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.
Amari Cooper vs Darrelle Revis – Cooper has been tremendous this season, doing things rarely seen from rookie receivers. Even last week, he outperformed in a tough matchup against Jason Verrett. This week, however, we project Cooper to be shadowed by the one man who actually is an island, Revis. Last season, Revis was our fourth-highest graded corner in coverage. Not much has changed this season, as he again ranks in the top-10 as our seventh-highest graded corner overall.
Since Week 2, he has allowed just 57 total yards against in coverage. When targeting Revis in coverage, quarterbacks are recording a QB Rating of just 36.0, which ranks third best among corners. He’s giving up the tenth-fewest fantasy points per route run (0.10) and has allowed just one touchdown in coverage while intercepting three passes. Heading into last week, Julian Edelman was averaging 21.8 fantasy points per game. Revis shadowed Edelman on 41 of Edelman’s 58 snaps. Edelman ended the day scoring only 10.4 fantasy points. While Cooper really has been great, Revis can take even the best receivers out of a game. Cooper should be faded this week.
Randall Cobb vs. Chris Harris Jr. – Over the first three weeks of the season, Cobb ranked as the No. 7 overall receiver in fantasy. Over the next three weeks, he ranked as fantasy’s No. 63 receiver. Off the team’s Week 7 bye, the week off should have given Cobb enough time to completely get over the shoulder injury he suffered during the preseason. A bounceback will surely be coming to one of the best slot receivers in the game, however, it likely won’t be coming this week against Broncos’ slot corner, Harris Jr.
Cobb plays 94 percent of his snaps from the slot. Broncos’ primary slot corner, Harris Jr., is inside 63 percent of the time when the opponent is passing. That number will be higher this week considering Green Bay has its third wide receiver on the field 95 percent of the time. Last season, Harris Jr. graded out as our top corner in coverage, well ahead of our second-closest corner, Vontae Davis. Among all corners, he also gave up the second fewest fantasy points allowed per snap. Not much has changed this season, as he has our fourth-highest coverage grade overall and is giving up the fifth-fewest fantasy points per route run. He hasn’t allowed a single touchdown all season and no opponent has caught more than four passes or recorded sixty yards or more in a single game. When Cobb is healthy, he offers elite upside, but against Harris Jr., it’s doubtful he lives up to his price.
Dez Bryant vs. Richard Sherman – You may think you’re being sneaky throwing Bryant, in his first game back, into your DFS lineups. Really, though, you’re probably making a mistake. Three reasons to avoid Bryant: He is likely still not 100 percent coming off of the foot injury he suffered early last month, Matt Cassel will be his quarterback on Sunday, and he has one of the toughest matchups of the week. Although Sherman rarely shadows, he did it last week against Torrey Smith and last season against Bryant. Even if he does not shadow this week and just sticks to his side, Bryant would still likely see Sherman on at least half of his overall routes.
Last season, among 78 qualifying corners, Sherman gave up the fewest fantasy points allowed per snap (0.08) and graded out as our number three overall corner. While he no longer has a top coverage grade, he has still been effective at limiting the fantasy production of opposing receivers. Among all 32 corners to play at least 400 snaps, he’s given up the third fewest receptions (14), fourth fewest total yards (215), and is one of just seven to not yet allow a touchdown in coverage. Quarterbacks still seem to be scared to target Sherman, as he’s giving up the third fewest targets per route run (0.12). Last week, in shadow coverage against Smith, he was not targeted once on the 20 of 27 routes he shadowed Smith. There’s no need to get cute: Bryant is an easy fade this week.
Golden Tate vs. Steven Nelson – This marks the fourth time I’ve written about Tate, but this is only the first time he’s been an upgrade. He’s had some really tough matchups so far. Tate runs 68 percent of his routes from the slot. So far, he’s faced the following slot corners: Captain Munnerlyn (2x), Chris Harris Jr., and Tyrann Mathieu. To put that in better perspective, to-date, he’s faced one of our top-5 highest graded corners in four of his seven games.
Things are looking up for Tate this week, as he will face off against Nelson. Nelson, who was a third-round pick back in May and promoted to slot duties last week, only has defended only 24 routes in his career. While Tate has disappointed fantasy owners (currently WR36), the opportunity has always been there (16th in targets). Finally, with an exploitable matchup, Tate makes for a compelling high-upside contrarian play this week.
Julio Jones vs. Johnthan Banks – The Falcons typically have Jones move all around the line of scrimmage, but he spends the majority of his time lined to Matt Ryan’s left. Tampa Bay’s Banks lines up across from the opposing team’s left receiver on 65 percent of his snaps. Last week, against Washington, Banks gave up seven catches for 66 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. He also has the second highest QB Rating against (143.3) among all corners to play at least 150 snaps.
As for the rest of the Buccaneers corners he’ll be facing this week, each one has a negative coverage grade and none rank within our top-120 highest graded corners overall. The Buccaneers are our second-lowest-graded team in pass coverage and have given up the third-most touchdowns per game to wide receivers. Jones, our highest-graded receiver, is in probably the softest matchup he’ll face all year and is worth paying up for in GPPs.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Xavier Rhodes – After missing four games with a hamstring injury, Jeffery exploded onto the scene in his first week back with an 8-147-1 performance against the Lions in Week 6. This week, fully rested and coming off of a bye, Jeffery should feast against Vikings’ Rhodes. We expect Rhodes to shadow Jeffery on all of his outside routes. Captain Munnerlyn, our fourth-highest-graded corner overall, works in the slot on 99 percent of his snaps. Jeffery plays in the slot on 23 percent of his snaps. So while he’ll have a tough matchup on close to a quarter of his overall snaps, he should more than make up for it on the 77 percent of snaps he sees on the outside. Rhodes, our third-lowest-graded corner in coverage, has been playing much worse than his reputation or level of play last year (graded 13th overall in coverage). Over the last five games, he’s been targeted 37 times, giving up 22 receptions, 323 yards, and four touchdowns. Among all corners to run at least 200 routes, Rhodes has given up the third-most fantasy points per route and the sixth-most targets per route. Jeffery makes for an attractive option in both cash and GPP games.