Matchups to Attack
Randall Cobb vs Kenny Vaccaro
Randall Cobb has cooled down after a hot start to the season, but he is still a respectable option this week. On the season, he is averaging 6.8 targets per game, posting a tremendous 76.5% catch rate. Surprisingly, Cobb only has three red zone targets this season, although he has converted one into a touchdown. Cobb will be playing with a new quarterback in Brett Hundley this week, but Cobb could be a safety valve, as he runs the majority of his routes near the line of scrimmage.
Cobb is a true slot receiver, running 86% of his routes out of the slot this season. He gets a matchup against Kenny Vaccaro, who played 96% of his snaps in the slow. He has graded out as the worst cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, allowing a 71% catch rate this season. He is also targeted on 19% of passing plays, which is an above average rate. Cobb could see a few extra targets because of this matchup, as well. Couple Cobb’s catch rate with Vaccaro’s catch rate allowed this season, and Cobb makes an efficient fantasy option this week.
Adam Thielen vs Lardarius Webb
Adam Thielen has been one of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL this season. He has at least five receptions in every game this season. He is also averaging 8.8 targets per game. Furthermore, he has been a significantly better fantasy option at home, where he is averaging a 7/102.8 line this season. Thielen has yet to find the end zone, but he has been targeted four times in the red zone, which is tied for the second most on the Vikings team. He has yet to even catch a red zone target, but his outstanding 71.7% catch rate suggests touchdowns will be coming.
Thielen has moved to the slot this season, running 62% of his routes as the slot receiver. He will play the majority of his snaps against Lardarius Webb, who has played 97% of his snaps in the slot this season. Webb has averages very similar to Kenny Vaccaro, as he Webb has allowed a 69% catch rate and he has been targeted on 19% of routes this season. Overall, he has graded out as a bottom-10 cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Thielen is not a player that needs a great matchup to produce, but being guarded by Webb this week will make his job that much easier.
Robert Woods vs Justin Bethel
Robert Woods came in to be a new weapon for Jared Goff this season, but it seemed as if the Rams brought in Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins to take over, pushing Woods to clean up duty. That has not been the case, though, as Woods is leading the team in targets through six games. He is averaging a respectable 6.2 targets per game, and he has seen at least seven targets in three of his last four games. He is seemingly taking over the targets after receiving five or less targets in his first two games. Woods has only struggled scoring touchdowns, as he is not a major factor in the Rams red zone offense.
While Sammy Watkins has found very little success this season, Patrick Peterson is expected to shadow him because of his talent. That leaves Justin Bethel to guard Woods in this game. Woods has spent 59% of his snaps as the right outside receiver this season, while Bethel has moved all over the formation because of Peterson shadowing top receivers. Regardless of where he has been playing, Bethel has struggled. He’s currently allowing a 67% catch rate, while grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 11th worst cornerback in the NFL. Furthermore, Bethel has been targeted on 19% of his routes covered. Woods is a cheap way to get a part of a high scoring Rams offense.
Matchups to Avoid
Kelvin Benjamin vs Prince Amukamara
Kelvin Benjamin has looked good for the most part this season, but he has not seen a ton of volume. He is third on the team in targets behind Christian McCaffrey and Devin Funchess. He is also third on the team in red zone targets behind the two players mentioned above. Surprisingly, Benjamin has seen five or less targets in three of his six games this season, and he has recorded less than five receptions in four of six games.
Benjamin has played 52% of his snaps as the outside left wide receiver. He will play the majority of the game across from Prince Amukamara, who has played 99% of his snaps as the outside right cornerback. Amukamara has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 16th best corner this season, allowing only a 50% catch rate. More importantly, Amukamara has only been targeted on 8% of his routes covered, which ranks second in the NFL. The Panthers have had games in which they essentially ignore Benjamin, and it would not be shocking if they do that once again this weekend.
Demaryius Thomas vs Casey Hayward
Thomas is coming off a dominant game against a tough cornerback in Janoris Jenkins, but he has struggled at times this season. He is averaging only a 5.6/76.0 line through five games. He also has yet to find the end zone this season. It is tough to know what the Broncos plans are for Thomas this week with Emmanuel Sanders out. It will be interesting to see if the Broncos are planning on getting other receivers involved or if they will be peppering Thomas with targets even in a tough matchup.
With Sanders out, the Chargers decision was made significantly easier. Casey Hayward is going to shadow Thomas throughout the game. Luckily for Hayward, Thomas has only played 11% of his snaps out of the slot this season, meaning Hayward will be able to stay on the outside, where he is a much more natural player. Hayward is asked to shadow top receivers on a weekly basis, but he has still graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 13th best cornerback this season. He has allowed a 59% catch rate, but he has only been targeted on 14% of routes covered. It is never wise to attack an elite cornerback, especially when they can put help over top because of a lack of other options on the offense.
T.Y. Hilton vs Jalen Ramsey
Hilton has been the definition of a boom or bust player this season. He has recorded seven receptions with 150+ yards in two games this season, but he failed to record more than four receptions and 60 yards in any other game. He is leading the team in targets, but only has a 61.0% catch rate and one touchdown this season. Generally, Hilton is a player that can be considered in good matchups, but this is not a matchup that can be taken advantage of.
Hilton has played 42% of his snaps as the right outside receiver this season. He will face off against Jalen Ramsey, who plays the majority of his snaps as the left outside corner. Ramsey has graded out as the third best corner in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, and he has allowed a low 43% catch rate this season. Ramsey does not shadow players, though, and Hilton will line up against A.J. Bouye when he moves to the left outside receiver. Bouye is also an elite cornerback, though, grading out as the eighth best corner in the NFL. He has also allowed a ridiculous 34% catch rate. Regardless of where Hilton lines up, he will get a tough matchup this weekend, making him a player to avoid.
By: Justin Bales (Twitter)