Based on this week’s matchups and projected shadow situations, let’s take a look at three wide receivers we should be fading and three wide receivers we should be buying into for this week’s fantasy slate.
Randall Cobb vs. Richard Sherman – Where’s Jarrett Boykin when you need him? Unlike Week 1 of last season, Sherman will actually be covering a fantasy relevant wide receiver this time around. This is unfortunate for season-long owners who likely spent a high draft pick on Cobb and now might be thinking to look to their bench. In week-long fantasy leagues, it’s simple, spend your money elsewhere.
Cobb caught five passes for 38 yards and a touchdown last week and is admittedly playing at less than 100 percent after suffering a sprained AC joint during the preseason. Last season, among 78 qualifying corners, Sherman gave up the fewest fantasy points allowed per snap (0.080) and graded out as our number three overall corner, but for most of you I’m guessing pretty much everything I’ve said after ‘vs. Sherman’ has been redundant.
However, there is some cause for optimism with Cobb. Sherman only saw 19 snaps in the slot last year, which is where Cobb ran 501 of his 574 routes. Sherman played 13 of 59 snaps in the slot last week and was targeted once, giving up one reception for 22 yards. It was one of only two catches he allowed all game (on four total targets), the other going for just seven yards. It is possible Cobb gets the better of him this week, as Sherman will be spending the majority of this game in unfamiliar territory. Still, based on Sherman’s resume, Cobb is too risky for me to play in any cash games, and as novice DFS players rarely pay attention to 1-on-1 matchups, his ownership percentage will likely be too high to offer consideration as a contrarian play in GPPs.
Brandon Marshall vs. Vontae Davis – Marshall’s season long prospects look promising. Last week he led the team in targets, with nine, and caught six passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. This week, he figures to be shadowed by Davis and should not be in any of your lineups. Davis shadowed Sammy Watkins on all 23 of his routes last week and held him to zero catches on two targets. Last season he gave up the third fewest fantasy points allowed per snap (0.085) and ranked as our second-highest graded corner overall. With Eric Decker rated as having one of our easiest matchups of the week, there will be no reason for the Jets to try to force him the ball.
Steve Smith Sr. vs. TJ Carrie – This one might be a little less obvious, but I wanted to include it because I see a lot of fantasy analysts telling you to add Smith to your lineups this week. Last week the Oakland secondary gave up 269 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions to Andy Dalton. Smith’s price dropped $400 after a disappointing performance where he only caught two balls for 13 yards (on seven targets) and dropped a surefire touchdown in the final minutes of the game.
While Smith might be worth a look in a GPP or two, I’ll be avoiding him in all of my cash lineups. T.J. Carrie, the corner he’ll be facing Sunday, has been playing much better than one might expect from a former seventh round pick playing in only his second season. Carrie was our highest graded corner last week and will be lining up on the opposite side of our lowest graded corner, D.J. Hayden. On five targets, he allowed only two catches for a combined 24 yards. Physically the matchup isn’t in Smith’s favor either. At 36 years of age he’s more than lost a step and wins battles with physicality more than speed. That will be tough to do in this contest as Carrie has 20 pounds and three inches on Smith.
Eric Decker vs. Darius Butler – Decker’s price dropped by the third-largest margin ($900) among all receivers this week. After spending 86 percent of his snaps in the slot last week, he’s projected to go up against Darius Butler in Week 2. Butler, the Colts’ primary slot receiver, spent 56 percent of his snaps in the slot last week. Butler gave up six catches, 119 yards, and 1 touchdown on six targets on those snaps. In fact, he gave up the most fantasy points per route among corners we expect to play a significant role this weekend.
Out of 70 qualifying corners, Darius Butler received our 24th lowest overall grade last year and opposing quarterbacks averaged a 104.2 passer rating when throwing at Butler in slot coverage. Decker is 6’3” and 214 pounds. Butler is 5’10” and 188 pounds. As we mentioned earlier, shutdown corner Vontae Davis will likely shadow Brandon Marshall in this one. Outside of Marshall and Decker, the only non-RB on the Jets to catch a pass last week was journeyman Chris Owusu. Since joining the Jets, one out of every three of the team’s receiving touchdowns has been to Decker. If the Jets have any success in the passing game against the Colts this week, it will be to Decker.
Donte Moncrief vs. Marcus Williams – Moncrief saw his salary rise the most among all receivers this week but still presents a terrific value. The Colts’ clear No. 1 WR, T.Y. Hilton, was knocked out in the fourth quarter of last week’s game against the Bills and is questionable for Monday’s game against the Jets. Even with Hilton playing three quarters, Moncrief saw 74 percent of his team’s snaps. He also led all receivers (outside of Hilton) in targets with 11 and caught six passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Moncrief spent 68 percent of his snaps lined up to the left, while the Jets’ Marcus Williams dropped into coverage against the left receiver on 96 percent of his snaps last week. If Moncrief does indeed get to see Williams on the majority of his snaps, he’ll be in a good position for a big day. Williams is only receiving playing time due to injuries to Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner. He was tied for the third worst overall grade and gave up the second most fantasy points per snap among the top-three corners on each team. In 2014, Moncrief ran a 4.40 forty yard dash at the combine. That same year, Williams, who went undrafted, ran a 4.57 forty at his pro day. Moncrief also has three inches and 16 pounds on Williams.
Last week, Andre Johnson had only four catches for 24 yards on 10 targets and looked as bad and ineffective as he did last season. With Phillip Dorsett projected to spend the most time out of any Jets receiver against Darrelle Revis, Luck may have no choice but to force-feed the ball to Moncrief.
Sammy Watkins vs. Malcolm Butler – Watkins will likely have a low-ownership percentage this week after coming off of a miserable zero-catch, three-target performance. This poor performance has caused him to drop in price by $800, which seems to be an over-adjustment considering he’s going from one a tough matchup to a favorable one this week.
Watkins was shut down by Vontae Davis, who, as we mentioned earlier, received our second highest grade among cornerbacks last season. This week, he will be facing off against Malcolm Butler, who received our second lowest overall grade last week when he was in shadow coverage on Antonio Brown. Against Butler, Brown caught nine of 10 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. While Watkins isn’t likely to have the game Antonio Brown did against Butler last Thursday, he should make for an attractive GPP play.