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WR/TE Grind Down: Week 16

Saturday, December 23, 2017


With two Saturday games and two Monday night games, we’re looking at twelve Sunday games. There’s no Sunday Night Football, so all twelve are in play on both FanDuel and DraftKings. We have several large spreads, a handful of somewhat high totals, and a potential shootout between the Saints and Falcons. As always, we’ll take a look at the week’s top plays at wide receiver and tight end in both cash games and tournaments. Let’s dive in.

 

 

WIDE RECEIVER


Cash Game Targets


Michael Thomas vs Falcons


Thomas is always a very strong cash game play. He’s seen less than eight targets just once this year, and while he was an afterthought in the red zone earlier this season, his usage in that area of the field has spiked in the past few weeks. Thomas is always going to get his targets, and whether or not other Saints receivers get theirs is a function of how many times Drew Brees must throw the ball.

 

The Falcons have been a middling team against the pass, ranking 19th in DVOA. This game has the highest total on the board despite both teams ranking in the bottom third of the league in pace of play. The Saints are going to put up points given their efficiency on offense, and we can pretty much pencil Thomas in for another eight to ten targets. He also has a great shot of finding the end zone for the fourth week in a row. Lock him into your cash game lineups if you can make his salary work.

 

 

Keenan Allen vs Jets


Allen is in a fantastic spot this week squaring off with a Jets defense that ranks 22nd in pass defense DVOA. He’ll primarily match up with slot corner Buster Skrine in very winnable matchup. Further aiding Allen’s prospects is the fact that tight end Hunter Henry will be out this week. That should push more targets toward Allen, who has already seen 57 over the past five weeks.

 

The Chargers should win very comfortably, but not before Allen posts a big game that will almost certainly involve ten or more targets, 100 or more yards, and a score. He should be a cornerstone of cash game lineups this week, and he has plenty of upside to help you take down a tournament as well.

 

 

Tournament Targets


Josh Gordon at Bears


A road matchup against Chicago in December is never going to be a cash game situation for a wide receiver, but it’s hard not to love Gordon’s upside when quarterback DeShone Kizer is force-feeding him the ball on a weekly basis. The Bears have not defended opposing number one receivers well, ranking 24th in DVOA against the position.

 

Of course, Kizer’s accuracy problems combined with the poor weather conditions and the road matchup are all factors going against Gordon, but volume and talent, and the fact that the Browns will likely be playing from behind, all should contribute to a heavy workload. He can post a big game even if the Browns only score 14 points, and he’s certainly a strong tournament play given he won’t be highly owned.

 

 

Dede Westbrook at 49ers


Jacksonville travels to San Francisco to take on a Niners defense that ranks 31st in pass defense DVOA while also playing at one of the fastest paces in the league. Jacksonville’s passing attack is one where you must pick your spots, but with Marqise Lee out, I think Westbrook is much more likely to fall into the eight-target range rather than the two he saw last week.

 

Allen Hurns may return, but given he’s still listed as questionable, if he does return he may do so at less than 100%. Westbrook is very talented, and if he sees the workload I expect, he can do some serious damage against this woeful Niners secondary. I’m not comfortable going here in cash games, though I wouldn’t mind it if you need a cheap fill-in, but as a tournament play, I love him given ownership is likely to be low after last week’s dud.

 

 

 

TIGHT END


Cash Game Targets


Eric Ebron at Bengals


I never thought Eric Ebron would make this article this season, but here we are. The Lions are taking on a Bengals team that has been very strong against opposing wide receivers, but ranks 30th in DVOA against the tight end. This is great news for Ebron, who has seen 18 targets over the past two weeks and plays for a Lions team that ranks first in passing play percentage because they cannot run the ball. Detroit is going to be throwing all day, and while the Bengals will do a very good job shutting down the wide receivers, Ebron is poised for a big game as the path of least resistance down the field.

 

 

Travis Kelce vs Miami


Kelce draws a terrific matchup against a Miami defense that ranks 27th in pass defense DVOA and 28th against the tight end. This is the sort of matchup you want to target with your tight end pick, and on sites where Kelce offers a significant savings over Rob Gronkowski, I prefer going the cheaper route and using the extra salary cap to upgrade somewhere else.

 

Like Gronk, Kelce should fall somewhere in the eight to ten target range, giving him a very solid floor with significant upside. He’s a terrific play in both cash games and tournaments.

 

 

Tournament Targets


Rob Gronkowski vs Buffalo


Gronk is a premier play at the tight end position, assuming you can afford him. However, I don’t think he’s necessary in cash games. Chris Hogan appears finally set to return, which is going to siphon red zone targets away from Gronk. He’s seen 24 targets over his past two games, but I don’t think 12 targets per game is a realistic expectation. He’ll likely see eight to ten, and while he has the most upside of any tight end in the league, he’s certainly not a guarantee to post a monster game. I’d prefer spending a similar amount on a guy like Michael Thomas at the wide receiver position and rolling with a value tight end like Ebron in cash games.

 

You’re going to want exposure to Gronk in tournaments though. He just pasted the Steelers, the number one ranked team in DVOA against the tight end, for a 9-168 line. We know the upside he has, and if he posts a monster game, you’ll have no chance in a GPP if you don’t have him on some teams.

 

 

Greg Olsen vs Buccaneers


Olsen worked out very well for us last week as a guy who was simply too cheap relative to his talent level. He re-established himself as a top pass-catching weapon in the Carolina air attack, and it’s hard not to like him once again against Tampa Bay. The Bucs rank 29th in DVOA against the pass and 20th against the tight end. This is a dreadful defense, and the only worry here is that quarterback Cam Newton simply doesn’t throw enough, or is too inefficient through the air for Olsen to have a big game.

 

Given we’re looking at one big game against a handful of duds from Olsen this season, I’m not looking this way in cash games, but it his price hasn’t come up enough to match the upside he offers, so I love him in tournaments.



RotoMonkey83 is a top 25 grinder overall and has expertise in the NBA, MLB and NHL. He is a leading contributor to RotoGrinders.
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