Pro Football Focus WR vs. CB Breakdown NFL Week 10
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 upgrading and three wide receivers we should be downgrading for this week’s daily fantasy slate. If you’re a fan of this article, make sure you’re also checking out our WR v. CB Chart and the Shadow Matrix.
Notes 1: Darius Slay, Jason Verrett, Delvin Breaux, Aqib Talib, Tyrann Mathieu, and Morris Claiborne have all graded out among our top-10 cornerbacks in coverage in either or both of the last two seasons. Breaux played on a snap count last week – his first game back since Week 1. Matthieu played just four snaps in coverage at cornerback in his last start, spending the majority of his time at free safety. The rest of the players on this list will all certainly miss Week 10. Atlanta’s Desmond Trufant appears to be questionable this week as well. With so many shutdown corners out of commission and so many other corners facing mostly irrelevant wide receivers, I decided it would be a better use of our time to write up six matchups to upgrade rather than three downgrades and three upgrades.
Notes 2: All references to grades are out of 117 qualifying cornerbacks. All references to coverage-related statistics are out of 99 qualifying cornerbacks.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Vernon Hargreaves – Jeffery has quietly amassed 31 targets over his last three games. In his first game with Jay Cutler back under center (since Week 2), Jeffery caught four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota’s stout secondary last week. Cutler’s return should continue to do wonders for Jeffery’s fantasy potential. This season, 25 percent of Cutler’s total attempts and 40 percent of his attempts in the red zone have been directed towards Jeffery. For perspective, those numbers shrink to 19.5 percent and 9.7 percent when backup Brian Hoyer was under center. Jeffery is the 11th highest-priced wide receiver on FanDuel and the 15th highest-priced wide receiver on DraftKings this week. Jeffery’s projections get an added boost this week considering he’ll be facing off against Tampa Bay’s Hargreaves.
Hargreaves, Tampa Bay’s 21-year-old rookie is our second worst-graded cornerback this season. Only three cornerbacks have given up more fantasy points into their coverage this season. His seven missed tackles ranks fifth-worst among all cornerbacks. He’s giving up the sixth most yards per snap in coverage and the 14th most fantasy points per route in coverage. Over the past two weeks Hargreaves has seen 27 targets, allowing 19 receptions for 298 yards and a touchdown. For perspective, that’s five more targets, three more receptions, and 98 yards more than any other cornerback over that span.
Hargreaves is Tampa Bay’s starting right cornerback, while Jeffery lines up to his quarterback’s left on 50 percent of his routes. This should mean Jeffery will square off against Hargreaves on the majority of his routes this Sunday. As a team, Tampa Bay has been very susceptible through the air this year, giving up the fourth-most plays of 30 or more yards to opposing wide receivers. Jeffery will likely not be too highly owned this weekend and should find his way onto a number of my GPP lineups.
Stefon Diggs vs. Kendall Fuller – Over the past two weeks, Diggs ranks third in targets (26), first in receptions (21), seventh in receiving yards (156), and third in PPR scoring (44). On DraftKings, his price has risen just $200 since Week 7. He now ranks as just the 21st highest priced wide receiver on DraftKings and the 22nd highest priced wide receiver on FanDuel. With amateur DFS players potentially worried about a Josh Norman shadow, his ownership might be far lower than it otherwise should be.
First of all, it’s unlikely Norman shadows Diggs in this contest. Second, even if he did, he would not travel to face him in the slot – where Diggs runs 54 percent of his routes (and 58 percent of his routes over the past two weeks). Over the past two seasons, Norman has moved to the slot on just three percent of his routes in coverage. When there, he’s seen four targets, allowing three catches for nine yards and a touchdown.
Instead, Diggs should face off against Washington’s rookie slot cornerback, Fuller, on the majority of his routes. Fuller earned his first start in Week 4. Since then, he’s seen 28 targets, allowing 22 receptions, 230 yards, one touchdown, and has not recorded an interception. He currently ranks 12th worst among all cornerbacks and third worst among slot cornerbacks in fantasy points per snap. Diggs will be one of my favorite plays this weekend.
Randall Cobb vs. Brice McCain – Randall Cobb, coming back from a hamstring injury, missed the entire first half of last week’s game, playing only 42 percent of the snaps. In his prior three games he had seen 78.5 percent of the snaps, 36 targets, and six carries. Cobb put together a limited practice on Wednesday and is projected to play closer to his full complement of snaps on Sunday. Cobb runs 78 percent of his routes from the slot, which means he should spend nearly all of his time against Tennessee’s slot cornerback Brice McCain.
Over the last four weeks, McCain has been targeted 19 times, allowing 13 catches, 160 yards, and three touchdowns. For the season, no cornerback has allowed more fantasy points than McCain when covering the slot. When opposing quarterbacks are targeting him in coverage, they’re averaging a 137.4 passer rating, which is the second-highest of any cornerback. He ranks fourth-worst in fantasy points per target. Cobb has six career targets against McCain, catching five of them for 79 yards. Cobb’s injury status is a concern, but recent usage when on the field, as well as the matchup, make him a very attractive lower-owned GPP play this week.
Antonio Brown vs. Anthony Brown & Brandon Carr – Antonio Brown runs 87 percent of his routes on the outside, with a near even split on both sides. Dallas will likely be without starting cornerback Morris Claiborne and strong safety Barry Church for the second consecutive week this Sunday. Claiborne has been fantastic this season, grading out as our seventh best cornerback in coverage. With Claiborne out, Brown should spend nearly all of his time against Dallas’ outside cornerbacks Carr and Anthony Brown.
For the season, 29 of the 33 passed directed at Anthony Brown in coverage were completed. That 87.9 completion percentage ranks highest among all corners. When targeted in coverage, opposing passers are averaging a 133.3 Passer Rating, which ranks fourth worst. Anthony Brown is allowing the fourth most fantasy points per route in coverage and the seventh-most fantasy points per target. Carr has been better in all areas, but is mostly just average in all relevant statistics. Antonio Brown will be facing Anthony Brown for the first time this Sunday. In seven career targets against Carr, he has six receptions for 55 yards.
All subscribers to FanVice are likely aware of Ben Roethlisberger’s glaring home/away splits. Antonio Brown too has benefited when playing at home, averaging 25.8 PPR fantasy points per game at home and 20.3 PPR fantasy points per game away over the past three seasons. Dallas’ grinding pace of play is always a concern, but Brown still makes for an excellent DFS play this weekend.
Atlanta’s Wide Receivers vs. Philadelphia’s Cornerbacks – The Eagles arguably have the league’s worst starting cornerback corps. All four of their cornerbacks grade out among our bottom-25 worst cornerbacks in coverage. Starting left cornerback, Leodis McKelvin, was benched last week for Jalen Mills. You may remember Mills from this should-be touchdown from last week.
When opposing quarterbacks have targeted McKelvin this season, they average a 128.1 Passer Rating, which ranks sixth worst among cornerbacks. Embarrassingly, he is Phaldelphia’s highest graded cornerback this season. Mills, meanwhile, is PFF’s overall worst graded cornerback. He is one of only two cornerbacks to allow, on average, over two yards per snap in coverage. He is being targeted on 24.8 percent of his routes in coverage – most in the league.
Whether it is McKelvin or Mills who starts, this should be an attractive matchup for Taylor Gabriel who runs 53 percent of his routes from that side of the field. Gabriel is our sixth highest graded wide receiver (out of 101 qualifying) over the past two weeks. Over that span, he has eight targets, eight catches, 120 yards, and a touchdown. This might make him an attractive punt-play option at only $3,300 on DraftKings. In reality, all of Atlanta’s wide receivers should be upgraded. Julio Jones especially, considering Kyle Shanahan has always done a great job of moving his star wide receiver around the line of scrimmage to create mismatches – and no cornerback on the team should be viewed as a threat.
Brandon Marshall v. E.J. Gaines – Marshall quietly ranks sixth among all wide receivers in targets. He also ranks 28th in PPR fantasy points. He’s undoubtedly a tough sell as DraftKings’ 11th highest-priced wide receiver and FanDuel’s 15th highest-priced wide receiver this week. Marshall hasn’t played well and his now injured quarterback has played even worse. Still, he has one of the most attractive cornerback matchups of the week. With Trumaine Johnson likely back, Gaines will operate as the Rams’ starting right cornerback. Marshall, who lines up to Fitzpatrick’s right on the majority (48 percent) of his routes should face off against him for most of the game.
When opposing quarterbacks are targeting Gaines in coverage they are averaging a 119.5 QB Rating, which ranks 10th most among corners. Gaines is giving up the third most fantasy points per route in coverage and the 18th-most fantasy points per target. Quarterbacks are also going out of their way to target Los Angeles’ weak link, attempting 22 percent of their aimed throws against him – which ranks second most among corners. I’m not going to want too much exposure to Marshall this week, but his matchup, at the very least, puts him in play in GPPs.