Another NFL Sunday is almost upon us and here are some players I have identified at the Wide Receiver and Tight End position who I hold in high regard this weekend. There are elite players in here with some value plays mixed in to help them fit. Now let’s dig in and find some players that can win us some money Sunday on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Adam Thielen (vs. Miami Dolphins)
Adam Thielen leads this Minnesota team with 10.8 targets per game this year. He also runs the majority of his routes from the slot position, so he’s primed for a matchup this week against Miami defender Bobby McCain. McCain has allowed a 103.3 passer rating when thrown at this season. Miami is good enough to keep this game competitive and Minnesota needs a win desperately to stay in the playoff picture. One of these Minnesota receivers is a lock to have a monster game, and I’m leaning towards Thielen to be that guy right now.
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Brandin Cooks (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
This Philadelphia secondary is beset by injuries and we just saw Amari Cooper have an absolute field day against them this past weekend. Now they’re forced to travel to Los Angeles to take on a high-powered Rams Offense coming off of a terrible offensive performance, in the cold, at Chicago. Brandin Cooks has received 37 targets over the last four games and seems to have supplanted Robert Woods as the number one option in this passing game. Cooks will bounce around the formation quite a bit, but it looks like the primary matchup this week is against Philadelphia’s defensive back Rasul Douglas. Douglas was one of the primary defenders last week in Amari Cooper’s big game. Douglas allowed nine receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown when Dak Prescott targeted him in Week 14. This Rams Offense is going to be mad following that terrible performance on Sunday night and I expect Brandin Cooks to be part of this big offensive number that they put up.
Calvin Ridley (vs. Arizona Cardinals)
Matt Ryan has been a better fantasy performer at home, in Atlanta, over the years than he has on the road. So, it stands to reason that his receivers are slightly upgraded when they play in Atlanta. Calvin Ridley has certainly followed that trend this year as he is averaging over 58 yards per game at home compared to only 41.5 on the road. He has six touchdowns at home and only two on the road. This is a game against Arizona where number one wide receiver Julio Jones should be shadow covered by, arguably, the best defensive back in all of football, Patrick Peterson. That will leave Calvin Ridley with a lot of opportunities on some of these inferior Arizona defensive backs, namely David Amerson, who looks to be the guy drawing Ridley’s coverage most of this day. He’s only been active for this team three games this year so there’s not much sample size, but if we go back to last season when he played for Oakland, Amerson allowed a 156.3 passer rating when thrown at. He’s more or less been considered a bust his entire career and I think there’s going to be ample opportunity for Calvin Ridley to exploit this matchup.
Eric Ebron (vs. Dallas Cowboys)
Indianapolis is at home with a big game on tap against Dallas. Indianapolis has become an extremely pass heavy team, passing the ball 63.5% of the time they are on offense. With all the injuries to the pass catchers, the bulk of the targets these days head to TY Hilton and Eric Ebron. TY Hilton will draw a very tough assignment this week against a solid secondary for Dallas. That’s going to leave the most exploitable matchup in this passing game to Ebron. He’s coming off of three games where he averaged over 10 targets per game. He gets a ton of work in the red zone and has converted three touchdowns over the last three weeks. On the main slate for the two major sites we’re not going to have the two best tight ends in football to choose from, as Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce play at different times this week. In my opinion, that leaves Eric Ebron is the best option on the board.
Value Tight End
Cameron Brate (vs. Baltimore Ravens)
If you’re not in the mood to spend up at tight end, then Cameron Brate offers a chance at multiple touchdowns and a low-price tag. He took two trips to the end zone last week and that now gives him three touchdowns over three weeks and he is now the full-time starter since OJ Howard was sidelined. The matchup against Baltimore is one we don’t necessarily want to play the running backs or receivers for Tampa Bay. However, if there is area of vulnerability for Baltimore it would be their defense against tight ends this year. They rank 26th out of 32 teams in the NFL DVOA against the tight end. They have allowed a tight end to score a touchdown in six of the last seven games against them. They allow tight ends to score touchdowns and we have a pass catching tight end who does nothing but score touchdowns. On paper this seems like a match made in heaven to save salary and have a good chance at finding pay dirt.