The Wide Receiver Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s main NFL slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit the NFL homepage.
Week 10 is a lot like Week 9 — except (probably) not as naked. The Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles, and Ravens are on bye. The Seahawks and Cardinals (Thursday night) and Dolphins and Panthers (Monday night) are also absent from the main slate, as are the Patriots and Broncos (Sunday night) on DraftKings. As the saying goes, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Although it has wider applicability, this breakdown is explicitly for the 10-game DraftKings and 11-game FanDuel main slates.
He’s Only as Good as His Road Quarterback
With the truncated slate and the absence or regression of a few studs, the top of the wide receiver salary scale is dominated by just one player: Antonio Brown ($9,500 DraftKings, $9,300 FanDuel).
Brown easily has the league’s best combination of ability and opportunity. No player since 2013 has more than Antonio’s 789 targets and 46 touchdowns receiving. He leads all wide receivers with 94 targets, 57 receptions, 835 receiving yards, 1,290 air yards, and 2.97 yards per route run (Pro Football Focus). He’s a market share monster. He’s a near unstoppable force in a world of mostly movable objects. On top of that, Brown has a good matchup: The Colts allow top-eight fantasy marks of 36.7 DraftKings and 29.5 FanDuel points per game (PPG), and no team has allowed more than their 44 receptions of 20-plus yards. The Colts defense is 25th against the pass in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and will be without No. 1 cornerback Vontae Davis (groin), who reportedly needs a season-ending surgery and was just released. The Colts are last in the league with 28.89 PPG allowed and second to last with a -4.5 Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus. This is a #SmashSpot for Brown: There’s a reason he’s at least $1,300 more than any other wide receiver.
There are, though, a few factors not in Brown’s favor: The Steelers are -10.5 favorites and could have a run-heavy game script for much of the contest. Plus, the emergence of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster ($5,600 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel) and the expected return of Martavis Bryant ($3,900 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel) could eat into Brown’s target share. Most importantly, the Steelers are on the road, and (like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) Brown has severe home/road splits. Since 2014, Brown has been acceptable-ish as a visitor with 21.13 DraftKings and 16.04 FanDuel PPG for +1.78 and +0.34 Plus/Minus values, but he hasn’t been AB-caliber great. As a point of comparison: For the last four seasons, Brown has 27.2 DraftKings and 21.6 FanDuel PPG at home. As noted in Ian Hartitz’s receiver/corner matchups piece, when he travels Brown does better in domes than outdoors, so he’s not in a bad spot at Lucas Oil Stadium, but, as Dorothy will tell you, “There’s no place like home.” Even on the road, Brown leads all receivers with seven Pro Trends (and a 97 percent Bargain Rating) on FanDuel. As is often the case, Brown has the position’s highest median and ceiling projections in our Models.
A.J. Green ($5,600 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel): Coming off an ejection-shortened game in which he had more chokehold body slams than receptions, Green will be looking to rebound against a Titans team that has allowed the second-most touchdowns to wide receivers with 1.25 per game. Even with a partial Week 9, Green is second and fifth in the league with 42 and 28 percent shares of his team’s air yards and targets, and since Bill Lazor started calling plays he’s averaged 9.4 targets per game for a 5.6/86.2/0.8 in five full games. Running most of his routes against rookie and second-year outside cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and LeShaun Sims, Green will likely have high ownership.
Golden Tate ($6,800 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel), Marvin Jones ($6,200 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel), and Kenny Golladay ($4,400 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel): The Lions are implied for 28.25 points as -13.0 home favorites against the Browns, who have a funnel defense ranked first against the rush and 28th against the pass in DVOA. The Lions have the slate’s highest point expectation via the passing game, which makes Jones and Tate desirable. Their dynamic is notable: Jones and Tate have low 0.16 and 0.14 correlation coefficients on DraftKings and FanDuel, and while Tate and quarterback Matthew Stafford have a strong correlation Jones is correlated with almost no one. Translation: If you use our Lineup Builder to create Lions stacks, Tate might be the preferred stacking partner with Stafford, although Jones has potential, as the Browns are 32nd in pass DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers, and Jones has played as the top receiver since the team’s Week 7 bye with 11 targets and 100-plus yards in each game since. There’s the possibility that PFF’s No. 2 cornerback Jason McCourty will shadow Jones, but McCourty (ankle) could also be limited. A lot of Jones’ outlook is tied to how the Browns deploy McCourty.
T.Y. Hilton ($5,900 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): The Colts are implied for only 16.5 points against the Steelers, who have held opposing receiver units to the second-fewest fantasy points with 24.0 DraftKings and 18.6 FanDuel PPG, but the Colts should have a pass-heavy game script as -10.5 dogs, and they’re at home, where Hilton can leverage his speed in the climate-controlled FieldTurf-ed Lucas Oil Stadium. Hilton has significant career home/road splits (82.4 yards per game at home; 68.3 on the road), and he’s fifth in the league with 78.0 yards per game and seventh with a 39 percent share of his team’s air yards. His ownership will be elevated after his 5-175-2 performance last week, but he warrants tournament exposure. Hilton leads the position with seven Pro Trends on DraftKings, as he’s done for the past few weeks.
Jordy Nelson ($5,300 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel), Davante Adams ($5,000 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel), and Randall Cobb ($4,300 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel): “Once I ran to you / Now I’ll run from you / This tainted love you’ve given / I give you all a boy could give you / Take my tears and that’s not nearly all / Tainted love.”
DeAndre Hopkins ($7,500 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel) and Will Fuller ($4,700 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel): Hopkins has less upside without the greatest rookie quarterback of all time, but he’s a top-five wide receiver with a reduced salary getting double-digit targets at single-digit ownership. He’s spent the supermajority of his career making lemonade out of the passes thrown to him by quarterbacking lemons. In 2013-16, Nuk had more yards (4,487) and touchdowns (23) through the air than all but five wide receivers in their first four campaigns: Randy Moss, Torry Holt, Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald, and Green. As bad as Tom Savage is, he probably isn’t much worse than a combination of 2013-16 Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, T.J. Yates, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, and Brock Osweiler. Hopkins warrants exposure. As for Fuller, I love him, but perhaps Voldemort said it best: “Kill the spare.”
Stefon Diggs ($6,500 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel) and Adam Thielen ($6,700 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel): The Vikings are -1.0 favorites, but they’re implied for just 21.5 points on the road, and the Redskins have held opposing receiver units to the fifth-fewest fantasy points with 26.3 DraftKings and 21.1 FanDuel PPG. Diggs and Thielen both have top-six ceiling projections on account of their target volume, but with Keenum at quarterback they have reduced median and floor projections.
Michael Thomas ($7,000 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel), Ted Ginn ($5,300 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel), Brandon Coleman ($3,300 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel), and Willie Snead ($3,100 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel): Thomas is yet to erupt, Ginn is inconsistent, and Coleman and Snead are cannibalizing each other in an offense averaging only 34.4 passes per game. The Saints are implied for ‘only’ 24.75 points on the road. The Saints are -3.0 favorites, but the Bills have a scrappy defense. Their secondary has impressed with cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and E.J. Gaines and safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, all of whom have PFF grades above 80.0 — but the Saints receivers still warrant tournament consideration. Gaines (hamstring) might be out, and backup corner Shareece Wright has allowed a top-10 rate of one completion per 7.8 coverage snaps this season. Thomas has the position’s highest floor projections in our Models, and Coleman leads all receivers with a 98 percent Bargain Rating on DraftKings.
Dez Bryant ($6,900 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel), Terrance Williams ($4,400 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel), Cole Beasley ($4,000 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel), and Brice Butler ($4,000 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel): Dez (knee, ankle) is dealing with injuries and yet to practice this week. If he’s inactive, Butler will likely be a popular play: In his three games with at least 65 percent of the offensive snaps played and Dak Prescott at quarterback, Butler has averaged a respectable 9.37 DraftKings and 8.03 FanDuel PPG. Given that the Falcons are 24th in pass DVOA and the Cowboys-Falcons game has a slate-high over/under of 50.5 points, both Williams and Butler have potential. Even Beasley in the slot is in play, as slot corner Brian Poole has the highest reception rate of all full-time cornerbacks with one reception allowed for every six snaps in coverage.
Marqise Lee ($4,100 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel): If you’re looking for a low-owned home favorite wide receiver with medium size, speed, and talent on a team that is last in the league with a 47.2 percent pass rate . . . do I need to finish this sentence?
Kendall Wright ($3,200 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel): If you’re looking for a low-owned home favorite wide receiver with medium size, speed, and talent on a team that is second to last in the league with a 49.8 percent pass rate . . . at least Wright has a great matchup in the slot against Packers cornerback Damarious Randall, who has a sad 43.3 PFF grade.
Robby Anderson ($5,200 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel): He leads the Jets with a 23.0 percent target share over the last four games, averaging 16.1 DraftKings and 13.23 FanDuel PPG with 100 percent Consistency Ratings in those contests. The Jets are -2.5 road favorites against the Bucs, whose defense is 31st in pass DVOA and will possibly be without top corner Brent Grimes (shoulder). Shhh!
Robert Woods ($5,000 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel), Sammy Watkins ($4,800 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel), and Cooper Kupp ($4,600 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel): The Rams are in a good spot. They lead the league with 32.88 PPG and a +9.81 Vegas Plus/Minus, and they’re first in the slate with an implied total of 28.5 points as -11.5 home favorites against the Texans, who have allowed top-eight marks to receiver units with 36.3 DraftKings and 29.6 FanDuel PPG. Although the Rams are the third-most run-heavy team, sporting a 49.5 percent rush rate, there’s still some upside with these receivers. Woods leads the team with 49 targets, Watkins has a top-five average depth of target at 16.7 yards, and Kupp has PFF’s most wide receiver-friendly matchup against cornerback Kareem Jackson, who’s allowing the second-most slot yards per coverage snap at 2.02.
Keenan Allen ($5,400 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel): For at least the third time this year, I’m saying that a receiver facing the Jaguars is a pivot play. There’s no denying the Jags have an elite pass defense, as defensive ends Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler Jr., and Yannick Ngakoue have combined for 23 sacks and cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye have top-10 PFF grades. Through nine weeks, Ramsey and Bouye have allowed just 39 receptions, 502 yards, and no touchdowns on 90 targets (PFF). The Jags have held receiver units to league-low marks of 23.0 DraftKings and 17.8 FanDuel PPG. Still, Allen is intriguing. Although he doesn’t play exclusively in the slot, Allen runs many of his routes there, where he’ll match up against corner Aaron Colvin. Of the five defensive backs in the nickel package, Colvin is easily the worst: He’s not bad, but he’s the only one with a PFF grade lower than 80.0, and he is allowing a top-eight mark to opposing wide receivers with one reception for every 8.6 coverage snaps.
The Model Wide Receivers
There are four wide receivers atop the Pro Models built by Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, and Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek):
- Julio Jones ($8,000 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel)
- Mohamed Sanu ($5,100 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel)
- Sterling Shepard ($5,500 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel)
- Adam Humphries ($3,100 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel)
Under former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Julio had 11.1 targets per game. With new OC Steve Sarkisian, Julio has 8.5. With Shanny, Julio had 5.2 first-down targets per game; with Sark, Julio has 3.9. Julio’s not having a bad season — he’s pacing for 86 receptions and 1,316 yards — but he has only one touchdown and has been out-targeted 7-8 in the red zone by Sanu. Running back Tevin Coleman and tight end Austin Hooper have more touchdowns receiving than Julio has. At some point Julio’s 1.47 percent touchdown rate will progress toward his 2015-16 rate of 4.22 percent or maybe even his career mark of 5.15 percent, but Julio’s red zone usage is disappointing, and it might not improve this week. The Falcons are -3.0 home favorites, and in the Dan Quinn era Julio has been below average as a home favorite with -0.19 DraftKings and -0.75 FanDuel Plus/Minus values whereas Sanu has outperformed (+2.79 and +2.71). Even though they’re not scoring at last year’s prolific pace, the Falcons still have a good offense, ranking second with 6.2 yards per play and third with 35.8 yards per drive, but the Cowboys aren’t especially exploitable via the pass: Four of their five starting defensive backs in the nickel package have PFF grades of at least 70.0. Jones and Sanu both have upside, but this could be a better game for the Falcons running backs than for them. Jones is the highest-rated FanDuel receiver in the Bales, Levitan, and SportsGeek Models. Sanu is the highest-rated DraftKings receiver in the Levitan Model.
Without Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) and Brandon Marshall (ankle), Shepard masqueraded as a No. 1 wide receiver in Week 9, turning nine targets into a 5/70/0 receiving line. Although the Giants opened as +1.0 road dogs against the winless (0-9) 49ers, they are now -2.5 favorites. The 49ers defense is 27th in pass DVOA, and the secondary is a disaster. With the recent trade of starting cornerback Rashard Robinson and the season-ending injuries of starting free safety Jimmie Ward (arm) and starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (arm), the 49ers in their dime package are featuring two rookies with only two games each of full-time action and four veterans who all have poor PFF grades of under 50.0. Whether he runs routes in the slot against K’Wuan Williams (who has allowed receptions at a league-high rate of one per 5.7 coverage snaps) or the 32-year-old Leon Hall (who has been with the team for only two games), Shepard is in a good spot. He’s the highest-rated FanDuel receiver in the CSURAM88 Model.
One of the first players discussed on the Week 10 Daily Fantasy Flex, Humphries is a viable punt play. With the bellicose wide receiver Mike Evans (suspension) out for Week 10 there should be more targets to go around, and with the soft-tossing Fitzpatrick in at quarterback for Jameis Winston (shoulder) some of those extra targets could be directed to Humphries in the slot, where he’s run 83.0 percent of his routes. DeSean Jackson ($4,900 DraftKings, $6,300 FanDuel) and Chris Godwin ($3,000 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel) are rosterable in Evans’ absence, but Humphries might have the best matchup of the trio against Jets corner Buster Skrine, who moves to the slot in the nickel package and has a poor PFF grade of 45.0. Humphries is the highest-rated DraftKings receiver in the Bales, CSURAM88, and SportsGeek Models.
Positional Breakdowns & Tools
Be sure to research the wide receivers for yourself with our tools and read the other Week 10 positional breakdowns:
• Running Backs
• Tight Ends
Good luck this week!
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