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 11: It’s here and about as uninspiring as Weeks 8-10 were. The Panthers, Jets, 49ers, and Colts are on bye. The Titans and Steelers (Thursday night) and Falcons and Seahawks (Monday night) are also absent from the main slate, as are the Cowboys and Eagles (Sunday night) on DraftKings. In the words of Fletcher Reede, “I’ve had better.” At least this is the last of the bye weeks, thank the fantasy gawds.
Although it has wider applicability, this breakdown is explicitly for the 11-game DraftKings and 12-game FanDuel main slates.
The Big Two
Without Antonio Brown, the top of the wide receiver salary scale is occupied by just two players.
- Mike Evans ($7,900 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel)
- Michael Thomas ($7,400 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel)
To quote Lord Tennyson: “Half a league onward.”
The Willing Suspension of Disbelief
It hasn’t been a great season for Evans. Whereas he last year led the league with 10.8 targets per game and had 7.64 yards per target with a 6.94 percent touchdown rate, this year his numbers are universally down: 9.25 targets per game, 7.19 yards per target, and a 5.45 percent touchdown rate. He’s not having a bad season, but Evans isn’t a top-10 fantasy receiver, and his -1.82 DraftKings and -2.43 FanDuel Plus/Minus values highlight the extent to which he has fallen short of high expectations. The Buccaneers as a team have also underwhelmed: They have a bottom-four Vegas Plus/Minus at -4.33. In Week 9 Evans hit rock bottom. In the middle of a one-catch day, he escalated a small encounter into a sideline melee. Evans was suspended in Week 10 and now will catch passes from someone other than quarterback Jameis Winston (shoulder).
Although Ryan Fitzpatrick and Evans haven’t displayed a strong connection — Fitz is 3-of-10 passing to Evans — there’s the possibility they could work together. Fitz is 2-of-4 for 78 yards and a touchdown on deep passes to Evans, who has a great matchup. The Dolphins rank 31st against the pass in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), and the cornerback Evans is likely to see most is second-year Xavien Howard, who has a Pro Football Focus grade of 33.3 and is PFF’s lowest-ranked corner. The Bucs are implied for only 20.5 points in a pick’em, which lowers the upside for Evans as well as speedster DeSean Jackson ($5,100 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel), but both are still in play for tournaments. Evans leads all receivers with six Pro Trends on FanDuel, where he has a position-high median projection in our Models.
THE Michael Thomas
While it’s popular to say that Thomas is having a good year, he hasn’t had the sophomore season many were hoping for after his 92/1,137/9 rookie campaign. Thomas is a market share stud who looks like he’s set to break out — and he could — but he’s one of the most expensive receivers on the slate, and he has -0.29 DraftKings and -1.20 FanDuel Plus/Minus values with just 33.3 percent Consistency Ratings. That Thomas is priced this high and people are talking about him as if he’s having a good season reveals the extent to which high-end wide receiver scoring has fallen. With more targets this year (9.2 per game vs. 8.1 last year), Thomas has fewer yards (73.6 per game vs. 75.8) and way fewer touchdowns (0.22 per game vs. 0.6).
The touchdown regression has significantly hurt Thomas’ production — and that might not improve. Last year Thomas had a 63.6 percent share of the Saints’ targets inside the 10-yard line with 11 targets. This year Thomas has only 17.6 percent on three targets. The problem is that quarterback Drew Brees is attempting fewer passes near the goal line. Last year Brees had a league-high 3.9 attempts inside the 10; this year, that number is 1.8. Even though the Saints are implied for 29.25 points as -7.5 favorites at the Coors Field of fantasy football, Thomas, Ted Ginn ($4,800 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel), Brandon Coleman ($3,000 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel), and Willie Snead ($3,000 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel) should be treated with caution. The Saints passing game is still worth stacking in guaranteed prize pools — Brees has 8.3 adjusted yards per attempt, Ginn has a 22 percent Upside Rating, and Coleman has a position-high 98 percent Bargain Rating on DraftKings — but the Saints are 28th with a 52.7 percent pass rate, and the Redskins defense is top-six in pass DVOA against primary, secondary, and supplementary wide receivers. Thomas has the position’s highest median projection on DraftKings but ‘only’ the fourth-highest ceiling projection.
DeVante Parker ($6,500 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel) and Jarvis Landry ($6,400 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel): The Dolphins are at home against the Bucs, who have allowed top-four fantasy marks to opposing receiver units with 39.9 DraftKings and 31.7 FanDuel PPG. The rookie Ryan Smith and second-year Vernon Hargreaves are exploitable at right and slot corner, and the Bucs are incapable of generating a pass rush, ranking 31st with a 4.3 percent adjusted sack rate (FO). If there were ever a game to trust in Jay Cutler not to sabotage his receivers, it’s this one. The Dolphins, however, are last in the league with 15.22 PPG and a -4.94 Vegas Plus/Minus. It’s probably never sharp to trust Cutler.
Stefon Diggs ($6,700 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel) and Adam Thielen ($7,200 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel): The Vikings are -2.5 home favorites riding a five-game winning streak in which they’ve scored more points with each victory: 20, 23, 24, 33, and 38. Even with quarterback Case Keenum, Diggs and Thielen are top-eight fantasy receivers and collectively have +3.06 DraftKings and +2.31 FanDuel Plus/Minus values. This week, though, they’re facing a Wade Phillips-coordinated Rams defense that is first in overall DVOA and second in pass DVOA. The Rams secondary isn’t great, but it’s solid with good coverage support from linebacker Mark Barron and pass-rushing support from edge defenders Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin and defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers. Diggs and Thielen will likely be popular, but they have underappreciated downside.
Amari Cooper ($6,000 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel) and Michael Crabtree ($5,900 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): The Raiders are +7.0 dogs in Mexico City against the Patriots, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers with 40.7 DraftKings and 32.5 FanDuel PPG. The Patriots struggle to generate a pass rush — they are bottom-eight with 16 sacks — and Cooper and Crabtree are talented enough to win some one-on-one matchups against cornerbacks Malcom Butler and Stephon Gilmore. The Patriots-Raiders game opened with an over/under of 50.0 points and has jumped to a slate-high 55.0. Cooper and Crabtree could benefit from a shootout, and while DFS players may balk at the thought of rostering C&C in cash games there’s little to suggest they can’t have success against a Pats defense allowing a league-high 287.2 receiving yards per game. Stacking either of these receivers with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is an option. Cooper and Carr have a high 0.64 correlation coefficient.
Jamison Crowder ($4,300 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel) and Josh Doctson ($4,000 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel): The Redskins are +7.5 road dogs and will likely have a pass-heavy game script against the Saints, who have gone from 30th to fourth in pass DVOA since last season. The Saints are strong in the secondary with top-20 PFF cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley, who will apply almost all the coverage on Doctson, but Crowder has a desirable matchup against slot corner/strong safety Kenny Vaccaro, who has a 41.1 PFF grade. In Crowder’s two games with a ‘deemphasized’ Terrelle Pryor, he’s averaged 12 targets.
Keenan Allen ($5,900 DraftKings, $7,100 FanDuel): For the first three weeks of the season, when tight end Hunter Henry was a forgotten part of the Chargers offense, Allen ran 69 (61.1 percent) of his routes from the slot. Since Week 4, however, Henry has become a glorified wide receiver, running 66 of his routes from the slot and in the process pushing Allen to the outside, where he’s run 120 (56.1 percent) of his 214 routes. Miscast as an outside receiver, Allen has averaged only seven targets per game since first-round rookie Mike Williams made his debut a month ago. Facing a Bills secondary with four defensive backs sporting PFF grades above 80.0, Allen isn’t particularly enticing.
Larry Fitzgerald ($6,900 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel): Quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) is out, and third-stringer Blaine Gabbert is starting against the Texans, who have allowed top-four marks of 39.7 DraftKings and 32.3 FanDuel PPG to receiver units. Fitz has run 263 (64.5 percent) of his routes from the slot this year and is likely to face cornerback Kareem Jackson for the majority of his snaps. Of all defensive backs still starting, Jackson has league-worst marks of 550 receiving yards allowed and a 127.0 quarterback rating when targeted. Jackson has allowed 77.6 percent of targets in his coverage to be completed, and Fitz is fourth in the league with 88 targets. Fitz is just 62 yards away from becoming the NFL’s No. 5 all-time leading receiver. History awaits.
Robert Woods ($6,000 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel), Sammy Watkins ($4,400 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel), and Cooper Kupp ($4,500 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel): The Rams are intriguing in that they lead the league with 32.89 PPG and a +9.22 Vegas Plus/Minus, but they have a tough matchup as +2.5 road dogs against the Vikings, who are strong against the pass with edge rushers Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, shadow cornerback Xavier Rhodes, slot corner Terence Newman, and strong safety Harrison Smith. Not one defensive back in the Vikings nickel package has a PFF grade lower than 75.0.
Alshon Jeffery ($6,600 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel), Nelson Agholor ($5,200 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel), and Torrey Smith ($3,300 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel): Available on the FanDuel main slate only, the Eagles are -3.5 road favorites and can seize total control of the NFC East with a win over the Cowboys. The Eagles lead the league with 15 passing touchdowns in the red zone and 30 offensive touchdowns overall. They’ve also hit their implied Vegas total in an NFL-best eight of nine games. The Cowboys will likely be without linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), and in three games without him they’ve allowed 32.3 PPG. The Cowboys are especially exploitable at left corner, where Anthony Brown has allowed five touchdowns — one of the five worst marks in the league.
Golden Tate ($6,800 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel), Marvin Jones ($5,600 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel), and Kenny Golladay ($3,900 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel): One of just three teams to hit its implied total in at least seven games, the Lions are -3.0 favorites, but they’re not in a great spot playing outdoors on the road against the divisional rival Bears in November. The total for the game has dropped from 44.0 points to 41.0, and the forecast calls for freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and windy (13 mph) weather. In the words of the ’90s poet, “I stay away.”
Davante Adams ($5,300 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel), Jordy Nelson ($4,700 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel), and Randall Cobb ($3,900 DraftKings, $5,400 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.”
Marqise Lee ($5,500 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel) and Dede Westbrook ($3,600 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel): The Jaguars are -7.5 road favorites against the Browns, who have a funnel defense ranked second against the run and 27th against the pass in DVOA, but top cornerback Jason McCourty (PFF’s No. 2 cover corner) could shadow Lee, which would neutralize much of the Jaguars passing attack. The game has a forecast of 20-mph winds and a 37-degree temperature. Although the Browns defense isn’t good, the Jags could struggle to move the ball.
A.J. Green ($7,000 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel): The Broncos have allowed 92 points over the last two weeks, but the Bengals are still a bottom-three scoring team with 16.56 PPG. Green always has upside — he’s second in the league with a 41 percent share of his team’s air yards — and he’ll likely be available at single-digit ownership, but it’s still tough to like a receiver on the road in Denver: The Broncos have held opposing receiver units to bottom-four marks of 25.2 DraftKings and 20.8 FanDuel PPG.
Brandin Cooks ($6,600 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel) and Danny Amendola ($5,700 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel): The Pats are implied for a slate-high 31.0 points in Mexico City against the Raiders, who are 32nd in pass DVOA. The Patriots lead the league with 39 receptions of 20-plus yards, and the Raiders are last with just 13 sacks. Amendola leads the position with a 99 percent Bargain Rating on FanDuel. In the words of Bubba Sparxxx, “Get it ripe, get it right, get it tight.”
Tyreek Hill ($7,100 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel): The Chiefs are implied for 28.25 points as -10.5 road favorites against the Giants, who are 29th in pass DVOA and at 1-8 have seemingly given up on their coach. The Giants have allowed opponents to hit their implied totals in a league-high seven games, and the Chiefs have the slate’s highest passing points expectation. In his last 16 regular season games, Hill has turned 101 targets, 28 carries, 33 punt returns, and four kick returns into 1,128 scrimmage yards, 69 receptions, and 13 all-purpose touchdowns. Doubt Hill at your own peril. When one bird gives birth to a lot of black swans, that bird is probably a Black Swan.
The Model Wide Receivers
There are three wide receivers atop the Pro Models built by Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, and Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek).
- DeAndre Hopkins ($6,100 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel)
- Sterling Shepard ($6,300 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel)
- Mike Wallace ($3,800 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel)
Hopkins is the slate’s “I dare you to kick me in the crotch” pivot wide receiver. Even without quarterback Deshaun Watson (knee), Hopkins has been targeted prolifically. He leads the league with 106 targets, and he’s been targeted more in Tom Savage’s three starts (15.3 targets per game) than he was in Watson’s six (10). Although Savage lowers Hopkins’ upside, the enhanced target volume still gives Hopkins a decent ceiling. In Watson’s starts, Hopkins averaged 22.52 DraftKings and 18.35 FanDuel PPG. In Savage’s starts, he’s averaged 20.07 DraftKings and 15.73 FanDuel PPG. Will Fuller (ribs) is out, and some of his targets will go to Bruce Ellington ($3,000 DraftKings, $4,600 FanDuel), but Hopkins is also likely to get some of Fuller’s targets, even with Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson shadowing him: The Texans will need to throw to someone, and Hopkins leads the slate with 803 receiving yards, 1,276 air yards, and eight touchdowns receiving. Hopkins has a position-high six Pro Trends on DraftKings, where he pulls the Double Donk as the highest-rated receiver in the Bales and CSURAM88 Models.
As mentioned on the Week 11 Daily Fantasy Flex, Shepard is a potential chalk lock. Without Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) and Brandon Marshall (ankle), Shepard has functioned as a No. 1 wide receiver for the last two weeks, turning 22 targets into 16 receptions and 212 yards. The Giants are +10.5 home dogs, but they’ve gotten significant sharp money, and Shepard should benefit from a pass-heavy game script. The Chiefs have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing receiver units with 43.3 DraftKings and 35.1 FanDuel PPG. Running 226 of his 272 routes out of the slot, Shepard should avoid left cornerback Marcus Peters, instead matching up primarily with nickelback Steven Nelson, who has a poor 40.9 PFF grade. Shepard has the position’s highest ownership projection and will be a core part of most Chiefs-Giants game stacks. Use our Lineup Builder to construct two-way stacks with Shepard. He’s the highest-rated DraftKings receiver in the Levitan Model and the consensus No. 1 FanDuel receiver in all our Models.
It’s hard to invest in Wallace and Jeremy Maclin ($4,500 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel) because quarterback Joe Flacco is 34th with his 4.3 AY/A, but the Ravens have hit their implied total in six of nine games and (from an expectations-based perspective) aren’t quite the disaster they seem to be. They’re -2.0 road favorites against the Packers, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receiver units with 38.6 DraftKings and 30.4 FanDuel PPG. The Packers secondary is intriguingly putrid. All-around playmaking slot corner/safety Morgan Burnett (groin) is likely to be out, and in his absence the Packers dime package has the competent free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and then five guys with PFF grades no higher than 52.0, including cornerbacks Davon House (44.6), Kevin King (44.5), and Damarious Randall (40.5). No matter where he lines up, Wallace will have a winnable matchup as the highest-rated DraftKings receiver in the SportsGeek Model.
Positional Breakdowns & Tools
Be sure to research the wide receivers for yourself with our tools and read the other Week 11 positional breakdowns.
Good luck this week!
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