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.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Darrelle Revis – In what looks to be one of the most intriguing matchups of the season, we have the Jets’ Revis (our sixth highest-graded corner) expected to shadow Houston’s Hopkins (our sixth highest-graded wide receiver) for the majority of Sunday’s game. Hopkins is currently the No. 3 receiver in fantasy and is leading the league in targets (122). Revis, meanwhile, is allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points per target. When targeting Revis in coverage, quarterbacks are recording a QB Rating of just 44.3, which ranks third-best among corners.
The most fantasy points Revis has given up in coverage, in any game, has been 12.5. On average, he’s giving up just 6.2 fantasy points per game. Since Week 2, Revis has not allowed more than four receptions or more than fifty yards in a single game. He has only allowed one touchdown all year and has three interceptions. These numbers are even more remarkable when you consider the fact that he’s shadowed (on the majority of their snaps) six receivers among the top-30 in fantasy points per game. Hopkins is obviously great, but given his price and the capped-ceiling in a tough matchup against one of the game’s best corners, he’s best avoided this week.
Randall Cobb vs. Captain Munnerlyn – In back-to-back soft matchups against struggling corners, Cobb has caught just nine of 23 targets. Before that, he had not had a single double-digit fantasy performance since Week 3. Things won’t get any easier for Cobb this week against our eighth highest-graded corner in coverage, Munnerlyn. Cobb runs 93 percent of his routes from the slot, while Munnerlyn, functioning as Minnesota’s primary slot corner, covers the slot on 99 percent of his coverage snaps.
Since Week 2, Munnerlyn has not allowed more than four receptions or 57 yards in a single game, and he has not allowed a single touchdown all season. The most fantasy points Munnerlyn has given up in a single game is 10.5. Behind only Chris Harris Jr., Munnerlyn is our second highest-graded slot corner. Cobb faced off against Harris Jr. in Week 8 and left with just 27 total yards of offense (on seven targets). I expect a similarly disappointing performance from Cobb this week and will be avoiding in both cash and GPP games.
A.J. Green vs. Patrick Peterson – In what should be another exciting real-life matchup likely to frustrate fantasy owners, we have, Arizona’s Peterson (our seventh highest-rated corner in coverage) up against Cincinnati’s Green (our eighth highest-rated wide receiver by receiving grade). Peterson has shadowed in seven of his nine games thus far and will likely do so again against this week. Peterson has been tremendous this season, allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points per snap, the third fewest fantasy points per route run, and the fewest fantasy points per target against.
When targeted by opposing quarterbacks, Peterson is yielding an eighth-best QB Rating of just 56.6. Since Week 2, he has not allowed a single touchdown nor has he given up more than four receptions or 50 yards in a single game. All of this is made more impressive when we remember he’s shadowed the likes of Steve Smith Sr., Antonio Brown, and Calvin Johnson, among others. Although much will be made of Green’s career 17.99 fantasy point per game average away from Paul Brown Stadium (as opposed to his 11.38 average when at home), Green should be faded this week given the difficult matchup.
Ted Ginn vs. Chris Culliver – Culliver has been one of the corners we’ve been targeting all season, and for good reason. Among 110 qualifying corners, Culliver ranks 97th in coverage. Among all corners we expect to play a significant role this weekend, Culliver is giving up the most fantasy points per route (0.41) and the fifth most targets per route (0.22) in coverage. Over his last three games, Culliver has given up ten catches, 265 yards, and two touchdowns (on 17 targets). Opposing quarterbacks have a 132.3 QB Rating when targeting Culliver, which ranks ninth-worst among all corners.
Culliver expects to see a lot of Carolina’s primary deep threat, Ginn, this week. Ginn typically lines up to Newton’s left on 68 percent of his total routes, which, as the Redskins’ right corner, is where Culliver has spent 89 percent of his routes faced thus far. In just five games this year, Culliver has given up longs of 45, 48, and 60. Ginn, meanwhile, has posted longs of 37, 48, and 55. Among all receivers, Ginn has the third-highest average depth of target (19.5) in the league. Due to Ginn’s every-week big-play potential and Culliver’s susceptibility to big plays (and general overall ineptitude), Ginn makes for a top punt-play option this week.
Golden Tate vs. D.J. Hayden – After routinely being drafted among the top-20 receivers in season-long fantasy leagues, Tate has failed to produce a single top-20 fantasy week this season. As disappointing as Tate has been, few corners have been more disappointing than Hayden. In fact, only one (Brandon Browner) sports a lower coverage grade. This is good news for Tate, who has run 67 percent of his routes from the slot and will likely see a good amount of Hayden, who typically spends 62 percent of his coverage snaps assigned to the slot.
Among all corners, Hayden has given up the second most yards (611), the sixth most touchdowns (5), and is one of only 22 corners (out of 110 qualifying) with a completion percentage above 70 percent. He has given up the fifth most total fantasy points this season and has just twice given up fewer than 50 yards in a single game. If there were a time to take advantage of Tate’s $1,700 price drop from Week 1, it’d be this week as a contrarian play in the softest matchup he’s likely to face all season.
Nate Washington vs. Antonio Cromartie – Earlier this week, when asked how well he has played this season, Cromartie responded, “[I]t hasn’t been good.” We’d agree. Among all corners with at least 350 total snaps, he ranks ninth-worst in coverage and is giving up a league-worst QB Rating of 135.3. This juxtaposes nicely with the 44.3 QB Rating that Revis is allowing in coverage. With Revis shadowing Hopkins, Cromartie should stick to Washington for almost the entirety of Sunday’s game.
For the season, Cromartie has given up the third-most touchdowns (six) and the fifth-most fantasy points per route run (0.30). He is also dealing with a thigh injury he first suffered in Week 9. While he missed Week 10 against the Bills, he is expected to play this Sunday. Over his last two games, he has given up a whopping 10 receptions, 217 yards, and three touchdowns on only 14 targets. Washington, meanwhile, has quietly become a top-20 fantasy receiver from a point per game basis. While his fantasy ceiling is likely diminished by the returns of Cecil Shorts and Ryan Griffin, the matchup will hopefully be enough to make up for the difference. With the No. 1 target-hog in the NFL up against one of the league’s elite shut-down corners and Washington up against one of this season’s least-effective, it only makes sense that he should be able to siphon some targets away Hopkins. Up against a struggling and banged-up Cromartie, Washington makes for an intriguing high-upside contrarian play.