D.J. Moore, CAR @ NO. There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position for Carolina, but Moore has at least produced a little bit, and New Orleans is a top-10 matchup for fantasy WRs. Sam Darnold getting more playing time actually helps Moore, as it was Darnold at QB when he got off to the explosive start this season. He could bust if QB play is awful, but he’s commanding a lot targets and is due for a breakout game in a favorable matchup.
A.J. Brown, TEN vs. MIA. Is A.J. Brown officially back? It’s tough to look at his 16 target, 11 catch, 145 yards, and a touchdown performance against the 49ers and think otherwise. He commanded an incredible 55-percent target share, so if you had any worries last week about starting him, those are all gone. Miami has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to WRs this season, so his ceiling is once again a top-five finish. We try not to overreact too much to one game though, which is why we place him as a high-end WR2. Miami has several defensive backs who are far better than anybody the Niners have. Julio Jones is the definition of a risky start, but if Miami puts all of its defensive attention on Brown, could we see Jones finally show out? It’s a tough call in the fantasy championship, so we’ll leave that decision to you.
Diontae Johnson, PIT vs. CLE. Johnson can only do so much if Ben Roethlisberger is having a bad day, but his absurd target figures always keep his ceiling high, even in a tough matchup with Cleveland. He’s always been a better PPR option, but he’s scored seven touchdowns this season, so he can produce a WR1 finish in standard leagues. too. Chase Claypool should be viewed as purely a standard league TD-or-bust option in this matchup.
DK Metcalf, SEA vs. DET. It’s easy to get excited about Metcalf if you just watched the highlight of his long touchdown against the Bears, but he caught just two-of-five targets for 41 yards, so he’s still very much a risky play. That said, it’s tough to bench him in against the Lions, but we won’t pretend like he can’t bust. He’s a better standard league option since he’s a big-play-dependent player, so be a little more cautious in PPR leagues, but the upside is there. Tyler Lockett is the better play here, but neither guy has a safe floor by any means.
DeVonta Smith, PHI @ WAS. We know by now Smith is far from safe but after a five-catch, 80 yards, and a touchdown game against the Giants, perhaps he’ll carry some momentum into a rematch with Washington. Washington came into Week 16 allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs, and we all saw what happened on Sunday night when it surrendered 42 points in the first half. The Eagles’ are just fine running the ball all game long until the clock hits zero if they can, though, so Smith will have to get it done with efficiency rather than volume, That has been the case all season long.
Ja’Marr Chase, CIN vs. KC. Kansas City is one of the top-12 teams against fantasy WRs, but there are zero reasons to bench Chase or Tee Higgins coming off nuclear performances against the Ravens. Joe Burrow is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now, so neither of the two wideouts are benchable, in any matchup — ever.
Tee Higgins, CIN vs. KC. See Ja’Marr Chase.
DeVante Parker, MIA @ TEN. Tennessee allows the second-most fantasy points to WRs, so while its defense has looked impressive at times, that has all been a product of their front seven. Tua Tagovailoa gets the ball out quick, so Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker are better suited for PPR leagues, but in such a great matchup, we Waddle as a WR1 and Parker as a WR2.
Elijah Moore, NYJ vs. TB. Moore (quad) is expected to play for the first time since Week 13 and can get it done here with efficiency and/or volume, so while the Tampa Bay defense could crush Zach Wilson, the upside outweighs the risk here. Moore was the WR2 from Weeks 9 to 13, so don’t play scared in the fantasy finals, especially if you’re a big underdog. If he remains out, Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios are decent PPR play with far lower floors.
CeeDee Lamb, DAL vs. ARI. The Cowboys’ offense has been hot and cold and even an offensive explosion against Washington, it was Amari Cooper who led the Cowboys’ in receiving yards. We still think Lamb is the more desirable guy to play, but both have a ton of upside. They’re lower than usual in our rankings because you never know which Dallas offense is going to show up. All that said, we wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb or Cooper had WR1 weeks if this turns into a shootout.
Odell Beckham Jr., LAR @ BAL. Beckham has scored four touchdowns since joining the Rams but has also failed to reach 40 receiving yards in four-of-six games with the team. That said, his upside isn’t super high, which makes sense with Cooper Kupp hogging so many targets. That said, Baltimore has probably been the worst defense in all of football over the past couple of weeks, and we just saw Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyler Boyd go off against its secondary. If that trio of wideouts could all end up with monster fantasy days, Kupp, Beckham Jr., and Van Jefferson can too.