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.
Julio Jones vs. Brandon Browner
In what’s shaking up to be one of the most-lopsided matchups we’ve seen all season, we have our No. 2-graded receiver set to face off against our worst-graded corner. Although New Orleans’ other outside corner, Delvin Breaux, has been much better, it’s unlikely he shadows in this contest, as he’s only shadowed once since the team changed defensive coordinators in Week 11. Jones has lined up to his quarterback’s left on 44 percent of his total routes, while Browner has covered that receiver on 70 percent of his total coverage routes.
Browner has struggled tremendously this season. Outside of already setting the record for most penalties drawn by a corner, he is also allowing opposing passers to throw for a QB Rating of 120.1 when targeting him in coverage. To put that in perspective, our top QB Rating this season, from a quarterback, is just 109.3. Among all corners, he’s allowing the third-most yards (890) and the 12th-most touchdowns (6), on the 11th-most targets (91) into his coverage. He’s also giving up the third-most yards per target and the fourth-most fantasy points per target. Last week, Browner was targeted seven times, yielding six catches, 177 yards, and two touchdowns against the Jaguars. Jones, who should have a field-day this week, is more than worth paying up for in both cash and GPPs.
Doug Baldwin vs. Jerraud Powers
Baldwin has been on a historic stretch over the second half of this season, putting up numbers we’ve only ever seen from Jerry Rice. As incredible and, perhaps, as unsustainable as this stretch has been, there’s no reason to think it shouldn’t continue this week against Arizona’s Powers. While Balwin ranks as our overall No. 5-graded receiver, Powers ranks as our No. 92-graded corner out of 118 qualifying.
Last time these two teams faced off, Baldwin squared off against our No. 1-graded slot corner, Tyrann Mathieu. Despite the tough matchup, Baldwin still put up over 29 DraftKings fantasy points. Baldwin had one target against Powers in that contest, catching it for 32 yards and a touchdown. With Mathieu now on I.R., Powers moves to defend the slot, where Baldwin spends 83 percent of his time. When targeted by opposing passers, Powers is yielding a QB Rating of 103.5, which ranks 18th-worst among corners. He’s also allowing the 15th-highest yards per target rate and the 15th-most fantasy points per snap. Powers will be outmatched in the slot and Baldwin should be upgraded accordingly.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Davon House
This week, we project the Jaguars’ top corner, House, to shadow Houston’s top receiver, Hopkins. Although House might be the team’s top corner, he is still no match for Hopkins. Hopkins is our No. 5-graded receiver, while House ranks 91st out of 118 qualifying corners. House shadowed Hopkins in Week 6, which was also Hopkins’ best fantasy performance of the season. Against House, Hopkins put up nine receptions (on 14 targets) for 135 yards and two scores. House has given up the 14th-most total fantasy points among corners this season. Hopkins should be a top play this week in both cash and GPPs.
Sammy Watkins vs. Darelle Revis
Over the past five weeks, Watkins ranks fourth in fantasy points, despite ranking only 21st in targets. Among all receivers expected to start this week, he ranks first in fantasy points per route run. Despite the surprisingly few opportunities he’s been getting, he’s been incredibly efficient. There is cause for concern this week, however, as we expect the Jets’ Revis to shadow on the majority of Watkins’ routes. Last time these two players faced off, in Week 10, Revis shadowed Watkins on 27 of his 31 routes. On those routes, Watkins was targeted seven times, catching only three passes for 14 yards.
While Revis is no longer the top corner in the league, he’s still one of the best, ranking as our as our No. 30-graded corner overall. Opposing passers are completing just 44.2 percent of their passes when targeting Revis, which ranks best in the league. Quarterbacks have a QB Rating of 51.2 when targeting Revis, which ranks second-best among corners. He is also giving up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per target among corners. Over his last three games, Revis has been targeted 18 times, allowing only six receptions and 106 yards over that span. Given the difficult matchup and shaky volume, Watkins isn’t in consideration in cash games.
Mike Evans vs. Josh Norman
Norman has slipped in our ranking a bit, moving from our No. 1-graded corner in coverage, to now our No. 3-graded corner. Still, Norman is an elite shut-down corner who is more than capable of handling Evans this week in shadow-coverage. Norman is coming off of his two worst games of the season, but he had not allowed 50 yards into his coverage in any game prior and has only allowed two touchdowns all year. This is all the more impressive when reminded of which receivers Norman has shadowed this season – DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Vincent Jackson, Dez Bryant, Brandin Cooks, Julio Jones (X2), and Odell Beckham Jr.
Opposing quarterbacks are completing only 52.2 percent of their passes when targeting Norman in coverage, which ranks 12th-best among corners. Opposing passers also have a QB Rating of just 54.7 when targeting Norman, which ranks third-best among corners. He’s allowing the 12th-fewest yards (437) on the 11th-most targets (91), among all corners with at least 500 snaps. He’s giving up the fewest yards per target, the second-fewest fantasy points per target, and the fifth-fewest fantasy points per snap, among corners. Although the volume should still be there for Evans, given the matchup, it’s a significant downgrade.
Brandin Cooks vs. Desmond Trufant
Although he stuck to his side in the 14 games prior, Trufant has shadowed Allen Robinson and Ted Ginn each of the past two weeks. This week, we expect Trufant to shadow again, this time against New Orleans’ Cooks. It is most likely Trufant only shadows Cooks on the perimeter, however, as he has only covered the slot receiver on three percent of his coverage routes this season. Cooks, meanwhile, runs 31 percent of his routes from the slot.
Trufant is our No. 13-graded corner this season. On a per-snap basis, he is allowing the third-fewest fantasy points into his coverage. He has only allowed more than 47 yards into his coverage once this season, and has allowed just two touchdowns all year. Cooks, who has risen to the occasion in other difficult matchups this year, should only be downgraded slightly this week.