Written by Justin Macmahan - CEO on January 12, 2018

It’s the Divisional Round in the NFL Playoffs and we have a fun slate on PlayLine with four of the top wide receivers in action this weekend. This spotlight will help you decide how many yards you want to project for each of the following four receivers: Antonio Brown, Brandin Cooks, Julio Jones, and Michael Thomas. On paper, most of these guys have bad matchups, but the beauty of PlayLine is that you aren’t stuck rostering a couple of them and just hoping for the best. If you don’t like any of them you can just project them for low yardage totals. If you’ve never played on PlayLine and this isn’t sounding familiar to you, click here to go straight to the site and sign up. They have tons of free games so you can make a lot of money without ever risking anything. Without further ado, let’s begin with a discussion about Antonio Brown.
Buffalo ran 63.8 offensive plays per game in 2017, but ran 77 offensive plays against the Jaguars last week in the Wild Card game. Pittsburgh ran 69.9 plays per game at home in 2017 (which would be first in the NFL overall), and ran 80 offensive plays against the Jaguars in Week 5. Antonio Brown saw an incredible 19 targets and finished with 10 receptions for 157 yards. While he didn’t score a touchdown, you’d expect that with that kind of volume he would have a decent shot to score. Brown had 21 red zone targets this year which isn’t a ton, but he also has potential to score long touchdowns from outside the red zone. All in all a projection of around 100 yards and a touchdown makes sense for Brown. His 157 yard total in Week 5 is inflated by how many consecutive offensive plays the Steelers ran in the third quarter. That probably tired out the defense and caused Brown to rip off some chunk yardage. That being said, Brown is one the most cornerback independent receivers in the last decade. In some ways, it’s a good matchup for Brown because of how bad the matchups are for his teammates. He’s the only guy capable of getting open in coverage this difficult. Ben has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL at home throughout the last decade, and he should be forcing the ball to Brown the entire game whenever he drops back to throw. Hope that others project Brown for a below average game against Ramsey and Bouye while you project him for a solid outing.
The next receiver to consider on this slate is Brandin Cooks. Cooks has been a pretty predictable this season, and with an average-to-below-average matchup against Adoree Jackson this week, it doesn’t seem like it will be hard to get some points from Cooks’ receiving yard totals. You only have to be within 30 points, and we expect Cooks to finish around 50-90 yards. It’s not hard to project him for a total that will get you some points anywhere in that range, and that’s what we would recommend. Projecting Cooks for one or zero touchdowns is basically a toss-up. He scored 7 on the season and the Patriots are projected for over 30 points, so combined that makes it almost a 50/50 proposition whether he’ll score or not. Since it’s possible he scores two, you have the most downside protection by projecting one touchdown and ensuring at least a 25 point bonus. You also have the most upside as you’ll get 6 extra points if you’re right with one touchdown than if you’re right with zero touchdowns. No matter how you slice it, there’s no right answer here.
Next up we have Julio Jones. Projected for the highest ownership in salary-style DFS games, Jones is someone who will likely be projected for big numbers by the masses. This is an area where you could go contrarian and bank on solid performances from Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Neither of these cornerbacks are as bad as they’re made out to be. In fact, Darby has been one of the league’s best CBs outside of press coverage. If Julio catches a bunch of short passes, it probably won’t lead to a massive yardage total. Many people will be projecting him over 100 yards, but we will probably be looking to project him closer to the 50-100 yard range. That’s a pretty wide range, but Julio is a pretty volatile player. Ryan will likely look to feed him the ball, so projecting him any lower than 50 is probably a bad idea no matter how well Mills and Darby play. As for the touchdown projection, people are excited about Julio catching one last week due to his increased red zone involvement. He’s definitely capable of scoring, but he only scored in two games this season. Predicting him for 0 while most people project him to score could be a great contrarian move.
Lastly, we need to make a projection for Michael Thomas. While he’s averaged 80.9 receiving yards per game this year, we don’t think he’ll come close to that this week. His matchup with Xavier Rhodes is terrible, and in Week 1 he was held to just 45 yards. We think projecting him between 30-60 is the right move this week. Rhodes has held so many elite receivers to low yardage totals this year, so Thomas has very little upside. Projecting him for zero touchdowns is also a smart move here.
Good luck and have fun watching the divisional round games!

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