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Week 15 WR/CB mismatches and shadow coverages to leverage in DFS & fantasy football leagues

Inglewood, California, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) tries to run past Los Angeles Rams defensive back David Long (22) during the third quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 is here! I'll be breaking down the WR/CB matchups all season long with a focus on figuring out who could be facing shadow coverage as well as the best and worst overall situations. We'll also briefly touch on each team's tight end group.

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The following tables denote every player’s: most frequent alignment, height (inches), weight (pounds), 40-yard dash (seconds) and yards per route run/coverage snap. Note that wide receivers regularly move all around the formation; these are just their primary alignments. Additionally, shadow matchups almost never feature a true 100% matchup rate; general practice in fantasy land is to start your studs as opposed to overweighting a perceived tough matchup.

KC @ LAC | LV @ CLE | NE @ IND | DAL @ NYG | HOU @ JAX | TEN @ PIT | NYJ @ MIA | WFT @ PHI | ARI @ DET | CAR @ BUF | CIN @ DEN | ATL @ SF | SEA @ LAR | GB @ BAL | NO @ TB | MIN @ CHI

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers

Chiefs Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Demarcus Robinson 73 + 203 4.59 0.56 Michael Davis 74 + 196 N/A 1.02
R Tyreek Hill 70 + 185 N/A 2.15 Tevaughn Campbell 72 + 195 N/A 1.46
S Byron Pringle 74 + 205 4.46 1.38 Chris Harris Jr. 70 + 199 N/A 0.99

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Mahomes and company were largely flawless during their 48-9 destruction of the Raiders on Sunday. Unfortunately, we already saw essentially this same game play out back in Week 10. The larger problem has been everything in between. The following metrics denote Mahomes’ performance against the Raiders compared to everyone else over the past 10 weeks:

  • vs. Raiders: 76.6 PFF passing grade, 7 TD, 0 INT, 9.0 YPA, 74.3% completion rate
  • Everyone else: 62.5 PFF passing grade, 6 TD, 8 INT, 6.1 YPA, 59.9% completion rate

Of course, Mahomes did start the season on a tear, throwing for at least three scores and averaging 304 pass yards per game through the first four weeks; just realize we’ve pretty much only seen that version of him against the Raiders ever since.

Yes, the Chargers boast the league’s second-best defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers. Also yes, they’ve been flamed by guys like Tee Higgins (9-138-1), Justin Jefferson (9-143-0), Diontae Johnson (7-101-1) and DeVonta Smith (5-116-1) over the past five weeks. Obviously Tyreek Hill remains plenty capable of blowing up against any secondary; don’t be surprised if his nine-game streak with fewer than 100 receiving yards doesn’t make it to double-digits.

The Chiefs largely haven’t enabled a fantasy-relevant complementary receiver even when things have been clicking; there’s no need to mess around with any of these other wide receivers in a tough matchup with the fantasy playoffs on the line.

TE breakdown: Travis Kelce is presently being outscored by Mark Andrews; 2015 was the last time the former talent didn’t finish as fantasy’s top-scoring player at the position. The primary issue for Kelce has been a general lack of scoring opportunities:

  • 2021: 1 end zone target
  • 2020: 12
  • 2019: 8
  • 2018: 11
  • 2017: 10
  • 2016: 8

Obviously no one would ever dream of putting Kelce anywhere near a fantasy bench; here’s to hoping Mahomes can feed his longtime BFF some more fantasy-friendly opportunities down the stretch. Credit to Kelce for clearing the century mark against this defense back in Week 3; his outlook would be even better than usual if all-world S Derwin James (hamstring) is unable to suit up.

Chargers Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Mike Williams 76 + 220 N/A 1.95 Mike Hughes 70 + 189 4.53 1.26
R Jalen Guyton 73 + 202 N/A 1.05 Charvarius Ward 73 + 200 N/A 0.97
S Keenan Allen 74 + 211 N/A 1.91 Rashad Fenton 71 + 193 4.52 0.76

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Keenan Allen is good to go for Thursday night after missing last week’s game due to covid. He’s been on an absolute heater since the Chargers’ Week 7 bye:

  • Week 8: 6 receptions-77 yards-1 TD (11 targets)
  • Week 9: 12-104-0 (13)
  • Week 10: 8-98-0 (11)
  • Week 11: 9-112-0 (13)
  • Week 12: 7-85-0 (10)
  • Week 13: 5-34-2 (8)

The WR10 in PPR points per game, Allen remains locked in as a WR1 and is set up well against a Chiefs defense that he’s personally flamed to the tune of 8-50-1, 7-96-0, 9-82-1, 8-71-1 and 8-108-1 performances in their last five non-injury-induced matchups.

The bigger question is what to do with Mike Williams, who simply hasn’t had many opportunities to show what he can do in recent weeks. Consider: Williams posted 8-82-1, 7-91-1, 7-122-1 and 8-165-2 receiving lines in four games with more than eight targets in Weeks 1-5; he’s failed to clear that threshold on even one occasion ever since. Credit to Williams for demonstrating at least a decent floor with WR10, WR20 and WR39 finishes in three of his last four games; just realize he’s nothing more than a boom-or-bust WR3 with Allen and Austin Ekeler soaking up most of the underneath work. He’s not a must-start option against a Chiefs defense that hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in a game since October ended.

Josh Palmer was the main beneficiary of Allen’s absence last week, although Jalen Guyton also managed to make his presence felt. Ultimately, either talent has the chance to pop off during any given week thanks to Justin Herbert’s usual status as a wizard; just realize they don’t have the sort of target floor to warrant season-long fantasy consideration.

TE breakdown: The Chargers didn’t have a single tight end reach the 50% snap threshold last week. Alone, any of Jared Cook, Donald Parham or even Stephen Anderson would probably be a fantasy TE1. Together, none are recommended starts due to volume concerns. Cook is my PPR TE19 on the week behind guys like Tyler Higbee, Cole Kmet and Noah Fant.

Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns

Raiders Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Bryan Edwards 75 + 215 N/A 1.17 Greedy Williams 74 + 185 4.37 1.47
R Zay Jones 74 + 200 4.45 1.06 Denzel Ward 71 + 190 4.32 0.83
S Hunter Renfrow 70 + 184 4.59 2.1 M.J. Stewart #ERROR! N/A 0

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Hunter Renfrow has posted the following production in six games since this offense lost Henry Ruggs:

  • Week 9: 7 receptions-49 yards-1 TD (9 targets), PPR WR11
  • Week 10: 7-46-1 (9), WR11
  • Week 11: 4-30-0 (4), WR53
  • Week 12: 8-134-0 (9), WR5
  • Week 13: 9-102-0 (10), WR12
  • Week 14: 13-117-1 (14), WR1

The offense has scored 16 or fewer points in five of those six games; in no way has this stretch coincided with the Raiders playing their best offensive football. Still, it’s at least nice when bad offenses can still provide a viable fantasy asset or two (looking at you, Jacksonville).

The Browns defense ranks sixth in explosive pass play rate and first in contested target rate allowed this season; Carr and company aren’t set up well to get right in this tough road spot, but that doesn’t mean Renfrow will stop vacuuming up receptions anytime soon. He’s my PPR WR17 on the week ahead of guys like Tee Higgins, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

DeSean Jackson finally played at least half of the offense’s snaps last week, but even then he posted a modest 51% snap rate. He has two or fewer targets in all but one game with the Raiders and isn’t anything more than a boom or (more likely) bust WR5. Neither Zay Jones nor Bryan Edwards are recommended fantasy options.

TE breakdown: Foster Moreau in four games as the Raiders’ primary tight end this season: 6-60-1, 1-3-0, 1-34-0 and 3-13-0. Sheesh. He’s still a high-end TE2 thanks to his every-down role if Darren Waller (knee) remains sidelined; just realize the floor here is painfully low for everyone other than Renfrow these days. Hopefully Waller is healthy enough to return; he’d be back to top-five tight end status in a heartbeat against a Browns defense that is one of just six units to allow at least eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season. Only Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews have averaged more expected PPR points per game than Waller among all tight ends this season.

Browns Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Donovan Peoples-Jones 74 + 208 4.48 1.57 Casey Hayward Jr. 71 + 192 N/A 0.52
R Ja'Marcus Bradley 73 + 195 N/A 1.6 Trayvon Mullen 74 + 199 4.46 1.47
S Rashard Higgins 73 + 198 4.64 0.85 Nate Hobbs 72 + 195 N/A 0.73

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Jarvis Landry (covid, IR) is out, meaning Donovan Peoples-Jones could see all sorts of targets by default.

And yet, it remains difficult to fire up any Browns wide receiver as more than a low-floor WR3 in fantasy land. On the season Baker Mayfield has thrown just five touchdowns to players designated as a wide receivers; guys like Sam Darnold (6), Trevor Siemian (6), Teddy Bridgewater (7), Jameis Winston (7), Jared Goff (7), Trevor Lawrence (7), Ben Roethlisberger and Jalen Hurts (8) among many others have thrown more.

The Raiders have allowed the sixth-fewest PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers this season thanks to usually superb play from Casey Hayward (PFF’s No. 18-ranked corner in coverage grade); DPJ is my WR38 on the week ahead of guys like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jamison Crowder and Christian Kirk; don’t get carried away with anyone involved in this rather dreadful passing game. Only Texans-Jaguars (39.5) have a lower game total than Raiders-Browns (40) ahead of their potentially rainy Saturday afternoon matchup.

TE breakdown: David Njoku would be a top-12 option at the position if Harrison Bryant (ankle) joins Austin Hooper (covid, IR) on the sideline. However, Bryant managed to return to practice this week and appears to be on track to suit up Saturday. This would render both Njoku and Bryant as touchdown-dependent TE2 types. It’s simply tough in fantasy football land for an offense with multiple tight ends to enable a single high-end fantasy option, although it’d make sense if whoever winds up seeing the most targets has more success than usual against the Raiders’ 31st-ranked defense in PPR points allowed per game to the position.

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