FanDuel NFL Week 1 Preview: Wide Receivers
This is definitely the toughest position to preview more than a month before the season starts. Receiver selection in DFS is very much about individual matchups in the secondary. As we get closer to Week 1, we’ll have a clearer view of which cornerbacks will be matched up against which receivers, but for now here are the broad strokes:
Top projected point-scorers regardless of price.
Calvin Johnson DET (vs NYG) $9,200 — People will look at last year’s game log and see that Johnson put up three catches for 43 yards in his only game against the Giants. That’s true, and the Giants actually do have a very solid pass defense. But matchups don’t mean much when you’re talking about a 6’ 5”, 240 pound future Hall of Fame wide receiver. Calvin was limited in that game by an injury that had his snaps reduced and he only saw four targets the entire game. The addition of Golden Tate will take the top off of the defense at times and open up the middle of the field a little more for Calvin to roam. And there’s always the “throw the ball up in the air deep downfield and hope Calvin comes down with it” play that usually works pretty well.
Brandon Marshall CHI (vs BUF) $8,100 — Marshall and Alshon Jeffery both are going to have great seasons this year. There will be a great debate every week about which one to take. Early in the season at least, I’ll be leaning heavily towards Marshall. Right now he’s the better receiver and has the established chemistry with Cutler. A lot of Jeffery’s success last year came due to all of the attention on Brandon Marshall. Teams won’t be able to be so focused on one guy anymore. And to give you an idea of what the Bills’ defense could look like without Jairus Byrd (signed with NOS)… in a game that he missed last year, the Bills gave up 331 passing yards to Geno Smith.
Players with high point-per-dollar projections.
Larry Fitzgerald ARI (vs SD) $6,900 — With a price tag a little higher than teammate Michael Floyd, Fitzgerald is likely to get overlooked. It will just be too tempting for owners to save that extra money since Floyd has been getting the hype. In reality though, for now Fitzgerald is still “the guy” in Arizona. He had 24 more targets last year and twice as many touchdowns. He tied DeAndre Hopkins for the league lead in fewest drops with just one. He’s 30 years old, which is not old by any stretch for an elite wide receiver. Due to Floyd though, San Diego will not be able to shade coverage heavily towards Fitzgerald, leaving him in some certain one on one scenarios.
Jeremy Maclin PHI (vs JAC) $5,000 — Maclin should be the highest percent owned wide receiver considering this price. A year removed from injury, he will be the receiver to fill the “Z” position that DeSean Jackson excelled in last season. Jackson set new career highs in receptions (82) and yards (1,332) while matching his high in touchdowns (9). The “Z” wide receiver is responsible mostly for getting down the field on deep plays that take time to develop. With the Jaguars making no significant improvements to their pass rush that finished last in the league in sacks, Maclin is in for a big game.
Low-owned, high-risk player ideal for tournaments.
Antonio Brown PIT (vs CLE) $7,700 — Nobody is going to want to take Antonio Brown against Joe Haden. Brown actually looks better against Haden than most wide receivers do though. They were matched up once last year and Brown put up 6 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. He has enough talent and has shown enough big game potential to be a viable tournament play in tough matchups like this. We still need to see how Cleveland responds to losing defensive coordinator Ray Horton also. Horton was a master of creating pressure on the quarterback, making life on Haden much easier.
Marqise Lee JAC (@ PHI) $4,800 — Partly a product of their fast-paced offense, Philadelphia gave up the most receiving yards in the league last year. Wide receiver is somewhat of a question mark for the Jaguars, but rookie Marqise Lee as recently as two years ago was touted as the next elite, can’t-miss prospect. A rough year filled with drops saw him slip into the early part of the second round in this year’s NFL draft. He has a great chance to win a starting spot this year — and if he does — you get a wide receiver on a team that is expected to trail in a high-scoring game, and for near the minimum price.
Highly-owned player that won’t meet expectations.
Julio Jones ATL (vs NOS) $8,000 — It’s supposed to be a shootout in Atlanta, and Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the business. If you were ever going to fade him though, this would be the ideal spot. His price is that of an elite wide receiver, where he will surely finish by the end of the year. But Julio is recovering from a major broken foot injury and has a screw in his foot to prove it. To pile on that, new Saint Jairus Byrd (maybe the best safety in the game) is going to be shading him on the deep balls. It’s fair to say he’s risky, especially in Week One.