It wasn’t that long ago that fantasy players everywhere were contemplating dropping Brandin Cooks. However, since Week 5, he has 39 targets – that ranks 10th among all wide receivers. He’s seen 9+ targets in each of his past four games. Will Fuller is still the Texans’ top wide receiver, but Deshaun Watson’s production has exploded since the departure of Bill O’Brien from Houston as he’s thrown for an average of 316 yards per game over the past five weeks. This week, the Texans face the Browns who have been prone to giving up big plays in the passing game all year and have given up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. The Texans’ poor defense makes it so they’re constantly in a passing game script and this week should be no different, so Cooks is a borderline must-start option for me.
The continued involvement of J.D. McKissic in the Washington offense has been a thorn in the side of Antonio Gibson managers all year, especially as McKissic is the clear passing down back – he had 9 receptions last week. However, both Washington running backs should be startable flex options this week as they face the Lions who have given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this year. Gibson had a disappointing 6-carry output last week, but he did rush for his fifth touchdown of the season. Alex Smith has all week to get ready to start under center for Washington and I expect them to field a more balanced offensive attack. Gibson is a very attractive flex option this week and he should succeed regardless of how much of the passing game work McKissic takes from him.
It’s really baffling that there still seems to be a debate as to who the top receiver in Pittsburgh is – whenever Diontae Johnson has actually been healthy, he’s seen 10+ targets in every game. It’s been an up-and-down year for Johnson but he seems to finally be past some nagging injuries he was dealing with early on this year. Johnson provides big-play upside as well as a very consistent target share as he’s entrenched as Pittsburgh’s top wideout. The Bengals have allowed the tenth-most passing yards per game this season and I do expect the Bengals to make enough plays early on to keep the Steelers airing the ball out all game. Johnson is a must-start WR2, but I wanted to include him here to make sure nobody is benching him this week.
In Drew Lock’s first career 300+ yard passing game, Jerry Jeudy had a bit of a breakout against the Falcons as he finished with 7 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown – the best output of his rookie season. It’s been a slow start to his professional career, but rookie receivers often explode over the second half of the season after taking the first half to get their legs under them. Jeudy is a phenomenal talent who was drafted in the first round for a reason and we’re finally seeing it come to fruition. This week, the Broncos play the Raiders who have allowed the 7th-most passing yards per game and have an underwhelming set of cornerbacks. Jeudy has 10+ targets in each of the past two games and is entrenched as Denver’s top wideout, so he should be started this week.
With George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne all injured, the Niners are in desperate need of some production from their skill players. Luckily, Brandon Aiyuk is set to make his return to the field this week and he should be set for a big game. Aiyuk and Samuel were removed from the COVID-19 IR list, but Samuel is still dealing with a hamstring injury that has him doubtful for this week. The last time we saw Aiyuk on the field, he had 8 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. He also has a couple of rushing touchdowns this year and we know Kyle Shanahan loves his speedy receivers making plays in the backfield. Against the Saints who have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, Aiyuk should provide both a strong floor and high upside.
After dealing with some nagging injuries early in the season, John Brown finally broke out of his slump last week as he exploded with 8 catches for 99 yards against the Seahawks. Seattle is allowing the most passing yards per game by a significant margin, so it’s hard to know if we’ll see him continue to excel, but I’m banking on that game ending up as a turning point for his season. The Cardinals have been middle-of-the-pack against wide receivers, but I’m expecting this to be a high-scoring game and Brown has game-breaking speed and big-play ability. His baseline may not be the best, but it’s hard to find a better ceiling for your flex spot on the waiver wire this week.
This is my deep-league dart throw of the week, and I think there’s reason to believe Reynolds could end up with one of his best games of the season. Cooper Kupp is dealing with lingering wrist and oblique injuries, and while I do think he plays this week, that could lead to more time on the field for Reynolds. Regardless, the Rams face the Seahawks’ defense that is on pace to allow a historic number of passing yards this season. Seattle has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers by a sizable margin and is dealing with injuries to a number of typical defensive starters. Reynolds has seen 8+ targets over the past two weeks and has averaged 12.1 PPR points over the past three weeks. With his involvement rising a bit and the Seahawks’ defense providing the Rams with plenty of easy passing opportunities and the need to air the ball out all game, this could be the perfect storm for Reynolds.