Week 3 WR/CB mismatches and shadow coverages to leverage in DFS & fantasy football leagues | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Projections | PFF

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Week 3 WR/CB mismatches and shadow coverages to leverage in DFS & fantasy football leagues

Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) and wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) return to the locker room following a 37-27 victory against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 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 snap rate data by alignment, target share, air yard market share, yards per route run and yards allowed per 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.

Jump to a game:

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

Carolina Panthers @ Houston Texans 

Panthers Offense
WR Player H / W 40 YPRR CB H / W 40 YPRR
L D.J. Moore 71 / 215 4.42 2.21 Vernon Hargreaves III 70 / 204 4.5 0.47
R Robby Anderson 75 / 190 N/A 1.4 Tremon Smith 71 / 190 N/A N/A
S Terrace Marshall Jr. 75 / 200 N/A 0.91 Desmond King II 70 / 200 N/A 1.35

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Sam Darnold has truly played well through the first two weeks. Let’s not crown him just yet though, beating down the Jets defense and a Saints unit missing five starters wasn’t exactly the most-difficult challenge in the world.

Still, at a minimum, the world can be thankful that Darnold is seemingly ready to feature D.J. Moore as the No. 1 receiver he was born to be. Through two weeks, only Moore (19 targets) and Christian McCaffrey (15) have double-digit pass-game opportunities in this offense. This isn’t to suggest Terrace Marshall (9) and Robby Anderson (8) won’t get more involved down the stretch, but clearly Moore is the alpha. This is also reflected by the change in average target depth from 2020 to 2021: Moore (9.2 vs. 13.8) has roamed the intermediate areas of the field more often after being used as more of a field-stretching option last year, while the days of Anderson (22.3 vs. 9.8) doing anything other than running deep seem to be over.

Related content for you: NFL Week 3 Fantasy Football Rankings via Andrew Erickson

The Texans haven’t faced a true stud receiver like Moore yet; don’t be surprised if 2020’s seventh-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers is exposed. Moore is my WR15 on the week ahead of guys like Allen Robinson, Terry McLaurin and Julio Jones. I’m less confident about Anderson (WR42) and Marshall (WR65) due to volume concerns, although this is obviously a matchup to prioritize if any start/sit tiebreaker situations occur involving the Panthers’ complementary receivers..

TE breakdown: Quit trying to make Darnold to Dan Arnold happen. Yes, the fourth-year veteran essentially has a wide receiver skill-set that allows him to look good while making a splash play from time to time, but Ian Thomas is playing the heavy majority of snaps while stealing a few targets as well. Refrain from treating either as a realistic fantasy option unless a true takeover occurs.

Texans Offense
WR Player H / W 40 YPRR CB H / W 40 YPRR
L Brandin Cooks 70 / 183 4.33 3.23 A.J. Bouye 72 / 191 N/A N/A
R Chris Conley 75 / 205 4.35 1.03 Donte Jackson 70 / 180 4.32 1.04
S Anthony Miller 71 / 190 N/A N/A Jaycee Horn 73 / 205 N/A 0.25

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Brandin Cooks posted a stupid 50% target rate with Davis Mills under center in place of Tyrod Taylor (hamstring) last week. The veteran receiver has largely done nothing other than ball out in six games since taking over as the Texans’ true No. 1 pass-game option.

  • Week 13, 2020: 5 rec-65 yards-0 TD, fantasy WR43
  • Week 15, 2020: 6-59-0, WR35
  • Week 16, 2020: 7-141-1, WR5
  • Week 17, 2020: 11-166-2, WR1
  • Week 1, 2021: 5-132-0, WR22
  • Week 2, 2021: 9-78-1, WR8

Brian Burns and this Panthers defense have been one of the best early surprises of the year; there’s a reason why the Texans are implied to score a putrid 17.75 points. Still, the 2021 Texans have established Cooks as the featured No. 1 option; he can still be fired up as an upside WR3 with his sort of guaranteed high-end volume, even if it’s not guaranteed to be pretty.

Nobody else on the Texans offense should be touched with a 10-foot pole in this less than ideal spot.

TE breakdown: Please refer to the previous sentence.


Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs 

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