The Cheapest 100+ Target Wide Receivers For 2019 Fantasy Football
Securing cheap volume is by far the best way to win your fantasy football league. We have some of the most accurate and back-tested fantasy football projections on the market here at RotoExperts but we deal in median outcomes assuming 16 games and full health for most players. Over the course of the NFL season, injuries and general attrition will alter how players project week-over-week and of course, alter how much volume individual players will see. One of my favorite exercises is to comb through our projections and look at how various offenses might shake out to move volume in the direction of certain pass-catchers. The group of players in this article are being drafted after the eighth round of 12-team PPR leagues but all either project for 100+ targets or have the ability to get there if a few things swing their way.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
I have been one of the many people who has been ready to shovel dirt on the grave of the elderly Larry Fitzgerald but he has been given a second fantasy football life via the arrival of Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury. With Josh Rosen and Mike McCoy calling the shots last year, almost no one in Arizona had a chance to be fantasy relevant. The team ran the ball far too often (and did so in non-effective ways) and simply didn’t run enough total plays on offense. That will not be the case in 2019. Kliff Kingsbury is running the Cardinals almost exclusively out of shotgun sets and plans to run an up-tempo, Air Raid offense. In 2018, Kingsbury’s Texas Tech attempted 44.6 passes per game, up from 41.6 in 2017 which dwarves the 54.4 pass attempts per game that Patrick Mahomes had under Kingsbury in 2016. This offense is likely to be like nothing we have ever seen in the NFL before and Fitzgerald stands as a prime beneficiary. Our market share numbers for Fitzgerald are fairly low compared to his career averages and we are trying to be a bit more conservative with our Arizona projections than we really want to, which leaves Fitgerald as a neutral value at ADP. Fitzgerald has seen at least 100 targets in every year of his NFL career and while that career is probably on his last leg, the 90th percentile outcome for the Arizona offense will give him one last chance at those 100+ targets.
Courtland Sutton & DaeSean Hamilton, Denver Broncos
Despite their best wishes, the Denver Broncos are not likely to be a ground and pound team in 2019. The defense is not nearly as good as the dominant unit that carried Peyton Manning to his final Super Bowl win. Their best young players are their tandem of second-year wide receivers, Sutton and Hamilton. Emmanuel Sanders continues to recover from a devastating lower-leg injury from 2018 and even conservative projections would make it seem unlikely that he plays 16 full strength games in 2019. The 6-10 2018 Denver team threw 588 passes last season and had five players with over 48 targets. We are expecting a volume concentration to their offense this year with that volume shifting towards Sutton and Hamilton (both going after the 10th round in ADP, both projected for over 100 targets) while Noah Fant and Emmanuel Sanders play complementary roles. Unless Denver truly plays extremely suboptimal football, running the ball close to 50% of the time, both Sutton and Hamilton should breeze to 100+ targets while Sanders enjoys around a 17% market share in healthy games. The biggest signal for the young wide receivers would be how early Noah Fant is ready to play full time and how often the running backs are targeted out of the backfield. The use case for Sutton as the down-the-field wide receiver is pretty clear as massive arm strength is the only plus attribute that Joe Flacco has left. Hamilton should be their full-time slot wide receiver, even while Sanders is healthy as he shifts back into the role that he played well in Pittsburgh.
Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins
If you have been reading the RotoExperts website over the last 4 months, you know that the Miami Dolphins passing game is absurdly undervalued. None of their pass catchers are being drafted in the first 10 rounds and only Kenyan Drake is being drafted in any premium round. However, the Dolphins wide receivers were all valuable in fantasy football over stretches last season. Albert Wilson is recovering from injury but is expected to be able to be active towards the start of the season, DaVante Parker had his contract renewed (to the surprise of many) and the only real addition to the WR crew in Miami is Brice Butler. Stills had 64 targets in 15 games last year but Danny Amendola clogged up the works with his 79 targets and is now in Detroit. The biggest shift in Miami is the removal of Adam Gase (who called the fewest plays of any coordinator in the NFL last season) and the addition of Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Playing at a league average pace with quarterbacks more willing to take risks are going to improve the target numbers dramatically for Stills, Wilson and Parker with our projections having Stills lead the group.
Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Green Bay Packers
I am not sure exactly when this will happen but at some point during this offseason, MVS is going to go from being a fantasy football sleeper to just a straight up WR3 in drafts. Valdez-Scantling had 73 targets in 10 starts last year for a Green Bay team that was actively decaying around him. They now have a new coach and play caller, a seemingly-healthy (but still grumpy) Aaron Rodgers and MVS projects as the starting boundary wide receiver opposite Davante Adams. MVS is like the evolutionary Jeff Janis with 4.37 speed, 70th percentile SPARQ-athleticism and seemingly, the trust and support of Aaron Rodgers. The math for targets been Valdez-Scantling and Geronimo Allison is tricky to shake out especially with Jimmy Graham still on the roster but if you adjust the market shares just a bit in MVS’ favor with him winning the second wide receiver job outright, it isn’t even difficult to tell a story where he sees more than 100 targets. Rodgers’ second WR saw more than 90 targets in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011… you get the point. There are going to be more than enough targets to go around in a more pass-focused Packers offense and MVS should be in line to benefit.
Keke Coutee & Will Fuller, Houston Texans
For the first five games of the 2018 season, the Texans threw the ball over 32 times in every game and over 40 times three times. For the next seven games, they threw the ball under 30 times in each contest. What happened in between those games? Deshaun Watson took a nasty hit that disturbed his rib cage and his lungs; he literally could not breathe properly! This forced the Texans, with a horrible offensive line, to try and keep Watson as safe as possible in the pocket and expose him to the least amount of trouble possible. Now, of course, Watson could easily get hurt behind the makeshift Texans line again in 2019 but we cannot project that in our raw numbers. We know that Watson is one of the best passing quarterbacks in the NFL and that Houston will be more efficient with him throwing as opposed to handing off to Lamar Miller. Neither Coutee nor Fuller was able to play anything close to 16 games last year (seven games for Fuller, six games for Coutee with only two healthy starts) but both racked up over 4.5 receptions per game while they were on the field. Ideally, the Texans would scale back Deandre Hopkins’ volume just slightly and re-distribute a little bit more of the wealth to Fuller down the field and Coutee near the line of scrimmage. The price tags for Fuller and Coutee are appropriate in 12-team PPR leagues but both are core plays for me, especially in best ball as they both will have high spiked week potential.
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