Let's take a look at which players are HOT over the last three weeks (PPR scoring). I'll research their expected outcome over the next few weeks based on schedule strength and defensive efficiency rankings. Last week I examined quarterbacks and running backs. This week I look deeper into wide receivers and tight ends.
wide receiver TOP 15 (WEEKS 5-7)
What sticks out? Who is a surprise over the last three weeks?
1. Tyrell Williams is ranked sixth. He was 63rd in Weeks 1-4. He has only 10 catches in this range with a 30.2 yards per catch average.
2. Emmanuel Sanders is fourth. He has 22 receptions on 31 targets in this three-week span after 24 receptions on 31 targets in Weeks 1-4 (one extra game).
3. Alshon Jeffery is eighth. He didn't play his first game until Week 4 and he has 17 receptions on 30 targets with 3 touchdowns since Week 5.
TOP 10 wide receivers OVERVIEW
Adam Thielen - It's difficult to find a flaw in Thielens' game. He has 91 targets, 67 receptions and 822 yards with 5 touchdowns through 7 games. His last three has been just as impressive (35 targets, 27 receptions, 3 touchdowns, 349 receiving yards). It's even more impressive knowing the Vikings played four games in the last six against teams with a top third defense against the pass. Upcoming matchups include two home games against New Orleans and Detroit, who are in the bottom three and five in pass defense efficiency. The success should continue, especially in the next two games.
Odell Beckham Jr Jr - The Giants may be challenged to win games, but they have the ability to move the ball on offense, thanks to Odell Beckham Jr Jr and Saquon Barkley. Beckham had two big games and an average game over the last three weeks. The two big games came against Carolina and Atlanta, who are 21st and 29th against the pass. Looking ahead, Beckham plays at home vs Washington this week on a shortened week, followed by a bye, then at SanFrancisco and vs Tampa Bay. Don't expect a big game this week, but after the bye, Beckham should thrive in Weeks 10 and 11.
Tyreek Hill - The Chiefs have one of the most prolific offenses in the league and Tyreek Hill has benefited greatly from the arm of Patrick Mahomes II. If we're being nitpicky, he has 7 touchdowns but has scored in only four different games. The Chiefs schedule against the pass has actually been pretty difficult. All year, they have only five favorable pass defense opponents and they've already played three of them. The next two favorable matchups are both against Oakland Week 13 and 17. Take that for what it's worth. The Mahomes and Hill connection has been productive, especially the last two games, which coincidentally were against favorable pass defenses (New England and Cincinnati).
Emmanuel Sanders - Sanders' 62 targets and 46 receptions are both 13 more than the next closest teammate. He's the top receiving threat for Case Keenum this season, which also includes the last three weeks. He is fourth among all receivers this season, as well as the last three weeks. That's impressive considering the team has played only two teams with a favorable pass defense (vs Oakland and vs. Kansas City). Interestingly enough, those were two of Sanders' worst performing fantasy weeks this year. Denver has 8 more games through Week 16. Five of those are against favorable pass defenses.
Davante Adams - Adams is ranked fifth in this time frame, despite only playing two games due to the Week 7 bye. Adams by far leads the team in targets (71) and receptions (47). His six touchdowns tower over Geronimo Allison who is second on the Packers with two receiving touchdowns. The two most recent games were at Detroit and vs San Francisco - two teams in the bottom fourth of pass defense efficiency. Looking ahead, Green Bay has nine games through Week 16. Only four of those are against opponents with a favorable pass defense.
Tyrell Williams - The surprising receiver for the Chargers is fourth in team targets this season and tied for second most in the last three weeks. Williams fantasy success has come thanks to a super-high 21.4 yards per catch, including four touchdowns. The last three weeks his yards per catch has ballooned to 30.2 which includes three of his four scores. The Chargers are on a bye this week, and they have eight more games through Week 16. Three of those are against opponents with a favorable pass defense.
DeAndre Hopkins - Hopkins, like Davante Adams, is far and away the best receiving option on the team. They even have the same number of targets (71) and receptions (47). They also both have 20 more receptions than the next closest teammate. Hopkins has at least 100 yards receiving or a touchdown in five of his seven games. In those seven games, five were against a favorable pass defense. Looking forward, Houston has eight more games through Week 16. Only two are against favorable pass defenses. It may be time to sell high on Hopkins in re-draft leagues.
Alshon Jeffery - Zach Ertz may lead the team in targets and receptions, but over the last three weeks, Jeffery is right there with him. After missing the first four weeks with a shoulder injury, Jeffery has erupted for four touchdowns, scoring at least one in three of his four games. He has only topped 100 yards once in that span and has thrived on his ability to find the end zone. the Eagles have 11 games against favorable pass defenses this season. They have played six already with five to go. One of those unfavorable games is this week against Jacksonville (in London).
Julio Jones - The narrative on Julio Jones is that he has all-world talent, but he has struggled to find the end zone on a team that has 15 passing touchdowns this season. He has not scored in 21 of the last 23 regular season games (all games he played in). Despite that crazy stat, he is sitting 8th among receivers this season and 9th in the last three weeks. Atlanta plays six teams with favorable pass defenses this year. Through seven weeks, they have already played four of them.
Robert Woods - Robert Woods, not Brandin Cooks or Cooper Kupp, leads the team in targets (58) and receptions (41). His three receiving touchdowns are tied for second on the team. Woods has quietly been a fantasy surprise this season as the most efficient and consistent receiver on a top-scoring offense. The Rams have seven games against favorable pass defenses this year. They have already played four and have three more in the next eight games through Week 16. They have a bye this week, and their next favorable matchup is Week 10 at Oakland.
tight end TOP 15 (WEEKS 5-7)
What stands out? - Aside from Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce, the tight end rankings over the last three weeks are a huge surprise. How many of these players can sustain a Top 10 ranking over the next three weeks and into the fantasy playoffs?
TOP 10 tight ends OVERVIEW
What do we know?
Zach Ertz is on pace for an incredible 130 receptions and 1,413 yards receiving with only four touchdowns. There is bound to be some regression in Ertz's game but his scoring success are primed to improve over the rest of the year.
Eric Ebron has benefited from Jack Doyle being out with a hip injury, however, Erik Swoope has filled in as the second tight end option on the Colts offense. One positive, Ebron has emerged as Andrew Luck's go-to tight end receiving option and tight ends have scored at least one touchdown in all but one game this season for Indianapolis. Ebron's 15 targets inside the red zone are the most in the league.
Austin Hooper has been a pleasant fantasy surprise this year with seventh-place ranking through seven weeks. The last three he's ranked third. Hooper has 41 targets (eighth-most among tight ends) and 33 receptions (third-most among tight ends). Twenty-one of his 41 receptions have come in the last three games, including two nine-catch outings. The Falcons are a heavy running-back target team inside the red zone, so Hooper doesn't figure to be a consistent scoring threat. If that changes, he could land firmly inside the Top 8 at year's end.
David Njoku - The Browns second-year pro has come to life since the dawn of Baker Mayfield's arrival in Week 3. Since Week 3, Njoku is fourth among tight ends with 38 targets, 24 receptions, and 2 touchdowns. Those numbers are second on the team next to Jarvis Landry. It's clear he is becoming more involved in the offense as the season wears on. The Browns have two tough pass defense teams on their schedule from here on out at Denver (Week 15) and at Baltimore (Week 17). All signs point to a Cleveland spike in passing yards in the second half of the season. Njoku will surely benefit.
George Kittle - Like Njoku, George Kittle has similar target and reception numbers, but almost double the yards (527 vs 297) due to a 16.5 yards per catch average. Kittle has found success with C.J. Beathard since Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a knee injury. He has at least five catches in five of seven games this year. On the flip side, the 49ers have a tough playoff schedule with games at Seattle, vs Denver, vs Seattle and vs Chicago in Weeks 13-16. It's a rough stretch that could wind up leaving his owners looking for more in crunch time.
Travis Kelce - Kelce is ranked second among tight ends this year, but only 6th over the last three weeks due to zero scores. He does have 15 receptions in that span (5 in each game) with games of 100, 61, and 95 receiving yards. The Chiefs offense isn't going away anytime soon, which is good news for Kelce owners. As long as the scoring improves, Kelce should remain a Top 3-5 tight end going forward.
Trey Burton - The Bears top receiving tight end has scored in three of the last four and four of the last five games. His 19 targets and 15 receptions in the last three games are second most on the team next to Tarik Cohen. Burton's four touchdowns lead the team and it should continue to be positive moving forward. The Bears have nine games remaining through Week 16 and five of them are against favorable pass defenses.
Erik Swoope - The Colts have two tight ends in the Top 10 over the last three weeks. Swoope's three scores put him in this ranking. He has 8 total targets this season with 6 of them coming in the last three weeks. He has one game with over one reception and is more of a lucky beneficiary than a rising star. Jack Doyle is week to week with a hip injury. When he returns, Swoope will have minimal fantasy value and may not even be active on game days.
Jimmy Graham - Believe it or not, Graham has five catches or more in four of the last five games, however his lone score this season is keeping him from being a consistent fantasy option. His 20 targets are second on the team over the last three weeks, but if he can't find the end zone, he won't be a reliable fantasy starter on a weekly basis. Upcoming games against Los Angeles, New England and Minnesota are his best chance for fantasy success. All three opponents are in the bottom third of fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
O.J. Howard - The Buccaneers second-year tight end has missed two weeks due to an injured knee, but he only failed to play in one game, due to the team's bye week. Howard showed good promise with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center in the early part of the season and has found similar success with Jameis Winston. Three other receivers are ahead of him in the pecking order for targets and receptions, which is keeping him from being more of a fantasy success story. Howard's two touchdowns have him ranked in the Top 12, but if the scores become few and far between, there is potential for him to fall outside of the Top 12.
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