Based on this week’s matchups and projected shadow situations from Pro Football Focus, 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 daily fantasy slate.
Allen Robinson vs. Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright – Despite the difficult matchup last week, Robinson managed to put together an impressive performance. Robinson was shadowed by Darrelle Revis, our No. 6-rated corner, on 42 of Robinson’s 48 routes, and still managed to catch six balls on 11 targets for 121 yards. While only two catches and 50 yards (on seven targets) can be credited specifically to Revis’ coverage, it will still quite impressive given how stingy Revis is typically.
Robinson should have an easier time this week against a poor Baltimore secondary. He typically splits his time on the outside fairly evenly. To date, he’s spent 44 percent of his routes lined up to Bortles’ left and 43 percent of his routes lined to Bortles’ right. This means he should see Baltimore’s struggling outside corners, Smith and Wright, roughly 87 percent of the time on Sunday. Both corners rank among our bottom-40 corners in coverage (among 184 qualifying). For the season, Wright has allowed seven receptions for 178 yards and two touchdowns (on nine targets). In his last two games, Smith has allowed six receptions, 48 yards, and two touchdowns (on nine targets). Both Top 10 fantasy wide receivers this season, Robinson and Allen Hurns should have a field day against Baltimore. If Hurns, who is currently dealing with a foot injury, doesn’t play, there are few other options who match Robinson’s price and ceiling.
Amari Cooper vs. Xavier Rhodes – Cooper had a productive game last week, posting a 7-88-1 line, but was ultimately overshadowed by his fellow receiver, Michael Crabtree, who had a 7-108-2 line. I expect Cooper to have the bigger game this week against Minnesota’s Rhodes. There’s a chance Rhodes shadows in this contest, as he did so against both Calvin Johnson (twice) and Demaryius Thomas earlier in the season. However, he’s also the Vikings’ lowest-graded corner and has shadowed just once since the team’s Week 5 bye. If Rhodes were to shadow, it would likely be against Cooper, but it’s more likely Rhodes just sticks to his side this week. If that is the case, Cooper should face off against Rhodes in coverage on roughly half of his total routes.
Cooper typically lines up to Carr’s left on 53 percent of his routes, while Rhodes has lined up across from the opposing team’s left receiver on 80 percent of his routes. Rhodes has our fifth-worst grade among all corners we expect to play a major role this weekend. Excluding last week’s game against a dysfunctional St. Louis passing attack, Rhodes had given up 28 catches for 368 yards and five touchdowns in his last six games. Among 76 qualifying corners, when targeted, he’s giving up the fifth-worst QB Rating against (116.0). It’s no surprise then that quarterbacks are targeting him once every four routes he’s been in coverage. Cooper should have no problem getting the better of Rhodes this week and should be considered a top GPP play.
Randall Cobb vs. Quandre Diggs and Josh Wilson – Prior to last week, Cobb had not caught a touchdown or had a single game with more than seven targets or 45 receiving yards since Week 3. Last week, however, the Cobb breakout came (as we expected) against a Carolina team that has struggled against slot receivers. He was targeted 13 times, catching four balls for 99 yards, and a score. His prospects look good again this week against a Detroit Lions team that has had the same deficiency.
Over the past four weeks, Diggs and Wilson have been splitting time covering the slot. Cobb has run 92 percent of his routes from the slot. On 385 snaps, the two corners have combined to allow 32 catches (on 38 targets) for 405 yards and two touchdowns for the season. This would be good for the highest completion percentage in the league (84 percent) among all corners with at least 300 snaps. Despite last week’s resurgent performance and the attractive matchup this week, Cobb has somehow dropped in price from last week. He’s a top value this week and a good bet for both your cash and GPP lineups.
Doug Baldwin vs. Tyrann Mathieu – As you may have read elsewhere, Russell Wilson averaged 29.5 DraftKings points across two games against Arizona last season. If you were looking for a potential stacking option for his contest this week against the same team, you’ll need to do better than Baldwin. Baldwin recorded 23 targets through his first four games, but has only received 16 targets over his last four games. In addition to what appears to be a declining role, Baldwin has one of our toughest matchups of the week. Baldwin has spent 81 percent of his routes lined in the slot, while Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu lines up against the opposing team’s slot receiver on 92 percent of his routes faced. Over the last two weeks, Mathieu has been targeted 15 times, yet has only allowed 47 receiving yards. Behind only Carolina’s Josh Norman, Mathieu is our No. 2 overall corner in coverage this season. Baldwin makes for an easy fade this week.
Calvin Johnson vs. Sam Shields – Through Green Bay’s first six games, its secondary was allowing only 236.5 passing yards per game. Over the past two games, it has allowed 318.5 per game. Perhaps a big reason for the stark contrast in play has been the absence of their top corner, Shields. Shields played 11 snaps in Week 8’s loss to the Broncos before leaving with a shoulder injury. He missed all of last week’s game against the Panthers and is listed as ‘Questionable’ this week against the Lions.
Johnson typically lines up to Stafford’s left on 55 percent of his routes. Shields typically lines up across from the left receiver on 89 percent of his defended routes. Shields is currently our No. 16 overall corner in coverage. In his last 6.5 games, he’s been targeted 40 times, but has allowed just 23 catches, for 300 yards, and no touchdowns, while intercepting two passes. If Shields does not play, Johnson could be in for a monster game. If Shields does play, I’m not sure if it would exactly qualify as a major downgrade (Johnson is our No. 6 rated receiver), but Shield’s presence (or lack thereof) will play a major role in how much exposure to Johnson I’ll want this week.
Jarvis Landry vs. Malcolm Jenkins – Like with Johnson, an injury makes this situation somewhat murky for Landry. Landry, who currently ranks in the top-15 among receivers in targets and fantasy points scored, projects to spend most of his day against Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins, our No. 2-rated safety. Though he is a safety, he also serves as the Eagles’ primary slot corner. Landry typically runs 77 percent of his routes from the slot, while Jenkins has lined up against the slot on 97 percent of his snaps in coverage.
In terms of fantasy points given up, Jenkins had his worst game of the season last week, giving up four catches for 52 yards and two touchdowns (on four targets) to Cole Beasley. He also, apparently, suffered a concussion early in the second quarter and still managed to not miss a single snap the entire game. He was seen back at practice yesterday and is expected to play Sunday. Prior to last week, on the 35 targets he’s seen in coverage this season, Jenkins had allowed just 174 total yards receiving. If Jenkins does play, Landry, who is $400 more expensive than he was last week, should be downgraded slightly.