DFS Roundtable: Wide Receiver Pay-ups

Rank for us the following five wideouts, all of whose costs have generally elevated this week, in terms of per-dollar value and attractiveness. Are they still confidently cash-viable? If not, and I've left out a favorite option of yours, feel free to set me straight.

Sadly, our quarterback savings go right out the window if we're looking to roster a top-tier wide receiver. There's no Antonio Brown or Julio Jones on the main slate, but the sites have compensated by boosting a handful of sexy-yet-flawed options up to full pay-ups.

Rank for us the following five wideouts, all of whose costs have generally elevated this week, in terms of per-dollar value and attractiveness for your Week 14 portfolio. Are they still confidently cash-viable? If not, and I've left out a favorite option of yours, feel free to set me straight.

DeAndre Hopkins ($8,500 DK / $8,600 FD)
Tyreek Hill ($7,100 DK / $7,800 FD)
Marvin Jones Jr ($6,800 DK / $7,000 FD)
Michael Crabtree ($6,700 DK / $7,100 FD)
Larry Fitzgerald ($6,500 DK / $7,600 FD)

Jason Wood: I would rank them:

Hopkins

Fitzgerald

Hill

Jones

Crabtree

As for cash-game viability, Hopkins (second), Fitzgerald (third), and Hill (sixth) are all near the top of my weekly value grid. So, yes, they're viable. Jones and Crabtree are lower down on the list but certainly aren't horrible options, particularly if you're building a diverse set of lineups. Hopkins is the highest-priced option but deservedly so. The Texans may be without three receivers and their top tight end this week, which leaves Hopkins even more of a target vacuum than usual. He's proven capable of producing even when defenses key on him. Fitzgerald is the bargain of this bunch, and is not without risk given the quarterback situation, but he's leading the NFL in receptions and gets a juicy matchup, at home. Hill rebounded last week with a career game, and that may inflate his ownership a bit too much, but if Steve Buzzard's ownership projections point to normal levels, he'll factor into my lineup builds.

One player not mentioned, who sits atop my receiver rankings, is Keenan Allen. Allen just became the first receiver in NFL history to have 3 consecutive games with at least 10 catches, 100 yards, and 1 touchdown. He and Philip Rivers are locked in and get a very beatable Washington defense at home.

James Brimacombe

Crabtree

Hopkins

Hill

Fitzgerald

Jones

Crabtree is my top wide receiver pick of the week, as I will be pairing him with Derek Carr in my cash games and GPPs. In GPPs I will be probably also be playing Hill with both Carr and Crabtree for a game stack. I like Crabtree because of Amari Cooper's injuries heading into the week – I believe Crabtree will be looking at double-digit targets in this game even if Cooper plays. When these two teams played back in Week 7, Crabtree had 7 targets for 3-24-1 and that “1” was the game-winning touchdown. The Chiefs defense has been in a tailspin ever since that game, and there is no reason to think that the Raiders shouldn't be able to put up a lot of points in the passing game. For me it starts and ends with Crabtree. 

After Crabtree I like Hopkins because of his volume and talent combined. He is a hard guy to not consider in cash games each and every week, no matter who his quarterback is. The matchup against the 49ers is a good one, and his 11.6 targets per game make him one of the top wide receivers on the board this week.

Justin Howe

Fitzgerald

Hopkins

Hill

Jones

Crabtree

If Sterling Shepard sits, then Fitzgerald is my top per-dollar value for the week. I know who his quarterback is, thanks, but this is entirely too low a price tag for a guy upon whom we can bet our lives for 8-10 receptions. It’s always important to find the guys who are priced near their general floors. Fitzgerald is the security blanket for a semi-frightened quarterback with no one else to trust; his weekly floor is 10-12 targets, and his safe, efficient game typically spins that into a line around 8-85-0.5.

Hopkins is in a similar boat – the only worthwhile outside target for a bad quarterback – but comes at significant, Antonio Brown-level cost. He’s got a better ceiling than Fitzgerald does, but I’m not interested in paying a $2,000ish premium in the hopes Tom Savage will (a) lead touchdown drives and (b) finish them with his arm.

Hill and Jones carry similar projections and outlooks, yet both are fairly volatile. On their worst they’ll drain 15% of your salary cap to catch 3-4 balls, but on their best they’ll win you a GPP, so we need to pay close attention here. I lean toward Hill, whose offensive role is a little more stable – he’s utilized both in the short game and on homerun balls, so he’ll likely catch 5+ passes regardless. Jones is a strong ownership arbitrage on him – our Steve Buzzard pegs him below 10% – and he’s topped 85 yards in 3 straight weeks, scoring 3 times along the way.

Crabtree is attractive, and were I a mass-entry guy I’d have my fair share of him. But in a vacuum, I’m generally passing. There are so many similar (even better) ceilings in his price range, and I’m not sure just how stable his floor is. The Raiders passing game has slipped majorly in efficiency; even a 12-target day could net a ho-hum line around 5-60.

Danny Tuccitto: Here's how they rank in terms of my cash game value probabilities on DraftKings: Fitzgerald (46%), Crabtree (34%), Hill (34%), Hopkins (28%), Jones (25%). And here's how they rank with respect to tournament value probabilities: Fitzgerald (23%), Crabtree (12%), Hill (12%), Jones (8%), Hopkins (6%).

Those probabilities are theoretical, i.e., based on their salaries and projections, so here are how the five wide receivers have fared in terms of actually achieving cash game (i.e., 3x) or tournament (i.e., 4x) value:

Fitzgerald – 26% cash, 17% tournaments in 58 games with Arizona since the beginning of 2014.

Crabtree – 34% cash, 15% tournaments in 41 games with Oakland.

Hill – 39% cash, 32% tournaments in 28 games with Kansas City.

Hopkins – 37% cash, 15% tournaments in 60 games with Houston.

Jones – 30% cash, 19% tournaments in 27 games with Detroit.

Putting all of the above statistical considerations into practice, my advice is to roster Fitzgerald and Hill in both cash games and tournaments, roster Crabtree and Hopkins in cash games only, and roster Jones in tournaments only.

Dan Hindery: My two favorite receivers this week aren’t listed: Allen and A.J. Green
Allen is the first receiver in the history of the NFL to record 10+ receptions, 100+ receiving yards and 1+ touchdowns in 3 straight games. His usage has been massive over this stretch. Not only has he seen at least 13 targets in each game, Allen has 8 red zone targets over this three-game stretch. I will pay up a bit to ride the hot hand. A.J. Green is coming off of a game in which he saw 16 targets; he actually had 17 but a holding call nullified a long touchdown reception that would have been his third of the game. He faces a Bears defense that has given up the 9th-most normalized fantasy points to opposing wide receivers over the past five games. Plus, with Joe Mixon likely out and Giovani Bernard the only experienced, healthy running back on the roster, expect an even more pass-heavy approach for the Bengals on Sunday.

Of these five, I rank them in terms of value:

Hopkins

Hill

Fitzgerald

Crabtree

Jones

Of the five, Hopkins is cash-game viable based on his plus matchup and massive weekly volume. The value at running back lets you pay up for multiple top wide receivers if you want to. Fitzgerald (on DraftKings) and Crabtree (on FanDuel) are also solid cash game plays if you can't afford the top receivers.

Hill is a GPP-only play because he is reliant on scoring a deep touchdown to hit value. But he's a top tournament option because he has a good shot at getting behind the Raiders sluggish defensive backs. Marvin Jones Jr is also GPP-only despite the plus matchup because we just don't know how much the hand injury is going to limit Matthew Stafford.

John Mamula: I rank them:

Hopkins

Hill

Fitzgerald

Crabtree

Jones

Hopkins, Hill, and Fitzgerald (on DK) are cash-game playable based on salary and their projected matchups. I prefer Crabtree and Jones as GPP targets and I would invest no more than 10-15% on either player in my GPP portfolio.

I agree with Jason and Dan, as Allen is my top projected wide receiver on the main slate this Sunday. Allen has been "white-hot" with 33 receptions and four touchdowns over the past three weeks. Expect the Chargers and Philip Rivers to continue to lean on Allen as they make their playoff push.