The 2018 NFL season rolls on, and we’re still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 24.1 points per game per team. We could be in for another week of high scores with a 10-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 21, at 1 p.m. ET.
With four teams on bye, two at Wembley Stadium and six in prime-time games, we are without the following wide receivers.
- Thursday Night Football: Broncos (Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas) at Cardinals (Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk)
- International Series (London): Titans (Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor) at Chargers (Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams)
- Sunday Night Football: Bengals (A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross) at Chiefs (Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins)
- Monday Night Football: Giants (Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard) at Falcons (Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu)
- Byes: Packers (Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison), Raiders (Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant), Steelers (Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster), Seahawks (Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, David Moore)
For analysis on the smaller slates, consult Chris Raybon’s premium strategy guides (released throughout the week).
This breakdown is less of a comprehensive analysis of each wide receiver and more of an introduction to this week’s players via our large suite of analytic DFS Tools. We’ll start with three high-priced wide receivers, follow with three pass-catchers at the top of our individual Pro Models and finish with the rest of the field’s fantasy-relevant receivers.
For updates on Vegas spreads and over/unders, check out The Action Network Live Odds page.
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Highest-Priced Wide Receivers
This week, three wide receivers have top-five positional salaries on DraftKings and FanDuel.
- Adam Thielen: $8,600 DraftKings; $8,700 FanDuel
- Michael Thomas: $7,900 DraftKings; $8,600 FanDuel
- Mike Evans: $7,700 DraftKings; $7,800 FanDuel
Adam Thielen: Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) at New York Jets, 46 O/U
On the Wednesday edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast, we talked about Thielen as a potential cash-game wide receiver. While some DFS players may opt to pay down at the position for the purposes of roster construction, there’s no question that in a vacuum Thielen is utterly worthy of a roster spot in all formats. Thielen leads all wide receivers in our Models with his median and ceiling projections.
Thielen is the only player in the modern-era NFL to open a season with six consecutive games with at least 100 yards receiving. For an undrafted, small-school, average-sized hometown receiver, he’s not bad. Entering Week 7, Thielen leads the league with 81 targets, 58 receptions and 712 yards receiving. He’s second among all wide receivers with 260 yards after the catch. A masterful route runner, Thielen has run 60.6% of his snaps in the slot, where he leads the league with 49 targets and 37 receptions.
He’s been so dominant this season that Thielen is the only wide receiver to score 18 or more DraftKings points each week. His position-high 28.5 DraftKings points per game is almost five points higher than TyFreak’s No. 2 mark (23.7). Even though he is the slate’s most expensive wide receiver, he’s still arguably undervalued because Thielen’s +11.9 Plus/Minus is order of magnitudes greater than that of any other receiver in his salary range. Other than a few low-priced non-relevant No. 3 receivers who get 2-3 useless receptions per game, Thielen is the only wide receiver in the league with a 100% DraftKings Consistency Rating.
Because Thielen plays primarily in the slot, he often faces the weakest starting cornerback in opposing secondaries, which makes him something of a macro-perspective matchup-independent player. Basically, regardless of the defense he’s facing, he’s always in play. But he’s especially desirable this week because Thielen has a great matchup against the Jets. He has 15-catch, 200-yard, two-touchdown upside. Seriously.
The Jets are sixth in pass defense with a -7.6% mark in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, but they are beyond vulnerable this week. Most importantly, the Jets are likely to be without three starting defensive backs.
- No. 2 cornerback Trumaine Johnson: Quad, questionable — missed Weeks 4-5, yet to practice this week
- No. 3 cornerback Buster Skrine: Concussion, questionable — missed Week 5, yet to practice this week
- Free safety Marcus Maye: Hand, out
On top of that, No. 1 cornerback Morris Claiborne hasn’t been used in shadow coverage this year. Rather, the Jets have lined Claiborne up almost exclusively at right corner (82.0% snap rate), so he’s unlikely to follow Thielen across the formation. And as it is, Claiborne isn’t especially imposing anyway with his 73.8 Pro Football Focus (PFF) coverage grade. When matched up with Claiborne, Thielen should be fine — and he won’t be facing Claiborne for much of the game.
Instead, Thielen will have the pleasure of running most of his routes against backups Darryl Roberts and Parry Nickerson. Filling in for Johnson, Roberts will play primarily on the outside. He’s a third-year seventh-rounder with subpar (55.6, 66.2) PFF coverage grades in his first two seasons and a 70.6% catch rate allowed in his coverage this year. He’s utterly beatable. In Week 5, he allowed the decrepit Demaryius Thomas to get by him for a 42-yard touchdown. He’s a backup for a reason.
And amazingly, Roberts isn’t nearly as bad Nickerson, a rookie sixth-rounder whose horrid 38.4 PFF coverage grade is the sixth-worst mark among all cornerbacks. He’s allowed a 78.3% catch rate on 23 targets in his coverage, and just last week he was targeted a pitiful 12 times, allowing an 8-74-2 receiving line to the Colts and their backup-caliber receivers with No. 1 wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and No. 1 tight end Jack Doyle out. The week before that, he allowed six different Broncos to ring up a combined 7-95-0 receiving line on seven targets. That’s the guy Thielen is going to run routes against in the slot.
With the abuse Thielen’s liable to sling Nickerson’s way from the very first snap, there’s a non-zero chance the late-round rook retires at halftime. In front of the New York faithful, Thielen’s going to Vontae Davis this kid’s soul.
On Sunday morning, I actually might look to bet the over on Thielen’s yardage prop, which I think will be no lower than 89.5 and probably closer to 94.5. On the one hand, it’s borderline ludicrous to bet the over on a prop that high. On the other hand, the Vikings are the league’s third-most pass-happy team (68.5% pass rate), the Jets have no defender who can stop Thielen and he has crushed his yardage prop each week. He leads the slate with his 0.31 market share of targets and 0.45 share of air yards.
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 137-64-4, which is good for a 67% win rate. Without question, you should supplement your DFS action with player props.
Thielen is the No. 1 FanDuel wide receiver in the Freedman Model.
Also on the Vikings:
- Stefon Diggs: $7,200 DraftKings; $8,700 FanDuel
Not to be entirely outdone by Thielen, Diggs has three games this year with 20 or more DraftKings points, and since 2016 he has trailed Thielen by less than a point per game (15.7 vs. 16.6). Because Claiborne plays primarily on one side of the field, the Vikings should be able to scheme Diggs away from him and into the coverage of the exploitable Roberts and even Nickerson for a majority of his snaps.
Michael Thomas: New Orleans Saints (+3) at Baltimore Ravens, 49.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Left guard Andrus Peat (concussion) is out. Without him, the offensive line play could suffer.
In 2016-17, Thomas had more receptions (196) than any other NFL receiver in history has had in his first two seasons. And this season Thomas has been even more dominant. Through five games, Thomas has as many touchdowns (three) as incomplete targets — and he’s been targeted 49 times. His 93.9% catch rate is transgressively high, and early in the year he set a record by becoming the only only player in NFL history to open a season with three straight games of 10 or more receptions. If Thomas weren’t a football player, he’d probably be the CEO of a peer-to-peer ride-share company, because he’s über-efficient. (You’re welcome.)
With more than 100 yards per game, Thomas is aggressively lining up all over the formation — 139 snaps wide left, 98 wide right and 75 in the slot. And the Saints are strategically scheming each game to get the ball to their alpha receiver, who has gifted quarterback Drew Brees with an elite adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) regardless of where on the field he’s been targeted (per RotoViz AY/A App).
The matchup isn’t easy: The Ravens are third with a PFF coverage grade of 82.9, they’ve been aggressive in shadowing No. 1 receivers and they’ve held opposing wide receivers to a bottom-five mark of 32.1 DraftKings points per game. And the defense could be even better as it continues to integrate No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith (suspension) back into the unit.
But the Saints are coming off a bye, so they’ve had time to prepare for the challenges of this matchup. Historically, when head coach and offensive mastermind Sean Payton has had extra time to prepare for an opponent the game has produced points. In Payton’s previous 11 seasons coaching the team, the Saints have a 9-2 over/under record coming out of the bye (per Bet Labs). The Saints are first in the league with 36.0 points per game, and their evil master of machinations has had an extra week to cook up schemes. The Saints should be able to score.
Although Brees throughout his career has been consistently better at home (8.1 AY/A) than on the road (7.1), Thomas actually has reverse splits, performing better away from the Coors Field of fantasy football.
- Away (17 games): 18.7 DraftKings points, +3.97 Plus/Minus, 62.5% Consistency Rating
- Home (19 games): 17.3 DraftKings points, +2.44 Plus/Minus, 52.6% Consistency Rating
It’s probably not the case that Thomas has an actual edge on the road, but it’s likely that he hasn’t been significantly hindered when playing outside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Also on the Saints:
- Cameron Meredith: $3,800 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel
- Tre’Quan Smith: $3,700 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
- Austin Carr: $3,000 DraftKings; $4,500 FanDuel
No. 2 wide receiver Ted Ginn (knee, injured reserve) was shut down this week after struggling with a lingering injury for much of the past month. His absence should result in increased target share and playing time for Meredith and Smith. While Meredith has been efficient in a limited role (9-114-1 receiving on 10 targets), Smith is a potential breakout star as a high-upside third-round rookie.
In Week 5, Smith made an immediate impact as the injury fill-in for Ginn, playing in more than 50% of the snaps for the first time (66.7%), running the second-most routes on the team (28) and turning his three targets into an unholy receiving line (3-111-2). Coming out of the bye, Smith should be even more comfortable with the offense.
Carr might see a slight bump in playing time without Ginn, but in his three games with Meredith, the slot-bound undrafted second-year receiver has run just 21 routes. We can ignore him to the extent that the Saints do.
Mike Evans: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5) vs. Cleveland Browns, 50.5 O/U
Evans is on pace to become only the third player in NFL history (along with Randy Moss and A.J. Green) to open his career with five straight 1,000-yard receiving campaigns. He’s fifth in the league with 0.38 points per snap in point-per-reception (PPR) scoring and seventh with 2.62 yards per route (PFF). He’s cooled off a little bit from his hot start, but for the season he’s still averaging 96.8 yards per game and is a no-doubt top-10 fantasy receiver with 20.9 DraftKings points per game.
Evans is in something of a Rorschach spot this week. The Browns have surrendered a top-eight mark of 42.3 DraftKings points per game to opposing wide receivers, and Evans throughout his career has been a largely splits-agnostic player, except for his division/non-division splits, which he’s on the positive side of this week.
- Division (25 games): 15.0 DraftKings points, -1.41 Plus/Minus, 36.0% Consistency Rating
- Non-Division (41 games): 17.9 DraftKings points, +1.64 Plus/Minus, 56.1% Consistency Rating
The Bucs are eighth in the league in scoring at 28.2 points per game and have scored at least 27 points in 4-of-5 games. The return of quarterback Jameis Winston (suspension) doesn’t seem to have set the offense back. The Browns have given up at least 10 DraftKings points to nine receivers in six weeks. They’ve allowed 12 or more points to at least one receiver in 5-of-6 games and 24-plus to a receiver in 4-of-6. In half their games, they’ve forfeited at least 28 points to a wideout.
Additionally, Evans had a position-high 20.95% ownership rate last week, when he scored just 9.8 DraftKings points with a -8.69 Plus/Minus. With that disappointing taste still in the mouth of one of every five DFS players, Evans could have half the ownership rate this week.
And yet the Browns are third in pass defense with a -18.4 DVOA. Since 2014, No. 1 wide receivers on average have a 0.50 correlation with their quarterbacks. With Winston, though, Evans has a 0.47 correlation — not bad, but nothing compared to the 0.93 correlation he has with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. Since last season, Evans has had notable quarterback-based splits. While these splits are apparent even in the games with quarterback changes, I’ve removed those from the sample so that the trend might be better seen.
- Fitzpatrick, complete start (five games): 22.1 DraftKings points, 10.4 targets, 6.8 receptions, 107.4 yards, 0.6 touchdowns
- Winston, complete start (12 games): 13.9 DraftKings points, 8.8 targets, 5.0 receptions, 65.1 yards, 0.33 touchdowns
On top of that, it’s possible that Evans could be shadowed by ace first-round rookie cornerback Denzel Ward, who is eighth at the position with an 81.6 PFF coverage grade. After playing almost exclusively at left corner in his first four games, Ward over the past two weeks has shadowed wide receivers John Brown and Keenan Allen on the outside, trailing them on 68.8% and 66.7% of their routes, collectively holding them to 3-60-0 receiving on 10 targets in his coverage. Ward is showing that he was worthy of the top-five pick the Browns used to draft him. I don’t know if you should rush over to the Lineup Builder and start building Winston-Evans stacks.
And yet … if you knew that Evans was going to run about two-thirds of his routes in single coverage against a rookie cornerback making just his seventh start, shouldn’t you want to cram him into a lot of GPP lineups?
As I said earlier, #Rorschach.
Also on the Bucs:
- DeSean Jackson: $5,800 DraftKings; $6,700 FanDuel
- Chris Godwin: $4,600 DraftKings; $6,400 FanDuel
- Adam Humphries: $3,500 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel
Jackson is first in the league with 3.94 yards per route (PFF) and 0.52 PPR points per snap, but like Evans, he also has significant pro-Fitzgerald splits (17.7 DraftKings points per game in Fitz’s complete starts; 9.7 in Winston’s).
On a per target basis, Godwin has been the most efficient receiver on the Bucs, posting a WR Rating of 120.7. A second-year breakout-in-process, Godwin is third at the position with 0.39 PPR points per snap. He’s yet to play 70% of the snaps in any game, but there’s little fluky about his 21-249-4 receiving line through five games. An integrated part of the passing attack, Godwin leads the team with eight targets inside the 10-yard line, while no other Bucs receiver has more than one such target.
As for Humphries, of course the low-upside slot operator has pro-Winston splits (9.6 DraftKings points per game in Winston’s complete starts; 4.8 in Fitzpatrick’s).
Model Wide Receivers
Besides Thielen, there are three 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.
- Jarvis Landry: $7,300 DraftKings; $6,500 FanDuel
- DeAndre Hopkins: $6,900 DraftKings; $8,500 FanDuel
- Marvin Jones: $4,900 DraftKings; $6,400 FanDuel
Jarvis Landry: Cleveland Browns (+3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 50.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): The Browns have traded running back Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars for a 2019 fifth-round pick. In his absence, 2018 second-round selection Nick Chubb will start and change-of-pace back Duke Johnson could see additional touches.
The only player on the slate to have more targets than Landry’s 67 Thielen. Landry is actually running more of his routes out of the slot this year (72.9%) than he did last year (64.8%), but with No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield at quarterback, Landry is being used much more aggressively. For instance, this year 24.5% of Landry’s targets have come more than 15 yards down the field; in 2014-17 with Miami, he saw such targets at only an 11.0% rate.
The problem with Landry is that he’s yet to develop a connection with Mayfield. Although Mayfield has targeted Landry a personal-high 39 times and given him at least 10 targets in each of his three starts, Landry has a paltry 46.2% catch rate on the quarterback’s passes. He’s yet to have more than five catches or 69 yards in a Mayfield start. Last week, he had a horrid 2-11-0 receiving line on 10 targets. For a high-floor player, Landry all of a sudden seems to have a basement-level dwelling.
But this is a great spot for a bounceback. The Bucs are dead last in the league against the pass with a 47.5% DVOA and have given up the second-most DraftKings points per game to opposing wide receivers with a 52.3 mark. On top of that, the Bucs secondary is without two starters in cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (shoulder, IR) and strong safety Chris Conte (knee/stiff-arm, IR). But even if those guys were healthy, it probably wouldn’t matter. This defense is just bad, ranking dead last with a 26.4% DVOA.
It’s possible that the Bucs have the league’s worst trio of starting cornerbacks. Brent Grimes was a Pro Bowler with the Dolphins in the 2013-15 seasons, and in 2016-17 he had above-average PFF coverage grades of 87.4 and 75.2. This year, though, he’s been one of the worst corners in the league, allowing a 13-196-1 receiving line on 18 targets. As for M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis, both are rookies with poor PFF coverage grades of 55.4 and 56.3. The second-rounders might be good one day, but so far, they’ve combined to allow 39-479-6 receiving on 48 targets.
Landry has a position-high floor projection on DraftKings and 99% Bargain Rating on FanDuel, where he’s the No. 1 wide receiver in every Pro Model except for one (Freedman).
Also on the Browns:
- Antonio Callaway: $4,300 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel
- Rashard Higgins: $3,900 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
Since being elevated to the No. 2 role in Week 2, Callaway has been sixth in the league with 576 air yards, but he has struggled mightily, especially with Mayfield, turning his 26 targets from the passer into an underwhelming 11-103-0 stat line. But Higgins (knee) missed Week 6, is yet to practice this week and is doubtful to play on Sunday. In his absence, Callaway should continue to see targets, and against the Bucs he might be able to do something with them.
DeAndre Hopkins: Houston Texans (+4) at Jacksonville Jaguars, 41 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Tight end Ryan Griffin (illness) is out.
Hopkins (foot) is questionable with an injury, and after getting in a limited session on Wednesday he didn’t practice at all on Thursday. This is not a good sign but as of now he’s still expected to play.
Hopkins is top three in the slate with 63 targets, 44 receptions, 657 yards receiving, 926 air yards, eight targets inside the 10-yard line and eight targets in the end zone. He’s yet to find his groove as a scorer, but that will come: Since 2014, Hopkins has been the No. 4 fantasy wide receiver, averaging 18.2 DraftKings points per game. He’s the No. 3 receiver this year, with 22.5 DraftKings points per game and a +3.87 Plus/Minus.
Hopkins has a tough matchup. Even though the Jags in Week 6 got destroyed by the wide receiver-less Cowboys in a 40-7 loss, they have still limited the position to a league-low 131.5 yards per game. Outside cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are still yet to allow a touchdown this season. The Jags have held wide receivers to a bottom-three mark of 31.0 DraftKings points per game. And Hopkins is likely to face shadow coverage from Ramsey, a 23-year-old All-Pro shutdown corner in his athletic prime.
Even so, Hopkins is in play: In his two games against the Jags last season — games featuring “starting” quarterbacks Tom Savage and T.J. Yates with rookie Deshaun Watson in relief in his first NFL appearance — Hopkins averaged 18.3 DraftKings points per game. Ballers ball.
In nine games with Watson, Hopkins and playmaking No. 2 wide receiver Will Fuller, the Texans average 30.3 points per game. They probably won’t approach that total in Week 7, but it highlights the extent to which they have the Black Swan potential to put up points against a Jags defense that gets little support from its offense and just last week was utterly exposed.
Hopkins leads the position with 10 Pro Trends on DraftKings, where he’s the No. 1 wide receiver in the Bales, CSURAM88, Levitan, Raybon and Freedman Models.
Also on the Texans:
- Will Fuller: $5,500 DraftKings; $6,200 FanDuel
- Keke Coutee: $4,300 DraftKings; $5,600 FanDuel
In Fuller’s nine games with Watson, the receiver has averaged 18.1 DraftKings points with a strong +6.53 Plus/Minus on the strength of 3.8 receptions, 65.6 yards receiving and 1.11 touchdowns per game. The problem is that Fuller (hamstring, hip) exited Week 4 early with an injury and since then has played as a glorified field-stretching decoy. He has practiced on a limited basis this week and is likely to play on Sunday, but he’s hard to trust at less than full health in this matchup.
As I mention in The Action Network NFL Week 7 Betting Guide, the Jags have been without starting slot corner D.J. Hayden (toe) since the middle of Week 2, and have been routinely exploited by pass-catchers in the middle of the field since: Chris Hogan (3-42-2), Quincy Enunwa (4-66-0), Travis Kelce (5-100-0) and Cole Beasley (9-101-2). Backup slot cornerback Tyler Patmon is a liability in coverage (53.7 PFF coverage grade), and when safeties Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church and linebackers Telvin Smith and Myles Jack have been matched up with slot receivers or tight ends moved into the slot they have given up four touchdowns.
The emergence of the rookie Coutee as the starting slot receiver is by no means a fluke: He was productive as the slot-bound playmaker in the Texas Tech offense for two seasons and is an athletic 21-year-old selected with a draft pick just outside the first three rounds (No. 103). Since he entered the starting lineup three weeks ago, he’s been a close second on the team with 27 targets and 20 receptions, accumulating 193 yards and a touchdown. Given how weak the Jags have been against slot receivers, Coutee could lead the Texans in targets.
Marvin Jones: Detroit Lions (-3) at Miami Dolphins, 46.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Running back Theo Riddick (knee) is out.
It’s easy to look at Jones and see a guy who is yet to have 10 targets, five receptions or 70 yards in any game this season. He’s third on the Lions with 33 targets and 241 yards receiving and fourth with 16 receptions. He’s fifth with just 59 yards after the catch. The box scores suggest that he’s an afterthought in this offense — but that’s not the case at all. Last year he was first on the team with 101.5 air yards per game and a 15.2-yard average depth of target (aDOT). This year, he has a comparable 99.8 air yards per game and 15.1 aDOT. He’s still every bit the speedy, big-play specialist he was in 2017.
While Jones has troublesome Kenny Golladay-based per-game splits …
- Without Golladay (five games): 17.5 PPR points, 9.8 targets, 5.4 receptions, 85.4 yards receiving, 0.6 touchdowns
- With Golladay (16 games): 12.2 PPR points, 5.7 targets, 3.1 receptions, 57.2 yards receiving, 0.56 touchdowns
… he leads all wide receivers in the slate with 10 end-zone targets. No receiver in his reduced price range has his touchdown upside.
Jones is the No. 1 DraftKings receiver in the Koerner and SportsGeek Models for the second game in a row.
Also on the Lions:
- Golden Tate: $6,400 DraftKings; $7,400 FanDuel
- Kenny Golladay: $6,000 DraftKings; $7,000 FanDuel
Running 73.3% of his routes out of the slot, Tate leads the team with 51 targets, 33 receptions, 431 yards receiving and 219 yards after the catch. Dolphins first-round cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick has acquitted himself admirably, holding receivers to a 12-96-0 receiving line on 22 slot targets. But still a rookie and, of the team’s three starting cornerbacks, he has the lowest PFF coverage grade (65.0). Tate is one of the best slot receivers in the league and has a position-high 96% FanDuel leverage score thanks to his high ceiling and low ownership projections. He could make Minkah look like a stinkah.
Babytron is first on the team with 517 air yards and second on the team in everything else with 41 targets, 27 receptions, 428 yards receiving and 163 yards after the catch. On the cusp of a soul-eclipsing breakout, Golladay has plays of 25 or more yards in 10-of-16 career games.
Wide Receiver Rundown
Here’s a quick look at the remaining fantasy-relevant receivers on the slate.
Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods & Josh Reynolds: Los Angeles Rams (-9.5) at San Francisco 49ers, 52 O/U
- Cooks: $7,100 DraftKings; $7,500 FanDuel
- Woods: $7,000 DraftKings; $7,700 FanDuel
- Reynolds: $3,500 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
Cooper Kupp (knee) has been ruled out for Week 7, vacating his seven targets overall (and one target inside the 10-yard line) per game.
The No. 1 team in The Action Network NFL Power Rankings, the Rams had a league-high 29.9 points per game last year, and this year the Rams have improved with an average of 32.7. That will almost certainly regress, but this offense is as good as any unit in the league. Under head coach Sean McVay, the Rams have hit their implied Vegas totals in an NFL-high 16-of-22 games since last season. Against a 49ers defense that is dead last in the league with a dreadful PFF coverage grade of 38.5, the Rams should go off despite the fact they are playing their third consecutive game on the road.
Cooks leads the team with 2.67 yards per route and is first among the regular starters with his 11.9 aDOT. With 521 scrimmage yards, he’s pacing to smash his previous high of 1,203, which he set with the Saints in 2016. Woods is first on the Rams with his 51 targets, 36 receptions, 524 yards receiving and 570 air yards. Woods has a position-high eight Pro Trends on FanDuel, where he leads all wide receivers with his floor projection.
Reynolds played more than 50% of the offensive snaps in each of the past two weeks in partial relief of Kupp, and he’s expected to start on the outside this week with Cooks and Woods rotating in the slot. Even though he’s slated to run many of his routes against rejuvenated left cornerback Richard Sherman (two receptions, 10 targets on 204 coverage snaps), he’s still an option for DFS players looking to punt at the position.
The Rams lead all teams with their 31-point implied Vegas total, and this game has the slate’s highest over/under. It’s also the only matchup with two top-10 teams in situation-neutral pace.
Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon & Chris Hogan: New England Patriots (-3) at Chicago Bears, 48.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/ankle) did not travel with the team to Chicago. He is officially questionable but fully expected not to play. In his absence, Edelman and the other receivers should have an enhanced target share.
- Edelman: $6,600 DraftKings; $7,100 FanDuel
- Gordon: $5,600 DraftKings; $6,700 FanDuel
- Hogan: $3,800 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel
Edelman has eight targets and 12.2 DraftKings points per game since making his long-awaited return in Week 5 (knee, suspension). Running 63.5% of his routes in the slot, Edelman is once again quarterback Tom Brady’s go-to middle-of-the-field receiver.
Gordon (hamstring) is playing through a lingering soft-tissue injury, but his on-field presence has correlated with the team’s marked offensive improvement: The Pats averaged 19 points per game in Weeks 1-3, but they have reached at least 38 points in each game since Gordon made his New England debut. Last week he had a team-high 36 routes and nine targets. Whenever he and Brady finally connect, GPPs will be won.
Ironically — but actually unsurprisingly — Hogan has been better over the past two weeks with Edelman and Gordon (seven receptions and 112 yards on eight targets) than he was in the first month without them (eight receptions and 109 yards on 15 targets).
The Pats have a tough matchup against a Bears defense that ranks first overall and first in coverage with PFF grades of 90.5 and 89.0.
Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor & Jordan Matthews: Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) vs. Carolina Panthers, 44.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Left tackle Jason Peters (biceps) and right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) will both play. Running back Darren Sproles (hamstring) is out.
- Jeffery: $6,300 DraftKings; $7,600 FanDuel
- Agholor: $5,000 DraftKings; $6,000 FanDuel
- Matthews: $3,300 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
From 2013-17, Jeffery averaged 1,021.8 yards and 6.4 touchdowns per year despite missing 11 games over that time. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that he has impressed with 20.3 DraftKings points per game and an 18-218-3 receiving stat line on 29 targets since his Week 4 return following offseason shoulder surgery. He seems likely to face shadow coverage from cornerback James Bradberry — a prospect which isn’t particularly terrifying given that Bradberry has given up a 21-269-2 receiving line this season on the 35 targets.
Since Jeffery’s return, Agholor has played far behind the No. 1 wide receiver and tight end Zach Ertz, ranking third with 21 targets, 12 receptions and 158 yards receiving. Over the past three weeks, the Eagles offense has scored eight touchdowns. Not one of them went to Agholor, who has -6 red-zone yards since Week 4.
A former middle-of-the-field maven for the Eagles, Matthews flashed in Week 4 with a turn-back-the-clock 56-yard touchdown, but he’s run only 82 routes (13 from the slot) in his four games with the team, earning just nine targets.
T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers & Zach Pascal: Indianapolis Colts (-7) vs. Buffalo Bills, 43 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (chest, hamstring) was not listed on the final injury report. He will play in Week 7.
- Hilton: $6,200 DraftKings; $7,300 FanDuel
- Rogers: $4,700 DraftKings; $6,000 FanDuel
- Pascal: $3,600 DraftKings; $5,100 FanDuel
Hilton (chest, hamstring) has missed the past two games but will return in Week 7. On pace for his typical 1,176-yard, eight-touchdown season when injured, Hilton has 10-plus targets and/or 100 yards in all four games he’s played this season. He is likely to face shadow coverage from 2017 first-round cornerback Tre’Davious White, who over the past three weeks has been strong one on one against Davante Adams, Corey Davis and Hopkins, holding them to a combined 6-73-1 line on 11 targets in his coverage.
Rogers has run 89.9% of his routes from the slot, and since Hilton’s early Week 4 exit he’s had 10-plus targets in each game over the past three weeks, leading the team with 20 receptions and 116 yards after the catch in that span. He has a serviceable matchup in the slot against fourth-round rookie cornerback Taron Johnson.
No. 3 wide receiver Ryan Grant (ankle) is out, so Pascal will once again see playing time with the first unit. He hasn’t been notably productive over the past three weeks (12-103-1), but his eight targets per game is nothing to sniff at.
Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel & Anthony Miller: Chicago Bears (+3) vs. New England Patriots, 48.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Wide receiver Allen Robinson (groin) is questionable but expected to play, although he’s unlikely to be at full strength.
- Robinson: $6,100 DraftKings; $6,500 FanDuel
- Gabriel: $4,700 DraftKings; $5,900 FanDuel
- Miller: $3,400 DraftKings; $5,400 FanDuel
Robinson (groin) missed a day of practice this week and was able to participate on only a limited basis in the other two sessions. He’s legitimately questionable to play in Week 7. Robinson has 50 yards and/or a touchdown in each game this season, but even if he plays he will likely have a reduced role in the offense.
After a disappointing Week 1 (5-25-0), Gabriel has played as a Tyreek Hill-esque weapon over the past four games, turning his 29 targets and five carries into 314 yards and two touchdowns. Ever since his Kyle Shanahan-induced 2016 breakout, Gabriel has been a touchdown-driven producer. In his eight games with a touchdown, he’s averaged 20.0 DraftKings points; in his 26 games without one, 5.4 DraftKings points.
Miller is playing like the rookie he is with no more than five targets, four receptions or 35 yards in a game. He’s subsisting on the good fortune of two touchdowns.
For what it’s worth, the bend-but-don’t-break defense of the Patriots has the league’s second-highest PFF coverage grade (85.2).
John Brown, Michael Crabtree & Willie Snead: Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs. New Orleans Saints, 49.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Left guard Alex Lewis (neck) has been ruled out and right tackle James Hurst (back) is questionable and should be considered a game-time decision. Without them, the team’s pass protection could suffer.
- Brown: $5,700 DraftKings; $6,500 FanDuel
- Crabtree: $5,100 DraftKings; $6,600 FanDuel
- Snead: $4,000 DraftKings; $5,400 FanDuel
JoBro is in full-blown Renaissance mode: He’s first in the league with 21 targets of at least 20 yards, second with seven deep-passing receptions and third with 924 air yards. Of all receivers with 10 or more targets, he leads the group with a deep-ball target rate of 50%. His speed complements quarterback Joe Flacco’s arm strength perfectly. Brown has 14.1 DraftKings points per game with a solid +4.16 Plus/Minus, and he leads the Ravens with 424 yards receiving, six end-zone targets and three touchdown catches.
Crabtree leads the team with 55 targets, 30 receptions and 249 routes. In every game except for the non-representative run-heavy 47-3 Week 1 win over the Bills, Crabtree has eight or more targets. He’s averaging one red-zone target per game. For the season, he has 12.7 DraftKings points per game and 10 or more in 5-of-6 starts. Crabtree isn’t likely to have a big game, but he has a high target floor for his salary.
Running 80.1% of his routes from the slot, Snead is tied for first on the team with 30 receptions. In a #RevengeGame against the team that discarded him, Snead has the potential to destroy slot man P.J. Williams, who among starting corners has a league-worst 36.4 PFF coverage grade. In just 117 coverage snaps, he has allowed a 15-213-3 receiving line on 20 targets.
Devin Funchess, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Torrey Smith & Jarius Wright: Carolina Panthers (+4.5) at Philadelphia Eagles, 44.5 O/U
- Funchess: $5,300 DraftKings; $6,400 FanDuel
- Moore: $3,900 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel
- Samuel: $3,700 DraftKings; $4,700 FanDuel
- Smith: $3,600 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel
- Wright: $3,300 DraftKings; $4,700 FanDuel
Since last season, Funchess has had drastic Greg Olsen-based splits, averaging 14.0 PPR points per game without him and just 10.3 with him. But in the tight end’s return last week, Funchess had a 5-74-1 receiving line on eight targets. Perhaps Funchess is starting to come into his own.
Moore is an upside 21-year-old first-rounder who since the Week 4 bye has 8-108-0 receiving on nine targets and 35 routes (as well as 2-36-0 rushing). For the season, he leads the team with 3.09 yards per route. A Percy Harvin clone, Samuel missed the second half of last year’s rookie campaign with an ankle injury. After making his 2018 debut in Week 5 with an encouraging 2-37-1 performance on four targets, he followed it up with three action-less snaps in Week 6. Both Moore and Samuel will battle inconsistency, but they should be regular contributors within a year.
Wright has run 83.1% of his routes from the slot and has a low 7.2 aDOT indicative of high-percentage targets. Smith is second on the team with 156 routes, but he’s fourth with just 12 receptions.
The Eagles have allowed a top-eight mark of 45.4 DraftKings points per game to wide receivers.
Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole & Donte Moncrief: Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) vs. Houston Texans, 41 O/U
- Westbrook: $4,800 DraftKings; $6,000 FanDuel
- Cole: $4,600 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel
- Moncrief: $4,100 DraftKings; $5,700 FanDuel
Westbrook has run 92.4% of his routes from the slot and leads the team with 27 receptions and 387 yards receiving. Although Texans slot corner Kareem Jackson currently has a 76.6 PFF coverage grade, he is outperforming many of his career averages. For instance, from 2010-17, he allowed 0.10 receptions and 1.31 yards per coverage snap. This season, those numbers are 0.04 and 0.57. He will eventually regress, and Westbrook has the athleticism to give him trouble.
Going back to Week 12 of last season, Cole has played more than 60% of the snaps in each game: Over that time, he’s averaged 13.8 DraftKings points per game. Moncrief leads the team with 40 targets and 531 air yards. In his two games with a touchdown, he’s averaged 19.2 DraftKings points. In his four scoreless games, he’s averaged 4.65. Moncrief has a position-high 93% DraftKings leverage score thanks to his high ceiling and low ownership projections, but he’s pretty much useless if he doesn’t score.
Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon & Trent Taylor: San Francisco 49ers (+9.5) vs. Los Angeles Rams, 52 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Wide receivers Pierre Garcon (knee, shoulder) and Trent Taylor (back) are questionable. Garcon is likelier than Taylor to play.
- Goodwin: $4,600 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel
- Garcon: $4,500 DraftKings; $5,300 FanDuel
- Taylor: $4,100 DraftKings; $4,500 FanDuel
Finally healthy after battling quad and hamstring injuries, Goodwin (4.27-second 40 time) torched the Packers last week for 4-126-2 receiving on five targets. He has more than enough speed to get deep on cornerback Marcus Peters, who has been a major coverage liability for the Rams since exiting Week 3 early with a calf issue. Although he’s playing through his injury, Peters over the past month has given up a league-high five touchdowns and 271 yards with an 84.2% catch rate on 19 targets.
In his six games with backup quarterback C.J. Beathard, Garcon has averaged eight targets and 8.4 PPR points per game. That usage is good, but the production is basically useless. Dante Pettis (knee) has been ruled out, so Taylor (back) will man the slot in Week 7 — if he can play through his questionable tag.
Robby Anderson & Jermaine Kearse: New York Jets (+3.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings, 46 O/U
- Anderson: $4,500 DraftKings; $5,400 FanDuel
- Kearse: $4,100 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
No. 1 receiver Quincy Enunwa (ankle) is out, and the explosive Terrelle Pryor (groin) is doubtful and expected not to play. As a result, Anderson and Kearse could see the majority of the team’s targets. Anderson will likely see shadow coverage from shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes, but Kearse is in a good spot. This year, he has played primarily in the slot, running 79.5% of his routes from there, and the Vikings will be without their starting interior corner in Mike Hughes (knee, IR). His backup, Mackensie Alexander, is yet to have a season with a PFF coverage grade better than 52.7.
Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola, Jakeem Grant, Albert Wilson & DeVante Parker: Miami Dolphins (+3) vs. Detroit Lions, 46.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) is out for Week 7. Backup Brock Osweiler will start.
- Stills: $4,400 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel
- Wilson: $4,000 DraftKings; $5,600 FanDuel
- Amendola: $3,900 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
- Grant: $3,500 DraftKings; $4,600 FanDuel
- Parker: $3,100 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) has been ruled out, so backup Brock Osweiler will start a second consecutive game. Entering Week 6, the Dolphins were averaging a pitiful 27 pass attempts per game, but Osweiler last week attempted 44 passes (albeit in a game that went to overtime). Maybe with Osweiler at quarterback, the team will rely a little more on the passing game than it did with Tannehill — but I doubt it.
Stills functioned as the boom-or-bust No. 1 receiver for the first month of the season, but he’s since been overtaken by Wilson. While Stills leads the team with 183 routes and 503 air yards, Wilson is first with 32 targets, 359 yards receiving, 2.92 yards per route, 323 yards after the catch (the highest mark among all NFL wide receivers) and four touchdowns. Wilson is averaging 15.5 DraftKings points per game with an 83.3% Consistency Rating and is being used as an all-around offensive weapon, lining up in the backfield, in the slot and out wide and generating points as a receiver, runner and even passer.
Even though three of Wilson’s and two of Stills’ touchdowns have come in the slot, Amendola is locked in as the primary middle-of-the-field receiver, leading the team with 140 routes, 23 targets and 10 receptions in the slot. He actually leads the team with 24 receptions overall.
A 2016 Freedman favorite, Grant is a Tyreek Hill-esque talent without an Andy Reid. Grant has run only 83 routes this season, but he is ninth in the league with 0.64 fantasy points per route. On just 14 receptions, 11 kick returns, eight punt returns and one carry, he’s tied for the team lead with four total touchdowns. Before Grant, the last person to score as a receiver, kick returner and punt returner in the same season was TyFreak.
Parker gloriously returned to action in Week 6 after missing the two previous weeks with a quad injury. He played four snaps and failed to catch his only target. For a player who’s supposed to be good, he’s not very good.
Josh Doctson, Michael Floyd, Brian Quick & Maurice Harris: Washington Redskins (+1) vs. Dallas Cowboys, 41.5 O/U
- Doctson: $3,600 DraftKings; $4,600 FanDuel
- Floyd: $3,200 DraftKings; $4,500 FanDuel
- Quick: $3,000 DraftKings; $4,500 FanDuel
- Harris: $3,000 DraftKings; $4,500 FanDuel
The Redskins are thin at wide receiver. Jamison Crowder (ankle) missed last week and has already been declared out this week. Additionally, Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) is doubtful and fully expected not to play. Without their top wideouts, the Redskins will turn to their 2016 first-rounder as well as three players who have a near-zero chance of being in the winning Millionaire Maker lineup.
Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns & Deonte Thompson: Dallas Cowboys (-1) at Washington Redskins, 41.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/20): Wide receiver Tavon Austin (groin) is out. The spread has moved to -2 Cowboys.
- Beasley: $3,900 DraftKings; $6,200 FanDuel
- Gallup: $3,500 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel
- Hurns: $3,400 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel
- Thompson: $3,400 DraftKings; $4,700 FanDuel
Last week, Beasley was the No. 4 fantasy wide receiver, scoring 34.1 DraftKings points thanks to a magnificent 9-101-2 performance on 11 targets against the vaunted Jaguars defense — and yet we’re still projecting him for less than 1% ownership this week. That should tell you all you need to know about Beasley and this receiving group. But at least he’s cheap. For the second week in a row, Beasley leads the slate with a 99% Bargain Rating on DraftKings.
The rest of these guys are hazmat bad.
Zay Jones & Kelvin Benjamin: Buffalo Bills (+7) at Indianapolis Colts, 43 O/U
- Jones: $3,700 DraftKings; $4,700 FanDuel
- Benjamin: $3,500 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel
Josh Allen (elbow) has been ruled out and Nathan Peterman (interceptions) has been deemed incompetent. Off-the-street veteran Derek Anderson will start at quarterback for Buffalo in Week 7.
Jones leads the Bills with 16 receptions and 199 yards. With a quarterback who’s actually had 250 yards passing in a game before, Jones might be better than awful.
Benjamin leads the team with 32 targets and 553 air yards, but he’s had more than 35 yards receiving in a game just once. But perhaps with Anderson — a teammate with Benjamin in Carolina — the wide receiver will be more productive. Of all the quarterbacks ever to throw a pass to Benjamin, Anderson is the one with whom he has done the best, producing a respectable 9.5 AY/A (vs. 7.5 with Cam Newton and 4.8 with Allen, for instance).
But I’d still (theoretically) be willing to be any amount of money at any odds that neither Jones nor Benjamin will be in a winning GPP lineup this weekend.
Positional Breakdowns & News
Be sure to read the other Week 7 positional breakdowns.
For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs.
Pictured above: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19).
Photo credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.