gotten 19 targets over that span, and he’s still top-10 on the season with 13 end-zone targets and top-six with 11 targets inside the 10-yard line.
Most importantly, over the past two years Godwin has exhibited notable splits based on the availability of either Jackson or No. 1 wide receiver Mike Evans.
- Without either Jackson or Evans (six games): 10.3 FanDuel points, 7.8 targets, 3.5 receptions, 65.2 yards, 0.33 touchdowns, 82.9% snap rate
- With both Jackson or Evans (25 games): 5.7 FanDuel points, 3.8 targets, 2.6 receptions, 34.5 yards, 0.16 touchdowns, 44.7% snap rate
With D-Jax out, Godwin should see full-time usage for a wide receiver unit that leads the league with 247.4 receiving yards per game.
With a position-high +3.84 Projected Plus/Minus, Godwin is the No. 1 FanDuel wide receiver in the Raybon Model.
Week 17 Positional Breakdowns
Be sure to read the other Week 17 positional breakdowns.
For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.
Pictured above: Kenny Golladay
Photo credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports