The average pass-catcher gets fewer opportunities to score fantasy points in a given game than the average quarterback or running back, which makes wide receivers and tight ends a greater challenge to predict than quarterbacks and running backs. In daily fantasy, the implication is that it’s ideal when you can find cheap value at the latter two positions, allowing you to dedciate more salary to locking in the most consistent wide receivers and tight ends. Here are five facts that will help you do just that.
1. On the road, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is allowing 310.8 passing yards and 2.0 passing touchdowns per game
Mike Smith’s unit has played solid football at home, surrendering respectable averages of 261.6 yards and 1.2 touchdowns passing per game, but all bets are off when the defense travels. The spiked production can’t be explained away by volume either, as the Buccaneers are actually allowing opposing passers to average and additional 49.2 yards and 0.8 touchdowns per game on the road on 9.4 fewer passes per game. That leaves Tampa Bay with an ugly 9.8 yards per attempt allowed on the road—worst in the league by more than 1.5 yards. This is all good news for Brett Hundley, whose salary didn’t jump despite a breakout 245-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers third-ranked pass defense on Sunday Night Football because DFS salaries had already been finalized. Against a Tampa Bay defense ranked 26th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, Hundley is this week’s top salary saver at the position.
2. Marshawn Lynch logged a season-high 29 touches last week, and this week his Oakland Raiders will be missing receivers responsible for 151 targets this season
Lynch racked up only 67 yards on 26 carries last week against the Denver Broncos, but that’s a defense which allows just 3.3 yards per carry to running backs. Lynch should be able to produce a more beastmode-like stat line against a far more generous New York Giants unit that has surrendered 4.2 yards per carry to opposing backs. With both of Oakland’s starting wide receivers, Michael Crabtree (suspension) and Amari Cooper (concussion/ankle), set to miss Sunday’s game, Lynch should also benefit from a slightly increased role in the passing game. Crabtree and Cooper were both out relatively early last week, and Lynch posted season-highs in targets (three), catches (three), and receiving yards (44).
3. Only Antonio Brown has a higher share of his team’s air yards than Robby Anderson
Even when you factor in incompletions, deeper targets have a higher expected value, in terms of fantasy points, than shorter targets, so Anderson’s 43% share of his team’s air yards—tied with the likes of A.J. Green and Julio Jones—should not be ignored. Given Anderson’s downfield prowess, the Kansas City Chiefs coming to town represents the perfect matchup. Quarterbacks are targeting the Chiefs 10.7 yards downfield on average, the highest mark in the NFL, per airyards.com. While fellow receiver Jermaine Kearse has been spending more time in the slot as of late, Anderson runs the majority of his routes on the outside, where he will face Marcus Peters, a talented but burnable cornerback who is tied for the fifth-most touchdowns allowed with five, per Player Profiler, and the newly acquired Darrelle Revis, who was last seen allowing a 102.9 passer rating and looking like a shell of his former self with the 2016 Jets. He could also see some of Kenneth Acker and Terrance Mitchell, the struggling corners Revis was signed to replace. Kansas City’s uneven cornerback play is a big reason the defense has surrendered the fourth-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to wide receivers.
4. Adam Thielen has not caught fewer than five passes in a game this season
In a game like daily fantasy where being able to reliably make accurate projections (as 4for4 has been doing at an industry-best level for more than a half-decade) is a necessity, receptions are key because they have the least variance of any stat that determines a wide receiver’s fantasy production. Thielen is one of two players, Jarvis Landry being the other, who has caught at least five balls in every game. The comparison ends there. Whereas Landry is able to consistently rack up catches because he runs mostly short, high-percentage routes, averaging a 6.9-yard target depth and just 8.5 yards per reception, Thielen has been able to consistently get open down the field, averaging 14.4 yards per catch on a 10.3-yard average depth of target. Yards account for a larger proportion of the average wide receiver’s production than receptions or touchdowns, and Thielen leads the league in 80-plus-yard games with seven, one more than Antonio Brown, Brandin Cooks, and Michael Thomas, all of whom are unlike Thielen in that they have the benefit of having a future Hall of Fame quarterback tossing them the pigskin. In Atlanta this week, Thielen, who runs roughly half of his routes from the slot and the other half outside, is a good bet to continue his four-game streak of 89 or more yards, whether it be against banged-up slot corner Brian Poole (back), or a group of boundary corners that will be without stalwart Desmond Trufant (concussion). Julio Jones may be the most exciting receiver on the field in Week 13’s clash between the Falcons and Vikings, but Thielen has been the most consistent.
5. Delanie Walker has topped 60 yards receiving in five straight games
Walker’s consistency has flown under the radar because he’s caught only one touchdown pass this season, but his seven games of 60 or more yards lead all tight ends. A big reason Walker has been able to consistently post solid yardage totals is his 10.6-yard average target depth—second to only Rob Gronkowski among the 15 tight ends this season with 50 or more targets. Walker is a good bet to continue his streak this week against a Houston Texans defense that has allowed the seventh-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points in the league to tight ends.