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.
Randall Cobb vs. Patrick Robinson – It’s been hard to trust Cobb this year. He suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason, but was hot out of the gates, averaging 23.2 fantasy points per game (PPG) over the first three weeks. In Week 4, he re-aggravated the injury and has been averaging just 7.35 PPG since. It’s unclear whether or not the shoulder may be an issue this week, but it is clear that the matchup will be. Cobb typically runs 97 percent of his snaps from the slot, while primary slot corner for the Chargers, Patrick Robinson, typically lines up from the slot on 73 percent of his snaps. Robinson is our fifth highest graded corner this season.
To date, Cobb is running 39 routes per game on average and is scoring 0.31 fantasy points per route run. Robinson, meanwhile, is only allowing one fantasy point per every 10 routes run – good for 12th best in the league. On 14 targets this season, he’s allowed only seven receptions for 62 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. When targeted against, he is yielding a QB Rating of only 32.4, which ranks third best in the league. Cobb is an elite receiver who plays on a top offense, but given the difficulty of this matchup it’s worth moving him down in your rankings.
Keenan Allen vs. Sam Shields – Allen has been carrying teams in season-long leagues and helping DFS players win big on DraftKings. He is currently third among receivers in receptions and is fourth in targets and fantasy points. However, Allen is likely overpriced this week, given the return of Antonio Gates limiting (at the very least) his touchdown-upside, but also due to the fact he’ll be facing off against Sam Shields on the majority of his snaps. Allen has lined up to Rivers’ left on 47 percent of his total snaps, while Shields has lined up against the left receiver on 89 percent of his snaps.
Shields has our seventh highest grade among all corners in coverage. When targeted, the opponent has a QB Rating of 44.2 (fifth lowest in the league). Over the past three weeks, Shields has been targeted 16 times, yielding just six receptions for 78 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. Few receivers have been hotter to start the season than Allen, but fewer corners have played as well as Shields the past few weeks. Given the matchup, he isn’t as strong of a play as he may have been at any other point this season.
Antonio Brown vs. Patrick Peterson – Brown and Peterson will likely face off against each other for almost the entirety of the game this Sunday. Peterson has shadowed a receiver in four of his first five games and we expect that trend to continue this week against Brown. While Brown is arguably the best wide receiver in the league, he has struggled since Michael Vick has taken over at quarterback. Prior to Vick’s first start, he was averaging 28.2 fantasy PPG. Since then, he’s averaging just 8.35 PPG.
Among all corners with at least 150 passing routes this season, Peterson has given up just 0.09 fantasy points per route run, which is good for sixth best in the league. Peterson also has our tenth highest coverage grade among all corners with at least 300 snaps. On 194 routes in coverage, Peterson has been targeted just 18 times, yielding only eight receptions, 133 yards, and a touchdown. Having also caught two interceptions, quarterbacks targeting a receiver in coverage against Peterson have QB Rating of 48.8, which again ranks sixth best in the league. Despite Brown’s elite level of skill, given the price, who’s throwing him the ball, and the matchup, it’s worth decreasing your levels of ownership this week.
Martavis Bryant vs. Jerraud Powers – As tough as Antonio Brown’s matchup is this week, Markus Wheaton’s is even tougher. Wheaton runs 71 percent of his snaps from the slot. Our third highest graded “corner”, Tyrann Mathieu, covers the slot on 93 percent of his coverage snaps. With Wheaton spending so much time against Mathieu, and Brown shadowed by our 17th highest graded corner, Bryant should feast on the corner we have graded 133rd overall, Powers.
Given the obvious disparity in grades, it’s no surprise then that teams have been forcing the ball in Powers’ direction. Over the past two weeks he’s been targeted 18 times, giving up 11 receptions, for 155 yards and two touchdowns. In fantasy terms, among all corners to run at least 150 routes, he’s given up the most fantasy points per route run.
While Antonio Brown has obviously been negatively impacted by Vick’s arrival, there is a chance that might not happen with Bryant. He caught three passes for 109 yards from Vick in their two preseason games together. To put that in better perspective, that was 43 percent of Vick’s total completions and 84 percent of his total passing yards. Bryant also has a six inch and 24 pound advantage on Powers. Even though it’ll be his first game of the season, based on the matchup, his price, and the upside he flashed last year, he makes for an intriguing contrarian play in GPPs.
Brandon Marshall vs. Chris Culliver – Brandon Marshall has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. He’s currently fifth among all receivers in fantasy points per game and fantasy points per route. This week, he’ll facing off against Chris Culliver, who is giving up the sixth most fantasy points per route run. From a fantasy point per route standpoint, this ranks as our second most attractive matchup for the week. Culliver also has our 18th lowest coverage grade among all corners with at least 150 snaps.
Marshall typically lines up all around the field, but plays the majority (41 percent) of his snaps wide to Fitzpatrick’s left. Culliver, meanwhile, lines up against the left receiver on 88 percent of his snaps. So what about the other ~59 percent of Marshall’s snaps? The Redskins’ secondary goes into Week 6 limping with DeAngelo Hall out, Justin Rogers on injured reserve, and Bashaud Breeland questionable for Sunday’s game. Even Culliver is banged up, missing last week’s game with a knee injury. No matter who Washington throws at Marshall this Sunday, it will be a mismatch. Marshall makes for one of the most attractive options in both cash and GPP games.
Jordan Matthews vs. Trumaine McBride – The Giants’ two outside corners have been terrific thus far. The Giants defense has also been fairly stout against the run. Their most glaring and exploitable weakness has been their inability to defend the inside pass. This has been due, in part, to the poor performance of their slot corner, McBride, who has our sixth lowest coverage grade among all corners we expect to play a significant role this weekend. He’s allowing the ninth highest completion percentage on targets sent his way and has given up 22 catches on 28 targets for 233 yards and a touchdown.
McBride has also played poorly enough to see his snaps dip from 63 percent to only 27 percent over the past two games. Trevin Wade covered the slot in his absence, but hasn’t been any better – allowing eight catches on ten targets for 110 yards for the year. Last week they combined to allow seven receptions for 137 yards on only eight targets. Regardless of however many snaps each corner receives Monday night (McBride is questionable with an injury), they’ll be spending almost the entirety of the game against Matthews, who plays 97 percent of his snaps from the slot. Matthews has at least a five inch and 15 pound advantage on either corner. Matthews’ price has dropped by $700 over the last three weeks and makes for a strong high-upside GPP play this week.