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Fantasy Football: Week 8 WR/CB matchups and TE breakdown

Sep 20, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) rushes with the football after catching a pass during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

We're on to Week 8! 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 TE 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.

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

Falcons Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Julio Jones 75 220 4.34 2.6 Donte Jackson 70 180 4.32 0.73
R Calvin Ridley 73 190 4.43 2.29 Troy Pride Jr. 72 190 4.4 1.61
S Russell Gage 72 184 1.71 Jeremy Chinn 74 211 4.45 0.73

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Calvin Ridley had a Week 4 dud that was more due to Matt Ryan’s incompetence than Jaire Alexander. Either way, he’s otherwise been nothing short of remarkable:

  • Week 1: 9 receptions-130 yards-2 TD (PPR WR2)
  • Week 2: 7-109-2 (WR1)
  • Week 3: 5-110-0 (WR25)
  • Week 4: 0-0-0 (WR113)
  • Week 5: 8-136-0 (WR10)
  • Week 6: 6-61-1 (WR7)
  • Week 7: 5-69-1 (WR16)

And then we have Julio Jones, who has posted 8-137-2 and 8-97-0 lines while playing through pain over the past two weeks. The reality that ex-Panthers cornerback James Bradberry now plays for the Giants makes this matchup more appealing than ever.

Carolina has surprisingly boasted the league’s fourth-stingiest defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers, but Jones and Ridley are about as matchup-proof as you’ll find at the position when things are clicking like they are right now. Both are ranked among my top-five wideouts this week.

It looked like Russell Gage might flirt with double-digit targets on a weekly basis to start the year, but that’s faded as the season has gone on and tight end Hayden Hurst has gotten more involved. The low-upside slot receiver shouldn’t be treated as more than a borderline WR4 more weeks than not.

TE breakdown: Hurst is the PPR TE7 through seven weeks. The Falcons seem to design at least one shot play downfield for him a game, and he’s managed to establish a floor recently with at least four catches in three of the Falcons’ past four contests. This contest carries a more-than-solid game total of 50 points; don’t be surprised if Hurst again finds a way to catch more than a few balls and perhaps find the end zone against PFF’s 29th-ranked defense.

Panthers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L D.J. Moore 71 215 4.42 2.33 Kendall Sheffield 72 193 2.77
R Robby Anderson 75 190 2.76 A.J. Terrell 73 190 4.42 1.44
S Curtis Samuel 71 195 4.31 1.48 Isaiah Oliver 72 210 4.5 1.67

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: It’s not D.J. Moore or Robby Anderson; it’s Moore and Anderson:

  • Moore: 24% target share (No. 14 among all WRs); 41% air-yard share (No. 5)
  • Anderson: 27% target share (No. 7); 40% air-yard share (No. 6)

Continue to fire up both receivers as every-week WR2s. The upside is particularly high ahead of this matchup against the Falcons’ 28th-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers. Neither Moore (4-93-1) nor Anderson (8-112-0) had much of a problem getting open against this group in Week 5.

Curtis Samuel has largely played well this season, catching 25-of-29 targets for 231 scoreless yards — good for a career-best 8 yards per target. He should see more of a full-time role moving forward after the Panthers released No. 4 receiver Seth Roberts. Samuel is still going to be the offense’s No. 4 pass-game option more weeks than not, but the team’s willingness to hand him the ball at least once or twice a game helps offset the lack of overall target share. It’s too early to treat Samuel as a realistic starting option in most leagues, but realize this is still a talented player we’re dealing with.

TE breakdown: Ian Thomas played a season-high 70% snaps in Week 7, but this 2020 version of the Panthers' offense seemingly has no interest in getting the tight end position consistently involved in the passing game. He’s not on the fantasy radar at the moment.

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

Vikings Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Justin Jefferson 73 202 4.43 3.2 Josh Jackson 72 196 4.56 0.49
R Adam Thielen 74 200 2.22 Jaire Alexander 70 196 4.38 0.55
S Chad Beebe 70 183 0.57 Chandon Sullivan 71 194 4.6 1.13

Projected shadow matchups: Adam Thielen vs. Jaire Alexander, Justin Jefferson vs. Josh Jackson

WR/CB breakdown: Yes, Alexander is PFF’s highest-graded cornerback this season and has given Calvin Ridley (0-0-0), Mike Evans (1-10-0) and Will Fuller V (3-35-1) fits.

Also yes, this is a matchup that Thielen has a history of winning in a major way. Overall, Alexander has shadowed the Vikings’ No. 1 wide receiver on two occasions since entering the league in 2018.

  • 2018, Week 12: 8 receptions-125 yards-1 TD (9 targets)
  • 2020, Week 1: 6-110-2 (8)

Those are full-game stat lines, but we still have plenty of #film showing that Alexander’s direct coverage simply hasn’t historically been much of a problem for Thielen.

Continue to fire up Thielen as the top-10 option that he’s been all season.

Jefferson also deserves near auto-start treatment at this point. The Vikings are certainly a run-first offense, but Kirk Cousins is averaging career-high marks in yards per attempt (8.1) and average target depth (10.6) alike. Only Davante Adams has averaged more yards per route run than the Vikings’ stud rookie wideout, and he’s done nothing except ball out all season. Jefferson is my overall 15th-ranked wide receiver in Week 8.

None of the Vikings’ additional complementary receivers are realistic fantasy options in this two-tight end heavy offense.

TE breakdown: Unfortunately, neither Kyle Rudolph nor Irv Smith Jr. can be relied on for anything resembling consistent fantasy production as long as they each remain healthy. Perhaps Smith’s 4-64-0 and 4-55-0 receiving lines in Weeks 5-6 are a sign of things to come, but this situation has truly been split down the middle over the past two seasons.

Overall, Smith (63 targets) has just barely been more involved than Rudolph (62) since 2019. Neither are top-20 options this week despite both being talented enough players to function as legit TE1s in a less-crowded position room.

Packers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Davante Adams 73 215 4.56 3.33 Cameron Dantzler 74 185 4.64 1.98
R Marquez Valdes-Scantling 76 206 4.37 1.31 Harrison Hand 72 192 4.52 0.82
S Darrius Shepherd 71 188 0.64 Jeff Gladney 72 183 4.48 2.05

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Davante Adams has received 17, 10 and 16 targets in his only three games in which he was fully healthy this season. That means he’s on pace to still rack up an absurd 161 targets despite missing two full games. The Packers' undisputed No. 1 wide receiver has posted 4-44-1, 5-54-1, 8-63-1, 5-69-1, 7-106-0, 13-116-0 and, most recently, 14-156-2 receiving lines against this secondary. Assuming good health, Adams will be fantasy’s overall WR1 for the rest of the 2020 season.

Eventually, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is going to catch a deep ball and find the end zone, but four consecutive games with fewer than 50 receiving yards and no scores takes him off the re-draft landscape. None of the offense's other wideouts have a full-time role in this two-tight end and two-running back heavy offense.

The Vikings have allowed the third-most PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers this season; it's unfortunate that we don’t have another viable option in the fold, but feel free to treat Adams as arguably the surest thing in all of fantasy football in this dream spot.

TE breakdown: Robert Tonyan (50% snaps) and Marcedes Lewis (50%) were equally involved in Week 8, while Jace Sternberger (32%) also saw plenty of reps. I’d bet on Tonyan being the better fantasy option more weeks than not, but this sort of usage makes him more of a borderline TE1 option instead of a weekly top-five pick. Truly everything behind Adams in this passing game is a bit uncertain.

Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals

Titans Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L A.J. Brown 72 226 4.49 2.5 Darius Phillips 70 190 4.54 1.12
R Corey Davis 75 209 1.87 LeShaun Sims 72 203 4.53 2.04
S Adam Humphries 71 195 1.66 Mackensie Alexander 70 192 1.42

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Perhaps the Bengals decide to have William Jackson III track A.J. Brown on the outside. Whatever. AJB WR1 szn is here to stay, regardless of the matchup; the Titans’ No. 1 pass-game option is one of just five receivers averaging at least 20 PPR points per game in 2020:

Yes, Brown’s sky-high marks in yards per target and yards after the catch per reception have slightly regressed this season. Also yes, the Titans are throwing the ball more and operating at a much faster pace than last season. This has helped AJB see more volume than ever; expect him to continue to make the most of it.

Corey Davis has at least five targets in every game this season, something that was also true for Adam Humphries before last week. Ultimately, this spot doesn’t exactly seem like a situation in which the Titans will have to keep their foot on the gas in the passing game. Beyond AJB and tight end Jonnu Smith, refrain from putting too much stock in any of the passing game’s complementary options. 

TE breakdown: Smith played through the pain in Week 7, ultimately getting a hefty 70% snap rate and commanding four targets. The 1-9-0 receiving line was hardly ideal, but the Titans’ beast of a starting tight end remains one of few players at his position capable of functioning as his offense’s No. 2 pass-game option during any given week. Ride Smith as a top-six option at the position against the league’s fourth-worst defense in PPR points allowed to opposing tight ends.

Bengals Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L A.J. Green 76 210 4.48 1.2 Malcolm Butler 71 190 1.56
R Tee Higgins 76 215 1.74 Johnathan Joseph 71 186 4.31 1.11
S Tyler Boyd 74 203 4.58 1.78 Kristian Fulton 72 200 4.46 1.35

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Titans used Malcolm Butler to shadow Chase Claypool in Week 7, but they otherwise haven’t asked any of their corners to follow a specific receiver all season. Perhaps Butler is assigned to A.J. Green in Week 8; either way, it’s not a matchup to be overly concerned about.

The key for these Bengals wide receivers doesn’t have much to do with this secondary. Rather, it’s the Titans’ 22nd-ranked pressure rate that sets up this passing game so well. Joe Burrow has posted a 100.6 passer rating while averaging 7.6 yards per attempt when kept clean compared to a 57.6 Qpasser rating with an average of just 4.9 yards per attempt under pressure this season. The 2020 first-overall pick has been the league’s 15th-most sensitive quarterback to pressure among 39 qualified signal-callers in terms of the difference in yards per attempt when kept clean versus when under pressure.

Nobody has dropped back to pass more often than Burrow. This makes the Bengals one of few offenses capable of feasibly enabling three fantasy-relevant wide receivers in more weeks than not. I’m still prioritizing Tyler Boyd (WR19) and Tee Higgins (WR27) ahead of Green (WR36) in the ole fantasy ranks, but this spot against the league’s fourth-worst defense in PPR points allowed per game to the position sure looks like a matchup where all three players could return value.

TE breakdown: It's a small sample size, but it sure looks like Drew Sample won’t be a consistently viable fantasy option. Look, I’m sorry, but it’s Week 8. We like to have fun here. Anyway, don’t play Sample this week. Moving on.

New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs

Jets Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Breshad Perriman 74 215 0.99 Bashaud Breeland 71 195 4.62 0.25
R Denzel Mims 75 215 4.38 1.83 Charvarius Ward 73 200 1.31
S Braxton Berrios 69 190 1.47 Tyrann Mathieu 69 185 4.5 1.02

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Sam Darnold’s target distribution with Jamison Crowder (groin) sidelined in Week 7 was as follows:

Perriman is in the concussion protocol. Berrios isn’t exactly being featured despite being Crowder’s direct backup; most of his production has come on scramble drills throughout the season.

Mims is the only fantasy-relevant option in this passing game at the moment, and even that is a stretch. The Chiefs haven’t been immune to giving up big games through the air (see: Carr, Derek), but they still join the Rams and the Football Team as the only three defenses allowing fewer than 30 PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers.

I like the idea of stashing Mims on the bench more than playing him in this spot.

TE breakdown: I'm truly not sure how Herndon was the star of training camp and a featured part of the passing game and can’t fetch even 3.5 targets per game out of this barren passing game. But alas, this is the world we live in. Nobody other than Mims, and maybe Berrios, is a viable fantasy option in this passing game.

Chiefs Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Demarcus Robinson 73 203 4.59 0.64 Blessuan Austin 73 195 0.7
R Mecole Hardman 70 187 4.33 1.73 Pierre Desir 73 198 4.59 1.42
S Tyreek Hill 70 185 1.73 Brian Poole 69 213 1.13

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The concern for Patrick Mahomes and company in this spot is that the Chiefs will have too easy of a time with the league’s single-worst team in point differential through seven weeks. Still, this scenario also implies Mahomes leading the offense into the end zone on numerous occasions, and there’s no reason to think the passing game won’t be responsible for a majority of those scores against the Jets’ 24th-ranked scoring defense.

At some point, the artist known as TyFreak is going to blow up. His 16-game streak without 100 receiving yards and a score is the longest such drought since his rookie year. The Jets' defense hasn’t been as bad as the overall team performance might indicate, but there isn’t a unit on the planet capable of holding Hill and Mahomes in check when they’re clicking. Hill has scored in all but one game this season and is the overall PPR WR8 despite the “slow start.”

Demarcus Robinson predictably fell back to earth following his solid Week 6 performance, while Hardman made the most out of his two targets and one carry with 2-57-0 receiving and 1-13-0 rushing lines. Unfortunately for Hardman, Byron Pringle worked well ahead of the second-year talent.

We’d need to see an injury to Hill before being able to trust Hardman as more than a dart-throw fantasy option. Ultimately, no wide receiver other than Hill is a viable fantasy option this week in a matchup that, in all likelihood, won’t force the Chiefs to keep their foot on the gas for very long.

TE breakdown: Travis Kelce is well on his way to racking up his fifth straight season as fantasy’s overall PPR TE1. Perhaps even more amazing is the reality that the Chiefs’ 31-year-old tight end looks better than ever; his average of 6.2 yards after the catch per reception is his highest mark since 2016. Continue to fire up Kelce as the No. 1 option at the position, regardless of the matchup.

Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions

Colts Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Marcus Johnson 73 204 2.51 Amani Oruwariye 73 205 4.47 0.92
R T.Y. Hilton 70 183 4.34 1.32 Jeffrey Okudah 73 199 4.48 2.06
S Zach Pascal 74 219 4.55 1.09 Darryl Roberts 72 182 1.58

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Sheesh. Hilton is scoreless on the year and has yet to clear 75 receiving yards. The longtime Colts No. 1 WR hasn’t reached triple-digit yards in a game since December 2018. Hilton had a nullified score in Week 6, leads the Colts in targets on the season and remains the favorite to work as the passing game’s top-option during any given week.

The main problems are:

  1. The Colts have been the league’s 12th-most run-heavy offense this season.
  2. Philip Rivers has fed the offense’s RB (47 targets) and TE (41) groups larger roles than we’ve seen in past editions of this offense.
  3. Both Pascal (six deep-ball targets) and Johnson (five) have been used more frequently than Hilton downfield.
  4. Hilton doesn’t have a single target inside the 10-yard line this season.

Thus, Hilton’s overall potential for targets is smaller than ever, and the targets he does get usually aren’t of the fantasy-friendly variety.

Every Colts WR is outside of my top-40 options this week, despite the winnable matchup. Expect this offense to be the Jonathan Taylor Show more times than not during the second half of the season.

TE breakdown: Trey Burton will remain a viable fantasy option if Mo Alie-Cox (knee) remains sidelined, but otherwise, we’re looking at a fairly evenly distributed three-TE committee, with Jack Doyle the most likely candidate to lead the way in snaps. Similar to Green Bay, this is simply too crowded of a position group to expect much consistent production. Further complicating matters is the obvious reality that this Colts passing game isn’t in the same conversation as the Packers in terms of raw scoring potential. Try to find another option this week.

Lions Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Kenny Golladay 76 213 4.5 2.77 Xavier Rhodes 73 218 4.43 1.03
R Marvin Jones Jr. 74 198 1.04 Rock Ya-Sin 72 192 4.51 1.71
S Danny Amendola 71 190 4.58 1.97 Kenny Moore II 69 190 0.83

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The addition of Golladay has helped this passing game soar in recent weeks:

Stafford wasn’t throwing downfield without his trusted No. 1 WR in the lineup to open up the season, but ever since, he’s regained the sort of gunslinger mentality that we saw in the first half of 2019.

  • Week 1: 9.3-yard average target depth
  • Week 2: 8.8
  • Week 3: 10.2 (Golladay returns)
  • Week 4: 13.3
  • Week 5: Bye
  • Week 6: 11.3
  • Week 7: 10.5

Adrian Peterson has remained annoyingly involved in this offense, but Stafford is coming off his first game with over 300 yards and might be set up better than people think against a Colts defense that has faced off with the Jaguars, Vikings, Jets, Bears, Browns and Bengals to start the season.

Golladay is an every-week top-12 option at the position when healthy, but I’d probably refrain from expecting much of anything from Jones or Amendola. The latter receiver hasn’t found the end zone all season, while the former’s average of 37.7 receiving yards per game is the lowest mark since his rookie year.

TE breakdown: Sheriff Jesse James remains more involved in this offense than T.J. Hockenson’s fantasy managers would prefer. However, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2019 draft has continued to make the most out of his opportunities, posting a season-long 22-256-4 line and functioning as the overall PPR TE8. The Colts have allowed a league-low 5.1 PPR points per game to opposing TEs this season, but Hockenson continues to warrant weekly TE1 treatment as one of the better talents at the position in the entire league. The continued absence of stud LB Darius Leonard (groin) would certainly help Hockenson’s cause.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

Steelers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Diontae Johnson 70 183 4.6 1.75 Jimmy Smith 74 210 4.42 0.35
R Chase Claypool 76 227 4.42 2.58 Marcus Peters 72 195 4.53 1.09
S JuJu Smith-Schuster 73 215 4.54 1.29 Marlon Humphrey 72 197 4.41 1.14

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Only Patrick Mahomes (385-4-0, 374-3-0) has thrown for more than 225 yards with multiple TDs against this Ravens secondary since Week 1 of last season. Big Ben is averaging just 241 passing yards per game through seven weeks — his lowest mark since 2008, excluding his injury-shortened 2019 campaign.

Johnson (ankle) is banged up (again) after catching 9-of-15 targets for 80 yards and a pair of scores in Week 7. His ability to rack up yards after the catch and get open in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field make him the projected No. 1 WR in this offense when everyone is healthy.

JuJu caught 9-of-14 targets for 85 scoreless yards in Week 7, but the fourth-year receiver continued to look like a shell of his former self in terms of athleticism and ability with the ball in his hands:

  • 2017: 2.03 yards per route run (YPRR), 6.8 yards after the catch per reception (YAC/REC), 15.6 yards per reception (YPR), 52.6% contested-catch rate (CTC%)
  • 2018: 2.01 YPRR, 5.9 YAC/REC, 12.8 YPR, 45.6% CTC%
  • 2019: 1.43 YPRR, 6.2 YAC/REC, 13.2 YPR, 47.1% CTC%
  • 2020: 1.27 YPRR, 4.7 YAC/REC, 8.6 YPR, 41.7% CTC%

Claypool (65% snaps) at least worked well ahead of Washington (23%), although his only opportunity to touch the ball came on a pop pass that he promptly fumbled.

The reality that Washington is largely out of the picture is great news for Claypool moving forward, but his higher-aDOT role doesn’t mesh as well with this 2020 version of Roethlisberger. I’d rank these receivers' fantasy viability moving forward as 1) Johnson, 2) Claypool and 3) JuJu. Each is better off treated as WR3s than WR2s against the league’s sixth-best secondary in fewest receiving yards allowed to the position.

TE breakdown: Ebron continues to play a full-time role in this offense. His average of 5.3 targets per game is tied for 14th among all TEs. The ex-Lions and Colts TE is better than his reputation as the football version of that little girl dropping the ball gif, but either way, we just aren’t seeing enough consistent usage or production to warrant anything more than low-ceiling TE2 treatment. This is especially true in this aforementioned tough matchup. 

Ravens Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Miles Boykin 76 220 4.42 0.95 Steven Nelson 71 194 4.49 1.06
R Marquise Brown 69 170 2.22 Joe Haden 71 195 4.52 1.16
S Willie Snead IV 71 205 4.62 1.16 Cameron Sutton 71 188 4.52 0.71

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Only Terry McLaurin (46%) has demanded a higher percentage of their team's air-yard share than Brown (44%) through seven weeks of action. At some point, Lamar Jackson will hit some of the deep balls that he consistently sends Hollywood's way.

The Steelers boast the league’s best pass rush, although they’ve allowed the ninth-most PPR points per game to opposing WRs through seven weeks. This isn’t anyone’s idea of a good matchup, but each of Daniel Jones (279 yards-2 TD-2 INT), Deshaun Watson (264-2-1), Carson Wentz (258-2-2), Jeff Driskel (256-2-1) and Ryan Tannehill (220-2-0) managed to find the end zone on multiple occasions through the air. This defense has only truly made life miserable for Baker Mayfield (119-1-2) through seven weeks.

Hollywood is my overall WR20 this week. Don’t worry; I have some paint on hand to give myself a clown mask if things don’t work out (again).

Willie Snead IV (4-64-1 in Week 1) is the only Ravens WR other than Brown to surpass 50 yards in a game this season. None of these complementary options are realistic fantasy options, even if Devin Duvernay is a potential candidate to see an increased role coming out of the Ravens’ Week 7 bye.

TE breakdown: Mark Andrews is on pace to catch 13 TDs, making his decreased efficiency and yardage production in 2020 compared to 2019 easier to swallow. He’s still an every-week top-four TE, but I have bumped him out of the top three in this tough spot in favor of Darren Waller. It’s clear Andrews remains Jackson’s favorite target near the end zone and in high-leverage situations, but Hollywood leads the way 42-to-33 in raw pass-game opportunities through seven weeks. Luckily, nobody else in the offense has even 20 targets, making this run-first attack condensed enough to enable both Andrews and Brown as consistently viable fantasy options.

Los Angeles Rams at Miami Dolphins

Rams Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Josh Reynolds 75 196 4.52 1.59 Byron Jones 72 205 0.77
R Robert Woods 72 195 4.51 1.61 Xavien Howard 73 192 4.58 1.1
S Cooper Kupp 74 208 4.62 1.94 Nik Needham 72 203 1.56

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Rams seem content to ask Goff to throw as little as possible when they can help it, and their matchup this week against the Dolphins’ suddenly healthy defense is hardly a cakewalk. No. 1 CB Byron Jones has been fully healthy for three games this season; Miami ranks seventh in contested target percentage during those contests.

I’m pessimistic about Woods’ chances of getting going in this tough spot. The artist known as Bobby Trees has just one game with more than eight targets this season after seeing at least nine targets in each of his final seven contests last season. Woods remains an every-week threat to find the end zone and pitch in an additional handful of yards on the ground, but he’s the definition of a low-ceiling WR2.

Kupp is the more likely candidate to have himself a day. Needham has allowed 14-of-17 targets into his slot coverage to be caught for a total of 144 scoreless yards. Neither Jones nor Howard has spent an extended stretch away from their usual spots at outside corner this season; expect Kupp to lead this offense in receiving from the friendly confines of the slot.

Reynolds has posted 2-46-0, 2-45-1 and 4-52-1 receiving lines over the past three weeks as the offense’s defacto field-stretching WR. I’m more inclined to wait until the Rams’ Week 10 matchup against the Seahawks to treat him as a viable fantasy option; this sort of role is more volatile than ever 1) in this tough matchup and 2) inside of the Rams’ fourth-ranked offense in run-play rate.

TE breakdown: Tyler Higbee (hand) was sidelined in Week 7. Gerald Everett (76% snaps) and Johnny Mundt (64%) saw plenty of reps in his absence. Everett is the preferred fantasy play if Higbee remains sidelined, although volume is a weekly concern, and the Dolphins join the Seahawks, Lions and Colts as the only four defenses that have allowed fewer than eight PPR points per game to the position. Everett is my TE14 this week, and that feels a bit high.

Dolphins Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Preston Williams 76 210 1.2 Troy Hill 71 183 4.55 1.27
R DeVante Parker 75 216 4.45 1.99 Darious Williams 69 187 0.85
S Isaiah Ford 74 189 4.61 1.15 Jalen Ramsey 73 208 4.41 0.57

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: It’s Tua time. Tagovailoa’s ability to improvise in the pocket has drawn comparisons to Russell Wilson, but we should probably ease expectations in an offense with below-average skill-position talents (with respect to Parker and Mike Gesicki).

Further complicating matters is 1) Parker (groin) will likely be operating at less than 100% if active, and 2) the Rams rank among the league’s top-five defenses in QB rating allowed, pressure percentage and explosive pass percentage allowed.

The Dolphins continue to largely rotate everybody involved behind Parker. I’d wait at least a week before confidently starting any of these fantasy options. Ryan Fitzpatrick was truly playing some great ball and ranks 12th in yards per attempt; we should expect a dropoff in both volume and efficiency in this passing game.

TE breakdown: Gesicki has spent just 26 snaps all season as a true inline TE. He’s the Dolphins’ starting slot receiver, but Ford’s presence will continue to limit the ceiling here. Ultimately, treat Gesicki as a top-eight option at the position thanks to his proven potential to make the most out of his opportunities, and the reality that he’s been running routes with the practice squad all season should theoretically help his early rapport with Tua. Opposing TEs have been seemingly the one thing to give this Rams secondary trouble; they’re one of just 10 units to allow at least 15 PPR points per game to the position.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Patriots Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Damiere Byrd 69 180 1.17 Cameron Lewis 71 185 0.91
R N'Keal Harry 74 228 4.53 1.18 Tre'Davious White 71 192 4.47 0.75
S Julian Edelman 70 198 1.89 Taron Johnson 71 192 4.5 1.79

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Cam Newton hasn’t been the same thrower since his Week 2 explosion against the Seahawks. Week 7 was a new low, with Cam completing just 9-of-15 passes for 98 scoreless yards with three interceptions. Coach Bill Belichick has already said that Newton will “absolutely” remain the starter for the Patriots; just realize this entire passing game is having all sorts of problems at the moment.

The answer to which WR to roster in this Patriots passing game is probably just no.

TE breakdown: Don’t do it. Not even if there’s a fire.

Bills Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Gabriel Davis 75 212 4.54 1.03 J.C. Jackson 73 198 4.46 0.95
R Stefon Diggs 72 191 4.46 2.22 Stephon Gilmore 73 202 4.38 1.09
S Cole Beasley 68 174 2.32 Jonathan Jones 70 190 4.33 1.79

Projected shadow matchups: Stefon Diggs vs. Stephon Gilmore

WR/CB breakdown: Gilmore is reportedly on the trade block, but we should expect him to continue to track the opponent’s top receiver for however long he remains on the Patriots. Truly only D.K. Metcalf and DeVante Parker have given the game’s best corner consistent problems over the past two seasons.

However, Diggs is an alpha No. 1 WR himself, capable of defeating opposing corners with a combination of route-running goodness and contested-catch ability that should put him on anybody’s shortlist of the game’s most talented players at the position.

Diggs has caught at least four passes in every game this season and is presently averaging a career-high 86.1 receiving yards per game. Any WR expected to see Gilmore’s shadow coverage deserves a small downgrade, but never sit your studs people. Diggs is my overall WR12 in Week 8.

Beasley is 31 years old, but he is playing better than ever. Averaging career-high marks in yards per reception (12.1) and yards per route run (2.15), the Bills’ slot receiver is the WR28 in PPR points per game this season. The Bills seemed to like this matchup last season, as Allen fed Beasley a combined 25 targets in two games against the Patriots. Beasley made good use of the extra opportunity by putting up 7-75-0 and 7-108-0 lines; he’s earned weekly WR3 treatment, particularly as long as Smokey remains sidelined.

John Brown (knee) seems iffy to suit up, meaning Davis should again see plenty of action on the outside. The rookie hasn’t done much in recent weeks with the additional work, although he has had two scores nullified by penalty. Davis is off the redraft grid in this tough spot, but he’s an intriguing GPP dart-throw in Josh Allen DFS stacks.

TE breakdown: Credit to Tyler Kroft for catching all four of his targets for 63 yards in Week 7, but the potential return of Dawson Knox (calf, COVID) would complicate things. Either way, Kroft isn’t a realistic fantasy option as the No. 5 (at best) pass-game option in this offense more weeks than not.

Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns

Raiders Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Henry Ruggs III 72 190 4.27 2.12 Terrance Mitchell 71 191 4.63 1.12
R Nelson Agholor 72 198 4.42 1.86 Denzel Ward 71 190 4.32 0.96
S Hunter Renfrow 70 184 4.59 1.93 Kevin Johnson 72 185 4.52 1.09

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Derek Carr already has more games with 250-plus passing yards and multiple TDs in 2020 (5) than he did in any of 2019 (4), 2018 (3) or 2017 (3). This new-found upside in the passing game makes both Ruggs and Agholor realistic fantasy options against a Browns secondary that has allowed more PPR points per game to opposing WRs than everybody except the Seahawks.

Ward is anybody’s idea of a talented corner, but the Browns haven’t asked him to travel with a single receiver since Week 1, 2019. This means the Raiders should be able to scheme their burners into plus matchups against the Browns’ slow-footed No. 2 and No. 3 corners. Only the Seahawks (57) and Falcons (61) have allowed more completions of 15-plus yards than the Browns (48) through seven weeks.

The biggest problem facing Ruggs and Agholor this week might just be the weather. Precipitation usually isn’t that big of a deal for passing games to overcome, but wind speeds over 20 miles per hour are a red flag. Early forecasts indicate wind gusts around ~25 miles per hour.

Darren Waller remains the undisputed top option in this passing game. The wind is truly concerning; I’d probably refrain from confidently firing up Riggs or Agholor in most season-long formats, but the matchup has enough of a sneaky-shootout feel to warrant tournament exposure in DFS.

Renfrow hasn’t consistently played over 50% of the offense’s snaps this season; he’s not a realistic fantasy option until we see a rather large role change.

TE breakdown: It’s unclear if the Browns have a single defensive back on their roster capable of matching Waller’s absurd combination of size (6-foot-6 and 255-pounds) and speed (4.46-second 40-yard dash). The Raiders aren’t afraid to split Waller out as a true WR in high-leverage spots, particularly in the red zone. Waller has four targets inside the 10-yard line this season; no other Raiders WR has more than one. He’s my No. 3 option at the position this week and is a weekly threat to lead the position in overall points.

Browns Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Donovan Peoples-Jones 74 208 1.37 Nevin Lawson 69 192 4.48 1.26
R Rashard Higgins 73 198 4.64 1.96 Trayvon Mullen 74 199 4.46 1.17
S Jarvis Landry 71 196 4.77 1.98 Lamarcus Joyner 68 191 4.55 1.31

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: OBJ (torn ACL, IR) is done for the season. He played just two snaps in Week 7. Baker Mayfield’s target distribution without his No. 1 WR was as follows:

The chemistry between Mayfield and Higgins over the years has truly been wild. Overall, Mayfield has targeted 12 players at least 25 times during his career. Higgins (10.92) is the only player to average more than eight adjusted yards per target.

Landry continues to play through the pain and will be a weekly WR3 option without OBJ commanding the majority of this offense’s pass-game usage. Still, don’t sleep on Higgins also providing top-30 production more weeks than not.

This is the league’s No. 2 offense in run-play rate; there isn’t a lot of target volume to go around. Just realize there are worse fantasy options than somebody projected to play a full-time role with a QB that we’ve seen plenty of success with. The aforementioned wind concerns also apply to the Browns this week, but the Raiders’ league-worst defense in contested target percentage isn’t expected to make life too difficult on these receivers. 

TE breakdown: It remains to be seen if Austin Hooper (appendix) will be able to suit up on Sunday. Bryant worked ahead of Njoku in terms of both snaps (77% vs. 60%) and targets (5 vs. 3). Mayfield has shown a bit of an affinity for the rookie TE all season; just don’t get carried away and treat Bryant as more than an upside TE2 as the likely No. 4 option in this passing game more weeks than not.

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

Chargers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Mike Williams 76 220 1.35 Michael Ojemudia 73 199 4.45 1.43
R Jalen Guyton 73 202 1.35 A.J. Bouye 72 191 0.8
S Keenan Allen 74 211 4.58 2.49 Bryce Callahan 69 188 0.7

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: It’s Justin Herbert’s world, we’re all living in it. The 22-year-old QB has cleared 300 yards and/or thrown for at least three TDs in all five of his starts. Allen joins DeAndre Hopkins as the league’s only players with at least 30% of their team’s target share; the Chargers’ No. 1 WR is an every-week top-12 option at the position.

Still, we might be underestimating the chances of *both* Guyton and Williams balling out during the second half of the season. Targets have been inconsistent for everybody involved in this offense other than Allen, but the squad’s second-half schedule is plenty winnable:

  • Week 8: Broncos (No. 19 in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing WRs)
  • Week 9: Raiders (No. 22)
  • Week 10: Dolphins (No. 14)
  • Week 11: Jets (No. 15)
  • Week 12: Bills (No. 7)
  • Week 13: Patriots (No. 12)
  • Week 13: Falcons (No. 28)
  • Week 15: Raiders (No. 22)
  • Week 16: Broncos (No. 19)

I realize Williams’ lone monster game this season came with Allen mostly sidelined, but this at some point he’s going to show more of a floor in this high-caliber passing attack. Treat him as a boom-or-bust WR3 that is capable of putting up the latter on just about anybody.

Guyton is truly playing some great football and is averaging an astronomical 19.8 yards per target; the only problem is that he hasn’t seen more than three targets in a game this season. Keep Guyton firmly on the radar, and realize he’s been an awesome real-life talent for this offense, but this just isn’t enough usage to feel comfortable in fantasy land.

TE breakdown: Hunter Henry surprisingly hasn’t surpassed 50 yards since Week 3, and he’s found the end zone just once all season. R-e-l-a-x. Henry has at least seven targets in all but one game this season. The only players at the position with a 20% target share or higher are: Henry (20%), George Kittle (20%) Mark Andrews (22%), Travis Kelce (23%) and Darren Waller (26%). Continue to treat Henry as a weekly TE1 and realize he’s due for a bounce-back performance.

Broncos Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L DaeSean Hamilton 73 203 0.47 Michael Davis 74 196 1.09
R Tim Patrick 77 210 1.98 Casey Hayward Jr. 71 192 0.93
S Jerry Jeudy 73 192 4.45 1.62 Desmond King II 70 200 0.35

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: This passing game is best approached like the Jets at the moment: Avoid if possible. Drew Lock looked like he was seeing ghosts for portions of last week. He displayed a fantasy-friendly 18.5-yard average target depth in Week 6, but this slipped to just 6.6 in Week 7. Patrick (hamstring) is banged up, and Jeudy hasn’t had more than five targets in a game since Week 3 for whatever reason.

The Chargers are one of just six teams that has allowed four or fewer receiving scores to opposing WRs this season; I wouldn’t recommend starting any of these WRs if you can help it. Gun to my head to pick one: Gimme Jeudy, and he’s worthy of a bench spot with more-appetizing matchups on the horizon against in Week 9 (Falcons) and Week 10 (Raiders).

TE breakdown: Noah Fant was technically back in action last week, but he looked like a shell of himself athletically. Albert Okwuegbunam (40%) played behind Nick Vannett (45%) on a per-snap basis, although Lock continues to feed his former college teammate a healthy serving of targets. Both Fant and Okwuegbunam (yes, I copy/pasted that) could flirt with eight targets, but it also wouldn’t be surprising to see the coaching staff not ask Lock to throw the ball 40 times again. Fant is outside of my top-12 options, and Albert O shouldn’t be considered a viable option unless we see a major uptick in snaps.

New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears

Saints Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Deonte Harris 66 170 1.51 Jaylon Johnson 72 195 4.5 1.25
R Marquez Callaway 74 204 4.55 1.49 Kyle Fuller 71 190 4.49 0.8
S Tre'Quan Smith 74 210 4.49 1.22 Buster Skrine 69 185 1.33

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The following players had more than one target with both Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (covid) sidelined in Week 7:

Smith (81%) and Callaway (73%) worked well ahead of Harris (29%) in terms of snaps with the Saints happily using plenty of two-TE, two-RB and whatever-the-hell-Taysom-Hill-is formations.

It’d be easier to get behind Callaway if he didn’t suffer an ankle injury at the end of last week’s game. As it stands, Smith is truly the only fantasy option from this WR group that you can somewhat confidently start against the Bears’ fourth-ranked defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to the position.

He’s had five or more targets in just five career games, but has generally returned value when given this decent-sized role: 

  • 5 receptions-56 yards-1 TD (5 targets)
  • 4-42-0 (6)
  • 3-44-0 (6)
  • 5-86-0 (7)
  • 10-157-1 (13)

I’m comfortable treating Smith as a high-end WR3 this week if the rest of the group’s options remain so banged up. Obviously Thomas will be back to every-week WR1 treatment once healthy, while Sanders should return somewhat consistent WR3 value regardless of who is lined up next to him.

TE breakdown: Cook had an awesome contested-catch TD in Week 7, but he continues to struggle to see any sort of target increase despite the lack of options on the field. Somehow, Week 1 (7 targets) has been the only game all season that Cook has received more than five pass-game opportunities. Without more volume we’ll have to treat Cook as more of a TD-dependent TE2 as opposed to a weekly borderline TE1 moving forward.

Bears Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Allen Robinson II 75 211 4.6 2.11 Marshon Lattimore 72 192 4.36 1.5
R Darnell Mooney 71 175 4.38 1.15 Janoris Jenkins 70 190 0.99
S Anthony Miller 71 190 1 Chauncey Gardner-Johnson 72 208 4.48 1.02

Projected shadow matchups: Allen Robinson vs. Marshon Lattimore, Darnell Mooney vs. Janoris Jenkins

WR/CB breakdown: A-Rob is in the concussion protocol. Averaging a clean 10 targets per game through seven weeks, Robinson is an easy top-eight option at the position ahead of a potential shadow date with Lattimore, who has allowed 18 of 23 targets into his coverage to be caught for 274 yards and a trio of scores this season — “good” for a near-perfect 155.9 QB rating against.

Mooney would vault himself into the borderline WR2 conversation if Robinson is ultimately ruled out. Nick Foles has hardly had all day to throw this season, but he’s still ultimately missed a wide-open Mooney on a number of potential long scores.

The Bears voted Miller as “Most likely to be late for practice.” Suddenly coach Matt Nagy’s reluctance to hand the talented third-year receiver a consistent starting role makes more sense. I know, we talkin’ about practice, but either way Miler hasn’t surpassed five targets since Week 1 and struggles to play more than 60% of the offense’s snaps pretty much every game.

The Saints have the talent of a better defense than they’ve performed as so far. I tend to think the likes of Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport can do enough on the line of scrimmage to continue to give this Bears passing game fits. This offense doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt at the moment.

TE breakdown: Rookie Cole Kmet usually flashes in some way shape or form at least once a week, but he’s still a part-time player and off the 2020 fantasy radar. Jimmy “No Trade Clause” Graham has at least five targets in all but one game this season but continues to be a TD-dependent TE2 option with a limited ceiling at this point in his career. The Saints have the league’s second-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing TEs, but I still struggle to rank Graham inside of the position’s top-15 options this week.

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

49ers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Brandon Aiyuk 73 206 4.5 1.41 Quinton Dunbar 74 197

1.48

R

Kendrick Bourne 73 203 4.68 1.32 Shaquill Griffin 72 198 4.38 1.39
S Trent Taylor 68 180 4.63 0.52 Ugo Amadi 69 201 4.51

1.05

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Jimmy G is truly blessed to have one of the league’s single-best receivers at his disposal:

The problem is that this offense continues to be depleted by injuries. YAC-god Deebo Samuel (hamstring) should be considered questionable for Week 8, while Jeff Wilson (ankle, IR) will be joining Raheem Mostert (ankle, IR) on the sideline for the foreseeable future.

Credit to Garoppolo on his #RevengeGame victory last week, but nobody at the position has been asked to do less through seven weeks. Overall, nobody has had a higher percentage of their passing yards come from production after the catch than Jimmy G (67.9%) this season. His average of 9.1 yards per attempt on passes “thrown” behind the line of scrimmage is easily the highest single-season mark over the past three years.

Aiyuk looks a lot like the 49ers’ No. 2 offensive weapon behind only George Kittle. The rookie racked up a 4-69-2 rushing line in three games with Samuel either sidelined or limited; Shanahan is going to figure out ways to get Aiyuk the ball in space. Throw in the reality that he’s looked like a true WR talent, not a gadget, and I have Aiyuk as my overall PPR WR22 this week.

I’ll largely be fading the rest of this group despite the pristine matchup against the Seahawks’ league-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing WRs. Jimmy G and Shanahan alike have had no issues with simply getting other positions more involved when one group in particular loses a key contributor.

TE breakdown: Kittle has only played one fully-healthy game this season without Samuel, and he caught all 15 of his targets for 183 yards and a score against the Eagles’ overmatched secondary. Kittle has surprisingly never found the end zone against the 49ers’ divisional rival; don’t be surprised if that changes this Sunday. Only Travis Kelce deserves to be ranked higher at the position.

Seahawks Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L D.K. Metcalf 75 229 4.33 2.11 Jason Verrett 70 188 4.38 0.3
R David Moore 72 215 2.22 Emmanuel Moseley 71 184 1.12
S Tyler Lockett 70 182 4.4 2.17 Jamar Taylor 71 192 4.39 1.79

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Russell Wilson is one of the more accurate passers the game has ever seen and has not one, but two high-end receivers at his disposal capable of winning seemingly any matchup. The performance that he and Lockett turned in during the Seahawks’ Sunday night loss to the Cardinals was nothing short of remarkable from start to finish.

Perhaps a healthy version of this 49ers defense could prevent Russ and company from imposing their will. As it stands, the defensive line remains without Nick Bosa (knee, IR), Ezekiel Ansah (bicep, IR), Ronald Blair (knee, PUP) and Solomon Thomas (knee, IR), while the secondary is dealing with injuries of varying degrees to the likes of Richard Sherman (calf, IR), K’Waun Williams (knee, IR), Jimmie Ward (quad) and Jaquiski Tartt (groin).

You know what to do. Both Metcalf and Lockett are high-end WR1s. The only reason they should leave the WR1 or WR2 spot on your fantasy football roster is if you feel like trying to light a fire under their ass by moving them to the flex.

More continues to usually play fewer than 50% of the offense’s snaps and isn’t a recommended fantasy option.

TE breakdown: The Seahawks use a three-TE committee between Greg Olsen (62% snaps), Will Dissly (58%) and Jacob Hollister (27%). Perhaps we could get behind one if an injury occurred, but for now stay away. The 49ers are one of just six defenses allowing fewer than nine PPR points per game to the position.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

Cowboys Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Michael Gallup 73 198 4.51 1.2 Nickell Robey-Coleman 68 180 1.26
R Amari Cooper 73 210 4.42 1.98 Darius Slay 72 190 4.36 1.06
S CeeDee Lamb 74 191 4.5 1.95 Cre'Von LeBlanc 71 190 1.54

Projected shadow matchups: Amari Cooper vs. Darius Slay

WR/CB breakdown: Cooper is the undisputed No. 1 option in this pass game. His 70 targets are tied with DeAndre Hopkins for tops in the league through seven weeks. Alas, things are so ugly under center that we’re going to have to get used to treating Cooper as more of a volume-induced WR2 moving forward. Credit to the Cowboys’ No. 1 WR on showing an enhanced floor this season, but there’s a very real chance that the Eagles’ ferocious pass rush simply dooms things from the start against this Swiss-cheese o-line.

Lamb’s receiving goose-egg in Week 7 demonstrates the reality that only Ezekiel Elliott and Cooper have any sort of floor in this post-Dak offense. Previously the Cowboys’ talented rookie receiver’s worst game was his 5-59-0 performance back in Week 1; he’s going to provide usable weeks moving forward. Still, it’s tough to have much confidence in any complementary option in this offense at the moment, regardless of whether or not Andy Dalton (concussion) manages to suit up this week.

Gallup’s volatile field-stretching role barely lended itself to solid fantasy production with Dak Prescott under center, and now things are tougher than ever thanks to injuries across the QB and O-line rooms alike. He’s droppable in most formats. 

TE breakdown: Dalton Schultz is set up well against the league’s fifth-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position, but he’s not a recommended fantasy option outside of DFS showdown slates. 

Eagles Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L John Hightower 74 183 4.43 0.92 Anthony Brown 71 196 4.33 1.37
R Travis Fulgham 75 215 4.58 2.51 Trevon Diggs 74 207 1.83
S Greg Ward 71 186 1.07 Jourdan Lewis 70 195 4.54 0.91

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Cowboys had Diggs match Terry McLaurin last week so maybe he’ll do the same against Fulgham. Of course, McLaurin shredded the rookie to the tune of a 7-90-1 receiving performance, making his presence across from Fulgham a non-issue.

The Eagles’ newfound No. 1 WR has done nothing except ball the hell out since finding his way onto the field in Week 4.

  • Week 4: 2 receptions-57 yards-1 TD (3 targets)
  • Week 5: 10-152-1 (13)
  • Week 6: 6-75-1 (10)
  • Week 7: 5-73-0 (11)

Fulgham is the WR8 in PPR points per game. He should be in starting lineups of all shapes and sizes in this smash spot unless you’re blessed with an absurd amount of top-20 options at the position.

The likes of Hightower and Ward could potentially get loose against this Cowboys secondary, although the receiver I’m most interested in moving forward is rookie Jalen Reagor (thumb, IR). It remains to be seen if Reagor will be healthy enough to suit up this week, but don’t be afraid to hold him through the Eagles’ Week 9 bye with salivating matchups against the Giants, Browns and Seahawks on the horizon in Weeks 10-12.

TE breakdown: Carson Wentz sure does love his tight ends. Richard Rodgers caught six of eight targets for 85 yards while playing 85% of the offense’s snaps in Week 7. He’s the week’s top-streamer at the position. Note that Dallas Goedert (ankle, IR) returned to practice this week; he’s going to be a weekly top-eight (at worst) fantasy option at the position once healthy enough to return to action.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants

Buccaneers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Mike Evans 77 231 4.53 1.26 James Bradberry 73 212 4.5 0.95
R Scotty Miller 71 174 1.94 Ryan Lewis 72 195 1.48
S Tyler Johnson 74 200 0.77 Logan Ryan 71 195 4.56 0.86

Projected shadow matchups: Mike Evans vs. James Bradberry

WR/CB breakdown: Godwin (fractured index finger) is out for Week 8. Evans (ankle) has been playing through the pain since seemingly Week 2. Miller and Johnson are also splitting reps to an extent with Justin Watson and Jaydon Mickens.

Through it all, TB12’s arm has looked more alive than ever.

New defense, but Bradberry has consistently made life difficult for Evans in shadow coverage over the years:

  • Week 8, 2017: 5 receptions-60 yards-0 TD (10 targets)
  • Week 16, 2017: 6-107-0 (8)
  • Week 9, 2018: 1-16-0 (10)
  • Week 13, 2018: 4-48-0 (6)
  • Week 2, 2019: 4-61-0 (8)
  • Week 6, 2019: 9-96-0 (17)

Don’t sit your studs just because of a tough matchup, but the Giants’ plus-sized No. 1 CB has always at least made Evans work hard for his production. I’m still treating Tom Brady’s No. 1 WR as an upside fantasy WR2; just realize things might not be easy this week.

The Giants have been solid at getting after the QB this season (10th in PFF’s team-wide pass-rush grades), but we’ve seen some struggles in coverage (29th). Miller and Johnson are both more than viable spot starts against this defense, particularly Miller considering his proven deep-ball rapport with Brady.

TE breakdown: The fantasy football community pretty much left Gronk for dead after 2-11-0 and 0-0-0 performances to start the season. He’s really come on lately, posting 3-52-0, 5-78-1 and 5-62-1 lines on a total of 22 targets over the past three weeks. Gronk isn’t separating much, but Brady has been plenty willing to force the ball to him in tight windows. I question whether this sort of target share will persist once Antonio Brown enters the picture, but Gronk is plenty worthy of top-10 treatment at the position until then.

Giants Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Darius Slayton 73 190 4.39 1.72 Jamel Dean 73 206 4.3 0.84
R Sterling Shepard 70 201 4.48 1.73 Carlton Davis 73 206 4.53 0.79
S Golden Tate 70 197 4.42 1.2 Sean Murphy-Bunting 72 195 4.42 1.58

Projected shadow matchups: Sterling Shepard vs. Carlton Davis, Darius Slayton vs. Jamel Dean

WR/CB breakdown: The shadow matchups are based around the idea that the Buccaneers will try to align their faster corner with the Giants’ field-stretching talent. Still, Davis could feasibly matchup up with Slayton if the Bucs think Dean has a better chance of handling Shepard’s pristine route-running ability.

Either way, this isn’t a spot to target. Daniel Jones has failed to clear 250 yards in six consecutive games. Only Nick Foles (5.8) and Sam Darnold (5.7) have averaged fewer yards per attempt than Jones (6.1) through seven weeks. The Giants (46.4% pressure rate) and Jets (47.5%) are the only offenses to be pressured on more than 40% of their dropbacks; this week’s matchup pits Jones against the league’s fourth-best defense in pressure rate.

The Bucs are one of just 10 defenses allowing 35 or fewer PPR points per game to opposing WRs. I’m tentatively treating Shepard as a top-30 option at the position thanks to his seemingly never-ending ability to rack up at least six targets per week, but I’d try to find better options otherwise. Slayton is my PPR WR42 this week, while Tate has a total of three targets over the past two weeks and isn’t a realistic fantasy option.

TE breakdown: Engram had a bad downfield drop in Week 7, but otherwise continued to be used primarily as an underneath option. It’s truly a shame that a talent of this level is being wasted, and OC Jason Garrett’s solution is seemingly to try to feed his stud TE rush attempts. I truly didn’t think we’d ever see a day where a healthy version of Engram isn’t worthy of top-12 treatment at the position. Unfortunately, the time has come. He’s a low-ceiling TE2 until we see the Giants’ vertical passing game find any sort of consistent success. 

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