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.
The NFL season rolls on. Teams have significantly underperformed their implied Vegas totals to open the year, but Week 6 looks like a beauty. Even with many desirable wide receivers unavailable because they are on bye or in games not on the main slate — A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Doug Baldwin, T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery, Kelvin Benjamin, and others — Week 6 shines with fantasy splendor.
For analysis of the Sunday and Monday night games, see Justin Bailey’s prime time breakdown (out later this week). Although it has wider applicability, this breakdown is explicitly for the 11-game DraftKings and 12-game FanDuel main slates.
He’s Only as Good as His Road Underdog Quarterback
For many reasons (bye weeks, matchups, injuries, year-to-date performances, etc.), what used to be a clear top tier of three has been reduced to a cohort of one: Antonio Brown ($9,400 DraftKings, $9,200 FanDuel).
No player since 2013 has more than Antonio’s 759 targets and 44 touchdowns receiving. He leads the league with 64 targets, 40 receptions, 545 receiving yards, 862 air yards, and 193 yards after the catch. He’s a market share monster. He’s his own Ambassador of Quan. With Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) out for the season, Brown easily has the league’s best combination of ability and opportunity. The problem, however, is that the Steelers are +4.0 road underdogs, and (like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) Brown has severe per-game home/road and favorite/underdog splits. Since 2014, Brown has still been acceptable-ish as a road dog with 20.02 DraftKings and 14.85 FanDuel points per game (PPG) for +1.29 and -0.11 Plus/Minus values, but he hasn’t been AB-caliber great.
Nevertheless, Antonio — and also teammate Martavis Bryant ($4,700 DraftKings, $5,500 FanDuel) — has the potential for a big game against the Chiefs, who have played stud cornerback Marcus Peters almost exclusively at left corner this year. It’s likely that Brown will run many of his routes against right corner Terrance Mitchell, who has allowed a league-high 414 yards into his coverage (Pro Football Focus). Bryant will also likely get his shots against Mitchell. The Steelers have been horrible on offense this year — they have the third-worst Vegas Plus/Minus with a -5.5 — but Brown has been great amid the widespread suckage: If the Steelers offense improves, he could have a historic yardage season. He’s tied for the position lead with six FanDuel Pro Trends, and Brown has the highest median projections in our Models. Best of all, Brown’s ownership won’t be extreme.
For more on Brown’s matchup against the Chiefs secondary, check out the Week 6 WR/CB Matchups.
Julio Jones ($8,300 DraftKings, $8,400 FanDuel) and Taylor Gabriel ($4,600 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel): The Falcons are -13.0 home favorites implied for a slate-high 29.5 points against the Dolphins, who are 29th against the pass in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). While this looks like a good spot, Jones (hip) is dealing with an injury and in the Dan Quinn era Julio has been a mediocre fantasy producer as a home favorite, averaging +0.10 DraftKings and -0.51 FanDuel Plus/Minus values at unbelievable ownership rates of 24.7 and 29.9 percent. Jones and Gabriel should have enhanced target shares with Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) out, but Julio has just one target inside the 10-yard line this season and is averaging just 7.5 targets per game compared to 12.7 in 2015. Julio is tied for the position lead with six Pro Trends on DraftKings and FanDuel — so he has upside — but he also has downside.
Brandin Cooks ($7,600 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel), Chris Hogan ($7,000 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel), and Danny Amendola ($5,600 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel): The Patriots are tied for third with an implied total of 28.5 points as -9.5 road favorites over the division rival Jets, against whom the Pats have scored 28.25 points in the Todd Bowles era. Cooks is sixth in the NFL with 541 air yards, Hogan is tied for second with five touchdowns receiving, and Amendola leads the league with 2.51 yards per route run out of the slot (PFF) and has averaged 7.6 targets per game with the Patriots in 11 contests without Julian Edelman. Hogan and Amendola are among the most undervalued receivers in the league.
Michael Thomas ($73600 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel), Willie Snead ($4,700 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel), and Ted Ginn ($3,600 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel): The Saints are -4.5 home favorites at the Coors Field of fantasy football and should be near peak capacity off a bye week with the return of slot receiver Snead (suspension, hamstring) and departure of running back Adrian Peterson (old age, poor attitude). Nevertheless, there is cause for caution with this matchup: The Lions are fifth in pass DVOA, Thomas is likely to see shadow coverage from cornerback Darius Slay (80.8 PFF), Snead will run most of his routes against Quandre Diggs (84.3 PFF), Ginn has been a mediocre replacement for Cooks (175 yards on 16 targets and three carries), and the Saints have attempted only 38 passes per game this year. I’m not yet fading the Superdome — but I’m watching the reverse line movement on the under with extreme interest.
Mike Evans ($6,900 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel) and DeSean Jackson ($5,800 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel): Evans is getting 10.0 targets per game, D-Jax leads all starting wide receivers with an average depth of target of 20.2 yards, and the Buccaneers are -1.0 road favorites against the Cardinals, whose defense is 24th in pass DVOA. Evans will see shadow coverage from elite cornerback Patrick Peterson, but that was also the case in last year’s Week 2 Bucs-Cards affair and Evans got 18 targets. This year Peterson is being targeted and allowing receptions at league-low rates of once every 11.9 and 27.3 coverage snaps (PFF). Likely to run most of his routes against cornerback Justin Bethel (44.7 PFF), D-Jax has one of the best matchups of the slate.
Sammy Watkins ($4,100 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel), Cooper Kupp ($4,000 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel), and Robert Woods ($3,700 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel): The Rams are implied for just 19.75 points as +2.5 road dogs against the Jaguars, who who have a run-flowing funnel defense ranked 31st against the rush but first against the pass in DVOA. It’s extremely unlikely that any Rams receiver will have a big game against the elite corner duo of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye — but slot corner Aaron Colvin is allowing receptions at a top-10 rate of one catch per 7.5 coverage snaps. Kupp could get a lot of work in the slot, and he leads the team’s receivers with 10.4 DraftKings and 8.7 FanDuel PPG as well as six and three targets inside the 20- and 10-yard lines. All three Rams receivers are projected for almost no ownership, and at least Watkins leads the slate with a 99 percent Bargain Rating on DraftKings.
Jordy Nelson ($7,100 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel), Davante Adams ($5,700 DraftKings, $7,200 FanDuel), and Randall Cobb ($5,900 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel): In a slate full of big home favorites, the Packers are getting relatively little attention as -3.0 road favorites against the divisional rival Vikings, who have a solid secondary with shadow cornerback Xavier Rhodes, slot corner Terence Newman, and free safety Harrison Smith. Nelson (hamstring) is likely to be shadowed by Rhodes, but Jordy hasn’t had a problem against the Vikes in the Mike Zimmer era, averaging a 5.75/90.25/1 receiving line across four games. Discounting his seven-snap, zero-target injury-shortened Week 2 outing, Nelson has played in 20 games since returning from a knee injury that cost him the entire 2015 season. He leads the league with 20 touchdowns and 20 targets inside the 10-yard line in that span. Given that Cobb will run most of his routes against Newman, Adams against Trae Waynes (44.3 PFF) is the non-Jordy matchup to exploit.
Michael Crabtree ($5,800 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel) and Amari Cooper ($5,000 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel): Quarterback Derek Carr (back) might return this week. Of all the songs they stole or ripped off in some way, Led Zeppelin’s cover of “When the Levee Breaks” is the best. At some point, levees break.
Golden Tate ($6,800 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel), Marvin Jones ($4,600 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel), and Kenny Golladay ($4,000 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel): The Saints are rebuilding their secondary on the fly, but the rookie Marshon Lattimore (87.6 PFF) and second-year Ken Crawley (90.6) have been good so far in limited action. We’ll see if that lasts. Who hasn’t been good is demoted strong safety Kenny Vacaro (31.1) who has played almost exclusively in the slot in his last two games. The Saints have been the league’s worst defense over the last five years, and this season they’ve still allowed top-12 marks of 35.3 DraftKings and 28.2 FanDuel PPG to opposing wide receiver units. Tate especially could crush, but Jones and Golladay also have significant upside.
Keenan Allen ($7,900 DraftKings, $7,200 FanDuel) and Tyrell Williams ($5,400 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel): This is an obligatory reminder that if you subscribe to FantasyLabs you’re required to like these two guys all the time no matter what. Allen leads the position with a 99 percent Bargain Rating on FanDuel.
Tyreek Hill ($6,400 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): In his nine Jeremy Maclin-less contests, Hill has averaged 7.6 targets per game. In his last 16 games (including playoffs) Hill has 12 touchdowns. That said, Hill is dealing with a hamstring injury, the -4.0 home favorite Chiefs might not need to rely on Hill to win, and the Steelers have held opposing receiver units to league-low marks of 18.8 DraftKings and 14.5 FanDuel PPG.
Stefon Diggs ($7,500 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel) and Adam Thielen ($6,000 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel): Diggs (groin) is questionable and quarterback Sam Bradford (knee) seems unlikely to play this week, but the Packers four top cornerbacks and two top safeties all have sub-50.0 PFF grades.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,100 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel) and Will Fuller ($5,200 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel): This is what it looks like when I bury the lead. On the Week 6 NFL Daily Fantasy Flex, Hopkins was the unanimous chalk lock receiver, and we’re projecting him to be the slate’s highest-owned player. Quarterback Deshaun Watson might be the greatest first-month NFL rookie in the history of the universe. Since Fuller returned from his collarbone injury two games ago, Watson has thrown nine touchdowns: Eight of them have gone to Hopkins and Fuller. Given that Fuller has big-play upside and will be owned anywhere from five to eight times less than Hopkins, he’s strongly worth considering, especially since Jason McCourty (91.2 PFF) could shadow Hopkins — he shadowed A.J. Green in Week 4 — and Fuller could run most of his routes against the hapless Jamar Taylor, who has allowed a league-high 140.8 passer rating when in coverage. The Browns are 31st in pass DVOA. This could be brutal.
The Model Wide Receivers
There are currently three wide receivers atop the Pro Models built by Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, and Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek):
- Larry Fitzgerald ($6,800 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel)
- John Brown ($4,500 DraftKings, $6,300 FanDuel)
- Jamison Crowder ($4,000 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel)
The Cardinals are +1.0 underdogs and have the league’s second-worst Vegas Plus/Minus with a -7.2, but they’re at least at home and facing a Buccaneers defense that has allowed the most fantasy points this year to opposing wide receiver units with 47.9 DraftKings and 38.4 FanDuel PPG. Quarterback Carson Palmer is having his least efficient season (6.5 adjusted yards per attempt) since he was with the Bengals in 2010, and the Cardinals are without their starting left tackle and guard in D.J. Humphries and Mike Iupati, but the Cardinals are still first and second in the league with 227 pass attempts and 314.6 passing yards per game. Facing a Bucs funnel defense that ranks sixth against the run and 27th against the pass in DVOA, the Cardinals are likely to continue throwing. Aside from cornerback Brent Grimes, no nickel-package defensive back for the Bucs has a PFF grade of even 45.0. Fitzgerald, JoBro, Jaron Brown ($4,900 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel), and even J.J. Nelson ($4,400 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel) could have big performances against this paltry secondary. Fitz is the consensus highest-rated FanDuel wide receiver. Smokey is tied for the position lead with six Pro Trends on DraftKings, where he’s the highest-rated receiver in the Bales, CSURAM88, and SportsGeek Models.
The post-DeSean breakout is yet to occur, and Crowder is averaging just 4.75 targets per contest. In his last game Crowder turned his one target into -7 yards — in reality, he would’ve been better off dropping the ball instead of catching it — but this game has potential. The Redskins are -11.0 home favorites implied for 28.75 points against the 49ers, who have perhaps the league’s worst cornerback trio in Rashard Robinson, Dontae Johnson, and K’Wuan Williams, all of whom have poor PFF grades of under 45.0. Running 78.4 percent of his routes from the slot, Crowder will see most of his action against Williams, who this year is the most targeted full-time corner in the league with one target for every 4.2 coverage snaps (PFF). Terrelle Pryor ($5,700 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel) also has exploitable matchups on the outside and is a potential pivot play. It’s not a bad week to use our Lineup Builder to stack Washington receivers with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Crowder is the highest-rated DraftKings wide receiver in the Levitan Model.
Positional Breakdowns & Tools
Be sure to research the wide receivers for yourself with our tools and read the other Week 6 positional breakdowns:
• Running Backs
• Tight Ends
Good luck this week!
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NFL news feed: