The PFW staff brings you it’s late-week fantasy tips for wide receivers, including a tough situation for the Eagles’ star receivers as well as boosted stock for pass-catchers in New England.
Without Aaron Hernandez, Patriots QB Tom Brady is going to need to rely more on WRs Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Deion Branch, who re-signed this week. When Branch joined the Patriots midseason in 2010, he went 9-98-1 against the Ravens, the Pats’ opponent this week. Welker has not performed like a No. 1 fantasy receiver, and Edelman is a player to keep an eye on this week to see if he continues to see snaps and targets. How the offense moves the ball on Sunday night could be a predictor to which receivers for New England — outside Brandon Lloyd, who has been steady — are worthy fantasy options while Hernandez is on the mend.
The Giants surprised many when they announced WR Hakeem Nicks (foot) would be out for Thursday’s game against the Panthers. This is kind of bad news all around, as the Panthers can now do their best to clamp down on Victor Cruz and make others beat them.
It’s looking dicey for Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin to go Sunday at Arizona. His hip continues to bother him. Remember, last season when the Eagles lost to these Cardinals, they were down a starting wideout (DeSean Jackson) and it allowed the Cardinals to hone in on Maclin, holding him to two grabs for six yards on six targets. Jackson could face the same treatment Sunday, and he too is a little banged up with a balky hamstring.
There’s a good deal of buzz about Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins, and he’s definitely worth considering on waivers after racking up 142 yards (and a highlight-reel 50-yard TD catch vs. Cleveland) in the first two weeks. If Hawkins is not available, or if you’re in an even deeper league, Bengals WR Armon Binns might also have some appeal. Binns, who’s the starter opposite of A.J. Green, has caught 9-of-10 passes thrown his way for 94 yards.
Fantasy owners who figured Chargers WR Robert Meachem would be a solid No. 2 fantasy wideout for a team looking to replace Vincent Jackson cannot be pleased with early returns. Meachem had zero catches last week on four targets and two receptions against the Raiders in Week One. Be patient, though, as Meachem is clearly still getting used to the offense, and the good news is that his snaps significantly increased between the first two games. Sunday’s game against Atlanta has the potential to be a shootout, and Philip Rivers will need other options. Malcom Floyd is still the top receiver on this squad and should be in fantasy lineups, but don’t give up on Meachem, yet.
Colts WR Austin Collie (concussion) was cleared to practice on Wednesday, though not much should be made of that development considering Collie practiced early last week before suffering a setback and being inactive for the second straight week. No one really knows what to expect from Collie, thus he should be planted on your bench — if he’s even still on your roster — until further notice. However, the player who has seized an opportunity because of Collie’s health questions is Donnie Avery, who led Indianapolis in targets (10), receptions (9) and receiving yards (111) in the Week Two win over the Vikings. Avery could be in line for another big day Sunday, as he faces a Jacksonville “D” that is missing arguably its two best defenders. QB Andrew Luck has looked in Avery’s direction frequently the first two weeks, and we hear the wideout has really built on his strong offseason and could be ready to regain his 2008 pre-knee-injury form.
Titans WR Kenny Britt’s return from a one-game suspension was unmemorable, as the talented wideout was targeted just twice, resulting in one catch for five yards. Britt was on a snap count, however, and he should get more involved Sunday against the Lions. That is good news for Britt owners, as Detroit’s secondary, which has been decimated by injuries, has surrendered three TDs through the air the first two weeks. With Tennessee’s ground game remaining grounded, this could be the week Britt makes his presence felt.
Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi leads the club in targets (15), catches (eight) and receiving yards (131) through two games. He’s a player to watch if looking to upgrade your WR corps. Massaquoi has never been a consistent starter-caliber fantasy performer, but if he continues to get his volume of opportunities, he might be worth adding.
Lions WR Titus Young is off to something off a slow start this season, catching just two passes for 25 yards through two games. However, it may be best to be patient with him. He’s playing quite a bit (81-of-134 plays thus far, according to NFL stats), and he’s a legit field-stretching threat. Perhaps Young isn’t someone you can start with confidence just yet, but it’s also a little early to give up on him.
Redskins WR Pierre Garcon remains limited in practice with a foot and could miss his second straight game. If he’s out, the receiver who might see more time is Leonard Hankerson. He caught a long TD Sunday against the Rams, and the shaky performances of Aldrick Robinson (dropped long pass) and Joshua Morgan (losing his cool at game’s end) might elevate Hankerson’s stock. He’s a good waiver-wire pickup and a borderline start option for Sunday if you are short at receiver, have injuries or start three wideouts or a flex player.
There’s subtle evidence after being ignored in Week One that Chiefs WR Jon Baldwin might be a bigger part of the game plan going forward. He had three catches for 62 yards in Week Two. Now facing the Saints, Baldwin could be a great sleeper play for Week Three — but a gutsy one, no doubt. Best option: Add him to the roster before Sunday as a reserve and make a call after that.
If he’s available, Panthers WR Brandon LaFell is worthy of a waiver claim this week. He is 11th among wide receivers in fantasy points (24) heading into a Week Three meeting with the Giants, who are ranked 22nd vs. the pass and have allowed quarterbacks to produce a 103.7 passer rating through two games. LaFell merits consideration for a start as a No. 3 WR/flex in deeper formats.
A Rams receiver you might want to at least put on your fantasy radar screen is Austin Pettis, who will likely be making his first appearance of the season this Sunday in Chicago after serving a two-game suspension to start the season. Pettis really came on strong late in the preseason, and even though he will be sharing touches with a host of receivers, most notably Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, he could steadily move up the depth chart in the coming weeks, certainly more than rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens. Although it’s not a given, neither Quick nor Givens look like they will be fantasy factors any time soon.
Even though Michael Crabtree appears to be establishing himself as the Niners’ No. 1 receiver, don’t be surprised if Randy Moss, who caught only one pass for 14 yards and was in only 16 snaps last week vs. Detroit, bounces back with a big game against the Vikings, one of Moss’ old teams on which he had some major success. Moss had a TD in Week One, and according to daily team observers, he still appears to have plenty of gas left in the tank in daily practices. Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh has a flair for the dramatic, and it’s quite possible he could go out of his way to put Moss in the spotlight in his old Vikings stomping grounds.