Fantasy 5: Where have all the top receivers gone?
(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to set your lineup or pick your DFS roster.)
We’re back at it again for this week’s Fantasy 5, focusing on the key things you need to know entering Week 10. Whether you’re researching information for your season-long leagues or trying to narrow down your DFS player pool, there’s generally something for everyone featured here. Here’s a look at the some of the more interesting pieces of fantasy news to know heading into the weekend games.
1. Top wide receivers trending down?
It’s been a difficult year for zero-RB zealots given the lack of high-scoring wide receivers this season. Antonio Brown has been one of the few week-to-week dependable assets that we can count on. Unfortunately, the list starts and stops there. Julio Jones has just two 100-yard games and one touchdown on the season. Odell Beckham is injured. Mike Evans has zero 100-yard games and a quarterback struggling with both injuries and pre-game speeches. A.J. Green hasn’t had more than 50 receiving yards since Week 5. It’s just been a tough year for some of the league’s best wideouts.
We’re also seeing more and more diversification in the passing game. More passes being thrown to slot receivers. More passes going to running backs and tight ends. These secondary and tertiary receiving options are watering down the high target totals that we covet from our No. 1 wide receivers. While this diversification of targets is providing us a good number of players to stream from a week-to-week basis, it’s simultaneously detracting from the number of big outings from the league’s top receivers that can win you a week. Instead of a narrow concentration of targets being fed to a team’s top wideout, teams are opting to play the matchups and target the player with the best individual matchup on a play-to-play basis rather than forcing it to their top guy. Analytics has certainly played a role (not a negative thing) and I’m not so sure this trend isn’t here to stay. I plan on diving into this extensively with a study as soon as the season ends.
2. Teddy Bridgewater suiting up
After a 26-game hiatus, this is an exciting weekend for Bridgewater. Bridewater hasn’t seen the field since the end of the 2015 season, but will be suiting up as Case Keenum’s backup for Week 10 against the Washington Redskins. Keenum has done a serviceable job filling in for Sam Bradford. He’s completing a career-high 63.9 percent of his passes, but has thrown just seven passing touchdowns in his seven games played. Minnesota placed Bradford on injured reserve (knee) ending his season, so hopefully we see Bridgewater healthy enough to gain a few starts this year and let the Vikings coaching staff evaluate his long-term prospects with the team.
3. DraftKings “Free Squares”
Late-breaking news last week of Zach Ertz and Leonard Fournette not playing completely changed the slate. This week, we’ve got a head start on the news with some players that have emerged as screaming values after pricing came out by DraftKings. Bilal Powell ($4,000) is the best play on the board this week in both cash and tournaments. He should inherit at least 70 percent of the running back snaps and touches with Matt Forte already ruled out and has an exploitable matchup against the Buccaneers. On the other side of the ball, Adam Humphries ($3,100) makes for a very safe cash game play. Humphries can be penciled in for six-plus targets with Ryan Fitzpatrick generally opting for a conservative high-percentage passing attack. Humphries should have little difficulty in reaching 3x cash game value. Alfred Morris ($5,500) isn’t exactly a bargain bin price, but he’s projected to lead the Cowboys backfield in touches in the highest projected scoring game of the week. Dallas ranks third in red-zone trips per game (4.1) and should provide Morris some scoring opportunities in this one as in interesting tournament option.
4. Vegas is projecting a low-scoring week
It’s an interesting week from a betting line perspective. Vegas doesn’t have a single game projected to score more than 50 points this week. Generally, that 50-point threshold is something we like to target in DFS as it has historically shown an increase in fantasy points at every position. The ATL-DAL game opened at 53 but has since dropped down to 48 — the Ezekiel Elliott suspension no doubt playing a pivotal role. This game still remains the projected highest-scoring game of the week, but is no longer the must-play game to gain exposure to that it once was. Six of the 13 remaining games this week are projected for less than 42 points. If these totals hold true, it may be a low-scoring fantasy week with few touchdowns being scored.
5. PFF Grade of the Week: Bobby Wagner
This week’s feature spotlight is on a player well known around the league for his high quality of play week-in and week-out. Seattle’s Bobby Wagner is not only our overall No. 1-graded linebacker, but he also ranks as the league’s best linebacker against pass coverage. It’s his ability to defend the pass I want to highlight here. Wagner ranks top-five in both cover snaps per target (9.0) and cover snaps per reception (12.4). Heading into the week, the Seahawks were allowing the second-fewest receptions to opposing running backs. They have held receiving backs Chris Thompson to just 4-11-0 on six targets, Carlos Hyde 3-19-0 on six targets, and Shane Vereen to 3-2-0 on four targets. Much of this credit belongs to Wagner’s ability in pass coverage and his athleticism to defend running backs leaking out of the backfield.