Matchups to Attack
Brandin Cooks vs Xavien Howard
Brandin Cooks has been enjoying a great season for the New England Patriots. He has been a focal point of the offense, averaging a 4.4/73.8/0.4 line on 7.0 targets per game. He struggled in his last game, but he had recorded at least six receptions and 70 yards in each of his three games before that, including a 6/83/1 performance against the Miami Dolphins two games ago.
Cooks has played 55% of his snaps as the Patriots left outside wide receiver this season. He will face off against Xavien Howard, who has played 85% of his snaps as the Dolphins right outside corner. Howard has graded out as a bottom-five cornerback in the NFL this season, per Pro Football Focus. He is allowing a 57% catch rate, while being targeted on 17% of his routes covered. As mentioned above, it took only seven targets for Cooks to record six receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown against Miami earlier this season. He should find similar success again this week.
Josh Gordon vs Green Bay Packers
Josh Gordon returned to the field last week. He did not miss a beat, recording four receptions for 85 yards against Casey Hayward, who is the best cornerback in the NFL. Gordon was peppered with targets, seeing 11 in his first game back from suspension. Some people suspected that it would take him a few games to get acclimated to the speed of the NFL again. That was not the case, though, as he looked like one of the best players on the field for the entire game.
Gordon has only played in one game this season, so it is difficult to get a handle on what position he is playing. He played the majority of snaps as the Browns left outside receiver (39%), but he also played plenty of snaps in the slot (33%) and as the right outside receiver (27%). He will get a matchup against multiple Green Bay cornerbacks, all of which are below average players. Kevin King was recently placed on I.R., but it is unknown who is going to take over for him. Damarious Randall and Davon House are the two players that are known to be playing this week. House has been the better of the duo, but each player has graded out as a below average cornerback, according to Pro Football Focus. Add in that a backup will be taking over at the other corner spot, and Gordon immediately makes an interesting option.
DeAndre Hopkins vs Dontae Johnson
DeAndre Hopkins has been arguably the best receiver in the NFL this season. He was thriving with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, but he has also found quite a bit of success with Tom Savage starting. Overall, Hopkins has recorded 77 receptions for 1,084 yards and nine touchdowns in only 12 games. He has also had one of the best floors in fantasy football, scoring at least 14 DK points in all but one game this season. Furthermore, he has displayed an elite ceiling, scoring 39.4 DK points in a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks this season.
Hopkins has played the majority of his snaps (53%) as the Texans left outside wide receiver. For the majority of the game, he will matchup against Dontae Johnson, who has played 75% of his snaps as the 49ers right outside corner. He has graded out as a bottom-10 cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. He has been targeted on 16% of his routes covered, allowing a 62% catch rate. Johnson has struggled against inferior competition this season, making Hopkins one of the top plays on the slate this week.
Matchups to Avoid
Josh Doctson vs Casey Hayward
Josh Doctson has been enjoying a breakout campaign, but he is still averaging only a 2.0/14.8/0.4 line on 3.8 targets per game. He has seen an increased role recently, averaging 5.6 targets per game over his last five games. He has also caught a touchdown in each of his last two games, while scoring 10 or more DK points in each of his last three games.
Doctson has played the majority of his snaps as the Redskins left outside receiver, but that is not expected to matter this week. He is expected to be shadowed by Casey Hayward, who has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ best cornerback this season. This feat is even more impressive, as Hayward generally shadows the best receiver on the opposing team on a weekly basis. He is allowing only a 44% catch rate, while being targeted on 15% of his routes covered. He is the true definition of a shutdown cornerback, and Doctson isn’t at a point in his career where he can consistently beat elite cornerbacks.
Julio Jones vs Marshon Lattimore
Julio Jones has been somewhat seen as a bust this season, but he has played well outside of scoring touchdowns. Overall, he is averaging a 5.7/88.6/0.3 line on 8.9 targets per game. He has displayed his elite upside recently, posting an elite 12/253/2 line on 15 targets against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has also been a slightly better fantasy option at home this season.
Jones is a player that has played 77% of his snaps as an outside receiver for Atlanta. He will be shadowed by Marshon Lattimore this week, though, so where he lines up does not matter as much. Lattimore is a young player, but he has looked like an elite cornerback in the NFL early in his career. He is allowing only a 50% catch rate, while being targeted on only 13% of his routes covered. Overall, he has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ third best cornerback. Some people may see that Jones will be shadowed by a rookie cornerback this week, but he is not a rookie to target receivers against.
T.Y. Hilton vs Tre’Davious White
T.Y. Hilton has been an extremely hit or miss player this season. Through 12 games, he has three games with 25+ DK points, but he also has eight games with less than 10 DK points. He is a player that tends to struggle in tough matchups, while performing in good matchups. Overall, he is averaging 3.4 receptions for 65.9 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game. Hilton has also been a slightly better fantasy option at home this season, but he will be playing on the road in Buffalo this week.
Hilton moves over the formation a bit for the Colts, but he has played 43% of his snaps as the right outside receiver. That means he will play the majority of this game against Tre’Davious White, who has played 87% of his snaps as the Bills left outside cornerback. White is another young corner that has looked elite this season. He has graded out as a top-five cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. He is only being targeted on 14% of his routes covered, allowing a 51% catch rate. Hilton has struggled in enough bad matchups this season to avoid him against one of the top young cornerbacks in the league.