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.
Danny Amendola vs. Kareem Jackson
Since Julian Edelman went down in the early second quarter of Week 10, Amendola has filled in amicably, amassing 32 targets, 23 receptions, 239 yards, and a touchdown, in just 10 quarters of play. Amendola has run 84 percent of his routes from the slot. On the outside, the Patriots have struggled, with Brandon LaFell and Keshawn Martin combining to catch just 52 percent of their targets. Houston’s secondary, meanwhile, is at its strongest on the outside. Starting left corner, Johnathan Joseph, is our No. 4-graded corner in coverage and their starting right corner, Kevin Johnson, hasn’t allowed more than 59 yards to his coverage dating back to Week 7.
Luckily for Amendola, the clear weakness in Houston’s secondary has been their starting slot corner, Jackson. Jackson grades out as our 27th-worst corner in coverage and, in just eight games this season, has yielded 32 receptions, 391 yards, and three touchdowns on only 45 targets. His QB Rating against is 110.5, ranking 29th-worst among corners. His 71.1 percent catch rate ranks 19th-worst. He’s allowing the 12th-most fantasy points per target and the eighth-most fantasy points per snap. This weekend, Amendola makes for a strong play in both cash and GPP games.
Jarvis Landry vs. Trevin Wade
Last week, Landry totaled just 2.5 points on DraftKings. The week prior, he scored 38.5. This week, Landry is set up perfectly as a great low-owned high-upside tournament option up against a Giants defense that is allowing the most passing yards per game. While the Giants are strongest on the outside, with both Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ranking among our top 32-graded corners in coverage, starting slot corner, Wade, has struggled mightily. This bodes well for Landry, who has run 72 percent of his routes from the slot.
For the season, Wade has given up 30 receptions, 371 yards, and two touchdowns, on just 39 targets. His QB Rating against, 122.9, ranks 13th-worst among corners and his catch rate of 76.9 percent ranks seventh-worst. He’s giving up the seventh-most fantasy points per target and the 11th-most fantasy points per snap. Last week, Eric Decker, who runs 66 percent of his routes from the slot, totaled eight catches for 101 yards against the Giants. Landry is set up nicely to have a big rebound game and makes for an attractive GPP-play.
Sammy Watkins vs. Eric Rowe
Over the past two weeks, Watkins ranks sixth in fantasy points, despite ranking 35th in targets. Among all receivers expected to start this week, he ranks second in fantasy points per route run. Despite the surprisingly few opportunities he’s been getting, Watkins is in a prime position to again make the best of any targets he gets this weekend. Philadelphia is yielding the most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers and are without their top-graded corner, Nolan Carrol.
In his absence, second round rookie, Rowe, is expected to make his second career start. Under Chip Kelly, the Eagles do not shadow, so this matchup should be fairly straight forward. Rowe, the new right corner, is expected to cover Watkins for the majority of the game, seeing as how Watkins has run 58 percent of his routes from Bradford’s left. Over the past two weeks, Rowe has allowed 11 receptions, 129 yards, and two touchdowns to receivers in his coverage. Rowe is giving up the fifth-most fantasy points per snap to opposing receivers. Watkins should make the most of this lop-sided matchup and should be a top play in GPPs.
Julio Jones vs. Josh Norman
Jones is our No. 2-graded receiver this season and leads all receivers in targets, receptions, yards, and fantasy points. Jones is playing at elite level, but Carolina’s top corner, Norman, has been even better. Norman is expected to shadow Jones this week, in what looks to be one of the most-exciting wide receiver vs. cornerback matchups yet. Unfortunately, due to the difficult matchup, Jones should be faded in (at least) cash games.
If anything I’ve just said seems to be controversial, you haven’t been paying attention this season. Norman is the best cover-corner in the league right now, grading out as our No. 1 corner in coverage since Week 3. In 12 games thus far, he has been targeted 70 times and has allowed only 33 receptions, 296 yards, and a touchdown to opposing receivers, while intercepting four passes. He has not allowed more than 49 yards in any game this season. This is all the more remarkable when you realize he’s also 9th among all corners in snaps. Opposing quarterbacks average a QB Rating of just 39.9 when targeting Norman, which leads all corners. He’s allowing just 47.1 percent of targets in his coverage to go for receptions, which ranks fourth-best among corners.
Last season, Norman shadowed Jones twice. Norman shut down Jones in both games, holding him below 60 receiving yards and without a touchdown in both games. Jones’ one saving grace is that, this season, he’s lined up in the slot 29 percent of the time, while Norman has covered the slot receiver on just seven snaps this season. That said, Jones should still be faded in cash and likely in GPPs – unless you suspect his ownership will more than reflect the difficulty of this matchup.
Tavon Austin vs. Darius Slay
Austin is the No. 28 receiver in fantasy, but has been a risky high-volatile play all season due to the fact that a whopping 36 percent of his fantasy production has come from special teams and rushing production. Austin becomes an even riskier play this week up against the Lions’ top corner, Slay. We expect Slay to shadow Austin, just as he’s shadowed Jeremy Maclin, James Jones (x2), and Amari Cooper earlier this season. Whereas Austin’s receiving skills grade out 90th among 119 qualifying wide receivers, Slay is our No. 8-graded corner in coverage (out of 116). Slay has been unstoppable lately, yielding just four receptions and 35 yards on 13 targets over the past five games. Since Week 8, he’s allowing the fewest yards, the lowest completion percentage (30.8%), and the third-best QB Rating against (40.2). Austin makes for an easy fade in both cash and GPP games.
Jeremy Maclin vs Jason Verrett
Maclin has been the No. 3 fantasy receiver over the past two weeks. During that time, he’s caught 18 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns. However, three weeks ago, he caught just three balls for 29 yards. That week, he was shadowed by Verrett on 21 of his 32 pass routes. This week, we expect Maclin to be shadowed again by Verrett, and so, he should be downgraded accordingly. Verrett is our No. 5-graded cover corner, and over the last three weeks, was targeted 24 times, allowing only 14 receptions, 133 yards, and a touchdown, while intercepting one pass. In those three games, he shadowed Maclin, Allen Robinson, and Emmanuel Sanders on the majority of their pass routes. Given the difficulty of this week’s matchup, Maclin should be avoided in all cash games.