Daily Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Primer: Week 5
Over the past few weeks, it's paid off to target cheaper receivers, as many of the high-priced stars were in tough matchups. In fact, Week 4's perfect lineup on FanDuel didn't feature a single receiver priced over $7,100.
This week, it looks like the tide has shifted, as many of the more expensive receivers look like strong options. Some of them even face off against each other, giving you the option to stack your lineup in hopes of a shootout.
In this preview, I'll break down the wide receivers into three categories based on FanDuel's prices: players to build around, value plays, and players to avoid.
Players to build around are more expensive, but their ceilings are high enough that you should consider prioritizing them in your lineup. Value plays are cheaper options who usually come with some risk, but adding them to your lineup will help you afford the expensive stars. Players to avoid are guys you might normally consider at their price tag but have tough matchups and are unlikely to live up to their usual expectations.
All references to betting totals and spreads are from the NCAAF odds.
Receivers to Build Around
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans ($8,500) -- It's been a rough few weeks for DeAndre Hopkins -- three straight games with single-digit fantasy points -- but that drought might actually make him more valuable this week if it drives down his ownership rate. This matchup between Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons has the highest total of the weekend at 49 points, and definitely has shootout potential. The Falcons' defense has allowed at least 15 fantasy points to four different receivers this season, including 20-point games for A.J. Brown and Nelson Agholor. If the Falcons are unable to slow down the likes of Brown and Agholor, it's unlikely they keep Hopkins in check.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons ($8,200) -- Like Hopkins, Julio Jones also benefits from a potential shootout in this matchup in Houston. Throughout the game, Jones will likely be matched up with either a rookie (Lonnie Johnson Jr.) or an aging veteran (Johnathan Joseph), neither of whom should provide much resistance. According to Sports Info Solutions, when lined up in coverage versus outside receivers, Johnson and Joseph are both allowing over 10 yards per target this season.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints ($7,700) -- In five career outings against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Michael Thomas is averaging 16.2 fantasy points. Since Thomas rotates between lining up outside and in the slot, he'll likely be matched up with Vernon Hargreaves III and M.J. Stewart. In the slot, Stewart is having a decent season, limiting receivers to 5.8 yards per target, according to Sports Info Solutions. When Thomas lines up across from Hargreaves, however, there's an obvious mismatch. The former first-round pick is allowing 11.3 yards per target and a completion percentage of 71.4 percent.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($7,700) -- Mike Evans is likely to be shadowed by Marshon Lattimore in this matchup, which isn't as intimidating as it had been in past seasons. According to Sports Info Solutions, Lattimore has allowed 7 receptions on 13 attempts when targeted at 10 or more yards downfield, yielding 222 yards on those plays. That's a rough trend heading into a showdown with Evans, who is seeing 73 percent of his targets at least 10 yards downfield.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos ($5,700) -- According to Sports Info Solutions, the Los Angeles Chargers defense has been in zone coverage on 79 percent of opponents' pass attempts, the highest rate in the league. That bodes well for Courtland Sutton this week. 22 of Sutton's 32 targets this season have been versus zone coverage, and he leads the Broncos with a 23.7 percent target share when the defense is in zone. Against man coverage, Emmanuel Sanders dominates with a 34 percent target share.
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons ($5,400) -- For all the same reasons Julio Jones is a player to build around, Calvin Ridley stands out as good value this week against the Texans. After a nice start to the season, Ridley has been quiet the past two weeks, generating just 5.8 combined fantasy points in seven targets. Those games against the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans presented far more difficult defensive matchups, so there's no reason to think Ridley can't bounce back in a more favorable situation. Due to the back-to-back poor outings, Ridley's price has dropped by $1,100 from Week 3, despite no reason to think his ceiling is any different than a couple weeks ago. This looks like an extreme discount for a high-ceiling receiver.
Randall Cobb, Dallas Cowboys ($5,100) -- Your willingness to use Randall Cobb may depend on how you see the Dallas Cowboys' showdown with the Green Bay Packers playing out on Sunday. Dallas is favored by 3.5 points, but if you happen to like the Packers, you should consider Cobb. When Dallas is playing from behind, Cobb leads the team with a 22 percent target share, compared to a 14 percent target share when the Cowboys are in the lead.
Mack Hollins, Philadelphia Eagles ($4,800) -- Since DeSean Jackson went down with an injury in Week 2, Mack Hollins has replaced him as the deep threat, leading the Eagles in targets at 15 or more yards downfield, according to Sports Info Solutions. Hollins draws a favorable matchup this week against the New York Jets' defense, which has allowed 16 pass plays of 20 or more yards through just three games.
Golden Tate, New York Giants ($4,500) -- This is a tough matchup for Golden Tate in his season debut against the Minnesota Vikings, but the price is too good to ignore. As 5.5-point underdogs, the New York Giants will likely be forced to throw while playing from behind -- especially since Minnesota's strong run defense may shut down the Giants' run game without Saquon Barkley. Through two starts, Daniel Jones has targeted his slot receiver -- where Tate is likely to be lined up -- on 46.5 percent of his throws, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Receivers to Avoid
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers ($7,300) -- JuJu Smith-Schuster is dealing with a toe injury, but even if he suits up it's probably best to avoid him against a tough Baltimore Ravens defense. Since the start of 2017, only three receivers have scored over 20 fantasy points against Baltimore. In 2018, the Ravens were one of the few teams able to keep Pittsburgh's passing game in check, holding both Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown under 15 fantasy points in each of their meetings.
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants ($6,500) -- With Tate returning, Sterling Shepard's fantasy stock take a hit, and yet he's priced exactly the same as last week. As previously mentioned, Jones has been favoring his slot receiver, which has been Shepard so far. But with Tate back on the field, Shepard is expected to shift outside where he'll likely see fewer targets and potentially draw a more difficult matchup from Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Ryan McCrystal is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan McCrystal also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username cfbfilmroom. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.