Welcome to the NFL DFS WR Coach, where we identify the best wide receivers for our lineups on DraftKings, FanDuel, and SuperDraft!
We made it! Week 1 officially gets started tonight with the Chiefs hosting the Texans on Thursday Night Football. But that’s not why you’re here. You are looking for the inside scoop on which receivers to target for the upcoming NFL DFS main slate. Week 1 pricing was released extremely early, ultimately creating a lot of value for us to sift through while constructing lineups. Let’s dive into the wide receiver position at varying price points and try to forecast their fantasy football expectations for Week 1.
It’s important to note this article is posted mid-week, so injuries and other news can change our reads as we get closer to Sunday. This article is specifically for Sunday’s “Main” slates, so WRs from Thursday, Sunday, and Monday Night Football are not considered.
Julio Jones (ATL) vs SEA
We have a potential shootout in Atlanta with the Seahawks coming to town and a “will they let Russ cook?” narrative at play. In short, yes, I believe they will have to let him cook as we see both offenses clicking to start the year. After letting multiple players go in the offseason, the Falcons have a league-leading 258 targets up for grabs. While the newcomers will inherit a good chunk of these vacated looks, we’ll also see the incumbents — Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley — soak up a decent portion. Julio went for 10-152-0 when these teams squared off last year (Week 8) seeing a game-high 12 targets. That was with Matt Schaub under center. The yards per route run savant — Julio led the league in four of the last five years in PFF’s highly predictive metric — faces a slightly difficult matchup on paper against Shaq Griffin (PFF’s No. 11 CB last year) and free-agent acquisition Quinton Dunbar (PFF’s No. 2 CB) manning the outside where Julio ran the plurality of his routes. Despite the high grades from PFF, Julio quite literally is matchup proof. High target volume should be prevalent for him in this matchup with ATL ranking second in players per game (68.5) and third in passing rate during situation-neutral game scripts (63%) last year. Ownership is also in our corner with the offseason hype machine for Ridley operating in full effect. We’ll likely see ownership gravitate that way as a “cheaper” way to gain access to this game, but I’d rather find the salary to get to the alpha WR1 here in Julio as a lower-owned play with an arguably higher ceiling.
Davante Adams (GB) vs MIN
The Vikings’ mass exodus of corners was well warranted after they allowed the second-most fantasy points to outside receivers last year. Given that Adams runs over 70% of his routes on the perimeter, he’ll face some relatively unknown competition in rookie Jeff Gladney and third-year corner Holton Hill for much of Sunday afternoon. Hill saw just nine total targets last year while Gladney’s rookie bio in SportsInfoSolutions notes, “his instincts and aggression will tend to get him in trouble and beat on double moves.” Given the limited competition he has for targets in Green Bay, I’d expect a large percentage of Aaron Rodgers’ dropbacks to end in throws going to his No. 1 receiver — including some deep shots with double moves against the rookie. Adams was the rare receiver to hit over 30%+ of his team’s target share and while the Packers project to run the ball on early downs, the large majority of targets will find their way to Adams when they opt to pass.
Stefon Diggs (BUF) vs NYJ
I would not be confident turning to Stefon Diggs in cash games. The Bills project to be a run-first organization that intends to slow down pace of play, a brutal combination limiting passing volume giving Diggs a shaky floor. However, the combination of deep targets and matchup offers some tournament appeal if ownership stays mildly low. Josh Allen is far from an accurate quarterback, but he does love to sling the deep ball. He was top-6 in percentage of throws (14.8%) that went for 20+ yards last year. Any guesses on who the No. 1 receiver in yardage gained on deep throws was last year? Stefon Diggs. Aiding in the Diggs selection is the matchup against two backup corners that are somehow starting for the Jets in Pierre Desir and Blessuan Austin. Neither corner has the speed nor the skillset to limit Diggs in coverage. The departure of Jamal Adams just opens the top even more for a potential ceiling performance for Diggs in his Bills debut.
Kenny Golladay (DET) vs CHI
Golladay is another high-volume perimeter wideout (85% rate) and kicks off the 2020 season squaring off against Chicago’s Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson. Last year in Chuck Pagano’s first year as DC, he had Fuller line up at left cornerback (LCB) on 98% of his snaps and it makes sense to project that same pattern to repeat with rookie Johnson heavily manning the RCB position. With Golladay running over 50% of his routes exclusively on the left side of the formation, he’ll face a ton of matchups against the inexperienced rookie. At Utah, Johnson was often tasked with playing tight press coverage and jamming opposing No. 1 receivers. I’m very interested to see if Pagano utilizes him similarly here considering Golladay carries a 4-inch, 20-pound size advantage on him. Advantage, Golladay. I’d expect several deep, jump ball targets to Golladay as they attempt to take advantage of the rookie’s lack of size and inexperience. Prior to Matthew Stafford’s Week 9 season-ending injury, Golladay ranked third in the league in Air Yards. Those fantasy-rich, deep targets can catapult you up GPP leaderboards whenever Golladay and Stafford connect, just monitor his health closely now after this recent update from today.
*Golladay trending towards a snap count limitation. Keep tabs as we approach Sunday.*
D.K. Metcalf (SEA) vs ATL
It took some time to get acclimated, but once Tyler Lockett got hit with injury and D.K. Metcalf was forced to step up out of necessity, the results were favorable down the stretch of his rookie year. He finished the year hitting 75+ yards and/or a touchdown in five of his last seven games (including postseason). The route running was mostly limited to slants, curls, and nine routes with 77-of-100 targets coming from him lining up on the left side of the formation. While predictable, Metcalf’s size/speed combination (6’-3”, 228 lbs with 4.33 speed) and a year of experience under his belt means it could be wheels up for production in Year 2. He draws a soft Atlanta secondary to get things started, a unit that ranked top-10 in fantasy points allowed to outside receivers last year. Running approximately 63% of his routes from the left side of the formation, Metcalf will draw Isaiah Oliver frequently in this matchup (89% RCB). Oliver allowed the eighth-most receiving yards among all corners last year and a 106.9 QB Rating when targeted. If Metcalf can continue to see the type of volume he saw last year in what projects to be a back-and-forth high scoring affair, he should return strong results at his cheap price point.
Terry McLaurin (WAS) vs PHI
No team gave up more fantasy points to perimeter wideouts than the Philadelphia Eagles last year. Philadelphia went out and traded for Darius Slay to help rectify the situation, but there’s still a glaring hole at the other corner spot named Avonte Maddox (PFF’s No. 87 CB last year out of 115). Historically, the Eagles haven’t been a team that shadows opposing No. 1 wideouts. In four years in Philadelphia, DC Jim Schwartz has historically kept his corners to their respective sides. He’s also never had a corner of the caliber of Slay, so this will be something we need to monitor for Week 1 and beyond to see if this changes. For what it’s worth, when Slay shadowed McLaurin last year when he was with Detroit, McLaurin routinely got the better of him, getting open with ease:
If Dwayne Haskins can improve his accuracy — he missed McLaurin on two potential scores while targeting him a season-high 12 times — McLaurin could be in for a field day. I’m willing to risk the potential of Slay shadowing as it’ll likely be offset by a high-volume game from “F1.”
Jamison Crowder (NYJ) vs BUF
Training camp was brutal for the health of the Jets receivers. Projected starters Breshad Perriman (knee) and Denzel Mims (hamstring) spent much of camp on the sidelines as they try to get ready for Week 1. Both were noted full participants in practice yesterday, but if we see any notes on a limited snap count for either one, it’s going to be difficult to shy away from Jamison Crowder in cash games. While Perriman and Mims deal with Buffalo’s talented outside corners (bottom-six in FPs allowed to outside receivers last year), Crowder draws Taron Johnson, a middling matchup based on last year’s numbers. What’s notable is that Crowder accumulated 27 total targets in his two games against the Bills last year. He posted outings of 14-99-0 and 8-66-1 with those heavy looks, fantastic volume for what we target in cash games. Pace of play is far from ideal in this matchup, but Crowder can overcome that on sheer target volume.
Henry Ruggs (LVR) vs CAR
I believe we’ll see plenty of DFS players gravitate towards the Carolina side of this matchup and bring it back with Josh Jacobs — a strong cash and GPP play — but I am very intrigued in getting some exposure to Henry Ruggs. With Bryan Edwards taking over as the starting “X” receiver on the perimeter, he’ll draw Donte Jackson, who is taking over for the departed James Bradberry (NYG). A recent ankle injury to Eli Apple now slides rookie Troy Pride Jr. into the starting outside spot where he’ll try to contain Ruggs’ 4.27 speed, a tough task for any corner. This Panthers defense has been totally revamped and cohesion in the secondary may not occur until deep into the season. A speedster like Ruggs can take any short attempt to the house and offers some terrific Week 1 appeal in another game that has already seen its game total on the rise since it opened (currently 47.5). He’s affordable across the DFS industry but I am digging the 1.75x SuperDraft bonus for Ruggs on their site.
Anthony Miller (CHI) vs DET
While Allen Robinson likely garners high ownership and the attention of first-round selection Jeff Okudah, look for Anthony Miller to run rampant out of the slot for Chicago en route to a potential big outing. Miller finished the 2019 season averaging 9.0 targets per game over the final six weeks and should see quite a bit of slot corner Justin Coleman. Miller roasted Coleman last time they squared off (9-140-0) accruing a whopping 13 targets against the Lions in Week 13. The Lions yielded the second-most fantasy points to opposing slot receivers last season due to Coleman’s poor play last year. He gave up the third-most slot receptions and second-most slot yardage, setting up Miller to start the season off on the right foot as a quality value play.
DeSean Jackson (PHI) vs WAS
The Eagles open their season likely down both Jalen Reagor (shoulder) and Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc) in Week 1. We should see DeSean Jackson run rampant through this secondary, a unit that he torched for 8-154-2 (9 targets) in last year’s season opener. After building a strong front-seven through successive drafts, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if we see Washington turn into a pass funnel given the stark contrast in talent between the front seven and their secondary. Washington’s back end lost talented corner Quinton Dunbar and will try to replace him with former Eagles castoff, Ronald Darby. Darby and Foster Moreau will likely man the perimeter — two of PFF’s bottom-20 cornerbacks from last year. DJax is a chess piece the Eagles tried to move all over the formation last year when healthy but should find most of his success when operating on the outside. Add in a revenge narrative and we have the perfect concoction for a Week 1 blowup spot for DJax.
Other WRs of Note: D.J. Chark, Allen Robinson, Marvin Jones, Marquise Brown
Yolo Sub-10% GPP Play
T.Y. Hilton (IND) vs JAX
There are plenty of field-stretching archetypes at our disposal Week 1. We have yet to hit bye weeks and the main slate is loaded with great matchups as evidenced above. However, there’s a perfect storm of converging factors that are coming together to make Hilton a low-owned receiver with slate-busting upside. The masses are (rightfully) anticipating a blowout here against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the key number I want to draw your attention towards is the Colts’ anticipated total here — 26.25 points, third-highest on the main slate. While most DFS players project a combination of Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor to get them to that total, what if the passing game prevails instead?
The 2018 Colts passed at a 65% rate in one-score games, second-highest rate in the league per Warren Sharp. That number flipped to second-lowest in 2019 following the abrupt retirement of Andrew Luck. The return of a capable passer, Philip Rivers, could lead to the Colts returning to their pass-happy ways — at least in the first half while the game isn’t blown out yet.
Despite throwing a league-leading nine interceptions on deep attempts (20+ yards) last year, Rivers was fourth in deep attempts last year as this guy loves to uncork the deep ball. When Rivers faced this JAX defense late last year (Week 14), he averaged a ridiculous 14.3 yards per attempt with three touchdowns going for 30+ yards. The Jaguars secondary allowed the seventh-most pass plays of 20+ yards last year against them and arguably got worse over the offseason. There are multiple reasons the Jaguars are projected for a league-low 4.5 wins and chief among them is the status of their defense.
Insert T.Y. Hilton. The Colts can move Hilton all over the formation and create mismatches against these corners. Healthy and reportedly developing quick chemistry with Rivers, the best time to attack this passing game in DFS will be while both of these veterans are fresh early in the year. OC Nick Sirianni recently stated, “[Hilton is] still the main piece of this offense. He’s our guy. He’s our lead dog. He’s our alpha dog. If he stays healthy, the sky is the limit again for him.” Hilton has torched his defense in recent scrimmages and currently operating at 100%. The hope here is that the Colts get out to a commanding lead through Hilton and the passing attack in the first half before icing it away with their ground game. High ceiling plus low ownership equals high reward.
Reminder: Tyler will be hosting WR Coach session on 9/10 at 4pm ET!