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 fantasy slate.
Larry Fitzgerald vs. Josh Wilson – Fitzgerald is this year’s No. 2 scoring fantasy wide receiver, yet he’s just the 10th most expensive option at the position heading into Week 5. He’s also far and away the most efficient fantasy receiver on a per route basis. To date, he’s averaging 0.62 fantasy points per route (F/R). To put that in perspective, the next closest receiver is Julio Jones at 0.51 F/R. This week, Fitzgerald projects to spend the majority of his snaps lined up against Josh Wilson – the cornerback currently giving up the 14th most F/R (0.30).
Fitzgerald lines up in the slot on 63 percent of his snaps, which means a lot of time spent against Detroit’s primary slot corner, who plays 97 percent of his snaps from the slot. Out of 104 qualifying corners, Wilson has our 15th lowest coverage grade. Quarterbacks targeting him have an 83 percent completion percentage and a 114.9 QB Rating. Fitzgerald also has an advantage of six inches and 31 pounds on Wilson. Fitzgerald should be one of the most owned plays in both cash games and GPPs.
Julio Jones vs. Chris Culliver – Despite a four-catch, 38-yard performance last week, Jones remains the top wide receiver in fantasy. Last week wasn’t really his fault either. Falcons’ running backs had four rushing touchdowns in a game that was 42-0 in Atlanta’s favor to start the fourth quarter. It’s no surprise that the Falcons rested their star receiver, who ended the contest playing just 54 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. Against the Redskins, one may fear that this could happen again, but the matchup at least, should not be one of your concerns.
Jones lines up all over the field but spends the majority of his time (42 percent) lined up to the left, where Redskins’ corner, Chris Culliver spends 88 percent of his coverage snaps. Culliver is our 12th-lowest graded corner in coverage and is giving up the 11th most F/R (0.33). He’s also three inches shorter and 21 pounds lighter than Jones.
Washington’s secondary is also a complete mess right now. DeAngelo Hall remains out and backup slot corner Justin Rogers is on IR. Culliver missed practice the past two days, had an MRI on Wednesday, and is listed as questionable for Sunday. If a banged up Culliver starts, it’s an obvious mismatch. If Culliver sits, it’s an even bigger mismatch. Either way, if this game isn’t another massive blowout, Jones is worth paying up for – especially if his ownership dips after last week’s dud.
Jeremy Maclin vs. Kyle Fuller – Heading into Week 3, Maclin’s price on DraftKings was $6,000 and he was averaging less than 10 fantasy points per game. Heading into Week 5, his price remains at $6,000, but over the last two weeks, he has caught 19 passes for 289 yards, including a touchdown that was the first to a Kansas City receiver since 2013. Maclin extends our theme for the week, the chalk plays just keep getting chalkier.
Maclin primarily lines up to Alex Smith’s right (42 percent of the time), while Kyle Fuller lines up against the opponent’s right wide receiver on 86 percent of his snaps. Fuller currently sports our tenth lowest grade among corners in coverage after finishing dead last in 2014. Quarterbacks targeting Fuller have a 134.4 QB Rating. Maclin has one of the safest floors for cash games this week, with solid GPP-upside as well.
Amari Cooper vs. Bradley Roby – It didn’t take long for Amari Cooper’s breakout to come. Over the last three weeks of the season, he’s been the 10th most productive fantasy receiver. His salary has jumped $300 from last week, but the Raiders will be facing off against our top graded defense in coverage. Last season, Denver’s slot corner, Chris Harris Jr., was our No. 1 overall corner in coverage while Aqib Talib, Denver’s left corner, graded out as our seventh overall corner. This year, the best corner on the team has been their right corner, Roby.
Cooper spends 56 percent of his snaps lined to the left, while Roby spends 68 percent of his coverage snaps lined up at right corner. Roby has our sixth-highest grade among corners in coverage and is giving up the eighth fewest F/R (0.12). Through four games, he’s been targeted 14 times and has given up nine catches for just 102 yards while also intercepting a pass. Quarterbacks throwing at Roby have a QB Rating of only 56.3. After catching fire in Week 2, DFS novices will likely neglect Cooper’s tough matchup and roll him out again Week 5. This would be a mistake. Cooper won’t be in any of my lineups this week.
Golden Tate vs. Tyrann Mathieu – Tate has been a tremendous disappointment for season-long fantasy owners. After routinely being drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds this summer, Tate currently ranks 47th in fantasy points among receivers. Fantasy owners in season-long leagues will likely have to weather another poor performance with Tate on their benches. He goes into Week 5 with our third-lowest ranked matchup of the week.
To date, Tate has spent 74 percent of his snaps from the slot, where Arizona’s primary slot corner, Mathieu, plays 90 percent of his snaps. Mathieu currently grades out as our No. 2 overall corner and has given up the 14th fewest F/R (0.12). Opposing quarterbacks have just an 86.8 QB Rating when targeting a receiver in coverage against Mathieu. I feel for those of you in season-long leagues who whiffed on Tate, but for those of us playing in DFS, we just don’t have that problem. We’ll fade Tate and find much better value elsewhere.
Torrey Smith vs. Prince Amukamara – Due to Smith’s big-play potential, he’s always worth considering when setting your GPP lineups. In a game where the 49ers are seven point underdogs, the 49ers may look to target him deep and often. Against Prince Amukamara, however, that seems like it would be a wasted effort. Smith has played 65 percent of his snaps lined to Kaepernick’s left, while Amukamara sticks to the same side of the field on 95 percent of his snaps. Amukamara finished an injury-plagued 2014 as our No. 30 overall corner in coverage. Finally healthy in 2015, he owns our third highest grade. To date, he’s caught an interception and has given up just 17 catches for 210 yards on 30 targets. Opposing quarterbacks have a 64.6 QB Rating when targeting him. Smith makes for an easy fade this week.