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.
Demaryius Thomas vs. Vontae Davis – Thomas has been having a tremendous, although slightly unlucky, season. Among the top-10 fantasy scorers at the wide receiver position, Thomas is the only player with fewer than four touchdowns – he only has one. He had 25 touchdowns across the two seasons prior. Davis, too, has played very well but has been unlucky in the touchdown department. While he has not allowed more than four receptions or 55 yards in each of the eight games he’s played this season, he has already given up four touchdowns. Last season, Davis played on 839 snaps and did not give up a single touchdown.
Davis shadowed a receiver during the first four games of the season, but since Week 5 (when fellow corner, Greg Toler, returned from a neck injury) he has not shadowed.
Assuming he doesn’t shadow this week, we still expect him to face off against Thomas on close to 50 percent of his routes. To date, Thomas has run 47 percent of his routes lined to Peyton Manning’s left, which, as the Colts’ primary right corner, is where Davis spends the far majority of his time when he is not shadowing. Last season, Davis was our second highest-graded corner and led all corners in QB Rating against (38.8). This season, Thomas has been the second most-targeted receiver on a per route basis. Although both are tremendous players, given Thomas’ price and the difficulty of the matchup, you’re better off looking for other options at the wide receiver position this week.
Stefon Diggs vs. Janoris Jenkins – Diggs might have been a sleeper earlier this spring, when he was selected in the fifth round as the 20th receiver off the board in the 2015 NFL Draft. Heading into Week 9, he’s far from a secret. From a points per game basis, he’s currently the No. 8 receiver in fantasy. Over the last three weeks, he’s the third highest-scoring receiver in fantasy and our highest-graded receiver overall. Unfortunately, he’s set up for a tough matchup this week against the Rams’ Jenkins.
Diggs typically runs 71 percent of his routes from Teddy Bridgewater’s left, while 77 percent of Jenkins’ routes in coverage have been against the opposing team’s left receiver. Just as Diggs has been a sneaky value for much of the early part of the season, Jenkins has quietly been one of the top corners in the league. He’s currently graded as our No. 7 corner overall. Over his last five games, Jenkins has been targeted 30 times, giving up just 19 catches, 167 yards, and zero touchdowns, while intercepting two passes. Over his last three games, he’s given up just 27 total yards. Although Diggs has established himself as one of the top young receivers in the game, his price has jumped $500 this week, he has one of the toughest matchups of the week, and he is now dealing with a hamstring injury. Despite the blazing hot start to his NFL career, Diggs should be faded this week in fantasy.
Allen Robinson vs. Darrelle Revis – This week, we expect Revis to shadow Robinson for almost the entirety of the game. So far, Revis has shadowed T.Y. Hilton, Jarvis Landry, Pierre Garcon, Julian Edelman, and Amari Cooper on the majority of their snaps. Those five shadowed receivers combined to catch just nine passes for 74 yards and a touchdown (on 17 targets) against Revis. These are numbers those receivers might put up in a single game against a lesser corner, but across five games against Revis, it equates to just a 4.5 fantasy point per game average.
When targeting Revis in coverage, quarterbacks are recording a QB Rating of just 41.8, which ranks second best among corners. He’s giving up the ninth-fewest fantasy points per route run (0.10), the eighth fewest yards (203), and has allowed just one touchdown in coverage while intercepting three passes. After finishing as our fourth highest-graded corner in coverage last season, he again ranks in the top-10 this year. Robinson has been a staple of tournament-winning lineups for weeks now, but up against Revis in shadow coverage, Robinson makes for any easy fade.
Randall Cobb vs. Bene Benwikere – Over the first three weeks of the season, Cobb ranked as the No. 7 receiver in fantasy and was averaging 23.3 fantasy points per game. Since then, he hasn’t had a single double digit fantasy performance. DFS players are likely sick of incorrectly predicting his next big game, and because of this, I think we can safely expect for Cobb to be low-owned again this week. Prior to last week, Cobb’s poor performance can be chocked up to the re-aggravation of the shoulder injury he suffered in the preseason. However, since the bye week, he’s been practicing in full. We anticipated Cobb’s dud last week, given the fact he was up against top slot corner, Chris Harris Jr. This week, Cobb should have plenty of value as a high-upside contrarian play.
Cobb typically runs 91 percent of his routes from the slot, while Benwikere defends the slot on 81 percent of his routes in coverage. Benwikere is our lowest graded slot corner and ranks in the bottom-10 among 76 qualifying corners in completion percentage (74 percent). Last week, against Indianapolis, he gave up six catches for 69 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Since Week 6, Cobb’s price has dropped by $700. With Carolina’s elite outside corners, Josh Norman and Charles Tillman, likely to shut down Davante Adams and James Jones, Green Bay’s passing attack will likely hinge on the effectiveness of Cobb’s play. I’m expecting a big bounce-back game.
Amari Cooper vs. Antwon Blake – Amari Cooper is currently the No. 18 wide receiver in all of fantasy. Over the past two weeks, he’s faced off against two of our top-12 highest-graded corners in coverage. While he struggled against Revis last week, he surprised the week prior, with a three-catch, 93-yard, and two-touchdown performance against Jason Verrett. Luckily for Cooper, things should get a lot easier this week against Antwon Blake.
Blake currently ranks as our tenth lowest graded corner in coverage. Over the last three weeks, he’s given up 21 receptions, 324 yards, and two touchdowns (on 30 targets) to opposing wide receivers. (One of those teams was Kansas City without Jeremy Maclin.) For the season, he’s given up the most receptions, the second most yards, and has been thrown at the second most among all 113 qualifying corners. While Cooper typically moves around the line of scrimmage enough to see time against all of Pittsburgh’s corners, we expect him to run the majority of his routes against Blake. Cooper’s big-playmaking ability is always worth a look in GPPs, but especially so this week in such an attractive matchup.
Stevie Johnson vs. Sherrick McManis – With Keenan Allen out for the rest of the season and both Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green having injury concerns of their own, Johnson is due to play a much bigger role this week. The increase in targets could not come at a better time, as he projects to spend the majority of this Monday Night game against Chicago’s worst corner, McManis. Johnson has run 88 percent of his routes from the slot, while McManis has defended the slot on 88 percent of his routes.
Among 113 qualifying corners, McManis has given up the fourth most receiving touchdowns and is allowing the second highest QB Rating on passes sent his way in coverage (158.2). Although three corners have given up more touchdowns, all have done so playing on over double the amount of snaps as McManis. He’s one of only 16 corners with a completion percentage above 75 percent. He’s our eighth lowest graded corner overall, and our lowest graded corner over the last three weeks. He’s giving up the third most fantasy points per route run.
He was targeted just once last week. On that one target, he gave up one catch for 40 yards and a touchdown. For the season, he has given up 19 catches, 260 yards, and five touchdowns on just 25 targets. Johnson’s price has dropped $1200 since Week 4. Last week’s injuries, his bargain-low price, and this week’s advantageous matchup have created the perfect storm of events to make Johnson the top value play at the position.