These top five fantasy football wide receivers will be huge for DFS success this week.
5- Michael Crabtree (SF), $10,300 @ (ARI)
A healthier Crabtree was the favorite target of Colin Kaepernick in week two totaling nine targets, three more than the second most targeted pass catcher on the 49ers. After playing 37 of 58 snaps in week one, Pro Football Focus had Crabtree on the field for 61 of 72 against the Bears on Sunday night. He’s yet to be utilized deep, but the short targets have resulted in 10 of his 11 targets this year being catchable, and Crabtree has reeled in nine of those passes. The beauty of using Crabtree is that the average DFS gamer might fade him based on Patrick Peterson’s presence on the Cardinals. Through two games though, the Cardinals have earned the second worst team pass coverage grade at Pro Football Focus, and Peterson has posted consecutive poor coverage scores. Football Outsiders also only ranks the Cardinals 15th in pass defense, so this isn’t the daunting matchup it might appear to be to the untrained eye.
4- Andre Johnson (HOU), $11,100 @ (NYG)
Football Outsiders ranks the Giants dead last in pass defense through two weeks, and Pro Football Focus gives them the ninth worst team coverage grade. So regardless of your preferred site for advanced football metrics, the Giants are a bad pass defense. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, however, is very good in pass coverage. The good news is that Rodgers-Cromartie hasn’t been used to shadow just one receiver in either game with Big Blue, so Johnson is unlikely to lineup opposite him every play. The former Miami Hurricane has been the clear cut favorite target of Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the team in targets both games and hauling in all 12 of 15 catchable targets for 167 yards receiving. The lone knock on Johnson, and the reason he doesn’t rank higher, is that teammate DeAndre Hopkins closed the gap in targets in week two and has caught two of Fitzpatrick’s three touchdown passes.
3- Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN), $10,700 @ (NO)
No team ranks worse in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus than the Saints. Football Outsiders is a little friendlier ranking them 30th in pass coverage. That sort of thing will happen when Matt Ryan barbecues you. Two polar opposite performances have been turned in by Matt Cassell, and the good one showing up will go a long way in helping Patterson. It’s likely Adrian Peterson’s absence played a role in Cassell’s struggles in week two, and as long as there isn’t a reverse of course and Peterson plays this weekend, Cassell and the Vikings offense will be considerably better. Patterson has run the most pass routes of any Vikings player, and while he’s only been targeted 11 times according to Pro Football Focus, he’s caught all seven of the catchable targets. His explosiveness makes him a threat any time he touches the ball, and that’s not lost on the Vikings. In week one offensive coordinator got Patterson three carries which resulted in 103 yards rushing and a touchdown. The matchup and cathedral high ceiling make him a great tournament option.
2- Brandon Marshall (CHI), $13,950 @ (NYJ)
If not for the presence of uber-talented teammate Alshon Jeffrey and the potential he presents of pilfering looks and receptions, Marshall would rank first. That said, Marshall is the number one receiver on the Bears and preferred target of Jay Cutler. The former Broncos quarterback has targeted his former Broncos teammate 20 times this year (the seventh highest target total for a wide receiver in the league), and Marshall has caught 13 of those 14 catchable targets. The most exciting thing is that he’s been a red zone darling securing four touchdown receptions. Jordy Nelson pulled down the Jets’ collective pants and spanked their bare behinds last week catching nine passes for 209 yards and a touchdown. After a week in which the Jets secondary looked okay against a rookie quarterback, Aaron Rodgers exposed them, and not a single member of the secondary earned a positive pass coverage grade according to Pro Football Focus. Converted safety to cornerback Antonio Allen earned the worst coverage grade by a wide margin. Both Bears wideouts should have big games, but Marshall is my top pick of the two.
1- Dez Bryant (DAL), $13,550 @ (STL)
A disappointing first game served as only a bump in the road to the Scott Linehan effect showing up in Bryant’s stat line. Linehan coached offenses have produced gigantic season totals for number one wide receivers such as Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss, and even less talented wide receivers such as Chris Chambers and Nate Burleson have fared very well. Bryant’s talent level is much more in line with the former duo than the latter, and paired with usually talented passer Tony Romo, a historic season isn’t out of the question. Bryant’s usage was extreme in week two against the Titans with him receiving double the targets of the second most targeted Cowboy with a 14 to seven edge over Jason Witten. Through two weeks Bryant has 19 targets, and 14 of those passes have been catchable according to Pro Football Focus. All 14 have been caught. Football Outsiders ranks the Rams 28th in pass defense, and Pro Football Focus ranks them in the middle of the pack in pass coverage. The Rams cornerbacks are on the small side, and their top pass coverage graded cornerback is 5-foot-10 rookie, and sixth round selection, E.J. Gaines. There isn’t a player in the Rams secondary that should pose a problem for Bryant going nuts.