Even with Mike Evans suspended for a tasty matchup, the top-salaried tier of wide receivers is brimming with value. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones (whom we're watching for ankle news), A.J. Green, and Michael Thomas are all poised to tee off on shaky secondaries, and all but Green boast Vegas-favorable game scripts. Which of those four do you plan to have the most exposure to? (All look perfectly viable for cash games, so just stick to your GPP plans for them.) Do any strike you as high-fade candidates? While you're at it, let us in on your favorite value WR for the week, also from a GPP perspective.
Justin Bonnema: First, let me just say I'm glad that Green did not get a suspension. I think that would have been an overreaction by the league to a situation that was initiated by Jalen Ramsey. Ejections were enough (unlike what happened with Mike Evans). That said, he's one of my top plays of the week. Floyd Reese, who is a former GM, was on local radio the other day, discussing how the Titans have no chance of covering Green, and I agree. Their defense has had the benefit of playing the likes of Blake Bortles, Jay Cutler, Jacoby Brissett, the Browns quarterbacks, and Joe Flacco. As a result, they rank 22nd in yards allowed to wide receivers, but things have looked a lot different when they've faced quality competition. Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson combined for 918 passing yards and 10 touchdowns (just 1 interception). Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins, and Doug Baldwin combined for 274 yards and each scored in those contests. Green is going to tear this defense apart; I'll likely have more exposure to him than the crowd.
The same goes for Brown: he's one of the best plays on the board. His ownership will probably be super-high, so that makes him a little harder to bank on in GPPs. But you can counter that ownership by loading up on Steelers players in general (thinking Ben Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell, and Brown together) to create roster uniqueness and still take advantage of an offense that's in store to score 30-plus points.
I won't have much Jones or Thomas. Maybe I'm letting my own bias creep in, but they've burned me all season and neither can be trusted to deliver, even with deflated salaries and attractive matchups. Jones isn't healthy and the Saints are a running team; maybe the Bills can rearrange the Saints’ run/pass ratio, so I'll at least have a few shares. But I much prefer Green and Brown.
Chris Feery: Of the four choices, I’m highest on Brown. An overwhelming majority of DFSers will be on board that train as well, but this may be too good of an opportunity to pass up. He has a cupcake matchup in front of him against an incredibly porous Colts secondary, and that could lead to him dropping an epic stat line. While I’ll diversify away from Brown with JuJu Smith-Schuster in some lineups, I don’t see much reason to overthink this one.
Next up, I’m not going to be afraid to go back to the well with Jones. He was a couple of feet from putting up a monstrous performance last week that would’ve included two scores, and he could easily do the same against the troubled secondary of the Dallas Cowboys. A.J. Green is next in line, while my interest is lukewarm on Thomas. Green should produce for the reasons that Justin mentioned, but something is just not right with the Drew Brees-Thomas combo this season. I certainly dread the idea of being off it on the week that it hits, but it’s getting to the point that it’s becoming tiring to chase. Thomas has had a number of spots this season in which he should’ve lit up the stat sheet, but that has yet to come to fruition. I’m not sold that it’ll be happening this week against a tough Bills team either, especially when the Saints may be able to find some success on the ground.
Keith Roberts: Brown is the clear top option in my mind for cash game consideration. He is facing a Colts defense ranked 25th against the pass using DVOA and has allowed a league-high 8.3 passing yards per attempt – and the fourth most yards per game to opposing wide receivers. For GPP purposes, though, I will be even heavier on Green. While Brown has a nice matchup against a group of struggling Colts cornerbacks, Green has an even better one against rookie cornerback Adoree Jackson of the Titans. While Jackson has shown promise in his first season, he has also been targeted and taken advantage of routinely. With a six-inch height advantage and a chip on his shoulder from last week, Green should be primed for a big game, especially as the Bengals are underdogs in this matchup.
I would not consider any of these options as high fade candidates, but the one I will have the least exposure to is Thomas. While Thomas has been a consistent and high-floor option all season long, he simply has not found the end zone enough to provide the level of upside needed, especially in GPP formats. The Saints have a lot of mouths to feed, and their offense has been much more focused on the run this season now that their defense is finally keeping offenses in check. Thomas has also been dealing a knee injury that has kept him out of practice this week. If he is banged up going into this game, I would want no part of Thomas, especially given the strength of the Bills safeties as they look to keep him in check.
As for value receivers, Robby Anderson is my guy, particularly at his $5,200 DraftKings salary. Believe it or not, Anderson has been the sixth-highest scoring fantasy wide receiver over the last three weeks. He has a touchdown in each of those games, and he finds himself in the juiciest matchup of the week against a Buccaneers defense allowing over 40 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Josh McCown has been quite serviceable at the helm of the Jets offense, and Anderson has the speed to make big plays at any moment.
Jason Wood: I know you said to keep the commentary to GPPs mainly, but I will say that in cash I much prefer Brown to these others. They haven't been nearly consistent enough for me to feel great about them in cash, at least relative to what Brown brings to the equation.
It's a bit tricky to weigh in on this one right now, as both Thomas and Jones missed practice on Wednesday. Jones' is the more worrisome injury because the term "high ankle sprain" has been bandied about. Thomas isn't thought to be at risk of missing the game, but I'll want to see them both on the practice field before committing to them. Assuming both are good to go, I prefer Thomas, Green and Jones, in that order. Green nearly got suspended, but I suspect avoiding a missed game and frustration over the Bengals play of late will spark a resurgent performance this week.
My favorite GPP receivers this week are a riskier bunch. I will have solid exposure to Sterling Shepard, who is more than capable of putting up WR1 numbers in the second half after an injury-marred start to the season. He's almost the only game in town on an offense that will be playing catch up most weeks. Shepard gets to face off against one of the few teams worse than the Giants: the 49ers. I'll also have exposure to DeSean Jackson, who will be Ryan Fitzpatrick's top target with Mike Evans suspended. And if Terrance Williams looks healthy and Dez Bryant doesn't, I'll give Williams a hard look in GPPs. One other player to consider, depending on which slate you're playing, is Danny Amendola. Chris Hogan is still in a sling and is weeks away from returning.
James Brimacombe: Everyone will be on Brown this week in a dream matchup against the Colts in a dome. He is expensive, but at the same time almost feels like a must in cash games. Last week even DeAndre Hopkins, with Tom Savage at quarterback, ended with a 6-catch, 86-yard, 1-touchdown stat line. You will want the Colts to keep this game close, so if you want to use Brown in GPP lineups I would consider playing him with T.Y. Hilton on the other side.
The two names on this list I like best for GPPs are Thomas and Jones. As for what Justin said, I think a lot of the competition will be off these guys because they have burned them in weeks past. I want to take advantage of that bias and get them in my GPP lineups, as they both have potential to be the highest-scoring WR each and every week, and getting them at low ownership is just a bonus.
My favorite value wide receiver on the week is Demaryius Thomas. People are off the Broncos offense right now because of the lack of quality quarterback play. Well, the Broncos are at home against a Patriots pass defense that has looked quite bad so far this season. Thomas is averaging 8.9 targets a game, yet he only has 43 catches for 525 yards and barely just recorded his first touchdown of the season last week. It is hard to see a scenario where Thomas doesn’t see 9+ targets in this game, and my hope is that that garbage-time touchdown from last week will get him on track to find the end zone once again.
Danny Tuccitto: From a 100% math perspective, the clear choice in tournaments for me -- at least on Draftkings, where I play -- is Thomas. First, here's each wide receiver's probability of achieving 4x value based on their salaries and site projections:
Michael Thomas (15%)
Antonio Brown (8%)
Julio Jones (8%)
A.J. Green (6%)
So that's one data point in favor of Thomas. Here's another: Thomas has actually achieved 4x value 26% of the time (6 of 23 games); which is also higher than Brown (20%), Jones (13%), and Green (16%).
Third, at $7,000, Thomas is the cheapest of the bunch. Data point number 4 is that, not only is he the only one whose salary has decreased for Week 10, Thomas' salary is the lowest it's been all season.
Finally, whereas Steve Buzzard projects Brown, Jones, and Green for 21% ownership, his projection for Thomas is nearly half that at 12%.
As for my favorite value wide receiver, I don't really have one because the options are decidedly underwhelming. At the top of my tournament value probabilities is Adam Humphries at 33%, but I'm not buying it. I increasingly lean towards fading these kinds of situations, i.e., one in which a receiver gets a projection bump because someone higher in the pecking order is out; despite said receiver having repeatedly demonstrated a low ceiling. I believe we went through this just last week with guys like Aldrick Robinson, Russell Shepard, and Demarcus Robinson. To me, it's just too cute by half. (Humphries is definitely going for 10-140-2 on 15 targets now.)