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The Top 25 NFL Deep Threats for Week 4

Heath explores air yards and injuries heading into Week 4.

Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

I wanted to spend a little time figuring out who is being targeted deep right now, using air yards as my guide. This is something I might engage in each weekend leading into Sunday’s games. I assume this overarching view will help me in multiple areas, including my daily fantasy formats and my season-long leagues.

Before we move further, I have to exclude a player. DeVante Parker ranks fourth in the NFL with 433 air yards through three weeks. His 21.6 aDOT is absurd. Of course, he only has six receptions on his 20 targets so far. The Miami offense is a hard pass for me. With some of this data, we have to use our good old common sense, eh? When you’ve lost NFL games by these scores—59-10, 43-0, 31-6—it’s pretty easy to have a ton of air yards as you’re chucking the rock trying to make something happen. The going shouldn’t get any easier against the Chargers today. Therefore, if you remove Parker from the equation, the top five receivers with regard to opportunity (air yards) so far are:

1 Keenan Allen (495)
2 Mike Evans (478)
3 Marquise Brown (466)
4 Julio Jones (373)
5 Kenny Golladay (373)

Keenan Allen has the most air yards in the league, but he gets there with an ordinary 11.8 aDOT. You can do that when you lead the NFL with a whopping 42 targets through three weeks. So it pays to not ignore volume. Most of us already know that, and we can mostly discern who the most popular receiver on a team will be in a given week, barring an injury or the opposing team having a glaring weakness to take advantage of. So don’t ignore your volume, okay? But here in this space, I want to see which receivers might get the ball deep in Week 4.

My general criteria was a minimum of 15 targets, but I included some notables who might see a bump for this week due to injuries. I’ll offer a quick thought on each player before wrapping it all up at the end.

1 Dontrelle Inman (19.7 aDOT) ***Only 6 targets but should start this week. Only 3K on DK
2 Will Fuller (18.2 aDOT) ***Home vs. a CAR pass def that only allows 4.2 NY/A (2nd in NFL)
3 D.K. Metcalf (17.8 aDOT) ***ARZ has allowed 9 passing TDs so far. Only MIA (10) is worse
4 Demarcus Robinson (17.6 aDOT) ***Only 12 targets but Tyreek Hill is still out
5 Mike Williams (17.4 aDOT) ***OUT, along with Virgil Green and probably Travis Benjamin
6 Marquise Brown (17.3 aDOT) ***Brown and Mark Andrews are the clear 1 and 2 for BAL
7 Mike Evans (17.1 aDOT) ***On the road vs. the Rams, coming off a huge game. Fade?
8 Devin Smith (15.5) ***Included him for now as Gallup still out. At NO fast track...
9 Terry “F1” McLaurin (15.3) ***Is a GTD for this week, but still tempting vs. NYG defense
10 Chris Conley (14.5) ***On the road at Denver. No thanks—not this week.
11 Marvin Jones (14.4) ***At home vs. Chiefs. Higher aDOT than Golladay was a surprise
12 Calvin Ridley (14.3) ***At home vs. TEN. TEN 3rd lowest pass yards allowed so far (569)
13 D.J. Chark (14.2) ***Not overly interested, but he’s the Jags receiver I like
14 Adam Thielen (13.9) ***A lower aDOT than Diggs, but more volume (Diggs only 12 tgts)
15 Chris Godwin (13.8) ***Same deal as Evans, on road vs. LAR. Tough task for Jameis IMO
16 Kenny Golladay (13.8) ***27 targets to Marvin Jones’ 19, lower aDOT is no big deal
17 Brandin Cooks (13.8) ***Cooper Kupp (6.7) and Robert Woods (10.1) aren’t deep threats
18 Robby Anderson (13.6) ***Not while Sam Darnold is out, nope
19 Tyrell Williams (13) ***TD catch in three straight, only a 17% target share (Waller at 30%)
20 John Brown (13) ***He’s the #1 for Josh Allen, but the Patriots and CB Gilmore is rough
21 Curtis Samuel (13) ***Can Kyle Allen keep it going against Houston’s pass rush? I say no.
22 Jarvis Landry (13) ***No David Njoku narrows the CLE offense—he had 9 targets in Wk 3
23 Preston Williams (12.9) ***Wed to Josh Rosen, no thanks
24 Julio Jones (12.4) ***30 targets so far, tied for 8th in NFL
25 DeAndre Hopkins (12.4) ***28 targets, tied for 10th in NFL

One note on Golladay and Marvin Jones is that Matthew Stafford appears to be in a lot of pain with his hip injury. This guy is a WARRIOR, having currently started in 131 straight NFL games (6th best mark all-time and 3rd among active QBs). I fully expect Stafford to play, but his risk of injury and/or ineffectiveness is pouring a little cold water on my Golladay love this week. I’m rolling Golladay out in season-long leagues, but tempering my expectations in DFS. The Lions have been easier to run on so far, with a robust 4.8 YPC allowed to opposing backs. Maybe it is time to pay more attention to LeSean McCoy for this week...

Remember when people worried all week about whether or not to go full Nelson Agholor on DraftKings? I split the difference on him, and that was a mistake. With so many injuries in the Chargers’ receiving group—and since they never throw to the tight ends, anyway—I’m using 100% Dontrelle Inman in my DK lineups this week. Just put him in there, and move on. It’s the right play IMO, and I don’t care what the result is.

Who are you guys playing today? Would a more refined version of this subject be helpful each week? We’ll see how useful it turns out to be. To clarify, guys like Inman (4%), Devin Smith (8%), Preston Williams (8%), and DeVante Parker (8%) are all guys who are free in fantasy leagues but who could pay dividends on one play for you in your Week 4 matchups. I know I poured cold water on the Dolphins to begin with, but some of you are in deep formats and garbage time points count, too.

Good luck in Week 4, and we’ll see which of these guys pop off for us!