Midseason Wide Receiver Heat Check: Buying Devin Funchess & Amari Cooper

by Andrew Persanyi ·

The midpoint of the NFL season is the optimal time to look ahead and scan the trade market for wide receivers. Using PlayerProfiler’s metrics and Rotoviz’s Buy Low Machine, we will forecast which wide receivers will profit from favorable match ups, and who will flop in the second half based on advanced stats, metrics, and analytics profiles.

Buy: Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers

With Kelvin Benjamin shipped off to Buffalo and Greg Olsen on IR, Devin Funchess is a virtual lock to monopolize the targets in Carolina. Recently, Funchess has been ineffective with his opportunities, connecting with Cam Newton on only 39.1-percent of his targets in the last three games. However, Funchess’ target share is about to skyrocket, and his volume uptick should compensate for any efficiency woes moving forward.


With Kelvin Benjamin’s exit, Carolina loses a viable red zone weapon. His 36.4-percent End Zone Target Share was top 15 among wide receivers. Devin Funchess boasts ideal size for a wide receiver and should easily fill in as Cam Newton’s go-to end zone target throughout Greg Olsen’s absence. Moreover, Funchess has one of the easiest second-half schedules among wide receivers, including games against Tampa Bay, New York (Jets) and Green Bay.

Sell: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

If you held T.Y. Hilton for this long, don’t bother waiting for a resurrection. He’s currently posting meager 10.8 fantasy points per game (No. 41). Any intriguing aspects of Hilton’s future evaporated as the trade deadline passed. Andrew Luck is shut down for the season. Hilton is stuck with the inept Jacoby Brissett, who ranks No. 25 in Total QBR.

T.Y. Hilton Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

T.Y. Hilton has not been on the same page with Jacoby Brissett at all this season. Only 68-percent of Hilton’s targets have been catchable (No. 70), and Brissett is targeting Jack Doyle at a higher rate than Hilton. Additionally, Brissett’s 25.0-percent deep ball completion percentage (No. 28) is not compatible with Hilton, who ranks No. 6 in total Target Distance. Not only is his offense incompetent, but Hilton also has a grueling schedule ahead. In his next four games, Hilton faces Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, and Denver later on in the fantasy playoffs. At this point, take whatever you can get for him.

Buy: Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders

One of the great mysteries early in 2017 was Amari Cooper‘s disastrous inefficiency. Before his Week 7 breakout game, RotoViz’s Ben Gretch solved the case. He pointed out that Cooper appeared on the injury report in the first six weeks of the season. In his first game absent from the injury report, Cooper exploded for 11 receptions, 210 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Now that Cooper is fully healthy again, he is a buy-high.


As awful as Amari Cooper was through the first six weeks, he still earned massive volume. His 68 targets (No. 6) propelled Cooper to compile 182 yards after the catch (No. 9). Even alongside Michael Crabtree, Cooper’s volume is secure on the high volume Oakland offense. Another proponent of Cooper’s turnaround will be Derek Carr‘s continued efficiency. Carr currently ranks top 10 in Production Premium and True Completion Percentage. If you aren’t sold yet, consider that Cooper has a +1.59 (No. 6) schedule strength, especially with playoff match ups against Kansas City, Dallas and Philadelphia. When an efficient quarterback feeds copious targets to a player with a 92nd-percentile College Dominator Rating, fantasy points will ensue.

Sell: Houston Wide Receivers

Deshaun Watson mystified his doubters this season, propelling DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller to over 20 fantasy points per game, respectively. Unfortunately, Watson’s recent torn ACL renders both Fuller and Hopkins back to their unproductive plights we witnessed in 2016 when Brock Osweiler was the quarterback. You may be wondering the difference between Osweiler and Tom Savage. Taking a glance at their career stats, we see that they are actually quite comparable.

Brock Osweiler & Tom Savage Career Stats (Via Pro Football Reference)

With these numbers in mind, we should view both Fuller and Hopkins as a much less reliable fantasy options. With Osweiler at the helm last season, Hopkins was barely a WR3 (No. 35 in fantasy points per game), while Fuller scored an unimpressive 8.7 fantasy points per game (No. 67). Beyond that, Houston wide receivers have a -0.97 schedule strength (No. 25). Your best bet is to sell both players while the prolific fantasy output is fresh in everyone’s minds.

Buy: Ted Ginn, WR, Saints

Ted Ginn is one of the most efficient wide receivers in the NFL. When paired with Drew Brees, Ginn has unlimited upside. Against Ginn’s two easiest opponents, Green Bay and Detroit, he delivered WR1 performances. Ginn is certainly matchup reliant, but with a 1.08 (No. 10) schedule strength, Ginn is primed to light off fireworks against vulnerable secondaries.


Ginn has limited competition threatening his target share. Willie Snead has been a complete non-factor in the offense, and Coby Fleener has posted a snap share less than 30-percent in four of his last five games. Now is your last chance to acquire Ginn, as he is locked and loaded to breakout against a weak Tampa Bay defense allowing 9.87 (No. 1) fantasy points above the mean.

Sell: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals

The Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald connection has inspired senior citizens across the nation. Fitzgerald posted a 15.4 (No. 11) fantasy points per game in 2016, and was well on his way to another WR1 season until Palmer broke his arm.

Larry Fitzgerald Game Splits (Per RotoViz)

Now, with Drew Stanton under center, Fitzgerald’s second-half outlook is looking grim. On top of that, Fitzgerald’s -1.46 schedule strength is No. 25. Even with Fitzgerald’s incredible career longevity, he will be unable to produce on Arizona’s new, anemic offense.