Welcome to the WR Breakdown for the Wild Card round. This week’s edition will be a short and to the point piece, highlighting some of my favorite plays at the wideout position this weekend.
Welcome to the WR Breakdown for the Wild Card round. This week’s edition will be a short and to the point piece, highlighting some of my favorite plays at the wideout position this weekend. In last season’s Wild Card games, we saw big performances from many of the league’s star receivers including Julio Jones (9-94-1), Robert Woods (9-142), Michael Thomas (8-131) and Tyreek Hill (7-87). In this year’s batch, we have DeAndre Hopkins as a clear, dominant option at his price, and he will have some competition ownership-wise from both T.Y. Hilton and Amari Cooper. Particularly, Cooper on FanDuel where his salary is significantly cheaper than the other two.
With plenty of time before these games start, the best thing you can do is do as much of your own homework on matchups as you can. Dig into PFF for WR/CB and OL/DL matchups. Keep up with who isn’t practicing and who may miss the game. Look back at historical betting trends and data with the teams involved. Most importantly, project out stats and how you see these games flowing. Our margin for error on a four-game slate is tight and anything less than optimal just won’t cut it.
Keep in mind that FanDuel has decided to separate their biggest contests – one on Saturday and one on Sunday. They still have a Sat-Sun slate, but with a ton less money in their pools. Nevertheless, I’ll cover pricing and options for DK, FD and Y! here. Salaries will be listed for each player in that order.
- DeAndre Hopkins, Texans ($8,700, $8800, $34) – 8-125-1 proj.
- T.Y. Hilton, Colts ($7,800, $7,700, $28) – 6-89-0 proj.
- Amari Cooper, Cowboys ($7,500, $6,700, $27) – 6-88-1 proj.
With all respect due to Keenan Allen, I’m primarily selecting a wideout to start with from the group above. It’s a matchup between two incredibly solid defensive teams who played to a 22-10 outcome a few weeks ago in a game that doesn’t bode well for Chargers’ players’ body clocks (1 pm ET on East Coast). The Ravens boast the third-best pass defense and will be playing with momentum and a loud crowd, at home, in a game where they’re 2.5 favorites. Allen is a contrarian option best suited for DK where you’re getting the full point per reception.
DeAndre Hopkins is the preferred play in this tier for the fact that his effectiveness is the key to the Texans winning this game. Only Julio has a higher percentage share of team’s air yards (45 to 44 percent) and DHop has been a monster over the last three weeks, dropping lines of 10-170-2, 9-104 and 12-147. The third one was particularly impressive in Week 17, against shutdown corner Jalen Ramsey. Hopkins had a disappointing outing in Week 14 against these Colts (4-36 on 10 targets) but had better results against them in Week 4 at Lucas Oil (10-169-1 on 12 targets). With Will Fuller and Demaryius Thomas out of the picture and rookie Keke Coutee last taking the field in Week 12 and only barely getting practices in, the onus falls on Hopkins for a massive outing, no matter the final result of the game.
On FanDuel, you can try fitting both Hopkins and Amari Cooper in since he’s so cheap there, but that means you’re really punting everywhere else (including QB) if you’re playing uber-chalk Ezekiel Elliott at RB. Cooper has that high-flying upside and is coming off a weak three-game stretch where he failed to top 35 receiving yards in any of those games. T.Y. Hilton’s matchup with Shareece Wright is one we may consider taking advantage of. He does have two fantastic game logs against the Texans this year (9-199 on 12 targets, 4-115 on six targets) but has scored a touchdown on the road just once this season. Hilton averages five less DraftKings points on the road (15 there, 20 at home).
Verdict: Lock in Hopkins as WR1 and build around him.
- Alshon Jeffery ($5,900, $7,400, $21) & Nelson Agholor, Eagles ($3,800, $6,400, $16)
- Doug Baldwin ($6,200, $7,200, $20) & Tyler Lockett, Seahawks ($5,300, $7,000, $18)
- Allen Robinson, Bears ($5,600, $6,500, $20)
Nelson Agholor is a very tough fade on DraftKings and should see an ownership share north of 25 percent at his incredibly cheap price there. We never say ‘lock’ but he is about as close as we get to one in cash games there as he allows plenty of flexibility for your other slots. The problem is, Agholor has done next to nothing this season up until the final two weeks of the season where he exploded for 10 catches, 156 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans and Redskins. Regardless, Agholor is a fade for me on Yahoo and FD if I think he will be 15 percent owned or higher, and I may just limit my DK exposure to cash games. My preference for exposure to Philly’s pass game would be to Zach Ertz first, then Alshon Jeffery second. We can’t completely ignore the ‘revenge narrative’ for Alshon facing his former team, the Bears.
Tyler Lockett and Allen Robinson are two of my other favorite wideouts for Wild Card weekend. By this point, we’re all aware of Russell Wilson’s perfect passer rating when targeting Lockett this year – a stat that sounds improbable, but is in fact, true. Teammate Doug Baldwin has more playoff experience and a longstanding track record with Wilson, but in this game, my preferred option is Lockett – especially on DK where he is significantly cheaper. Lockett has only topped 100 receiving yards once this season and never scored twice in a 2018 regular season game, but he did amass nearly 1,000 yards and 10 trips to the end zone. His matchup of this Seahawks’ trio is best facing off with perimeter corner Chidobe Awuzie.
The Bears’ receiving corps is a mess with Robinson (ribs), Taylor Gabriel (ribs) and Anthony Miller (shoulder) all dinged up. None of the three have yet to be cleared, so it may mean a heavier dose of the run and short-pass game with RBs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Robinson missed Week 17’s matchup but should be ready to go Sunday. The Eagles’ secondary is a collection of backups now (no Sidney Jones, Ronald Darby) as this defense served up the third-most pass yards during the regular season. Robinson should see a larger chunk of the target share than usual this weekend and offers nice upside in GPPs with the potential for a monster outing.
CHEAP & GUT PLAYS
- Cole Beasley ($3,500, $5,400, $15) & Michael Gallup, Cowboys ($3,600, $5,700, $10) – Beasley is my cash game pivot off Agholor and percentage-play pivot off Gallup. Don’t get me wrong – Gallup is faster and more talented than Beasley. But it will be his first playoff game in his first NFL season. Gallup has ramped up production in the second half and seeing over six targets per game over his last six. Meanwhile, Beasley has averaged five targets over his last three and is coming off a fine outing against the Giants (6-94-1). I’ll take my shot on the Cowboys’ veteran slot man in my game stacks on DK expecting this game to surpass its current 43 implied total.
- Golden Tate, Eagles ($4,200, $5,100, $13) – Tate has essentially been a non-factor in his new offense, topping 50 yards just once in eight games with the Eagles. That means he will be completely off the radar this week and makes for a sneaky play. What may help Tate’s prospects is the fact Bears’ slot corner Bryce Callahan has been out for the season for the past month. His backup Sherrick McManis has done a great job holding his own, allowing just 0.11 fantasy points per target, but hasn’t faced much in the way of competition and part of Doug Pederson’s game plan may be to attack the ninth-year veteran in the slot.
- Mike Williams, Chargers ($4,700, $6,800, $18) – A total off-the-wall gut call if there ever was one. You’ll hardly see any ownership for the second-year wideout anywhere, and definitely not on FanDuel where he is even 100 more than a very popular Cooper. This is undoubtedly a tough matchup for Phil Rivers and company, but Williams has proved his prowess in the red zone as the big 6’4’’, 220-pound wideout found the end zone 10 times and has seen almost 25 percent of team air yards at a 14.5 aDOT. Certainly an option in large-field tourneys.
TOP RAW POINTS PRODUCER: DeAndre Hopkins
FANDUEL CASH AND TOURNEY: Amari Cooper
DRAFTKINGS CASH FADE: Nelson Agholor (pivot to Beasley or Gallup)
REVENGE NARRATIVE SPECIAL: Alshon Jeffery
LOW PERCENTAGE PRICEY CONTRARIAN: Mike Williams
TOP POINTS-PER-DOLLAR PLAYS – GPPs: Tyler Lockett & Allen Robinson