Variety is the spice of life, and the top five fantasy football wide receivers for Week 7 reflect that.
5- Justin Hunter (TEN), $8,250 @ (WAS)
When a player is priced at a sleeper price point, and they own top 10 scoring upside at their position, he makes for an easy pick as one of the top five fantasy football wide receivers. That’s the case here with Hunter. He’s facing a Washington defense that Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranks last in pass coverage, and Football Outsiders (FO) ranks 25th defending the pass. Digging deeper, FO ranks Washington 23rd defending number one wide receivers, 14th versus number twos, and 24th versus “other” wide receivers. If you choose to use snaps to determine the number one wide receiver on a team, Nate Washington looks like the one leading the Titans with 327 snaps. However, Kendall Wright isn’t far behind with 312, and Hunter has played 309 snaps according to PFF. Washington is also the least targeted receiver of the trio, and Wright tops the heap. That said, Wright has just three more targets than Hunter (38 versus 35 according to PFF), so again, things are murky. What is clear is that Hunter has been the most explosive receiver in the bunch. Hunter’s 7.5 YAC/Rece is the eighth best mark among receivers that have played 50% or more of their team’s snaps, and his 20.9 Yds/Rec is second best using the same cut line. His five missed tackles forced are tied for ninth best with a handful of receivers including some studs such as Demaryius Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald, and Vincent Jackson (among others).
4- Keenan Allen (SD), $9,200 vs (KC)
Allen’s second season has hardly been the monstrous encore to his big rookie season that I expected, but he’s grossly under priced and that’s what makes him one of my selections as one of this week’s top five fantasy football wide receivers. Philip Rivers has earned the top PFF QB Rating this year, and that makes Allen’s distinction as the top targeted Chargers receiver rather noteworthy. PFF credits Allen with 42 targets, and Antonio Gates is next on the target list with 37. All of those targets have resulted in Allen leading the team in receptions with 28. The rest of his underlying stats aren’t terribly impressive, but he has been very sure handed dropping only two passes this season. I refuse to ignore his huge 2013 season as the result of a slow start, and clearly he has Rivers’ trust still. Take advantage of this discount before it disappears.
3- Golden Tate (DET), $11,950 vs (NO)
Tate has been great at softening the blow of Calvin Johnson being injured. He’s also been a model of consistency, catching a minimum of five passes each week, and eclipsing 40 yards in every contest. Tate is one of the toughest receivers to tackle after the catch in the game. Last year his 21 missed tackles were top at the wide receiver position, and his 10 missed tackles forced this season are the second best total at the wide receiver position. The difficulty of bringing him down has resulted in him ranking tied for 12th in YAC/Rec among receivers that have played 50% of their team’s snaps, and he reels in an exceptional number of passes thrown his way. He’s been targeted 50 times this year, and caught 38 passes, good for the sixth best catch percentage (76.0%). It’s not all about Tate being a damn good receiver, he ranks third among this week’s top five fantasy football wide receivers because the Saints pass defense is terrible. The Saints rank second worst in pass coverage according to PFF, and they rank dead last in pass defense by FO. It’s unclear if Megatron will play this week or not, but the Saints inability to defend receivers is reflected in their ranking 25th against number one wide receivers and 28th against number two wide receivers.
2- Steve Smith Sr. (BAL), $11,950 vs (ATL)
Ranking atop the missed tackles forced heap among wide receivers is the seemingly ageless Smith with 13. An offseason change of teams seems to have recharged the batteries for the former Panthers receiver. He’s quickly become the apple of his new quarterback’s eye, and his 54 targets are tied for the eighth most among wide receivers, and he’s also tied for eighth in receptions with 35. His receiving yardage total of 576 is even more impressive and ranks fifth at the position. Perhaps the most impressive stat in Smith’s grab bag of goodies is that he ranks tied for the highest YPRR with a mark of 2.98 YPRR. Do you think a Falcons defense that ranks 27th in pass coverage according to PFF and one that ranks 28th defending the pass according to FO is one that will be able to hold Smith in check? I don’t think so either, and that’s why he’s the second ranked wide receiver among this week’s top five fantasy football wide receivers.
1- Julio Jones (ATL), $13,150 @ (BAL)
If you’re going to pony up for a stud wide receiver, make my top pick in this week’s top five fantasy football wide receivers your choice. Jones physical skills make him a player that is always a threat to be the top scorer at his position, yet he comes at a sizable discount from some of the other studs at the position. The University of Alabama product ranks seventh with 2.51 YPRR, and he’s a huge play threat that Matt Ryan airs it out deep to often. Jones has the second most deep targets with 17, deep being defined as over 20 yards, and his eight deep receptions rank tied for the most with Antonio Brown. FO ranks the Ravens in the top half of the league in pass defense, barely, ranking them 14th, but PFF ranks them 20th in pass coverage. I’d trust Jones against even the best of pass defenses given his skills and his quarterback’s skills, and the Ravens aren’t one of the best pass defenses.