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Week 4 WR/CB mismatches and shadow coverages to leverage in DFS & fantasy football leagues

Bills receiver Stefon Diggs tries to run past Pittsburgh defender Joe Haden. Diggs had nine catches for 69-yards. Jg 091221 Bills 25

Week 4 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.

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

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cincinnati Bengals

Jaguars Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L D.J. Chark Jr. 76 + 198 4.34 1.41 Eli Apple 73 + 203 4.4 1.07
R Marvin Jones Jr. 74 + 198 N/A 1.62 Chidobe Awuzie 72 + 202 4.43 0.75
S Laviska Shenault Jr. 74 + 220 4.58 0.93 Mike Hilton 69 + 184 N/A 0.86

Projected shadow matchups: Marvin Jones vs. Chidobe Awuzie, D.J. Chark vs. Eli Apple

WR/CB breakdown: Trevor Lawrence has fed the following teammates at least five targets through three weeks of action:

This offense has been riding the struggle bus for most of the season, but Jones’ status as the No. 1 pass-game option gives him the nod as the wide receiver room’s preferred fantasy option. Awuzie isn’t a liability by any stretch and deserves credit for checking Justin Jefferson (5-71-0) fairly well in Week 1; Jones can still be treated as a borderline WR3 as the most-fed option in his aerial attack.

Chark is plenty capable of defeating Apple’s shadow coverage and would be my secondary pick inside this passing game for showdown slate purposes; try to avoid this group otherwise in season-long formats. It’s been a rough start to the career for Lawrence, as the rookie has set league-worst marks in both turnover-worthy plays (9) as well as turnover-worthy play rate (7%). Don’t feel like having zero Jaguars in your starting fantasy lineup is a bad thing.

TE breakdown: Adding Dan Arnold made sense with O’Shaughnessy (ankle, IR) sidelined for the foreseeable future. The ex-Saints/Cardinals/Panthers tight end is essentially a wide receiver and figures to take over as the position’s top pass-game option sooner rather than later; it’s just asking a lot for that to occur by Thursday since he’s literally only been on the team since Monday. Avoid this situation for a week, but Arnold could earn upside TE2 status eventually if he’s able to earn a featured role.

Bengals Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Ja'Marr Chase 73 + 200 N/A 2.75 Shaquill Griffin 72 + 198 4.38 1.33
R Auden Tate 77 + 228 4.68 0.78 Tyson Campbell 74 + 185 N/A 2.1
S Tyler Boyd 74 + 203 4.58 1.81 Chris Claybrooks 72 + 170 N/A 3.36

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Joe Burrow has largely been average when throwing this season; the difference between 2021 and 2020 has come down to volume. Last year, Burrow led the NFL in dropbacks prior to being injured; he ranks just 28th through three weeks of 2021 (pre-MNF). Overall, his average of 45.3 dropbacks per game in 2020 has fallen all the way to 28.3.

Chase has scored four touchdowns this season; every other rookie wide receiver has combined for three scores. The “problem” is Chase has posted his 5-101-1, 2-54-1 and 4-65-2 receiving lines on just seven, four and five targets. The 2021 NFL Draft’s No. 5 overall pick has exceeded expectations ever since playing his first (real) professional game; just realize his volume is more in line with an upside WR3 as opposed to the overall PPR WR11 he’s functioned as for the first three weeks of the season.

Tee Higgins (shoulder) was listed as doubtful ahead of last week. His return would be a slight ding to Tyler Boyd’s target floor, although the Bengals’ long-time slot receiver is certainly capable of making the most out of his opportunities either way.

Chase (my WR25) should be starting in the vast majority of lineups, while Boyd (WR29) is also set up well against a Jaguars defense that has allowed the fourth-most yards per attempt to receivers aligned in the slot this season. The latter receiver would fall a few notches with the return of Higgins, who could additionally be fired up as a WR3 option against the league’s 28th-ranked scoring defense.

Free Auden Tate.

TE breakdown: C.J. Uzomah is playing a near full-time role but has received just five total targets in three games inside of this newfound, run-first offense. He’s nothing more than a DFS showdown dart despite the cozy matchup.

Related content for you: Fantasy Football Utilization Report: Week 4 waivers, trades and drops via Dwain McFarland

Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets

Titans Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Julio Jones 75 + 220 4.34 2.24 Brandin Echols 71 + 178 N/A 1.18
R A.J. Brown 72 + 226 4.49 1.1 Bryce Hall 73 + 200 N/A 0.75
S Chester Rogers 72 + 184 N/A 1.17 Michael Carter II 71 + 190 N/A 0.69

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: AJB (hamstring) is considered week-to-week. Pain. In his absence, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (78% snaps) worked well ahead of Chester Rogers (41%) and Cameron Batson (40%).

The only viable fantasy option this week is sir Julio Jones (leg), who also isn’t operating at 100% at the moment. If active, he should be able to play bully ball against the undersized Brandin Echols. The Jets haven’t made a habit of moving their corners to match up with specific receivers this season, and I’d take Julio one-on-one against anybody on the Jets roster regardless.

Yes, Jones has disappointed with two performances under 50 yards in the first three weeks. Also yes, his 6-128-0 line in Week 2 should’ve included a short score and showed the long-time Falcons stud can still rack up chunk gains in a hurry. The Jets are one of just 10 defenses to allow at least nine yards per attempt to receivers aligned out wide; Jones is my WR15 on the week ahead of fellow ballers like Tyler Lockett and Mike Williams thanks to his suddenly clear status as this offense’s No. 1 pass-game option.

TE breakdown: Anthony Firkser (knee) remains sidelined; none of the Titans’ complementary options at the position are consistently involved enough in the passing game to warrant fantasy consideration.

PFF’s Fantasy Football Rankings include ranks from our experts, projections and our Strength of Schedule metric. Subscribe today for access…
Jets Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Elijah Moore 69 + 185 N/A 0.77 Kristian Fulton 72 + 200 4.46 0.81
R Corey Davis 75 + 209 N/A 1.46 Jackrabbit Jenkins 70 + 190 N/A 1.35
S Braxton Berrios 69 + 190 N/A 1.61 Chris Jackson 72 + 186 N/A 1.16

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Corey Davis experience has been on full display through three weeks:

  • Week 1: PPR WR5
  • Week 2: WR89
  • Week 3: WR52

Life hasn’t been smooth for this Jets offense thanks to an opening schedule consisting of three straight rather brutal matchups against the Panthers, Patriots and Broncos. Through it all, Davis has emerged as the clear-cut No. 1 pass-game option, racking up a team-high 22 targets and accounting for the team’s only two scores of the season. Up next is a smashable spot against one of just four defenses to allow at least 50 PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers; treat Davis as an upside WR3 who should be in more starting lineups than not.

Elijah Moore (concussion) could be sidelined ahead of the first winnable spot the Jets have seen all season. PFF’s single-most underachieving receiver in terms of actual fantasy points vs. expected, Moore has been getting some solid volume over the past two weeks but unfortunately might not be healthy enough to suit up this Sunday. The likes of Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims are candidates to find roles in the passing game if Moore is ultimately sidelined; let’s chill on the idea of starting any complementary piece in this passing game until it looks somewhat possible for this offense to flirt with scoring even 20 points.

TE breakdown: Neither Ryan Griffin nor Tyler Kroft are realistic fantasy options while splitting reps inside of the league’s 32nd-ranked scoring offense. Oddly enough, the Titans have only surrendered four catches for 27-scoreless yards to opposing tight ends all season.

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