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.
T.Y. Hilton vs. Antwon Blake – In DFS, the process of rostering a player immediately following a big-game is referred to as “chasing points”. Unless there is a strong accompanying reason, due to an inevitable increase in ownership, this practice is common but typically ill-advised for GPPs. That term could qualify here, considering Hilton exploded for six catches, 95 yards, and two touchdowns last week. However, this week, Hilton is an attractive option primarily because he’s expected to spend the majority of his time running routes against the Steelers’ Blake. Hilton has run 47 percent of his routes lined to his quarterback’s right, while Blake, Pittsburgh’s starting left corner, has manned that side of the field on 63 percent of his snaps in coverage.
Blake, grading out as our second-worst corner in coverage, is just a Brandon Browner-benching away from being the worst starting corner in the league. To date, he’s given up the most receptions (61), the most yards (820), and the fourth-most touchdowns (6) to opposing wide receivers. Among all corners to play at least 50 percent of their snaps, he’s allowing the ninth-highest completion percentage (69.3) and the 10th-worst QB Rating (111.9) on all balls thrown into his coverage. Over his last three games, Blake has given up 17 receptions, 252 yards, and four touchdowns (on 26 targets).
He has routinely given up big plays all season, having given up longs of 38, 44, 49, and 80. Hilton, meanwhile, is one of the league’s most explosive play-makers and elite deep-threats. He has recorded longs of 43, 46, 48, and 87. Blake is also leading all corners in missed tackles with 23 (the next-closest only has 15). Despite last week’s performance and the soft matchup this week, Hilton’s price has not gone up. He makes for a very attractive GPP option this week, despite the likelihood that he will be highly-owned come Sunday.
Eric Decker vs. Trevin Wade – Decker has quietly been one of fantasy’s most dependable options this season, having caught eight touchdowns in just ten games thus far. Since Week 7, he ranks seventh in the league in targets. His receiving counter-part, Brandon Marshall, ranks fourth in targets over that same span. This week, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets get set to take on two of the league’s best outside corners in the Giants’ Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Both rank among our top-30 highest-graded corners. Luckily for Decker, however, he should expect to avoid them both on the 66 percent of snaps he typically plays from the slot. This is when he will instead face off against Giants’ struggling slot corner, Trevin Wade.
While the Giants have been terrific at defending the pass on the outside (when their starting corners have been healthy), they’ve struggled mightily against slot receivers and tight ends. Wade hasn’t helped in this regard. For the season, he’s given up 28 receptions, 350 yards, and two touchdowns (on 37 targets). He’s allowing the 12th-highest QB Rating (122.6) and the 10th-highest completion percentage (75.7%) on targets in his coverage. Decker also has an advantage of five inches and 24 pounds over Wade. While it is possible that one of Rodgers or Amukamura shadows Decker in the slot, I’m not sure it would make much a difference. Over the past two seasons, both corners combined to play just 45 snaps from the slot. On those 45 snaps, they have not been terribly effective, giving up nine catches, 106 yards, and two touchdowns (on 11 targets). Regardless of whom Decker opposes in the slot this week, he’ll have a major advantage.
A.J. Green vs. Joe Haden – Following last week’s two-touchdown performance against the Rams, Green now ranks as fantasy’s No. 10 receiver. Green is a good bet to follow-up last week’s impressive performance with another productive game this week against Cleveland’s Haden. While Green ranks among our top-10 highest-graded receivers, Haden ranks among our bottom-10 lowest-graded corners. The two should match up quite a bit this week, as Green has run 42 percent of his routes lined to Dalton’s right, while Haden, as Cleveland’s starting left corner, has manned that side on 58 percent of his routes in coverage.
Haden has struggled tremendously this season. In just five games, Haden has given up 25 receptions, 387 yards, and four touchdowns (on 31 targets). Among all qualifying corners, he has given up the most fantasy points per snap and the second-most fantasy points per target. When targeted, Haden is giving up a near-perfect QB Rating of 158.2, which ranks worst in the league. His completion percentage of 77.4 percent ranks seventh-worst in the league. Green also has a five-inch height advantage on Haden.
Haden has also missed three straight games with a concussion and is questionable for Sunday’s game. His stand-ins, Pierre Desir and Charles Gaines, have not been effective either. The two corners have combined to give up nine receptions, 206 yards, and a touchdown (on 12 targets) in just three games. Keep an eye on Haden’s status once we get closer to Sunday. If Haden does play, Green’s already-high-ceiling rises among the top at the position.
Brandin Cooks vs. Josh Norman – Although Cooks had struggled to begin the season, since Week 5, he’s been great, ranking ninth at the position in fantasy points. This week, we expect Carolina’s top corner, Norman to shadow Cooks. Norman has already shadowed DeAndre Hopkins, Vincent Jackson, TY Hilton, Davante Adams, and Dez Bryant this season. While Cooks has played well, Norman has played at an unbelievable level. In fact, he’s been the best corner in the league by a sizable margin.
Despite covering some of the league’s top receivers, Norman ranks as our No. 1-graded corner. In 11 games thus far, he has been targeted 65 times and has allowed just 31 receptions, 266 yards, and a touchdown, while intercepting four passes. He has not given up more than 49 yards in any game this season. This is all the more remarkable when you realize he’s also 11th among all corners in snaps. Opposing quarterbacks average a QB Rating of just 38.4 when targeting Norman, which leads all corners. Norman is giving up the fewest fantasy points per target and the third-fewest fantasy points per snap to opposing receivers. Cooks’ one saving grace is that he lines up in the slot 29 percent of the time, and Norman does not cover the slot. However, that is still not enough to make up for all of the routes Norman will shadow on the perimeter. Cooks makes for an easy fade this week.
Stevie Johnson vs. Chris Harris Jr. – Coming off of a big game last week, Johnson is sure to disappoint this week. This season, Johnson has run 86 percent of his routes out of the slot, while Harris Jr. leads the Broncos with 60 percent of his coverage snaps assigned to the slot. Last year, Harris Jr. graded out as our No. 1 corner in coverage and gave up the second-fewest fantasy points allowed per snap. This season, he currently ranks as our No. 3-graded corner and is giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points per snap. Over his last three games, Harris Jr. has given up just 42 total yards on 10 targets. He has the 17th-best QB Rating (71.4) among corners and he has not allowed a single touchdown to his coverage all season. We seem to write up Harris Jr. each week, and not without good reason – he hasn’t let us down yet. Johnson, in turn, should obviously be faded this week.
Stefon Diggs vs. Richard Sherman – Despite not earning his first start until Week 6, Diggs is leading his team in targets (55), receptions (40), and yards (604). Diggs also grades out as our No. 10 receiver over that same span. As impressive as that is for the fifth-round rookie, he’ll likely be a non-factor this week against the Seahawks. We have Sherman, our No. 14 overall corner, projected to shadow Diggs this week. Thus far, Sherman has shadowed A.J. Green, Torrey Smith (twice), Dez Bryant, and Antonio Brown this season. Those receivers were targeted a combined 22 times while Sherman was covering them, and on those 22 targets they combined for just nine catches, 103 yards, and zero touchdowns. Sherman is allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per snap and has the 19th-best QB Rating against (73.3). Diggs, whose production has also declined over the past month, should be avoided this week.