Divisional Round WR Rankings
Each week, as we prepare to make some difficult playoff lineup decisions, our team, which includes Rob Willette, Ryan McDowell, and Sal Leto, will give you their rankings for this week’s playoff games!
Rob Willette’s Divisional Round WR Rankings
1 – Michael Thomas
The Eagles did an admirable job of keeping their pass defense from becoming a historically anemic unit following injuries to what seemed like their top dozen cornerbacks. But they’re still an exploitable unit, fresh off getting pasted by Allen Robinson in the Wild Card Round. Thomas salvaged a 4 target outing against Philadelphia earlier this year with insane efficiency (4 catches for 92 yards ) and a touchdown. This game figures to be more competitive, keeping Thomas active in the passing game against a defense which will struggle to find ways to defend him. No receiver has a better setup in the Divisional Round than Thomas.
2 – Tyreek Hill
The Colts do not have personnel which screams elite pass defense, but they have done a fantastic job all year of limiting opposing passing games. During the 2018 regular season, they ceded the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, and their scheme limits the ability for receivers to get loose deep. But there are simply no matchups which can eliminate the Kansas City passing game, and Hill’s more than just a one-trick pony. The Chiefs will find ways to get him involved, and he’s capable of beating the stingiest of coverages. Even without the benefit of a plum matchup, it is hard to fade Hill in this one.
3 – Amari Cooper
After a slow conclusion to the regular season, Amari Cooper was back as a feature piece in the Dallas offense. He was coolly efficient in carving up the Seahawks for a 7-106 line, operating as the clear top weapon in the Cowboy passing offense. The Rams are a different pass defense with Aqib Talib on the field, but they’re still not a unit which should strike fear in fantasy owners. Given the Rams proclivitiy for scoring points, the Dallas passing game is going to have to be in gear to pull off the upset. The passing game runs through Cooper, and his outlook for the Divisional Round is strong.
4 – Keenan Allen
Bill Belichick has rightfully earned a reputation as somebody who devises gameplans to shut down the opposing team’s best player. With Melvin Gordon ailing, Keenan Allen is the logical choice to focus on this Sunday. However, even with Stephon GIlmore shutting down his portion of the field, I have a tough time fading Allen against this Patriots defense. Allen runs nearly 47% of his routes from the slot; the Chargers move him around the formation, and he has a clear advantage lined up against anyone outside of Gilmore. Foxboro in the playoffs is no treat for any opposing player, but I feel this Chargers team is a different animal with too much maturity to fold in this spot. Allen should continue his second half dominance.
5 – TY Hilton
TY Hilton plays on the weekend, then heads home like Deadpool to convalesce and heal. He no longer practices, yet he’s been on fire, with 61 yards being his low mark in November, December, and January. The Chiefs are a talent-deficiency defense and you’d imagine the Colts will need to pile up points to pull the upset. Hilton should be at the center of it and has developed one of the better floors among fantasy receivers.
6 – Julian Edelman
The Chargers are one of the league’s best defenses when it comes to stifling opposing receivers. The matchup does not portend a ceiling game from Edelman; however, his value is in his steady and reliable floor. His usage will remain high given the lack of weapons the Patriots feature in the passing game. While not the sexiest play on the slate, Edelman’s the type of play you know will not bury you.
7 – Robert Woods
The Cowboys have evolved into a sound passing defense with the emergence of Byron Jones on the outside. Fortunately for Woods, he’s seen heavy usage in the slot following Cooper Kupp’s injury and will avoid Dallas’ best cover man. Woods was one of fantasy’s steadiest producers, with only Weeks 1 and 17 proving to be duds. Much like Edelman, there is a lot of value in his safe floor, and his ceiling is plenty high as well.
8 – Brandin Cooks
Cooks is more likely to be bothered by Byron Jones on the outside. While Jones is big and physical, he’s also got 4.40 speed; he can run with Cooks. Cooks can always bust loose and the Rams have enough weapons to keep him isolated in single coverage, but I am not bullish on a big performance.
9 – Alshon Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery, like the rest of the Eagles, have been energized by the presence of Nick Foles. After falling into a midseason slump in which he was downright unusable, Jeffery flourished down the stretch. He’s likely to get the Marshon Lattimore treatment, but Lattimore’s been more good than shutdown in 2018. With the Eagles offense coming to life, there’s opportunity for Jeffery to continue his strong finish, and he put up 6 for 82 in a tough matchup last week.
10 – Mike Williams
Few players have been more hit or miss than Mike Williams this year. He posted 11 touchdowns during the regular season, but good luck predicting when they’re going to come. If the Patriots use Stephon GIlmore to shadow Keenan Allen, however, we could see an ample dose of Williams as he faces far inferior coverage. Williams looked the part of alpha receiver when Allen got hurt late in the year against the Chiefs, and has the tools to take advantage of an advantageous matchup. Or he could post 1 reception of fewer, as he did 6 times this year. It is a gamble, but one with a high upside.
11 – Golden Tate
Golden Tate never really emerged as a go-to weapon during the regular season in Philadelphia. However, his catch against the Bears forever places him in Eagle lore. The 8 targets were encouraging, and should roll into this week given how strong the Saints are against the run. The best option for the Eagles to move the ball is via the pass, and Tate has a cozy matchup given New Orleans’ cornerbacks after Marshon Lattimore are anything but intimidating. In a recharged offense, we could see vintage Tate on Sunday.
12 – Dontrelle Inman
Dontrelle Inman: So hot right now. Signed off the street midseason, Inman has become a reliable target for Andrew Luck. With touchdowns in three straight games, he has become a weekly factor, and has caught an impressive 13 of 15 targets in that stretch. The touchdown run will of course end at some point, but it would be no surprise if it was extended to four games against an overmatched Kansas City secondary.
13 – Michael Gallup
Gallup has quietly made strides over the back half of the season. Volume in the Dallas passing offense beyond Amari Cooper is always a concern, but Gallup has earned 14 targets over the past 3 weeks and is one of the better third-tier options on the slate.
14 – Sammy Watkins
This is a total roll of the dice given Watkins – assuming he plays – is coming off an awfully long layoff. Still, any Chief gets a look if they’re set up for any sort of role. Watkins proved to be a steady WR3 when healthy this year and is a clear upgrade on Demarcus Robinson and the other Chiefs secondary receivers.
15 – Chris Hogan
Maybe Hogan can heal some broken hearts from his status as a regular season bust. More likely not, but hey, he did receive 11 targets in the finale against the Jets. Maybe the Patriots are desperate enough for playmakers they will turn to Hogan.
Sal Leto (@LetoSal), Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23), and Rob Willette (@RobWillette24) are freelance contributors for the SportsHub Games Network, Inc., Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Games Network and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.