Matchups to Attack
Sterling Shepard vs K’Waun Williams
Sterling Shepard has struggled with injuries this season, totaling only a 27/333/1 line through six games. He looked fully healthy last week, though, playing as the default number one receiver with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall out for the season. In his first game back, Shepard recorded five receptions for 70 yards on nine targets. He will continue to be peppered with targets, especially in plus matchups, such as this week.
Shepard has been playing out of the slot for New York, recording 85% of his routes in the slot. He gets an elite matchup against K’Waun Williams, who has played 98% of his snaps as the San Francisco 49ers slot corner this season. Through nine games, Williams has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ third worst cornerback. He has been targeted on 24% of his routes covered, allowing a 76% catch rate. Eli Manning is a quarterback that is smart enough to take advantages of matchups, making Shepard one of the best options on the slate this weekend.
Antonio Brown vs Vontae Davis
Antonio Brown has been enjoying a solid season, averaging a 7.1/104.4/0.4 line on 11.8 targets per game. He has been one of the best fantasy receivers in the NFL this season, but there is also room for improvement. His catch rate is the lowest it has been since his sophomore season in 2011. His touchdown rate is the lowest it has been since that season, as well. He has seen double digit targets in seven of his eight games this season, while recording nine targets in the only game he failed to reach double digits. He has also scored two touchdowns in his last three games.
Brown has played 53% of his snaps as the outside left receiver this season. He will matchup against Vontae Davis, who has played 86% of his snaps as the right outside cornerback. Davis has only played in five games this season, failing to record an interception with only two pass deflections. He is allowing a 52% catch rate while being targeted on 21% of his routes covered. This has resulted in Davis grading out as a bottom-12 cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. Brown is the type of receiver that can find success against any corner. Davis’ name recognition may be enough to sway most people off of Brown, but that would be a mistake this weekend.
Sammy Watkins vs Kevin Johnson
What is there to say about Sammy Watkins? His catch rate, touchdown rate, and yards per reception are on par with his elite 2015 season. He simply is not seeing nearly enough targets in Los Angeles, averaging only 3.9 targets per game this season. He is a big play waiting to happen, which can be seen by his 67-yard touchdown last week. In his best game, he torched the 49ers defense for six receptions, 106 yards, and two touchdowns in only three quarters of action. Talent is not a problem for Watkins, but his usage is. This could be the week Los Angeles features him, though, as he gets an elite matchup.
Watkins has played 50% of his snaps as the left outside receiver for the Rams this season. In turn, Kevin Johnson has played 70% of his snaps as the Texans outside right cornerback. Johnson has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ worst cornerback this season. He is being targeted on a league-high 27% of his routes covered, allowing a 74% catch rate. He also ranks in the bottom-5 of the NFL in yards and fantasy points per route covered. Watkins could continue to see only a couple targets this week, but this is an elite matchup that the Rams would be foolish to overlook.
Matchups to Avoid
Los Angeles Chargers WRs vs Jalen Ramsey/A.J. Bouye
The Los Angeles Chargers have been a high upside offense this season. They are averaging 253.5 passing yards per game, while recording at least two passing touchdowns in four games. They get a terrible matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who rank first in the NFL against quarterbacks and wide receivers. Jacksonville has struggled at times against tight ends this season, though, making it more likely the Chargers gameplan to use Henry more than their WRs this week.
Los Angeles has receivers that tend to move all over the formation. That is a problem for singling one receiver out, but is not a problem when facing a team like the Jaguars. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin are the two main receivers to avoid, as they have played 66% and 59% of their snaps as outside receivers this season. They will matchup against Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye for the most part in this game. Ramsey and Bouye have graded out as the second and sixth best cornerbacks in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. They are allowing only 44% and 43% catch rates, which are two of the best rates in the NFL. Jacksonville has been able to shut down some of the best passing offenses in the NFL this season, and this week will be no different.
Adam Thielen vs Kendall Fuller
Adam Thielen has arguably been the most consistent wide receiver in the NFL this season. He has recorded at least five catches in each of his eight games. Overall, he is averaging a 6.0/78.4/0.1 line on 9.4 targets per game. He has somewhat lacked upside, though, as he has only topped 100 receiving yards in one game this season. He has also only been able to find the end zone once. His consistency will be tested in a tough matchup this week.
Thielen has moved to the slot this season, running 57% of his routes out of that position. He’ll get a matchup against Kendall Fuller, who has played 92% of his snaps as the Washington slot corner. Fuller has quietly been enjoying an elite season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ seventh best cornerback in the NFL. He is allowing a 63% catch rate, while being targeted on 19% of his routes covered. Thielen’s efficiency and target share could certainly drop this week. It is not out of the question that he sees enough volume to continue his streak of games with five receptions, but it is unlikely that we see one of his high upside games this week.
Stefon Diggs vs Josh Norman
Stefon Diggs looked elite in two of his first three games, but he has been dealing with injuries, which has kept his fantasy totals down. He has been a hit or miss fantasy option, averaging a 6.7/121.3/1.3 line in games that he has seen seven or more targets. In games that he has seen less than seven targets, Diggs is averaging a much lower 2.3/19.3/0 line. He is a player to attack in great matchups, but he has also proven that he should be avoided in tough matchups.
Diggs has played the majority of his snaps (54%) as the right outside wide receiver for Minnesota. He will be guarded by Josh Norman, who has played 96% of his snaps as Washington’s left outside cornerback. Norman has only played in limited games this season, but he has graded out as a top-20 cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. He is only being targeted on 10% of his routes covered, giving up a low 47% catch rate. Minnesota has proven that they are comfortable giving Diggs limited looks in tough games, and that could be the case this week. Diggs has struggled with limited targets before, and he is a player to avoid on this slate of games.