The Week 1 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, September 12th at 1 p.m. ET.
In this piece, I highlight wide receivers who stand out in our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models. While the Models are built for DFS contests, this is an all-purpose fantasy article with actionable information for all formats.
As news breaks throughout the week and we adjust our projections, player ratings in our Player Models will change. For updates, visit the Models directly.
Top Wide Receivers in the FantasyLabs Models
There are five wide receivers atop the individual Pro Models constructed by Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, and Ryan Hodge.
Here’s where they place within our Week 1 Fantasy Rankings (as of Tuesday evening).
- Tyreek Hill (2nd)
- Davante Adams (4th)
- Calvin Ridley (5th)
- Rondale Moore (75th)
- Marvin Jones (44th)
We’ll discuss why these five are popping in our models, as well as take a look at some other WRs with week-winning upside and some value plays for the cash game players out there.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
- Quarterbacks on Tuesday
- Tight Ends on Thursday
- Running Backs on Friday
For more in-depth NFL analysis, check out The Action Network.
Tyreek Hill ($8,200 DK, $8,500 FD) Kansas City Chiefs (-6) vs. Cleveland Browns (53 total)
“Tyfreak” projects better than every wideout not named Adams in FanDuel scoring, although the top of the grouping is close. Hill was second in the league in air yards per game last season, which should provide him with plenty of upside. The Chiefs did little to add target competition, and an improved offensive line should give Hill more time to get open on deeper throws, so he should continue to dominate.
He also has an above-average situation in Week 1. The Browns were worse against the pass than the run last season and have a bottom-five Plus/Minus against wide receivers on the Week 1 main slate. Hill has performed exceptionally in games with a total of 50 or more:
Note: Plus/Minus is a proprietary FantasyLabs metric that measures production adjusted for daily fantasy salary. Consistency Rating measures the percentage of games in which a player meets salary-based expectations.
The Chiefs’ team (29.5) and game (53) totals both lead the slate. If they can live up to Vegas-based expectations, betting on the player who scored 40% of their team’s receiving touchdowns last year is a smart play. Hill and the rest of the higher-priced wide receivers are standing out in our FanDuel models, where he has a 96% Bargain Rating (see our Models for more information on Bargain Ratings,) but he’s in consideration on DraftKings too.
Davante Adams ($8,300 DraftKings, $8,600 Fanduel) Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (50 total)
Adams is our highest projected receiver in both Median and Ceiling Projections on FanDuel and DraftKings. Last season’s top-scoring wideout in PPR points is reunited with his quarterback after some offseason drama and will keep the ball rolling in 2021. Adams draws a juicy Week 1 matchup against a Saints secondary that doesn’t have a cornerback rated inside PFF’s top 60 corners who are expected to start. He will likely be lined up against Marshon Lattimore (barring a late suspension due to legal issues), who allowed a 103.1 passer rating against last season.
Like Hill, Adams is a better price-sensitive play on FanDuel, where he has a 96% Bargain Rating. Adams Is an exceptional cash game play across both sites, where he has our best Floor Projection among wide receivers.
Calvin Ridley ($7,900 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel) Atlanta Falcons (-3) vs Philadelphia Eagles (48 total)
Ridley is the last of our receivers to top a Pro Model on FanDuel, where he leads Ryan Hodge’s Model. We have him projected with the third-highest Median and Ceiling Projections on FanDuel, while he’s fourth in both categories on DraftKings.
Ridley is expected to improve upon an already healthy 25% market share of targets following the departure of Julio Jones to Tennessee. He finished 2020 as the WR4 in PPR scoring and is now the unquestioned alpha for a team expected to throw the ball a lot.
The Eagles allowed the sixth-most points against wideouts last season. While they added cornerback Steven Nelson and safety Anthony Harris in the offseason, neither man ranked inside of PFFs top 36 players at their positions. The Eagles have a top-five defensive front (per PFF), which should force the Falcons to the air.
While he’s a better price-sensitive play on FanDuel, Ridley deserves consideration across all sites and game types, as one of the handful of players likely to finish Week 1 as the top overall wideout.
Rondale Moore ($3,000 DraftKings, $4,900) Arizona Cardinals (+3) vs. Tennessee Titans (52 total)
Moore leads some of our DraftKings Pro Models, where he’s stone-minimum priced and carries the third-best in Pts/Sal. He’s recommended for DraftKings only, though, as his price on FanDuel is too high given the uncertainty of his situation.
With DraftKings releasing Week 1 pricing so early, there are always a few players whom we expect to have a much bigger role than we did when pricing was announced. Moore is the most glaring of those this season. He ran as the slot wideout with the first-team offense throughout the preseason, beating out Christian Kirk.
He’s also a 90th percentile prospect in the 40-yard dash, “burst,” and “agility” scores. I’m expecting the Cards to design a few plays to get the ball to him in space, giving him a couple of easy receptions and plenty of opportunities to pile up yards after the catch.
This game has the second-highest total on the slate, and both teams played at a top-four pace last season (while retaining most of their coaching staff). Moore may be popular this week, but he’s a tremendous value with a very real ceiling at the minimum price.
Marvin Jones ($3,600 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel) Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Houston Texans (44.5 total)
Jones is expected to start opposite DJ Chark ($5,800 DraftKings, $6,100 Fanduel) for the Jacksonville Jaguars and first overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Jones has been quietly consistent throughout his time in the league, meeting salary-based expectations 52.3% of the time (more than guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Tyler Lockett, and Mike Evans).
As the No. 2 threat for what should be an improved passing attack — and now without rookie scatback Travis Etienne (out for the season) siphoning touches — $3,600 is simply too cheap for Jones on DraftKings. He’s better on DraftKings this week, where he leads the slate in Bargain Rating for any player regardless of position. FanDuel is offering Chark at a similar discount, so if you want exposure to the Jaguars on both sites, Chark is a better play there.
Jones has a mediocre 16.8 Ceiling Projection, so he probably won’t win you any tournaments by himself. For GPPs, he’s a solid play because of what he allows you to do with the rest of your salary. He makes an even better cash game play, where his 3.4 Pts/Sal makes him an exceptional value.
Wide Receivers With Week-Winning Upside
Stefon Diggs ($7,600 DraftKings, $7,900 Fanduel) Buffalo Bills (-6.5) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (49 total)
There’s no reason to think last season’s PPR WR3 will slip heading into this season. Outside of an aging Emanuel Sanders, the Bills didn’t add much target competition for Diggs, who was second only to Davante Adams in target share last season. Not only does Diggs take a large slice, but it’s also a big pie. The Bills passed at over a 60% clip, good for 11th in the league. Diggs is second in projected points and has the third-highest Ceiling Projection on DraftKings.
Deandre Hopkins ($7,800 DraftKings, $8,200 Fanduel) Arizona Cardinals (+3) vs. Tennessee Titans (52 total)
Hopkins is likely facing stiffer target competition this year, with the drafting of Rondale Moore and the addition of AJ Green ($3,800 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel). However, he’s still one of the league’s best receivers and should continue to see upwards of 10 targets per game. His 8.63 average depth of target (aDOT) limits his ceiling a bit, but aDOT actually negatively correlates with fantasy points on DraftKings (with full PPR scoring, shorter looks lead to more receptions). Hopkins has a top-five Ceiling and Median Projection on DraftKings.
Justin Jefferson ($7,700 DraftKings, $8,000 Fanduel) Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (48 total)
Jefferson will be looking to improve upon a record-setting rookie season this year. While some regression is likely in order, he starts that mission against a Bengals team that is expected to be one of the more popular Week 1 stacks, making him a solid bring-back play.
There’s nothing special about the matchup this week; both teams play at a slightly below-average pace, and the Bengals secondary projects to be solidly mediocre. Even so, Jefferson scored over 30 DraftKings points three times last season, despite not seeing starter-level snaps until Week 4. We have him projected for the sixth-highest Ceiling Projection this week.
AJ Brown ($7,100 DraftKings, $7,800 Fanduel) Tennessee Titans(-3) at Arizona Cardinals Tennessee Titans (52 total)
Brown has averaged over 1,000 yards receiving and 9.5 touchdowns per season in his young career and now has help in the form of seven-time pro bowler Julio Jones ($6,800 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel). My suspicion is that much of the field will be taking a wait-and-see approach towards rostering Brown this year, with concerns over Julio cutting into his workload. However, Brown should still see the bulk of the Titans’ touchdowns:
Calvin Ridley last 31 games: 21 TD
Julio Jones last 60 games: 21 TD
Just saying. pic.twitter.com/K8QBhoDffG
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) September 20, 2020
And in a game with a 52 total, there should be plenty to go around. There’s also a school of thought that having a second threat on the outside will take some defensive attention away from Brown and help his overall scoring. Either way, I’d like to have some exposure while Brown is at his cheapest salary since last November.
Wide Receivers Value Plays
Marquez Callaway ($3,400 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel) New Orleans Saints (+4.5) vs. Green Bay Packers (50 total)
Much like Rondale Moore above, Callaway is now expected to serve a larger role than anticipated when salaries were released. With Michael Thomas set to miss at least the first five games of the season. With stronger-armed Jameis Winston stepping in at quarterback, Callaway should see plenty of high-value looks. He leads receivers in Pts/Sal on DraftKings, where he also has a 95% Bargain Rating.
Elijah Moore ($3,000 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel) New York Jets (+5) at Carolina Panthers (45 total)
Elijah Moore is another DraftKings only salary saver. After being banged up at the start of the training camp, Moore saw first-team reps the rest of the way. The Jets will likely be playing behind for much of this one, so there should be plenty of balls in the air. At worst, Moore should be rookie quarterback Zach Wilson’s second option. Moore trails only Callaway in Pts/Sal on DraftKings.
Pictured above: Marquez Callaway
Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images