In PFW's late-week fantasy tips for wide receivers, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown should be stellar, Andre Johnson is due to bounce back and Robert Meachem is steadily on the rise.
Steelers WRs Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are strong plays against a porous Tennessee defense on Thursday night. Twelve of the 21 touchdowns surrendered by the Titans have been through the air.
Chargers WR Robert Meachem finally got on the scoreboard last week, and he reached the endzone twice. It’s been slow for the newcomer to establish himself in San Diego’s offense, but last Sunday’s game should give fantasy owners some confidence. Meachem will still be behind Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd, and even Ryan Mathews in targets, but he could be worthy of a flex start in a game that should be high-scoring.
Texans WR Andre Johnson is not often neutralized, but that was the case in Week Five against Jets CB Antonio Cromartie, who limited the Pro Bowl wideout to one catch for 15 yards. Johnson not only struggled to create separation, he actually had a rare drop, leading him to say this week that his biggest issue right now is not capitalizing on his opportunities. He will have a golden opportunity in Week Six, facing the Packers, who were shredded through the air by the combination of Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck and savvy veteran WR Reggie Wayne. The Colts clearly tried to attack Packers CB Sam Shields and aging S Charles Woodson, and the Texans will likely look to get Johnson in favorable matchups against Woodson, too. Though quiet in recent weeks, Johnson should be a solid play.
Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins saw a season-high 13 targets in Week Five, but he caught just five passes for 47 yards in the loss to Miami. Nevertheless, the volume of opportunities is encouraging, and he’s not a bad play in bigger leagues this week, especially those that start three WRs or more. In his first meeting against Cleveland, Hawkins scored a highlight-reel 50-yard TD.
Lions WR Titus Young (knee) missed practice on Wednesday. With just 16 targets and one TD (on a deflected Hail Mary in Week Three), Young hasn’t exactly been the breakout player some thought he would be. He’s probably best left on the bench against a strong Philadelphia secondary in Week Six.
Browns WR Josh Gordon caught but two of the eight passes thrown his way in Week Five, but both were touchdowns, and with WRs Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin both dealing with hamstring injuries, Gordon could again see quite a bit of playing time Sunday against Cincinnati. The Bengals' pass defense hasn’t been exceptional this season, so Gordon isn’t a horrible flier play in very big leagues.
With WR Danny Amendola out of the mix with a separated shoulder joint after accounting for about 40 percent of the Rams’ passing offense up to now, the best advice would be to steer clear of what most close observers envision as a very collective effort at wide receiver in Amendola’s absence, involving WRs Brandon Gibson, Chris Givens, Steve Smith and Austin Pettis, among others. But if you like to gamble, probably the best bet to make his fantasy presence felt in this group would be Givens, a fourth-round rookie who has averaged 28 yards a catch on four receptions this season, including an eye-opening 51-yard TD catch against the Cardinals last week. The resilient Gibson, who has started all season, is probably the second-best bet.
Titans WR Kenny Britt declared this week that he felt as comfortable and confident in practice as he has since the season began. Certainly good news for a player with his skills, coming off multiple knee surgeries. However, Britt’s comfort level has not been evident on the field, as he caught just two balls for 23 yards against the Vikings Sunday, after sitting out the week before with an ankle injury. The Titans host a Steelers squad tonight that ranks third in the NFL in pass defense. Though the Steelers will be without two of their best defenders, S Troy Polamalu and Lamar Woodley, Britt is not a great fantasy play, given his slow start and the lack of consistency and explosiveness in the Tennessee passing game, which will again be led by veteran Matt Hasselbeck.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said he “fully anticipates” WR Darrius Heyward-Bey to play in Week Six vs. the Falcons. Heyward-Bey, who was carted off the field on a stretcher after suffering a concussion on a vicious hit in Week Three, was a full participant in practice Wednesday and appears likely to start opposite Denarius Moore. However, the Raiders will be looking to jumpstart their running game vs. Atlanta’s 27th-ranked run defense and Heyward-Bey is worthy of a start only as a No. 3 WR/flex play in deep formats this week.
Cowboys WR Miles Austin (hamstring) was a full participant in practice. This is just a nagging injury but nothing serious; he will be good to go.
Vikings WR Jerome Simpson is battling lower back and foot injuries and did not practice Wednesday. At this point, he is dicey. Circle back Sunday, but be prepared for his absence against the Redskins. Too bad — it’s a friendly matchup.
It’s looking more and more as if Hakeem Nicks will play against the 49ers. He’s a key figure for the passing game, which likely will have more success than the run against that defense. Despite his nagging foot injury, Nicks is a hard guy to sit — ever.