Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Week 9 WR/CB matchups and TE breakdown

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) runs in a touchdown past Houston Texans strong safety Justin Reid (20) during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. An52600

We're on to Week 9! 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.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

Packers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Davante Adams 73 215 4.56 2.84 Jason Verrett 70 188 4.38 0.47
R Marquez Valdes-Scantling 76 206 4.37 1.18 Emmanuel Moseley 71 184 1.58
S Darrius Shepherd 71 188 0.62 K'Waun Williams 69 185 1.12

Projected shadow matchups: Davante Adams vs. Jason Verrett

WR/CB breakdown: It’s Adams’ world; we’re all just living in it.

One of the more underrated stories of the 2020 season is Verrett 1) playing extended action for the first time since 2015, and 2) returning to something close to his previous high-end form. Still, Adams is on pace for 162 targets despite missing two games, and his mind-meld chemistry with Aaron Rodgers is maybe matched by only Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett. Don’t expect the Packers’ undisputed No. 1 pass-game option’s status as fantasy football’s WR1 to go anywhere in 2020.

The Packers weren’t quite able to acquire Will Fuller V, meaning Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard (abdominal, IR) remain this passing game’s best complementary options. Equanimeous St. Brown (29% snaps) had a pair of plausible drops in Week 8 and split snaps with Darrius Shepherd (25%) and Malik Taylor (17%).

Ultimately, it’s impossible to expect consistent production from anyone involved in this passing game other than Adams. At best, we can call Valdes-Scantling a boom-or-bust WR4; he boasts a league-high 18.3-yard average target depth, but the third-year field-stretching talent hasn’t reached 50 receiving yards in a game since Week 2.

TE breakdown: Robert Tonyan could’ve had a much bigger day in Week 8 with a bit more accuracy from Aaron Rodgers. Still, his 5-79-0 line on seven targets was plenty solid, and the Packers’ TE1 is the overall PPR TE4 through eight weeks. The Packers do rotate their tight end room to some extent, but Tonyan (61% snaps in Week 8) works pretty well ahead of both Jace Sternberger (37%) and Marcedes Lewis (27%).

A matchup against the league’s third-best defense in fewest PPR points per game to the position is hardly ideal, although Tonyan continues to warrant top-10 fantasy treatment thanks to his potential to function as Rodgers’ No. 2 pass-game option in this banged-up offense.

49ers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L River Cracraft 72 198 0 Jaire Alexander 70 196 4.38 0.57
R Richie James 69 185 4.48 0 Josh Jackson 72 196 4.56 0.5
S Trent Taylor 68 180 4.63 0.65 Chandon Sullivan 71 194 4.6 1.54

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) is expected to be sidelined a minimum of six weeks, while TE George Kittle (foot) is out for eight weeks. Throw in the reality that Raheem Mostert (knee, IR), Deebo Samuel (hamstring), Kendrick Bourne (covid) and Brandon Aiyuk (covid) are sidelined, and suddenly this 49ers offense is down to their last few options in terms of viable playmakers.

It took me far too long to figure out who the hell the 49ers might be lining up at WR this week. Taylor seems like the best candidate to gobble up targets out of the slot; I want nothing to do with either Cracraft, James or even Kevin White (!!) in their respective quests to get past the Packers’ pair of talented corners. Alexander in particular has truly been playing better than just about any corner in the league through eight weeks. 

This a sinking offense against the league’s sixth-best defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to WRs. Outside of DFS showdown slates, try to avoid exposure to this group.

TE breakdown: Coach Kyle Shanahan is hopeful that Jordan Reed (knee, IR) will be back this week. He looked healthy in the early going this season, ripping off a 7-50-2 when featured against the Jets back in Week 2. Limited snaps are a concern in Reed’s first game back from injury, but I’m comfortable treating him as a borderline PPR TE1 if active. Who else is Mullens going to throw the ball to? Ross Dwelley would also be on the TE1 borderline if Reed remains sidelined.

Again, this WR room is wildly depleted at the moment. Just realize the passing game isn’t set up even remotely well: The Packers are one of just seven defenses that have allowed fewer than double-digit PPR points per game to the TE position.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Texans Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Will Fuller V 72 184 4.32 2.02 Sidney Jones 72 181 4.47 1.78
R Brandin Cooks 70 183 4.33 1.74 C.J. Henderson 73 191 4.39 1.43
S Randall Cobb 70 192 4.46 1.7 Tre Herndon 71 185 1.18

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Deshaun Watson has cleared 300 passing yards and racked up multiple scores through the air in four consecutive games. He usually is responsible for the majority of the offense’s production when the Texans happen to win, and we’ve seen the franchise quarterback continuously drive the offense up and down the field throughout garbage time when this porous Houston team falls behind on the scoreboard.

It's a good thing the Texans didn’t trade Watson’s No. 1 wideout; he’s been a completely different quarterback with Will Fuller V sidelined over the years:

  • Per game with Fuller (29 games): 25.8 fantasy points, 2.2 TDs, 0.9 INT, 282 pass yards, 8.74 YPA
  • Without Fuller (16 games): 22 fantasy points, 1.3 TDs, 0.6 INT, 227.1 pass yards, 7.26 YPA

Fuller ran a blistering 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the combine back in the day and has routinely found ways to get open downfield throughout his career. Forty-three players have at least 50 deep-ball targets since Fuller entered the league; his 22% rate of being open or wide open on these pass-game opportunities is tied for 10th with Tyreek Hill.

Continue to treat Fuller as the upside WR2 that he’s been all season (except for Week 2). Brandin Cooks has earned weekly upside WR3 treatment with 8-161-1, 9-68-1 and 7-60-0 receiving lines since his Week 5 goose egg. Randall Cobb, like any receiver associated with Watson, isn’t the worst option for fantasy managers dealing with plenty of bye weeks to turn to; just realize he’s the clear-cut No. 3 wideout in this offense.

Plus, the Jaguars rank among the league’s bottom-five defenses in explosive pass play rate (29th), yards per attempt (30th) and passer rating (28th).

TE breakdown: The expected return of Jordan Akins (ankle) renders both him and Darren Fells as low-ceiling, touchdown-dependent TE2 options. This is a similar situation to Minnesota: both tight ends are talented enough to put up sporadic production, but the usage is usually so split that we can’t expect any sort of consistency from either player.

Jaguars Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L D.J. Chark 76 198 4.34 1.34 Bradley Roby 71 194 4.39 0.8
R Laviska Shenault 74 220 4.58 1.64 Vernon Hargreaves 70 204 4.5 1.5
S Keelan Cole 73 194 1.48 Eric Murray 71 199 4.49 1.16

Projected shadow matchups: D.J. Chark Jr. vs. Bradley Roby; Laviska Shenault Jr. vs. Vernon Hargreaves III

WR/CB breakdown: Gardner Minshew (thumb) is sidelined/benched, and Mike Glennon apparently is the third-string quarterback in Jacksonville. Enter Jake Luton, who the Jaguars selected in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The former Oregon State signal-caller’s ranks among college quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks in 2019 are below:

  • PFF passing grade: 87.0 (No. 21 among 256 qualified QBs)
  • Yards per attempt: 7.6 (tied for No. 107)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 74.1% (No. 47)
  • Passer rating: 107.6 (tied for No. 31)
  • Average target depth: 9 yards (tied for No. 161)

The advanced metrics seem to paint the picture of a typical game manager with limited fantasy football upside in terms of rushing ability and willingness to throw downfield. Perhaps Luton does do a good job of taking care of the football and gives the Jaguars the best chance to win at the moment, but we have no idea what he offers from a fantasy perspective.

Playing behind PFF’s No. 20-graded offensive line hardly seems ideal. The matchup isn’t anything to fear; I’m just hesitant in expecting anything from this unproven rookie in his first career action.

I currently have Chark ranked as my PPR WR28, which feels a bit optimistic. Luton’s check-down heavy style could result in a larger role for Shenault. Ultimately, we don’t know. Try to avoid playing anyone in this offense other than James Robinson until at least Week 10.

TE breakdown: Please reread the previous sentence.

New York Giants at Washington Football Team

Giants Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Darius Slayton 73 190 4.39 1.65 Kendall Fuller 71 198 0.53
R Sterling Shepard 70 201 4.48 1.85 Ronald Darby 71 193 4.38 1.56
S Golden Tate 70 197 4.42 1.2 Jimmy Moreland 70 179 1.42

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Only four players have racked up at least 40% of their team’s air yards this season:

The Giants’ talented second-year receiver should’ve had a far bigger Monday night against the Buccaneers, but Daniel Jones either overthrew him or looked elsewhere.

We shouldn’t necessarily expect much of a bounce-back performance this week considering the Giants have allowed league-worst marks in both total pressures (137) and pressure rate (45.7%) and are facing the Football Team’s ferocious defensive front. Bigger weeks will be ahead for Slayton, but don’t underestimate the potential for Chase Young and company to render this passing game mute.

You’d have to go back to Week 11 of 2018 to find the last time Sterling Shepard played a full game and received fewer than six targets. His lower depth of target role doesn’t yield as many fantasy-friendly opportunities as Slayton, but the veteran is clearly ahead of Golden Tate in Jones’ pecking order. The potential for Jones to spend most of Sunday afternoon on his back makes it tough to expect much from anybody involved in this offense, although both Slayton and Shepard are worthy of being in the WR3 conversation.

Tate has scored in consecutive weeks but hasn’t had more than three targets in a game since Week 5. Pass.

TE breakdown: Evan Engram actually caught a pass further than 10 yards downfield last week and continues to strangely get a rush attempt or two per week. The talented fourth-year tight end still hasn’t found the end zone, but his 19 targets over the past two weeks are tough to ignore. Yes, the floor is low for literally everybody in this offense. Also yes, Engram remains on the TE1 borderline thanks to his 20% target share — the fourth-highest mark at the position.

Football Team Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Terry McLaurin 72 208 4.35 2.15 James Bradberry 73 212 4.5 0.97
R Cam Sims 77 214 1.61 Isaac Yiadom 73 190 4.52 1.49
S Dontrelle Inman 75 205 0.7 Darnay Holmes 70 198 4.48 1.51

Projected shadow matchups: Terry McLaurin vs. James Bradberry

WR/CB breakdown: McLaurin posted a season-worst 2-8-0 line against Bradberry and the Panthers in 2019, although the ex-Carolina cornerback stuck to the left side of the field in that matchup and didn’t actively travel with the Football Team’s No. 1 wideout. We also didn’t see them square off regularly in Week 6, but this could change after McLaurin caught seven of 12 targets for 74 yards in that matchup.

Make no mistake about it: This is a tough spot for the artist known as F1 if the Giants ask their No. 1 corner to follow him all over the field. No receiver has truly gotten the best of Bradberry in 2020:

McLaurin is an auto-start wide receiver in season-long formats; he ranks first and fifth in air yard and target share, respectively. Still, this might not be the week to expect a big-time ceiling game.

I’m inclined to fade the rest of these receivers in an offense that has racked up the league’s fifth-most targets to the running back position through eight weeks. 

TE breakdown: Logan Thomas has played at least 75% of the offense’s snaps and racked up four-plus targets in every game this season. Production has taken a positive turn with Kyle Allen under center, as Thomas posted 3-42-1 and 4-60-1 receiving lines against the Giants and Cowboys in Weeks 6-7. He’s always at risk of finishing behind McLaurin and multiple running backs on the weekly target leaderboard, but this sort of full-time role deserves weekly upside TE2 treatment.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Ravens Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Miles Boykin 76 220 4.42 1 Xavier Rhodes 73 218 4.43 1.23
R Marquise Brown 69 170 1.86 Rock Ya-Sin 72 192 4.51 1.37
S Willie Snead IV 71 205 4.62 1.61 Kenny Moore II 69 190 1.1

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Hollywood Brown isn’t happy at the moment. His since-deleted tweet seemed to take issue with his two-target workload in Week 8, but it’d also be reasonable if the second-year talent was starting to get a bit fed up with some of the missed opportunities this passing game has experienced this season.

Brown leads the Ravens in total targets, and his 684 air yards barely trails Tyler Lockett (692) for the 15th-highest mark in the league. This is enough of a fantasy-friendly workload to yield upside WR2 production when things are clicking, but that just hasn’t been the case in 2020.

The Colts' secondary ranks favorably in most pass defense metrics, although the unit heavily benefited from an early-season schedule consisting of matchups against Gardner Minshew, Sam Darnold, Nick Foles and Baker Mayfield. Tee Higgins (6-125-0), Marvin Hall (4-113-0), Allen Robinson II (7-101-1), Marvin Jones Jr. (3-39-2) and even dusty A.J. Green (8-96-0) found ways to put up big numbers against this group; I’m going back to the well with Hollywood as a WR2 for another week.

Neither Miles Boykin nor Willie Snead IV is worthy of fantasy consideration considering their inconsistent roles in this run-first offense. This is particularly true with Devin Duvernay playing a season-high 37 snaps in Week 8.

TE breakdown: Mark Andrews hasn’t surpassed 60 receiving yards in a game this season but remains the team’s featured pass-game option in the red zone. The matchup is absolutely brutal; nobody has allowed fewer points to opposing tight ends than the Colts this season, and they’ve yet to allow a score to the position.

Still, the stale state of tight ends makes it tough to treat him as anything other than a top-three option at the position; just realize there’s a gap between himself and the likes of Travis Kelce or Darren Waller.

Colts Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Michael Pittman Jr. 76 220 4.52 0.93 Jimmy Smith 74 210 4.42 0.34
R T.Y. Hilton 70 183 4.34 1.25 Marcus Peters 72 195 4.53 1.04
S Zach Pascal 74 219 4.55 1.15 Khalil Dorsey 69 170 39

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: T.Y. Hilton (groin) is banged up. Last week, 11 different Colts had a reception. Zach Pascal (6 targets) was the only player with more than five pass-game opportunities. Don’t expect the Colts to test this Ravens secondary if they can help it despite the absence of Marlon Humphrey (COVID-19). Only Patrick Mahomes (385-4-0, 374-3-0) has thrown for more than 225 yards with multiple touchdowns against this Ravens secondary since Week 1 of last season; look elsewhere for viable wide receiver options this week.

TE breakdown: The Colts have a goal-line wildcat package for tight end Trey Burton that angers me more than anything else in the NFL other than Ty Montgomery continuing to wear No. 88 despite spending the overwhelming majority of his career as a running back.

Anyway, Burton remains a threat to find the end zone because coach Frank Reich apparently loves him, although his 51% snap rate in Week 8 trailed Jack Doyle (58%) and barely edged out Mo Alie-Cox (42%). Philip Rivers loves throwing to his tight ends; the problem is that we have three to choose from. This is a no-go in fantasy land, as each is a touchdown-dependent, low-end TE2 at best. None are recommended fantasy options in this tough spot.

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Lions Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Marvin Hall 70 190 2.52 Cameron Dantzler 74 185 4.64 1.93
R Marvin Jones Jr. 74 198 1 Kris Boyd 71 201 4.45 1.83
S Danny Amendola 71 190 4.58 1.88 Jeff Gladney 72 183 4.48 1.96

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Kenny Golladay (hip) is expected to miss multiple weeks of action. Jones has historically balled out on a per-game basis in this situation since the two joined forces in 2017:

  • With Golladay (38 games): 6.2 targets, 3.8 receptions, 56.5 yards, 0.6 TDs, 12.9 PPR points
  • Without Golladay (7 games): 9 targets, 5 receptions, 72.1 yards, 0.6 TDs, 15.6 PPR points

Up next is a Vikings secondary that is 1) mediocre when healthy, and 2) currently all kinds of banged up. Treat Jones as a legit fantasy WR2 in Golladay’s absence, particularly against a defense that has allowed more PPR points per game to the position than everyone except the Titans and Seahawks.

It’s tough to expect much from Hall or Amendola with Quintez Cephus likely re-joining the fold. Focus on Jones and the offense’s stud TE in this mouth-watering spot.

TE breakdown: T.J. Hockenson is *finally* playing at least 70% of the offense’s snaps more weeks than not and has at least four targets in every game this season. The overall PPR TE5 through eight weeks, treat Hockenson as such against a Vikings defense that has allowed a league-high 69.7 receiving yards per game to the position.

Vikings Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Justin Jefferson 73 202 4.43 3.09 Amani Oruwariye 73 205 4.47 1
R Adam Thielen 74 200 2.19 Jeffrey Okudah 73 199 4.48 1.83
S Chad Beebe 70 183 0.8 Justin Coleman 71 190 4.53 1.31

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Kirk Cousins threw just 14 passes in Week 8; it’s impossible to expect either of the offense’s talented receivers to produce much with that sort of minuscule workload. A run-first approach again seems likely in Week 9, but at least this passing game is condensed enough to continue to go back to the well with both options.

Thielen ranks third in the league in target share (29.4%) and air-yard share (41%). Jefferson ranks 17th in target share (22.6%) and 23rd in air-yard share (27.8%). The former receiver should continue to be locked in as a weekly WR1, while the latter is an upside WR2 against the league’s third-worst defense in explosive-pass-play rate allowed.

This is a two-WR passing game; none of the offense’s other complementary receivers are realistic fantasy options.

TE breakdown: Irv Smith Jr. is a great talent and has a true full-time role at this point. However, Kyle Rudolph remains just as involved, rendering each as low-ceiling borderline TE2 options. Each player would be a recommended start if either is ever forced to miss time; it’s just hard to expect any sort of weekly consistency from the likely No. 4 or No. 5 (at best) pass-game option inside of this run-first offense.

Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans

Bears Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Allen Robinson 75 211 4.6 2.08 Malcolm Butler 71 190 1.43
R Darnell Mooney 71 175 4.38 1.22 Johnathan Joseph 71 186 4.31 1.37
S Anthony Miller 71 190 1.15 Desmond King II 70 200 0.35

Projected shadow matchups: Allen Robinson II vs. Malcolm Butler

WR/CB breakdown: A-Rob is truly one of the best receivers in the NFL.

The WR17 in PPR points per game has a lower floor than he should due to the Bears’ erratic play under center, but things should be a bit smoother than usual this week against the league’s second-worst defense in fantasy production allowed to the position. Continue to fire up Robinson as a top-12 option at the position. Butler hasn’t been awful this season; A-Rob is just a special enough talent to win against just about anybody.

Mooney finally hauled in a deep-ball target in Week 8, while Miller posted season-high marks in snap rate (76%) and targets (11). Foles has yet to reach 275 yards in a game, and his only performance with more than two scores came way back in Week 3 against the Falcons. There’s a limited ceiling for this entire passing game, so be careful about treating these complementary receivers as more than boom-or-bust WR4 types.

TE breakdown: Jimmy Graham continues to lose a handful of snaps and targets per game to rookie Cole Kmet but ultimately has at least five targets in six consecutive games. The longtime veteran TE ranks sixth in targets at the position and 14th in PPR points per game; high-end volume hasn’t been enough to produce consistent production. Continue to treat Graham as a TD-dependent TE2. He’s my 17th-ranked player at the position this week.

Titans Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L A.J. Brown 72 226 4.49 2.16 Jaylon Johnson 72 195 4.5 1.22
R Corey Davis 75 209 2.35 Kyle Fuller 71 190 4.49 0.74
S Kalif Raymond 68 182 2.37 Buster Skrine 69 185 1.27

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Titans’ top-two WRs have each played five games this season. They have posted the following production:

  • A.J. Brown: 36 targets, 27 receptions, 354 receiving yards, 5 TD, 18.5 PPR points per game
  • Corey Davis: 38 targets, 29 receptions, 369 receiving yards, 3 TD, 16.8 PPR points per game

Overall, Brown is the WR7 in PPR points per game, and Davis is the WR16.

Ryan Tannehill has truly functioned as one of the league’s best QBs over the past 13 months:

  • PFF Passing Grade: 92.1 (No. 2 among 49 QBs with 100-plus dropbacks 2019-2020) 
  • Passer rating: 114 (No. 1)
  • Yards per attempt: 8.8 (No. 1)
  • Completion rate: 69% (No. 5)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 77.3% (No. 9)

Throw in the reality that the Titans’ pass-game volume is higher than last year thanks to the offense generally working at a faster pace, and it makes sense that the artist known as TanneThrill can support multiple fantasy-relevant receivers.

It’s always AJB WR1 Szn, but Davis has also earned weekly borderline WR2 appeal. I don’t love his chances in this spot against one of just four defenses to allow fewer than 30 PPR points per game to the position; just don’t count out Davis as a usable fantasy asset purely because he didn’t consistently meet expectations during the 2017-19 seasons.

TE breakdown: Jonnu Smith has disappointed in three consecutive weeks with 1-13-0, 1-9-0 and 2-29-0 receiving lines. The athletically gifted TE might not be operating at 100% after sustaining an ankle injury in Week 6. Still, a bounce-back performance could be on the horizon, considering he ran 22 routes in Week 8 — his highest mark since Week 3. Control your breathing, try not to panic and fire up Smith as a top-10 option at the position against a Bears defense that didn’t exactly shut down the likes of Evan Engram (6-65-0), Jared Cook (5-51-1), Cam Brate (5-44-0), T.J. Hockenson (5-56-1) and Rob Gronkowski (3-52-0).

Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs

Panthers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L D.J. Moore 71 215 4.42 2.25 Bashaud Breeland 71 195 4.62 0.35
R Robby Anderson 75 190 2.61 Charvarius Ward 73 200 1.29
S Curtis Samuel 71 195 4.31 1.41 Tyrann Mathieu 69 185 4.5 0.92

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The artist known as Teddy Two Gloves has struggled to put up big-time numbers in recent weeks, failing to surpass even 225 yards through the air against the Bears and Falcons alike. Hopefully volume is less of an issue this week due to the potential that the Panthers are forced to pass the ball early and often in a matchup that is expected to feature plenty of negative game script. Bridgewater hasn’t reached even 30 pass attempts in a game since Week 5, but that seems like the floor for him in this spot.

Moore’s disappointing usage before late in the fourth quarter last week wasn’t ideal, but don’t count on it becoming a long-term problem. Both Moore *and* Anderson have received anyone’s idea of top-20 workloads through eight weeks.

  • D.J. Moore: 23.5% targets share (No. 14 in the NFL); 41% air yard share (No. 4)
  • Robby Anderson: 27.5% target share (No. 6); 38.9% air yard share (No. 6)

Don’t expect Christian McCaffrey (ankle) to see anything other than his usual workhorse role once active. The Panthers have 64 million reasons why they should continue to feed McCaffrey all the snaps he can handle; let’s just hope they continue to build the passing game around Anderson and Moore instead of their stud RB.

Obviously, getting McCaffrey the ball is good for the scoring points business, but the manner in which they relentlessly fed him targets in 2019 was a bit much. Both the 2019 (No. 3 in targets to RBs) and 2020 (No. 8) editions of the Panthers offense have heavily featured the position in the passing game. However, QB Kyle Allen targeted the back as his first read on an asinine 54% of his targets to the position; Bridgewater has a much more reasonable 36% rate through eight weeks.

The Chiefs have struggled to contain notable No. 1 WRs such as Henry Ruggs III (2-118-1), Will Fuller V (8-112-0), Keenan Allen (7-96-0) and Stefon Diggs (6-46-1). Continue to fire up both Anderson and Moore as top-20 fantasy plays largely regardless of the matchup.

TE breakdown: Ian Thomas’ snaps have gone up in four consecutive games. However, his already pint-sized target share could be further lowered with CMC expected to be back in action this week. Thomas has scored just once all season and doesn’t have more than 30 yards in a game. Pass.

Chiefs Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Demarcus Robinson 73 203 4.59 0.85 Donte Jackson 70 180 4.32 1.29
R Mecole Hardman 70 187 4.33 1.97 Rasul Douglas 74 209 4.59 0.71
S Tyreek Hill 70 185 1.83 Jeremy Chinn 74 211 4.45 0.67

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The national media largely chastised the Bills’ defensive approach against the Chiefs in Week 6, when they sold out to stop the pass and accordingly allowed gaping holes to Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the run game. The strategy ultimately didn’t work; the Chiefs defeated the Bills 26-17. Still, Mahomes attempted a season-low 26 pass attempts, and just 8% of his throws were against a box with at least seven defenders in it.

The Chiefs are a smart team; they run the ball against soft boxes and throw the ball when the defense loads up the box. Last week, the Jets sold out to stop the run because: I don’t know. Forty-five percent of Mahomes’ pass attempts wound up being against loaded boxes with seven or more defenders, and the Chiefs’ first-team offense accordingly threw the ball 42 times in just over three quarters of work.

Neither strategy led to a victory, but it makes sense to try and limit the number of times that Mahomes has the ball in his hands. Carolina's opponents have only faced a box featuring seven or more defenders on 32% of dropbacks — the fifth-lowest mark in the league. Expect the Chiefs to get Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell a bit more consistently involved on the ground this week.

Obviously Hill remains an upside WR1 regardless of the matchup. Overall, only Tyler Lockett, Calvin Ridley, D.K. Metcalf and DeAndre Hopkins have more PPR points on the season than Mahomes’ undisputed No. 1 WR. I’m less optimistic about expecting sort of high-end production from any of the other WRs involved. Obviously, playing alongside Mahomes presents a fairly high weekly ceiling, but it’s largely a three-man rotation between Hardman (68% snaps in Week 8), Robinson (55%) and Byron Pringle (56%) behind Hill (76%).

TE breakdown: In 2019, Travis Kelce caught 97-of-136 targets for 1,229 yards and five scores. This season he’s on pace to catch 96-of-136 targets for 1,220 yards … and 12 scores. Positive TD regression is a helluva drug. Kelce will continue to be ranked as the position’s top dog for the remainder of 2020, barring injury.

Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills

Seahawks Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L D.K. Metcalf 75 229 4.33 2.37 Tre'Davious White 71 192 4.47 0.69
R David Moore 72 215 2.09 Levi Wallace 72 179 4.63 0.99
S Tyler Lockett 70 182 4.4 1.98 Taron Johnson 71 192 4.5 1.8

Projected shadow matchups: D.K. Metcalf vs. Tre’Davious White

WR/CB breakdown: Yes, the Seahawks are letting Russ cook. And yes, he’s cooking at a heat that we’ve never seen before. The 2020 version of Wilson is truly the finest yet, as he’s set career-best marks in the following efficiency metrics through eight weeks of action:

  • PFF passing grade: 93.5
  • Yards per attempt: 8.1
  • Completion rate: 69.4%
  • Adjusted completion rate: 80.8%
  • Passer rating: 115.0

The idea that Lockett and Metcalf are incapable of balling out together is being overrated a bit. Yes, they’ve largely rotated blow-up performances over the past month. Also yes, both Lockett and Metcalf are two of just four receivers presently averaging at least 20 PPR points per game this season. The first month of the season featured numerous examples of both talents putting up huge numbers in the same game; continue to treat each as high-end options at the position.

White is truly one of the best corners in the league, but we’ve really only seen Metcalf struggle against defensive backs that can somewhat match his size. That isn’t the case here, and the Seahawks should also be able to free up their beastly second-year receiver whenever they want, considering White hasn’t played more than five snaps in the slot in a game this season.

Moore (ribs) is banged up and struggles to play even half of the offense’s snaps on a weekly basis anyway.

TE breakdown: Will Dissly (63% snaps in Week 8), Greg Olsen (54%) and Jacob Hollister (38%) continue to largely split reps. Olsen has been the most-productive option on the season, but his Week 8 goose egg demonstrated the sort of floor associated with any of these players as long as they continue to rotate so evenly. Try to find a better option.

Bills Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L John Brown 71 178 4.34 1.18 Linden Stephens 72 193
R Stefon Diggs 72 191 4.46 2.37 Quinton Dunbar 74 197 1.3
S Cole Beasley 68 174 2.24 D.J. Reed Jr. 69 188 4.51 3.62

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: There truly hasn’t been an offense that has failed to put up big-time yards through the air against this Seahawks:

  • Week 1: 25 points allowed, 434 passing yards
  • Week 2: 30, 397
  • Week 3: 31, 461
  • Week 4: 23, 312
  • Week 5: 26, 248
  • Week 7: 37, 360
  • Week 8: 27, 299

Yes, part of the reason why teams are racking up yards against this secondary is that they’re regularly forced into comeback mode against Russ and company. Yes, we don’t care where the production comes from in fantasy land as long as it continues to come.

The Seahawks have allowed 1,885 receiving yards to opposing WRs this season despite already having had their bye week. The Falcons are in second at 1,695. This isn’t all on the secondary; nobody has posted a worse pressure rate than the Seahawks (22.2%). Still, this is clearly a matchup to target.

Diggs is the WR13 in PPR points per game this season and should be treated as a top-10 option in this potential blow-up spot. Smokey Brown has finished with fewer than 25 yards in three of his last four games and doesn’t seem to be operating near 100%; I’d rather take a chance on Beasley against a secondary that has been roasted by slot receivers such as Julian Edelman (8-179-0), Russell Gage (9-114-0), CeeDee Lamb (5-65-0) and Cedrick Wilson (5-107-2).

TE breakdown: Tyler Kroft has been the Bills’ starting TE with Dawson Knox (COVID) sidelined, but ultimately has one or fewer receptions in four of the last five games. He’s nothing more than a low-ceiling dart throw at best.

Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons

Broncos Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L DaeSean Hamilton 73 203 0.85 Blidi Wreh-Wilson 73 190 4.53 1
R Jerry Jeudy 73 192 4.45 1.65 A.J. Terrell 73 190 4.42 1.56
S K.J. Hamler 69 173 0.83 Isaiah Oliver 72 210 4.5 1.6

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Drew Lock is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde QB. His league-high average target depth reflects the reality that there isn’t a throw on the field that the second-year QB doesn’t believe he’s capable of making, but ultimately he has more turnover-worthy plays (16) than big-time throws (14) after 10 career starts.

Ultimately, Lock has posted two fantasy-viable games in his career. He threw for 309 yards and three scores against the Texans in Week 14 last season and 248 yards with a trio of TDs against the Chargers last week. Otherwise, we’ve seen eight performances featuring either one or zero TDs and fewer than 255 passing yards.

Only the Seahawks have allowed more receiving yards to opposing WRs than the Falcons; it’d make sense if this winds up being Lock’s third-usable performance from a fantasy perspective. Keep an eye on Tim Patrick’s (hamstring) practice participation before getting funky with Hamilton or Hamler, but either way this sure looks a lot like Jeudy’s potential coming-out party.

The Broncos’ first-round rookie has impressed with his pristine route-running ability all season and had a team-high 10 targets in Week 8. Jeudy has yet to reach 75 yards in a game this season and has scored just once, but it’d be surprising if the talented 21-year-old WR goes much longer without a true big-time performance. He’s my overall WR30 on the week.

TE breakdown: Noah Fant has caught 10 of 16 targets for 85 scoreless yards in two games back with Drew Lock under center. The good news is that Fant has posted typical 70% and 78% snap rates while looking healthier in Week 8 than he did in Week 7. The bad news is that Lock has fed college BFF Albert Okwuegbunam 14 total targets over the past three weeks. A date with the league’s single-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to TEs seems like a good time for Fant and Lock to truly get on the same page, but a consistent high-end floor will continue to be tough to come by as long as Albert O remains so involved.

Falcons Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Julio Jones 75 220 4.34 2.83 Michael Ojemudia 73 199 4.45 1.43
R Calvin Ridley 73 190 4.43 2.31 A.J. Bouye 72 191 1.22
S Russell Gage 72 184 1.61 Bryce Callahan 69 188 0.6

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Ridley (mid-foot sprain) is considered day to day after being forced out of action in the second quarter of the Falcons’ Week 8 win over the Panthers. He’s earned every-week WR1 treatment at the position if healthy; just be sure to keep a closer eye than usual on the Falcons’ practice reports this week.

Mount St. Julio was bubbling for most of October, as the Falcons’ longtime No. 1 WR has ripped off 8-137-2, 8-97-0 and 7-137-0 performances in his past three games. He’s currently averaging a career-best 76% snap rate, and his average of 2.69 yards per route run is higher than last season’s 2.33 mark. At some point the 31-year-old future Hall of Famer will slow down; 2020 doesn’t appear to be that point.

This Falcons offense has the sort of firepower to put up points on anybody, although the Broncos deserve credit for continuing to function as a tough defense despite the loss of difference-makers all over the field.

  • Pass yards allowed per attempt: 6.83 (No. 9)
  • Pass TD rate: 4.2% (No. 9)
  • Explosive pass-play rate: 12.6% (No. 9)

Don’t take Jones or Ridley out of the starting lineup — not even if there’s a fire. Still, this probably isn’t the spot to expect much from Gage or one of the offense’s backup receivers if Ridley is ultimately sidelined.

TE breakdown: Hurst is one of just 13 players at the TE position averaging double-digit PPR points per game. He’s had at least five targets in all but two games this season and has ripped off 4-57-1, 6-68-0 and 5-54-0 receiving lines over the past three weeks. Treat the TE13 in PPR points per game as such against this good-not-great secondary.

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers

Raiders Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Henry Ruggs III 72 190 4.27 1.73 Michael Davis 74 196 1.02
R Nelson Agholor 72 198 4.42 1.59 Casey Hayward Jr. 71 192 0.96
S Hunter Renfrow 70 184 4.59 1.96 Tevaughn Campbell 72 195 2.05

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Good things happen when Derek Carr decides to throw the ball to his outside receivers: Ruggs (No. 8) and Agholor (No. 5) each rank among the league’s top eight most efficient receivers in yards per target among 202 players with at least 15 targets this season. The problem is that neither has seen anything resembling a consistent high-end workload, as Darren Waller’s 27% target share is the league’s single-highest mark at the TE position.

The Chargers boast an incredible defense, when healthy. That’s simply not the case at the moment with stud edge rusher Joey Bosa (concussion) at risk of joining CB Chris Harris Jr. (foot, IR) and safety Derwin James (knee, IR) on the sideline this week. The Chargers’ last four games have produced total point totals of 69, 57, 68 and most-recently 61.

I do ultimately think Carr can hold up his end of the bargain in this potential high-scoring affair. However, it’s tough to treat Ruggs and Agholor as anything more than boom-or-bust WR3 options; I’d rather attack this game in DFS tournaments than bet on either receiver getting a one-week boost in targets.

Renfrow has gained fewer than 50 yards in all but two games this season; his low-aDOT slot role doesn’t include high-end volume and for that reason he’s not a recommended option in fantasy land.

TE breakdown: Waller is the overall PPR TE2 on the season and has caught at least five passes in all but one game. The likes of Travis Kelce (9-90-1), Jared Cook (3-52-0), O.J. Howard (3-50-1) and Noah Fant (7-47-0) each proved capable of putting up solid numbers against this secondary; continue to treat the Raiders’ No. 1 pass-game option as the No. 2 ranked player at his position.

Chargers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Mike Williams 76 220 1.55 Nevin Lawson 69 192 4.48 1.22
R Jalen Guyton 73 202 1.12 Trayvon Mullen 74 199 4.46 1.11
S Keenan Allen 74 211 4.58 2.29 Lamarcus Joyner 68 191 4.55 1.31

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Raiders boast PFF’s single-worst secondary in overall coverage grade. You can quite easily argue each of their starting three corners are liabilities:

  • Lawson: PFF’s No. 88 highest-graded CB among 126 qualified corners
  • Mullen: No. 78
  • Joyner: No. 112

The Raiders’ 31st-ranked pass rush in pressure rate hasn’t exactly helped matters. Regardless, we’ve seen the likes of Stefon Diggs (6-115-0), Robby Anderson (6-114-1), Scotty Miller (6-109-1), Chris Godwin (9-88-1) and even Tre’Quan Smith (5-86-0) all put together big performances against this unit.

Good luck trying to slow down Justin Herbert and company. Allen is the WR12 in PPR points per game and continues to be locked in as a weekly WR1. Only DeAndre Hopkins (30.7%) has a higher target share than Allen (29.8%). Williams has sandwiched 5-109-2 and 5-99-1 performances around his 1-4-0 dud in Week 7; he’s a boom-or-bust WR3 that seems more likely to experience the former in this cake matchup.

Guyton continues to get open deep downfield with regularity but is averaging just 2.4 targets per game. He doesn’t need many opportunities to rack up yards considering the second-year receiver is averaging absurd marks in yards per reception (29) and yards per target (15.4) alike. Credit to Guyon for being a great real-life player in 2020, but this sort of minuscule target share is a no-go in fantasy land.

TE breakdown: Hunter Henry has found the end zone just once all season and hasn’t cleared 50 receiving yards since Week 2. I wouldn’t count on this sort of meh production continuing for much longer as long as Henry continues to 1) play a near every-down role, and 2) stay healthy. We have five years of evidence that Henry is one of the game’s more-talented TEs; don’t be surprised if he turns in a great second half of the season and reminds everyone of this fact. Henry is my seventh-ranked player at the position this week.

Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals

Dolphins Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Preston Williams 76 210 1.14 Dre Kirkpatrick 74 196 4.5 1.7
R DeVante Parker 75 216 4.45 1.84 Patrick Peterson 73 203 4.31 1.05
S Jakeem Grant 67 169 1.91 Kevin Peterson 71 185 4.66 0.06

Projected shadow matchups: DeVante Parker vs. Patrick Peterson; Preston Williams vs. Dre Kirkpatrick

WR/CB breakdown: Congrats to Tua for getting a win in his first career start, but his 93-yard performance was ultimately the second-lowest graded game from a 1) QB in Week 8, and 2) rookie QB this season. The No. 5 overall pick from the 2020 draft wasn’t asked to do much; his 5.0-yard average target depth was far removed from Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 8.2 mark.

This is trending toward becoming a run-first offense that doesn’t make a habit of pushing the ball down the field. Not exactly the sort of fantasy-friendly environment that should lend itself kindly to high-end receivers. The decision to trade Isaiah Ford to the Patriots opens up additional snaps for the likes of Grant and/or Antonio Callaway, but this passing game is still better approached as a “prove it” situation for the time being.

Parker is a boom-or-bust WR3; I wouldn’t think too hard about playing anybody else from this position group.

TE breakdown: Gesicki has spent 86% of his snaps this season lined up in the slot or out wide; the man is a wide receiver. Hence, Ford’s departure is actually probably better news for Gesicki than the Dolphins’ backup receivers. The same concerns surrounding Parker and company obviously apply to Gesicki as well, but the third-year “TE” should be considered the favorite to work as this passing game’s No. 2 option more weeks than not moving forward. He’s my PPR TE15 this week, although I’d be surprised if better days aren’t ahead once Tua has a better grasp on the offense.

Cardinals Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L DeAndre Hopkins 73 212 4.57 2.62 Byron Jones 72 205 0.77
R Christian Kirk 71 200 4.47 1.36 Xavien Howard 73 192 4.58 1.16
S Larry Fitzgerald 75 218 4.48 0.88 Nik Needham 72 203 1.44

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Hopkins is the only player in the league with a target share that starts with a three. He’s one of just four receivers to average at least 20 PPR points per game:

You don’t need me to tell you to treat Hopkins as fantasy’s No. 2 WR this week. Credit to Jones and Howard for typically making life tough on opposing receivers, but the reality that the Dolphins haven’t asked their corners to consistently travel with opposing wideouts means that the Cardinals should be able to unleash Nuk against Needham at their leisure. 

The Dolphins made life miserable for Jared Goff in Week 8, and previously held both the 49ers (128) and Jets (148) to under 150 passing yards with Jones back in action. This secondary is legit; Hopkins is better. Only use matchups as tiebreakers in fantasy, continue to follow the volume otherwise.

I will be generally fading Kirk and Fitzgerald this week due to the tough overall spot. Credit to Kirk for posting 2-86-2 and 5-37-2 receiving lines prior to the Cardinals’ Week 8 bye, but those performances did come against the Cowboys and Seahawks, respectively. The reality that 1) Fitz steals underneath work, and 2) Andy Isabella sees a deep-ball target or two per week, leads me to rank Kirk as nothing more than borderline WR3 this week.

TE breakdown: The potential for Maxx Williams (ankle, IR) to return this week would further slide Dan Arnold down the ranks. Neither are realistic fantasy options.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys

Steelers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Diontae Johnson 70 183 4.6 1.46 Trevon Diggs 74 207 1.88
R Chase Claypool 76 227 4.42 2.37 Anthony Brown 71 196 4.33 1.14
S JuJu Smith-Schuster 73 215 4.54 1.41 Jourdan Lewis 70 195 4.54 0.79

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Big Ben failed to reach 250 yards just once in 2018; he’s finished under that mark in five of seven games this season. Credit to Roethlisberger for limiting turnovers and sacks; the Steelers are sitting pretty at 7-0 and would undoubtedly be fooked if their longtime franchise QB is forced to miss any extended amount of time. Still, the fantasy ceiling is lower than ever: Roethlisberger’s average of 17.1 fantasy points per game ranks 22nd among all QBs.

Up next is a matchup against the Cowboys’ porous secondary, although we actually have only seen Russell Wilson (315 pass yards-5 TD-0 INT), Matt Ryan (273-4-0) and Jared Goff (275-0-1) throw for more than 250 yards against this defense through eight weeks. The Cowboys pass rush has picked up in recent weeks and opponents have generally been happy to attack this dreadful run defense.

This target pecking order remains a mess to figure out and fluctuates during any given week. Obviously, each of these starting receivers is capable of putting up numbers in this spot, but I question the overall target volume that will be available. I’d go with 1. Claypool, 2. Johnson and 3. JuJu in terms of who should put up the most production, although none of the Steelers’ WRs cracked my top-30 options at the position this week due to the likelihood that this game begins and ends on the back of James Conner.

TE breakdown: Eric Ebron has become a full-time player in this offense, posting 84% and 87% snap rates over the past two weeks. The production hasn’t been overwhelming; through eight weeks Ebron is the TE22 in PPR points per game. Still, his targets and snaps continue to move in the right direction, and there’s a more solid floor here than we initially thought. The same concerns that apply to the offense’s WRs also apply to Ebron, but he deserves to be treated as a high-end TE2 at worst against this atrocious secondary.

Cowboys Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Michael Gallup 73 198 4.51 1.24 Steven Nelson 71 194 4.49 0.96
R Amari Cooper 73 210 4.42 1.77 Joe Haden 71 195 4.52 1.05
S CeeDee Lamb 74 191 4.5 1.84 Cameron Sutton 71 188 4.52 0.59

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Cowboys are either riding with Cooper Rush or Garrett Gilbert against the Steelers’ league-best pass rush. They’ve scored 10, 3 and 9 points since losing Dak Prescott (ankle) for the season. Amari Cooper *was* being featured well ahead of Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb with Prescott and Andy Dalton (covid) under center, but that’s no longer a guarantee ahead of Week 9. Please try to find someone else to start this week than anybody involved in this passing game. Nobody is implied to score fewer points than the Cowboys (14) this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if I further lower Cooper (WR34) and Lamb (WR35) in the ranks by Sunday.

TE breakdown: Dalton Schultz plays pretty much every down, but he offers pretty much zero scoring upside (along with everybody else in this offense). He remains the No. 4 (at best) pass-game option in this offense. Try to avoid playing anybody with a star on their helmet if you can help it this week.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saints Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Deonte Harris 66 170 1.25 Jamel Dean 73 206 4.3 0.79
R Michael Thomas 75 212 4.57 0.55 Carlton Davis 73 206 4.53 0.81
S Tre'Quan Smith 74 210 4.49 1.19 Sean Murphy-Bunting 72 195 4.42 1.56

Projected shadow matchups: Michael Thomas vs. Carlton Davis

WR/CB breakdown: Brees threw for a season-low 160 yards against the Buccaneers in Week 1. His 60% completion rate and average of 5.3 yards per attempt were also season-worst marks. Round 2 will be outdoors, and we still don’t know if Thomas (ankle, hamstring) will be back in action.

We found out that Davis was a force to be reckoned with in Week 1, and the Buccaneers’ No. 1 CB hasn’t stopped balling out in high-profile matchups ever since:

Most weeks, Thomas has the volume to overcome any decrease in efficiency; the reigning overall PPR WR1 needs to be started in fantasy lineups of all shapes and sizes if active in Week 9. Still, this clearly isn’t the week to expect ceiling games from anybody involved in this passing game.

Perhaps Emmanuel Sanders (covid) can maintain a solid role with Thomas back in the picture, but he’ll be at risk of working as the passing game’s No. 4 option behind Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook as well during any given week. Particularly in this matchup, fade the Saints’ complementary receivers if Thomas is back in action. Don’t go too crazy even if Thomas remains sidelined; the Buccaneers are one of just 10 defenses to allow fewer than 35 PPR points per game to opposing WRs this season.

TE breakdown: Cook has posted 2-52-1, 3-32-1 and 5-51-1 receiving lines over the past three weeks, but hasn’t played more than 60% of the offense’s snaps since Week 2. His seven targets in Week 8 were the first time he surpassed the five-target threshold since Week 1; don’t expect his weekly opportunities to get any more fruitful once Thomas returns to action. Cook and Brees have great chemistry, and there will continue to be plenty of scoring opportunities in this offense. He’s an every-week TE1; just don’t get carried away with high-end dreams.

Buccaneers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Mike Evans 77 231 4.53 1.28 Marshon Lattimore 72 192 4.36 1.62
R Antonio Brown 70 181 4.56 Janoris Jenkins 70 190 1.07
S Jaydon Mickens 70 175 1.61 Chauncey Gardner-Johnson 72 208 4.48 1.1

Projected shadow matchups: Mike Evans vs. Marshon Lattimore

WR/CB breakdown: TB12 continues to show little dropoff in his performance despite being 43 years of age. The Buccaneers have struggled to stay healthy at WR, but help is on the way in the form of AB.

We’ve only seen Brady and AB play 24 snaps together in Week 2 last season against the Dolphins. The production was as follows:

  • 8 targets
  • 4 receptions
  • 56 receiving yards
  • 1 TD
  • 1 rush attempt
  • 5 rush yards

The likes of Josh Gordon (5 targets), Julian Edelman (4) and James White (4) all immediately took back seats to AB despite spending far more time with Brady over the previous years. There’s a very real chance that Evans and Godwin are better than Brown at this point in their respective careers; this doesn’t mean that the ex-Steelers’ star WR won’t be treated as the No. 1 option in this passing game moving forward, particularly as long as the Buccaneers’ incumbent talents remain so banged up.

AB is my PPR WR16 this week, Evans is my WR20 and Godwin WR25. Recent history in this shadow matchup has been in favor of Lattimore, but Evans has the sort of size to win any battle with a well enough thrown ball. It’s unfortunate for Evans and Godwin fantasy managers that targets won’t be as condensed moving forward, however we should continue to treat them as borderline WR2 options at worst due to 1) them still being awesome at their job, and 2) the reality that this passing game is poised to put up plenty of points.

TE breakdown: Rob Gronkowski has put up 5-78-1, 5-62-1 and 4-41-1 receiving lines over the past three weeks. He’s played at least 69% of the offense’s snaps in every game this season. The addition of AB could either help Gronk by taking away attention, or hurt him if Brady force feeds his new toy too heavily. I lean toward the former scenario occurring and will continue to treat Gronk as the weekly TE1 that he’s been for the past month.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

Patriots Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Damiere Byrd 69 180 1.2 Blessuan Austin 73 195 1
R Gunner Olszewski 72 170 0.39 Pierre Desir 73 198 4.59 1.46
S Jakobi Meyers 74 203 4.63 1.92 Brian Poole 69 213 1

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: It’s tough to blame the entirety of the passing game’s struggles on Cam Newton considering only the Seahawks (66%), Titans (65%) and Colts (64%) have had a higher rate of catchable deep balls than the Patriots (62%) this season. The following players were relied upon for major snaps at WR and TE in Week 8:

  • Byrd: The pint-sized speedster is a former undrafted free agent who is on his third team since entering the league in 2016.
  • Meyers: 2019 undrafted free agent who flashed in the preseason last year, but ultimately hasn’t been able to carve out a consistent role without injuries.
  • Olszewski: 2019 undrafted free agent who has three career receptions.
  • Isaiah Zuber: 2020 undrafted free agent who caught 14 passes in 10 games during his final collegiate season at Mississippi State.
  • Ryan Izzo: 2018 seventh-round pick who has caught 15 passes over the past two seasons and is anyone’s idea of a block-first TE.

Cam maintains fantasy value from his rushing production, and RB Damien Harris can put up numbers in the right game script. Otherwise, don’t expect anybody involved in this Patriots offense to emerge as consistently-viable fantasy assets in 2020. That includes ex-Dolphins WR Isaiah Ford.

TE breakdown: Don’t do it.

Jets Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Jeff Smith 73 195 0.82 Jason McCourty 71 195 0.77
R Denzel Mims 75 215 4.38 1.47 J.C. Jackson 73 198 4.46 1.32
S Braxton Berrios 69 190 1.39 Jonathan Jones 70 190 4.33 1.7

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Mims is by all accounts the best WR currently healthy enough to suit up for the Jets at the moment with Jamison Crowder (groin) banged up. Alas, all coach Adam Gase seems to care about in this world is feeding his slot receiver. Last week was a new low, as Berrios caught eight of 11 targets for 34 scoreless yards. The fact that this performance produced more PPR points than 100 rushing yards is everything that’s wrong with full point-per-reception scoring.

I have a rule to never play any receivers from an offense with a QB that has admitted to seeing ghosts against a particular defense when that matchup arises. This is the case in Week 9. Mims and Berrios are nothing more than low-ceiling WR4 options. Crowder would be at risk of limited snaps if active and likely a WR3 at best.

TE breakdown: It’s truly amazing how Chris Herndon went from being the talk of Jets training camp to having two targets over the past three weeks. Bad fantasy football squads should at least try to show some level of self respect by not starting any players from this dumpster fire of a team if you can help it.

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