Tier 1: Stud Stack Targets
As usual we’re going to look at pairing a few of the stud QBs from STLCardinals84’s excellent QB/RB Grind Down) with their top WR stack targets.
TY Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, $8,800
First up is the top WR to stack with Colts QB Andrew Luck – WR TY Hilton. Luck is easily the top elite QB this week, so pairing him with TY ‘Texans Killer’ Hilton makes a lot of sense in any contest. Hilton has completely obliterated the Texans in his young career, and bombed them for 9 catches, 223 yards, and 1 TD in their Week 6 meeting earlier this season. The Texans allow the 4th-most FPPG to opposing WRs and should again have few answers for the dynamic and explosive Hilton.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, $9,400
I suggested Calvin here last week against an ‘improved’ Buccaneers Defense – and the King of WRs proceeded to storm them for 8-158-1. Calvin and QB Matt Stafford are in one of those rhythms right now where they’re hitting chunk plays all over the field and making it look effortless, and that was certainly the case against the Bucs. This week, Stafford comes in at #3 in the QB/RB Grind Down Rankings, and if he’s going to find statistical success this week you can bet Calvin will be a big reason why. The matchup with the Vikings is a stiffer test than last week, and the Vikes do have an emerging stud CB in Xavier Rhodes, but as I say regularly: this is Calvin Johnson we’re talking about. An added benefit this week is actually Calvin’s price, which, at $9400, is the MOST expensive WR of Week 15. Why is that helpful? Because despite Calvin’s recent success, most people will see the high price and the chunk of salary they can save by pivoting to the other elite options, and ignore Calvin this week. Their loss can be your gain with a Stafford-Calvin stack in tournaments this week.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, $8,700
Julio went absolutely berserk for 11-259-1 against the Packers Monday night. Unfortunately he also injured himself in the process. So this recommendation comes with the caveat that you need to monitor Julio’s health leading up to Sunday. Because if Julio is able to go, he could have a third-straight monster game against the Steelers absentee secondary. Steelers CB Ike Taylor is fresh off giving up a Julio-like monster line to AJ Green last week (11-224-1) and is allowing an NFL leading 157+ QB Rating on throws into his coverage. If healthy enough to play, Julio should terrorize Taylor and the rest of the Steelers CBs, and is a strong tournament stack play along with QB Matt Ryan.
Tier 2: Midrange Plays
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers, $7400
Allen has been a Broncos Killer since last season, and ripped off 9-73-1 vs the reigning AFC champs when these teams met back in Week 8. I do worry a bit about the matchup with the Broncos duo of shutdown CBs, but they weren’t able to neutralize him earlier this season. QB Philip Rivers has no fear in featuring his top WR even in the face of a tough matchup, and Allen will need to put together another spirited performance to keep his team competitive this week.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills, $7,200
Sammy Watkins is coming off a 7-127 beating of the tough Broncos secondary; he terrorized their single coverage.
The Packers formerly-tough secondary are coming off an 11-259-1 dismantling by Falcons WR Julio Jones; he terrorized their single coverage. See where I’m going here?
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, $7,000
White is only in play if teammate Julio Jones is OUT this week. In that case, White should see heavy target volume against the ineffective and exploitable Steelers CBs mentioned earlier. For the price of just the 24th-most expensive WR, White should see top-15 usage without Julio, and becomes viable in both cash games and tournaments as a result.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints, $6,100
We’re STILL (see what I did there?) going back to the well this week, even though the Saints WR let us down with just 3 catches for 23 yards after being recommended here last time. With a likely shootout on deck and the Saints playoff hopes still technically alive, Stills should again see the heavy workload and versatile usage that propelled him to 8-98 and 5-162-1 performances in Weeks 12 and 13, respectively. Ridiculously priced as just the 48th-most expensive WR this week, Stills offers top-25 upside and saves you a meaningful amount of salary in the process.
Tier 3: Bargain Bin Ballers
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts $5,700
Both of this week’s Bargain Bin Ballers are calculated risks. Moncrief, for example, isn’t even a full-time player. But he did see a surge in snaps last week, and with Hakeem Nicks’ snap counts dwindling and Reggie Wayne’s persistent injury situation, Moncrief should continue to see added opportunities for playing time. He’s done an excellent job of producing explosive plays on limited chances thus far, and will become a weekly GPP option if he can ever secure the full-time role as TY Hilton’s partner at outside WR. We’re banking on Moncrief taking the first steps toward that goal this week vs the Texans. The Texans will be doing everything they can to contain TY Hilton, which should leave Moncrief in single coverage situations that he should be able to capitalize on. Consider Moncrief a low-floor/high-ceiling play best suited to GPPs this week.
Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears $4,500
While he isn’t much of a secret anymore thanks to the infinite power of the internets, Bears WR Marquess Wilson is a minimum-priced WR option whose opportunity AND talent mean he should be priced much higher. Wilson steps into the starter spotlight this week against the Saints, replacing stud WR Brandon Marshall (who is now on IR) in the Bears lineup. If you haven’t heard about Wilson prior to this week, the gist is that he has literally ALL the prototypical physical tools you want in a #1 WR. The real question for the 6’4, 200+ lb Wilson isn’t his physical traits, though – it’s how many targets he’ll get. With the Saints/Bears game set at a total of 54 points (one of the highest Vegas totals of Week 15), and neither defense playing very well lately, there should be plenty of targets for Bears receivers this week, and plenty of chances for Wilson to make his mark both between the 20s and in the red-zone.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, $7,600
A lot of people are overlooking Gronk this week, even after he broke the Chargers for 8-87-1 last week. Why? Because Gronk’s opponent this week, the Dolphins, have a tough looking DVP rating against TEs. Let’s not overreact here. Remember that even after Gronk whipped them last week, the Chargers are STILL the 4th-toughest team vs TES… and they couldn’t shut down the monstrous TE even with frequent double-coverage. I don’t see how the Dolphins will fare any better, ESPECIALLY considering that their primary coverage LB Jelani Jenkins may not play this week. That would be a huge loss, as Jenkins functions as their leading tackler AND top option for covering TE threats. Jenkins grades out as the Dolphins best player in coverage (their CBs included!), and was a huge reason why their DVP for TEs looks so tough. Given that he should be limited at the least, and possibly out, Gronk should be free to roam and terrorize the Dolphins this week. Roster him without fear.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, $6,900
I know what you’re saying. ‘Never again. Never again will I roster Jimmy Graham.’
Don’t give up on him just yet! Yes, Graham has burned plenty of people – myself included – the past two weeks. But there are multiple factors that suggest he’s still a strong play this week. First, consider how many people will be OFF Graham thanks to his disappointing recent stretch. Second, think about the game script. The Saints/Bears game has a massive 54 point Over/Under, one of the highest of Week 15, and its tight 3-point spread suggests a possible shootout between the two teams. With the Saints Defense stopping approximately nobody lately, Drew Brees will be forced to throw often and score plenty – and Big Jim will be his top target. Third, just look at that matchup. The Bears Defense has been just as bad as the Saints the last few weeks. And they also have the distinction of allowing the MOST FPPG to opposing TEs. Jimmy Graham was built to destroy the Bears sluggish zone coverage, which has struggled vs even lackluster TEs this season. For the salary-equivalent of just the 28th-most expensive WR (That’s Anquan Boldin/Jarvis Landry territory btw), you can roster Graham, who has top-10 RECEIVER upside on a weekly basis, and faces the most favorable TE matchup in the NFL. Trust the data and give him one more chance this week.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans, $5,200
Often when we decide to NOT take Gronk or Graham at TE we need a pretty compelling reason to do so – either a really appealing price, a favorable matchup, or both. Walker fits the ‘both’ category this week. Pivoting to him over the top options saves $1500+ -- which is the difference between rostering Golden Tate or Demaryius Thomas at WR, or the difference between Joique Bell and Matt Forte at RB. It’s substantial. The matchup is also enticing, as Walker squares off against the Jets, who have allowed a ridiculous 12 TDs to TEs so far this season. Given that Walker figures to be heavily targeted as the de facto #1 weapon for the depleted Titans passing attack, he has excellent upside as a low-cost alternative to the top options this week.