PFF – FanVice – Advanced WR/CB Matchups: Week 5
To keep things concise, I’m going to stick to just players on the main slate on DraftKings moving forward in this segment. It’s where we will see the majority of plays and where we need to find the best WR-CB matchups to exploit to help us gain an edge over our opponents. Week 5 sets up for a ton of potentially big games from wide receivers. My aim in this article is to help you select which of these wideouts is in the best matchups and are worthy of rostering. Let’s look at which stud wide receivers we should be targeting and fading in Week 5, as well as some potential values and hidden gems. Let’s dive in.
Studs to Target
Jordy Nelson vs Dallas – Given the current state of the Packers’ running backs, we could see Green Bay orchestrate a heavy passing attack against these vulnerable Dallas defensive backs. Last year the Packers ranked second in pass play percentage, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see them revert to their 2016 ways if Ty Montgomery is ruled out in this one (ribs). Nelson is averaging eight targets per game and draws a nice matchup against a secondary that has allowed the fourth-most receptions and fourth-most receiving touchdowns to wide receivers so far this year. He’ll run the majority of his routes on the outside against Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie.
Last week Lewis was targeted just twice by Jared Goff and has held his own to start the year, ranking 17th among all CBs. The weakness Rodgers will attack is against Awuzie, who is allowing a 75 percent catch rate to opposing wide receivers. Over 73 percent of the passing yards allowed by the Packers is being funneled to opposing wide receivers as teams continue to aggressively target the Cowboys’ poor corners. Nelson has also made a habit of frequently visiting the end zone, scoring 19 touchdowns in his last 20 games. Targets, receiving yards, and touchdowns — Nelson checks all three boxes and should provide a massive fantasy outing in Week 5.
Dez Bryant vs Green Bay – Bryant is in an absolute smash spot playing at home against this terrible Packers trio of corners. Bryant has had without question the toughest cornerback matchup schedule to start the year. Despite that, he’s still fourth in the league in targets (37), third in red zone targets (7), first in targets inside the 10-yard line (6). Only four wideouts have more air yards than Dez’s 471. He’ll run most of his routes on the outside against our No. 89-ranked corner, Kevin King, and our No. 101-ranked corner, Damarious Randall. Both rank bottom-20 and this is the game where we could see everything come together for Dez. He should garner massive ownership in tournaments as he’s being widely talked about everywhere, but for good reason. He could legitimately finish this week as the overall WR1.
Golden Tate vs Captain Munnerlyn – One wide receiver that isn’t getting enough love this week is Golden Tate. He’s in a terrific spot here against a Carolina defense that primarily operates out of zone coverage. Tate’s quickness in his route running is going to let him find the holes in this coverage with ease. Slot CB Captain Munnerlyn is allowing opposing receivers to catch 78% of the targets thrown against him, which could spell trouble for a target magnet like Tate.
Dating back to 2014 (when Tate arrived in Detroit), Tate ranks eighth in most double-digit target games in the league (22). Among all slot CBs, Munnerlyn is allowing the fourth-worst QB Rating when thrown against (118.8), and it wouldn’t shock me to see the Lions routinely pepper him with targets all game long. Per PFF’s Pat Thorman, prior to last week, the Lions had the sixth-highest seconds-per-snap pace (29.4 seconds) and the highest no-huddle rate (41.9%). I’m expecting them to get back to that up-tempo pace here at home and throw a ton against this Carolina secondary.
Studs to Fade
Keenan Allen vs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins – Keenan Allen has run 54% of his routes from the slot to start the year. That means he’ll be facing Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie on the majority of his routes, our No. 4 graded CB last year. Opposing quarterbacks are fading targeting DRC’s lockdown coverage, with him seeing a target just once every 9.4 snaps — fourth-lowest rate among all slot CBs. If the Chargers decide to get Allen on the outside, he’ll find himself lined up against Janoris Jenkins, our No. 8 graded CB last year.
Jenkins is allowing just 0.83 yards per route covered, a ridiculous rate. For some context, Patrick Peterson is allowing just 0.79 Y/RC. Allen has been a target hog — even in his matchup against DEN he saw 10 targets, but elite CBs can mitigate those targets for next to nothing. Allen had just 35 yards in that game despite the heavy volume. Save your money for Dez.
Alshon Jeffery vs Patrick Peterson – I had Alshon listed here as a fade last week against the Chargers cornerbacks. He was bailed out by an 8-yard touchdown, but otherwise was held to just two catches for 21 yards. There’s no need to try to be contrarian here with a matchup against Patrick Peterson this week. Peterson has allowed just 5-of-13 targets to be caught against him this year. It’d be wise to look elsewhere given that there really isn’t a discount on him at $5.8K.
Odell Beckham Jr. vs Casey Hayward – Beckham is the highest-priced wide receiver on the main slate this week at $8,500. It’s difficult to pony up that amount of your salary for a wide receiver who continues to try to recover from a dislocated finger. Beckham also draws a tough matchup against what’s expected to be shadow coverage from Casey Hayward.
Hayward was the PFF No. 7 graded cornerback last season and has continued to limit opposing top wide receivers this season. Per our Shadow Coverage Matrix, Hayward held Demaryius Thomas to 4-61-0 on six targets and held Alshon Jeffery to 1-13-0 on four targets. Hayward makes life difficult for receivers with ten working fingers. We should temper expectations for OBJ here against a corner that’s allowing just 0.22 fantasy points per route defended.
Values & Hidden Gems
DeVante Parker vs Adoree’ Jackson and Brice McCain – DeVante Parker isn’t a hidden gem, but his value certainly is to me at just $6,600 on DK. The Titans defense has been absolutely dreadful to start the year. They’re allowing the most touchdowns, the second-most receptions, and the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. Parker has been a revelation in his third season, averaging nine targets per game and showing a strong rapport with Jay Cutler. Parker’s 2.11 YPRR ranks 10th among all starting receivers and owns a 25.2% target market share.
Parker has run 76 percent of his routes on the outside where he’ll see a good amount of both Brice McCain and Adoree’ Jackson — two stationary CBs that stick to their sides. Both rank outside our top-80 graded cornerbacks. We targeted DeAndre Hopkins in this exact spot last week and he went off for 10-107-1 — 29.7 DK points. I don’t see anything wrong with double-dipping here and exploiting a fantastic matchup on paper.
Pierre Garcon vs Indianapolis – If Marquise Goodwin were to miss this game (concussion), we can legitimately lock in Pierre Garcon for 12-plus targets. The Colts’ secondary looks like it’s in shambles as we’re still waiting to see stud CB Vontae Davis return to form. Last week he was a liability in coverage, allowing 5-of-6 targets to be caught against him for 101 yards. Rashaan Melvin has also been picked on quite frequently to start the year, drawing the seventh-most targets against him (29). Only Eli Apple has more targets against and more touchdowns allowed.
Slot CB Nate Hairston has already been ruled out, meaning we should see backup Pierre Desir get tested quite frequently. Garcon moves all over the formation in Shanahan’s offense and will be a mismatch against any one of these three corners. The Colts’ secondary is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points and the fourth-most receiving yards to opposing wideouts. It could be a potential field day for Garcon.
Brown vs Philadelphia – I’m being coy here listing this matchup as “J. Brown” because both John and Jaron should both be in play here against Philadelphia’s vulnerable corners. John has been limited in practice all this week and is currently hit with the “Questionable” tag, but it looks like he will be playing in this one. He has moved around the formation quite a bit to start the year, but should run most of his routes against one of the worst-graded corners in the league in Jalen Mills.
He was our No. 119 graded cornerback last year (out of 119) and is once again ranked as a bottom-25 corner in 2017. He’s been the most-targeted corner to start the year (46) and should draw a lot of targets against him in this matchup against the pass-happy Cardinals who lead the league with 45.8 pass attempts per game.
Jaron Brown should also play a significant factor after being elevated to the No. 3 wideout spot ahead of J.J. Nelson. Jaron has 29 targets over the last three weeks and should get plenty of run against both Mills and Rasul Douglas. The rookie has played in just three games so far, but has allowed 15-of-21 targets to be caught for 221 yards and a touchdown (one interception). Both outside cornerbacks are liabilities in coverage and both J. Brown’s have an opportunity to put up big points here against this reverse funnel defense Philadelphia has, encouraging teams to throw on them regularly.