Matchups to Attack
T.Y. Hilton vs Rashard Robinson
Hilton has struggled quite a bit this season, but it has not entirely been his fault. He has quietly displayed a rapport with Jacoby Brissett over the last few weeks. Two weeks ago, Hilton caught seven of nine targets for 153 yards and one touchdown. He has only displayed that upside once this season, but he is in a great position again this week. Most importantly, Hilton is leading the Colts in targets, red zone targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He is responsible for 26.6% of the Colts receptions, 35.6% of the team’s receiving yards, and 50% of the team’s receiving touchdowns. He’s the clear focal point of the Indianapolis passing attack.
Hilton is a player that moves all over the formation for Indianapolis. So far this season, he has spent 39% of his snaps as the right outside receiver. That means he will the majority of his plays this week against Rashard Robinson, who has graded out as the sixth worst cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Hilton has played 38% of his snaps in the slot this season, as well. He will not see much of a downgrade in a matchup in this position, though, as San Francisco’s slot corner, K’Waun Williams, has graded out as the 11th worst cornerback in the NFL. Regardless of who is covering him, Hilton is in an elite spot this week.
Rishard Matthews vs Byron Maxwell
Matthews has had a few ups and downs early this season, but he is the receiver to own in Tennessee right now. In two games without Corey Davis, Matthews is leading the Titans with 18 targets. He has turned those targets into nine receptions, 136 yards, and one touchdown against the Seahawks and Texans. Matthews is also tied for the most red zone targets on the team with Eric Decker. The only downfall about Matthews at this moment is the uncertainty surrounding Marcus Mariota, as Matthews will need to be downgraded if Matt Cassel is the starter on Sunday.
Matthews has played 44% of his snaps as the right outside receiver this season. He will be guarded by Byron Maxwell, who has played 95% of his snaps as the left outside cornerback this season. Maxwell played extremely well last season, but he has looked awful to begin this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Maxwell has graded out as a bottom-15 cornerback to start the season. The perception that he is a great cornerback from last season could keep people off of Matthews, but he makes a good option in a great matchup this week.
Dez Bryant vs Kevin King
As expected, Bryant has struggled early this season. He has had one of the hardest schedules in the NFL, facing off against Janoris Jenkins, Aqib Talib, Patrick Peterson, and Trumaine Johnson. He has been featured in the Cowboys offense, accounting for 28.6% of Dallas’ targets. He has been extremely inefficient, though, recording a 40% catch rate, 13.3 yards per reception, 12.5% touchdown rate through four games. These averages are significantly below his career averages of 58.5% catch rate, 14.3 yards per reception, and 14.4% touchdown rate. Inverse regression suggests that Bryant will post significantly more efficient numbers in a great matchup this week.
King has been praised by many for his ability to play the runs. His competitive nature has people arguing that he is better than his play suggests. He has played somewhat limited snaps this season, but he has graded out poorly, per Pro Football Focus. He is a corner that moves around the formation from time to time, but 72% of his snaps this season have been as the right outside cornerback. Bryant has played 43% of his snaps as the left outside receiver, meaning these two will spend the majority of their snaps against each other. Bryant is a veteran receiver that should have no problems performing against a rookie, specifically as a target heavy player that always competes in the red zone.
Matchups to Avoid
Antonio Brown vs Jalen Ramsey
Brown has been surprisingly inconsistent this season. He has been targeted at least nine times in every game, but he has only recorded more than five receptions in two games. He also only scored in one game this season. Surprisingly, Brown has only been targeted four times in the red zone, which is tied with Jesse James and JuJu Smith-Schuster for most on the team. Brown has seemingly played well in good matchups this season, while struggling against tougher competition, which will be the case this week.
Brown is a player that has the ability to line up anywhere in the formation, but he has spent 50% of his snaps as the left outside receiver this season. That will not matter this week, though, as he’ll face off against Jalen Ramsey, who has shadowed opposing teams best receivers. Ramsey is allowing only a 49% catch rate, which ranks among some of the best in the NFL this season. He has also graded out as Pro Football Focus’ best cornerback, tying Casey Hayward for that honor. Brown is the type of receiver that can dominate anyone, but Ramsey is also the type of cornerback that can shut down anyone. Something has to give this week, and I’m siding with Ramsey. Brown should be avoided for his price tag.
Odell Beckham Jr. vs Casey Hayward
Beckham has only been healthy for two games this season, but he has recorded a 16/169/2 line on 28 targets in those games. With that being said, he only was able to record a 4/36 line in his only game that he was playing with limited health. Last week, Beckham dislocated his finger and injured his ankle again. He is currently practicing on a limited basis, suggested he is not fully healthy once again. If that is the case, it will be difficult for Beckham to hit value for his current price tag.
Beckham will be shadowed by Casey Hayward this week. Hayward is tied with Jalen Ramsey as Pro Football Focus’ top cornerback this season. He’s allowing a 54% catch rate, while playing against team’s top receivers each week. The matchup against Beckham will work out well, as Hayward plays the majority of his snaps as the left outside cornerback, while Backheam plays most of his snaps as the right outside receiver. Other top receivers have struggled against Hayward this season, and Beckham is a risky option with an inaccurate quarterback throwing to him in a tough matchup.
Larry Fitzgerald vs Patrick Robinson
Fitzgerald posted an elite 13/149/1 line against the Dallas Cowboys a couple weeks ago, but outside of that game, he has struggled quite a bit. He posted a decent line against the 49ers last week, but he caught his touchdown, which was the majority of his fantasy points, in overtime. He also struggled against the Colts and Lions in two matchups this season. He is a player that relies heavily on targets, but he has received less than eight targets in two of his four starts this season. He’s far from a dominant receiver in the NFL anymore.
Fitzgerald is in a questionable spot this week. He has played 67% of his snaps in the slot this season, meaning he will be covered by Patrick Robinson, who has played 84% of his snaps at slot corner this season. Robinson has struggled quite a bit in the past, but he has currently graded out as the third best cornerback in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus this season. While I’m not convinced Robinson has all of the sudden become an elite defender, he is playing like one, which is all that matters this weekend. It is impossible to trust an inefficient player in a tough matchup on a large slate of games.
By: Justin Bales (Twitter)