In PFW's late-week fantasy tips for wide receivers, Cecil Shorts is making too many big plays to leave on the bench, several rookie wideouts could be viable starters, and the Steelers' situation with Mike Wallace doesn't look promising.
Chad Henne has brought new life to Jacksonville’s passing attack, and both Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon have reaped major benefits. Shorts continues to be one of the league’s bigger surprises this season, and his electric 20.8 yards per catch and string of three consecutive games with a catch of at least 52 yards has elevated him to must-start status. Blackmon didn’t follow up his Week 11 explosion with another outburst, but his modest 62 yards on five catches is nothing to turn your nose up at, and he did find the endzone for the second consecutive week.
On the Steelers’ latest depth chart, WR Mike Wallace (one catch, nine yards in seven targets in Week 12) shares a starting spot with Emmanuel Sanders. Asked Tuesday how he will pick a starter, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin replied: “Situations.” Forgive fantasy owners depending upon Wallace for walking around dazed this week. Without more clarity, Wallace isn’t even a solid start should QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder, ribs) play in Week 13. In other Steelers news, Antonio Brown (ankle) is slated to return to the lineup on Sunday, and he’s clearly the top fantasy option at the position in Pittsburgh.
Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu is becoming a viable starting option in bigger leagues, especially those that start three wideouts or more. While Sanu has just 98 receiving yards in his last three games — which limits his upside in smaller leagues — he has at least one TD in each of those games, including a pair in Week 12 vs. Oakland. Note that all four of his scores were inside the red zone.
Lions WR Ryan Broyles is very playable in Week 13 vs. Indianapolis if he continues to hold the starting role vacated a week ago by Titus Young. Young, who didn’t play in Week 12 for disciplinary reasons, returned to the club on Wednesday, but it’s unclear what his role will be Sunday and going forward. Broyles did well with his opportunity in Week 12, catching six passes for 126 yards, strengthening his case for a key role in the offense down the stretch. If you have Broyles, wait for a little clarity on the issue before setting your lineup.
It will be fascinating to see what the firing of former Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer does for the Titans’ passing attack, led by Jake Locker. There were whispers from several of the Titans wideouts about not being used properly with Palmer calling the shots. Given the Texans’ recent struggles defending the pass — as well as the uncertainty surrounding top CB Johnathan Joseph’s availability because of a hamstring injury — plugging in any of Tennessee’s top three wideouts, Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright or Nate Washington, is an intriguing move this week.
Colts rookie WR T.Y. Hilton was Indianapolis’ main source of scoring a week ago, and he continues to carve out a nice role in the offense. Hilton returned a punt 75 yards for a TD against the Bills — as well as catching an eight-yard TD pass. More importantly, he returned to the game after absorbing a scary helmet-to-helmet blow on a punt return, and appears to be good to go this week. Hilton’s added value as a returner and occasional gadget runner makes him a solid WR3.
In his last three games vs. Pittsburgh, Ravens WR Anquan Boldin has hauled in 19 passes for 241 yards and a TD, including 8-79-0 in the Week 10 win at Pittsburgh. He’s a solid option in PPR formats.
Saints WR Lance Moore is worthy of a start as a No. 3 WR or flex player in deeper formats this week. He and the Saints visit the Falcons, who watched Moore make seven catches for 91 yards against them in Week 10, on Thursday night, and Atlanta could be without one of its starting cornerbacks, Asante Samuel (shoulder).
The Browns’ Josh Gordon is a viable starter in three-WR formats this week. The Raiders’ pass defense has struggled, surrendering 11 passing TDs in the past four games.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman has a receiving touchdown in each of the last two games. He’s a great open-field threat, as we’ve seen on special teams, and his role in the offense is increasing after the team cut Deion Branch and waived Greg Salas. Tom Brady will be attacking the Dolphins’ weaknesses at corner, and it’s not a deep position for Miami, so Edelman could get some extra looks on Sunday. Look for him as a No. 3 or flex WR in deeper leagues.
Brandon Lloyd’s numbers have tailed off since the first three weeks of the season, though he did have two touchdown catches in Week Eight. He’ll get his targets, but he faces a tough matchup with Dolphins CB Sean Smith, a matchup that Brady may look to avoid. Lloyd is still worth a start in most leagues, as the Patriots are the highest-scoring team in the league, but don’t expect big numbers.
Although Packers WR Greg Jennings has an impressive track record in games against the Vikings, you might want to wait a week before thrusting him back into fantasy action after missing seven games with a groin injury. Fellow Packers WRs Randall Cobb and James Jones would appear to be better fantasy options this Sunday vs. the Lions after not being overly involved at all in Green Bay’s offense last Sunday night in the loss to the Giants. Jennings had TDs in each of the games vs. Minnesota last season.
Vikings WR Percy Harvin practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and the signs were encouraging. You probably will have to go to Sunday morning on this one to see if he plays, but Harvin is a clear-cut lineup insertion if he does. They need him badly.
Even though Rams WR Danny Amendola defied the odds in Week 12 and was able to play despite being listed doubtful because of a heel injury suffered in Week 11, he is looking like a long shot to play this Sunday in the Rams’ rematch vs. the 49ers. Amendola was in a walking boot on the sideline in early practices this week and has not looked like he will be able to play this Sunday in the eyes of close observers. But the temptation to gamble that he still might play is understandable, considering the problems he gave Niners CB Carlos Rogers in the Rams’ 24-24 tie vs. the Niners. All Amendola did in that game was catch 11 passes for 102 yards and have an 80-yard catch in overtime and a 62-yard punt return wiped out by penalties.
Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (ribs) was placed on I.R. Jason Avant (hamstring) could be back, but a sleeper play might be Riley Cooper against the Cowboys. He caught a TD pass against the Cowboys in Week 10 and could play 40-plus snaps against them Sunday. Cooper’s knee appears fine; he practiced fully this week.
Chiefs WR Dexter McCluster (head) did not practice Wednesday and is probably a no-go Sunday against the Panthers.