DFS Roundtable: WR's Breaking out of a Touchdown Drought

Looking at wide receivers who have not found the end zone for multiple weeks.

We just saw Julio Jones and Antonio Brown have some massive multi-touchdown games after struggling to find the end zone earlier in the year. Currently these star wide receivers are in touchdown droughts: Michael Thomas (7 games), Mike Evans (4 games), Emmanual Sanders (7 games), Jordy Nelson (6 games), DeVante Parker (6 games), and Golden Tate, T.Y. Hilton, Tyreek Hill, Marqise Lee (2 games each). Who do you prefer out of Thomas and Evans to break out of their touchdown drought this week? Out of the remaining names, pick one player you like best for a GPP play and explain.

Justin Howe: I like Thomas’ chances to erupt this week. He’ll be exceptionally popular, and there are smarter-looking plays from a game theory/ownership standpoint. But he’s set up nicely to find the end zone this week. The Panthers boast strong pass defense numbers, but they’re a bit illusory. They’re allowing the fourth-fewest passing yards in the league and the seventh-fewest completions of 20+ yards, but tread carefully with that data. They’ve also benefited from a few face-palming drops of long, sure-thing touchdowns. Remember Julio Jones’ inexplicable drop a few weeks back? That was at least the third time it had happened to the Panthers. Thomas is a better deep receiver than he’s credited for, and I like the idea of him supplementing red zone work with long-score opportunity.
Tate is dropping too far salary-wise, and I’ll load up somewhat this weekend. Like the Panthers, the Ravens boast a pass defense that’s not quite as dominant as it seems. Baltimore can be shaky up the seams, with iffy safety play and slow linebackers that are poor in coverage. They’ve been better against the slot of late, but haven’t faced anyone quite on Tate’s level. He’s only 2 weeks removed from a 4-game stretch that saw him average 98.0 yards and score twice. Last week’s line was bizarre; with 8 targets, Tate should’ve posted a line like 6-70. A jump to his typical production levels and a touchdown would put him close to GPP value, with upside for me.
Justin Bonnema: How about both of them? But if I have to pick, Thomas has seen two red zone looks since Week 8. Evans saw three last week. I’ll take Evans based on volume and matchup alone. The Packers have allowed the sixth most receptions, fifth most touchdowns, fourth most yards, third most fantasy points on FanDuel, and second most fantasy points on DraftKings to wide receivers this season. Blowup game coming for Evans. 

Out of the other players on that list, give me Nelson. He doesn’t have the same chemistry with Hundley that Adams has, but I refuse to believe Nelson is merely a product of Aaron Rodgers. It helps that the Packers get one of the worst passing defenses of the league this week, one that’s allowed the third most touchdowns to wide receivers, but Nelson is a fair bet for #regression no matter what. 
Phil Alexander: Give me Evans against Green Bay's abysmal secondary. The Packers rank 30th in both pass defense DVOA vs. enemy WR1s and opponent red zone touchdown percentage. Evans leads Tampa Bay with 12 red zone targets and his 25% red zone touchdown conversion rate is about 12% lower than his previous three-year average, suggesting he's due some regression. While I think Thomas has decent odds at a touchdown also, his involvement in the red zone has been disappointing this season, with only 7 targets compared to a combined 21 for Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara.

My GPP pick is Marqise Lee. The Colts just lost their only respectable cornerback, Rashaan Melvin, for the season meaning Lee will finally avoid shadow coverage. Don't be fooled by sub-par performances in each of the last two games. Lee was blanketed by Jason McCourty in Week 11 and Patrick Peterson erased him from the Jaguars game plan last week. Look for him to get back to double-digit targets and 15+ fantasy points.

John Mamula: I prefer Mike Evans to breakout this week against the Packers lackluster secondary. After finishing with 96 receptions, 1321 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, Evans has massively disappointed with only 51 receptions, 702 yards and 4 touchdowns thus far. With five games remaining, Evans still has an opportunity to pad his stat-line before the end of season with a couple of huge performances. Since his Week 10 suspension, Evans has amassed 22 targets over the past two games. 

Tyreek Hill has my interest most weeks as he is the type of receiver that can take a short slant and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. The Chiefs have been struggling on offense but Hill has 18 targets over the past two weeks. Hopefully, Andy Reid will put together a game-plan where he puts the ball in his play-maker's hands. 

Dan Hindery: Mike Evans has a better chance of breaking his scoring drought than Michael Thomas. Evans saw more red zone targets last week (3) than Thomas has total in the last seven games (2). I wrote in-depth last week about why Thomas is likely to continue to struggle to get into the end zone in my Weekly Draft preview. Thomas isn’t a huge deep threat, so he is reliant on getting looks in the red zone to score. Since his last touchdown in Week 4, Thomas has only seen a total of two targets in the red zone, as the Saints have leaned heavily on their running backs both as runners and receivers when they get into the red zone.

Marqise Lee is a great GPP play this week. Prior to his Week 12 matchup against Patrick Peterson, Lee had seen 32 targets over his three previous outings. With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns both out, Lee is the last remaining veteran receiver in the offense and the go-to guy for Blake Bortles. Both Lee and #2 wide receiver Dede Westbrook are strong GPP options facing an Indianapolis pass defense that ranks 28th in the league and just lost it’s only reliable corner back (Rashaan Melvin) to what is likely to be a season-ending hand injury. 

James Brimacombe: I am going to go with Mike Evans this week over Michael Thomas this week as I think he gets more opportunities. Tampa Bay does not have a run game right now and New Orleans might have the best all around run game in the league this year. The Saints can rely on that run game to score them points while the Buccaneers will have to get the ball to Evans if they want to put up some points. With Evans you also have the potential that Jamesis Winston will return. 

I might take a shot on Golden Tate this week against a tough Ravens secondary. The Ravens defense against the pass has been strong to start the season but recently they have given up some good games to DeAndre Hopkins 7/125/0, Davante Adams 8/126/0, and Rishard Matthews 4/70/1. Tate has only seen 3 games all season with under 6 targets and with Marvin Jones Jr breaking out recently attention will be on him which could allow some extra looks to Tate.

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