My quarterback projections column is a kind of primer for the passing matchups in this one, so if you want some more of my thoughts on how the game scripts might play out give it a read.
Like I said there, there aren’t a ton of players in the field this week. Several teams are likely to have the perfect wide receiver combination. Hopefully, these boom-or-bust projections can help you find a few hidden gems.
Speaking of hidden gems, lets get right to the Pittsburgh game.
Steelers must exploit Ravens defensive backs
Baltimore’s secondary allows 84.1 receiving yards per game to WR1s, 60.3 to WR2s and 52.9 to WR3/4s.
There could be monster games here for Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. It’s not likely that all of them have big games, but I can’t tell you which of those No. 2/3 guys is correct. In tournaments I’m probably taking Bryant because he has 3-TD potential.
Wheaton is more likely to get 5 catches for 70 yards and no touchdowns. That’s hardly a bad thing considering his price at Draft Kings — $3,100. If he gets that 5-70-0 line he scores 12 points and scores nearly quadruples the price you’re paying for him.
Because of the nature of the small field of players and the potential for another 6-TD game from Big Ben, stack Ben, Brown and another one of those guys in a lineup or two.
Pay the price for Dez and Megatron
Brown feels safer, but Dez Bryant feels like a more likely candidate for a three-TD game this week. Originally I knocked Calvin Johnson‘s statistics down a bit. Dallas allows just 57.5 passing yards per game to opposing No. 1 wide receivers. But I changed my mind and went the other way with it.
Dallas’ defense has benefited from a season of keep-away football with running back DeMarco Murray. Their defensive backfield isn’t that good and Matthew Stafford will test them all contest throwing to both Johnson and Golden Tate.
According to Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, Tate has the juicier matchup. The Cowboys rank 29th against WR2s in DVOA, allowing 60.1 yards passing per contest to them. Tate had his best season as a pro, surpassing his previous yardage mark by more than 400.
Meanwhile, Megatron was held to just 3 catches combined in Weeks 4 and 5 before going on the shelf for three weeks. He still amassed 71 catches, 1,077 yards and 8 TDs. We live in a golden age for NFL wide receivers right now. Enjoy it.
One of the players we normally put in that upper echelon of receivers, A.J. Green, is doubtful and considered a long shot to play. While that’s bad on the surface, Mohamed Sanu was excellent when Green was out early in the season. That’s great news for those of us in daily fantasy, because it means we get a 10-target receiver at a 4-target price.
Unfortunately, the Colts are a top-9 matchup against No. 1 wide receivers, according to DVOA. They allow just 59.4 yards per game to wR1s, one of the lowest totals in the league.
Baltimore’s wide receivers after Torrey Smith and Steve Smith have a great matchup. The Steelers allow “other” wide receivers to amass 63.3 yards per contest. They rank 31st out of 32 teams in the NFL against them, according to DVOA.
The big question is who do you pick? Joe Flacco targeted Michael Campanaro three times last week. Kamar Aiken caught two passes for 13 yards and a touchdown. Jacoby Jones wasn’t targeted, but caught both targets for 18 yards the week before. I’ll probably go with Marlon Brown in at least one lineup. He caught his only target for 17 yards last week but was targeted 5 teams in each of the previous two weeks.
UPDATE – JAN. 3
I have a few more notes from the Steelers-Ravens game that really need to be addressed.
1. Haloti Ngata is expected back for the Ravens which means their run-stuffing defense got stuffier.
2. Troy Polamalu is expected back for the Steelers, whose defense can use all the help it can get.
3. Weather is expected to be bad — 100% chance of precipitation with high winds. This is typically only a bad thing for kickers and for some passing games. Ben Roethlisberger is a mudder. Joe Flacco doesn’t like the Super Bowl being played in cold weather, but he did throw 13 TDs and only 5 interceptions with two rushing touchdowns in November and December.