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Advanced NFL DFS: Wide receivers & tight ends

We continue our breakdown of NFL DFS. In this section, we look at pass catchers, with definitions and some advanced strategy.

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DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans celebrates after catching a pass for a touchdown during the second half of a game against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium on November 21, 2019 in Houston, Texas. The Texans defeated the Colts 20-17. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

In daily fantasy football, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. For DFS, that means learning how to pick pass catchers, including wide receivers and tight ends.

Wide receivers, Tight ends


You know what these positions are is, but finding the best three or four for your lineup each week isn’t easy. We take you through the process.


Targets vs. Production

When researching pass catchers, you want them to get opportunities and if they haven’t been, they likely aren’t going to start unless there is an injury. Without targets, there are no receptions. But, once a player starts getting consistent targets, their production on those targets becomes an important factor.

If a player like DeSean Jackson doesn’t see a ton of targets, but shows consistency and production as a deep threat, you have to take notice. The trouble is, you’ll want a more volatile deep threat to prove he can do it with some consistency before using him, while a player that sees consistent targets is safer even if the upside doesn’t match a volatile deep threat.

Target share

A receiver’s target share is the percentage of the total targets on his own team. This gives you a good idea of just how favored a receiver is on his team. A good target share is 20 percent or higher. Of course, the percentage doesn’t show the number of targets or production on those targets. But, knowing a receiver is a quarterback’s favorite by a wide margin going into a game where the passing game has a good matchup and game script, you are on your way.

Red zone targets

The more red zone targets a receiver has, the more touchdowns he’ll have. It doesn’t take a data scientist to figure that out. You can also filter those targets down to inside the 10 yard line instead of 20, and get an even better sense of how a receiver is used near the goal line.

Offensive play calling

When looking at receivers, it’s good to know what his offensive coordinator will do in certain situations. Researching their run:pass ratio in certain situations is a good start. Sharp Football Stats is a good place to start. For receivers, we want players from teams that pass even when they are tied or ahead.

Cornerback matchups

We can’t always be sure how often a particular cornerback will be covering your wide receiver or potentially a tight end, but often we can take educated guesses. Much depends on if a defense plays zone or man and if they have a top corner who shadows the opponent’s top receiver. It’s fairly easy to fade a top wide receiver who is going against Stephon Gilmore, but it’s not always that easy. Pro Football Focus has the best matchup stats for cornerbacks and can help you find situations to avoid and others to target.