- There are a number of potential high-profile shadow matchups this week including Mike Evans vs. Marshon Lattimore, Ja’Marr Chase vs. Trevon Diggs and Michael Thomas vs. Carlton Davis.
- Julio Jones and Josh Palmer headline the week’s top waiver wire additions at the position.
- Don’t discount the possibility that both Brandon Aiyuk and Elijah Moore have major bounce-back performances.
Estimated reading time: 20 minutes
Happy Week 2; let’s break down all things wide receiver ahead of another electric slate of NFL football. What follows is a look at the week’s projected shadow matchups followed by answers to bunches of key questions before getting to the fantasy football rankings.
Week 2 Shadow Matchups
Wide receivers often can overcome difficult one-on-one matchups thanks to good ol’ fashioned volume. It’s also rare that a cornerback follows a single receiver around the field for each and every route. This leads to situations where Jalen Ramsey “shuts down” Justin Jefferson in their direct coverage (3-25-0), but Jefferson’s full game line (8-116-0) reflects the reality that fantasy managers were still better off playing him.
Last week 11 different defenses had at least one cornerback shadow the opposition’s No. 1 wide receiver all over the field:
- Falcons CB A.J. Terrell attempted to shut down Michael Thomas, but ultimately gave up a pair of scores and struggled to handle Thomas’ physicality. Note that Terrell shadowed just once all of last season.
- Panthers CB Donte Jackson surprisingly locked up with Donovan Peoples-Jones instead of Amari Cooper. Perhaps this is a sign that Jackson will take the opposition’s field-stretcher more weeks than not.
- Bengals CB Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple shadowed Diontae Johnson and George Pickens as expected.
- Broncos CB Patrick Surtain and Ronald Darby made it a rough Monday night for D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, respectively. Note that Surtain wasn’t used to shadow all last season.
- Lions CB Amani Oruwariye and Jeffrey Okudah had a tall task, particularly Oruwariye. Overall, PFF’s No. 1 WR/CB matchup in favor of the wide receiver of Week 1 was A.J. Brown against Oruwariye and it went down as exactly that. Credit to Okudah for goose-egging DeVonta Smith on the other side of the field.
- Colts CB Stephon Gilmore unsurprisingly followed Brandin Cooks all over the field. Note that Cooks’ 42-yard flea-flicker-induced reception didn’t come in Gilmore’s coverage.
- Chargers CB Asante Samuel Jr. and Michael Davis tracked Davante Adams and Mack Hollins all over the field. Note that Samuel registered just one shadow matchup in all of 2021.
- Dolphins CB Xavien Howard handled DeVante Parker on the outside with Byron Jones (leg, PUP) sidelined.
- Patriots CB Jonathan Jones was tasked with following Tyreek Hill all afternoon in the post-J.C. Jackson era.
- Giants CB Adoree’ Jackson took Robert Woods out of the game with some b-e-a-utiful one-on-one coverage throughout Sunday afternoon.
- Seahawks CB Michael Jackson tracked K.J. Hamler as opposed to either of the Broncos’ top-two receivers, perhaps signaling that he’ll be used on opponent’s field-stretching options throughout the season.
A good rule of thumb: Start your studs. Still, fantasy managers are always looking for an edge, so what follows is a breakdown of the week’s projected shadow matchups defined by instances in which a defense will ask one of their cornerbacks to travel with a specific opposing wide receiver for at least 50% of the game.
New quarterback, same target-hog. Overall, Johnson was one of just 13 wide receivers to command a target share of at least 30% in Week 1; don’t expect the Steelers to shy away from continuing to feed their undisputed No. 1 receiver against Jones, who was a better snap away from giving up a house call touchdown to Tyreek Hill on the first play of the season. Johnson shouldn’t be downgraded for this matchup.
Perhaps the Giants view Robbie Anderson as the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver after he garnered most of Baker Mayfield’s attention in Week 1, but I doubt it. This means Moore should see plenty of Jackson, who did a good job shutting down Robert Woods (1-13-0) in Week 1. At Moore’s best he should be capable of defeating one-on-one coverage from just about anybody, but at a minimum don’t expect Jackson to make life overly easy. This is a neutral matchup from a pure coverage perspective.
Bateman turned two of his five targets into 59 yards and a score during the Ravens’ Week 1 win over the Jets. Now he’ll have to deal with a blitz-happy Dolphins defense that gave Lamar Jackson all sorts of problems in 2021. Howard is a damn good corner in his own right, and the added potential for Jackson to not be at his best has me downgrading Bateman just a bit for this tough Week 2 matchup.