Matchups to Attack
JuJu Smith-Schuster vs Kevin Johnson
JuJu Smith-Schuster has looked outstanding as a rookie this season. Through 11 games, he is averaging a 3.9/63.6/0.5 line on 5.2 targets per game. He has flashed tremendous upside this season, especially with Antonio Brown out due to injury. In his last game without Brown, Smith-Schuster recorded six receptions for 114 yards on six targets, and he will continue to see an increased role this week.
Smith-Schuster has played the majority of his snaps out of the slot this season, but he is expected to move to the left outside receiver position with Eli Rodgers manning the slot this week. That leaves Smith-Schuster to get a matchup against Kevin Johnson, who has played 72% of his snaps as Houston’s right outside cornerback. Johnson has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ worst cornerback in the NFL, allowing a 77% catch rate, while being targeted on 18% of his routes covered. He also ranks in the bottom-five in the NFL in fantasy points per route this season. Smith-Schuster is a young player, but should be able to take advantage of his matchup this week.
Keelan Cole vs Dontae Johnson
Keelan Cole has been enjoying a great season for an undrafted free agent. He has specifically been heating up over his last three games, scoring a touchdown in each of those games. Over that span, he is averaging a 4.3/111.3/1.0 line on 5.0 targets per game. He saw his role grow last week with Marqise Lee injured, and Lee is questionable for the game this week. If he is indeed ruled out for this week, Cole will gain even more value for a low price tag.
Cole has moved all over the Jaguars formation this season, depending on the situation of the team. He is known as the left outside receiver, though, meaning he will get a matchup against Dontae Johnson this season. Johnson has played 78% of his snaps as the 49ers right outside corner. He has also graded out as the second worst corner in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Johnson is allowing a 66% catch rate, while being targeted on 17% of his routes covered. Cole could see time against K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon, as well, both of which have struggled at times this season, as well. Regardless of who he is playing against, Cole will get a good matchup this week.
Marvin Jones Jr. vs Dre Kirkpatrick
Marvin Jones Jr. has quietly been enjoying a productive season for the Detroit Lions. Through 14 games, he has totaled 54 receptions for 970 yards and eight touchdowns. He is leading the Lions team with 13 red zone targets, although he has only recorded four receptions and three touchdowns. He is also averaging at least 20 yards per reception in five of his last six games, including three touchdowns over that span.
Jones has played the majority of his snaps (46%) as the Lions right outside wide receiver. He will matchup against Dre Kirkpatrick, who has played 96% of his snaps as the left outside cornerback for Cincinnati. Kirkpatrick has graded out as a bottom-five corner in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. He has been targeted on 17% of his routes covered, allowing a 57% catch rate. While his catch rate is a bit lower than other struggling cornerbacks, Jones does not need an elite catch rate to produce because of his ability to produce big plays.
Matchups to Avoid
Robby Anderson vs Casey Hayward
Robby Anderson has been a significantly better fantasy option at home this season, but that may not matter this week. Overall, Anderson is averaging a 4.9/90.7/0.7 line on 8.1 targets per game at home. He will be playing with Bryce Petty, though, who has struggled throughout his NFL career. In two games with Petty, Anderson has recorded eight receptions for 67 yards and no touchdowns. Anderson comes with upside because of his speed, but that can be seen as untapped potential until Petty shows any type of promise at the professional level.
Anderson has moved across the formation in New York this season, but that will not matter again this week. He is expected to be shadowed by Casey Hayward, who has played against elite receivers for the majority of the season. Hayward still grades out as the best cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Hayward is allowing only a 44% catch rate, while being targeted on only 14% of his routes covered. There is never a reason to use a receiver against Hayward, especially when he is also relying on Bryce Petty for production.
Chris Hogan vs Tre-Davious White
Chris Hogan was playing at a high level through his first eight games before suffering an injury. In those eight games, he is averaging 4.1 receptions for 54.8 yards and 0.6 touchdowns on 6.8 targets per game. He is currently dealing with an injury, though, and he only recorded one reception for five yards in his first game back. He then missed last week with an injury again, and could potentially be limited this week. The Patriots have a plethora of offensive weapons, and they will not need to rely on Hogan this week.
As if an injury and limited opportunities are not enough to avoid Hogan, his matchup is one of the worst on the slate. He is expected to face off against Tre’Davious White for the majority of this game. White is a young player that has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ fourth best cornerback in the NFL this season. He is allowing only a 49% catch rate, while being targeted on 14% of his routes covered. He has been playing at an elite level this season, and the Patriots are a team that will likely shy away from him, attacking other corners in Buffalo who have struggled more than White this season.
Julio Jones vs Marshon Lattimore
Julio Jones has quietly been a dominant receiver this season, although he has struggled to find the end zone. Through 14 games, he is averaging a 5.4/86.8/0.2 line on 9.0 targets per game. In his first matchup against the Saints, Jones recorded five receptions for 98 yards, but was unable to find the end zone. While this is not a bad line, it also is not an elite line for a high end receiver.
Jones will be shadowed by Marshon Lattimore once again this week. Lattimore was recently named to the Pro Bowl, capping off an elite rookie season. He has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ third best cornerback. He is only being targeted on 14% of his routes covered, allowing a 50% catch rate. In their first matchup, Jones seemingly got the better of Lattimore. With that being said, Lattimore was often seen running off the field in an effort to catch his breath because he was dealing with an illness. Jones will play a fully healthy Lattimore this week, making him a much riskier option this week.