Matchups to Attack
Golden Tate vs P.J. Williams
Golden Tate enjoyed an outstanding first half of the season, totaling 44 receptions for 515 yards and three touchdowns on 69 targets. He scored double digit DK points in six of his seven games over the first half of the season. He was then traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, recording two receptions for 19 yards on four targets in his first game. He’ll likely play more snaps and a larger role in the offense as he gets more adjusted, although his first game was far from an elite showing.
Tate has played 70% of his snaps as a slot receiver this season, and that trend is expected to continue in Philadelphia. He’ll matchup against P.J. Williams, who has played 83% of his snaps as the New Orleans Saints’ slot corner. He has graded out as the second worst cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, allowing a 68% catch rate, while being targeted on 18% of his routes covered. Williams also ranks 14th last in the NFL in yards allowed (1.9) per route covered, while also ranking seventh last in fantasy points (0.45) per route covered. Tate certainly comes with risk because of his unknown role on his new team, but he comes with tremendous upside for a low price tag.
Devin Funchess vs DeShawn Shead
Devin Funchess looked outstanding early this season, but he has cooled off over the last three weeks. On the season, Funchess has totaled 39 receptions for 477 yards and three touchdowns on 60 targets through nine games. He has also been a better option on the road this season, where he’s averaging 14.4 DK points per game, as opposed to 9.4 DK points per game at home. There is concern about his workload, though, as he has totaled only 13 targets in his last three games. Still, this is a matchup he can take advantage of.
Funchess gets an elite matchup against DeShawn Shead this week. Funchess has played 56% of his snaps as the Panthers left outside receiver this season. Shead has only played limited snaps, but he’s expected to play as the Detroit Lions right outside cornerback. He has only been targeted on 11% of his routes covered, but he’s allowing a 78% catch rate while on the field. Shead has graded out as the sixth worst cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. For what it’s worth, Teez Tabor and Nevin Lawson have also been two below average cornerbacks this season, meaning Funchess will always see a good matchup while on the field. If Darius Slay (limited in practice on Wednesday) is active, D.J. Moore can slide into this selection, as Slay could shadow Funchess.
Sterling Shepard vs Javien Elliott
Sterling Shepard has featured plenty of ups and downs this season. Through nine games, he has scored 20+ DK points three times, while also scoring single digit fantasy points in four games. He has been an efficient player, though, as he’s averaging 4.7 receptions for 61.2 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 6.9 targets per game. He has seen seven or more targets in six of his last seven games, though, and he should continue to see similar targets this week. Shepard also quietly ranks in the top-15 of the NFL in red zone targets (14) this season.
He has played the majority of his snaps (70%) as the Giants slot receiver this season. He gets a great matchup against Javien Elliott, who has played 98% of his limited snaps as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers slot corner. He has only been targeted on 11% of his snaps, but he has allowed a 100% catch rate. While that rate is almost guaranteed to drop, he could potentially be targeted on more of his routes covered. He has graded out as a Pro Football Focus’ fourth worst cornerback in the NFL, and this is the type of matchup that an efficient player like Shepard can take advantage of.
Matchups to Avoid
Emmanuel Sanders vs Desmond King
Emmanuel Sanders has quietly been enjoying an elite season in 2018. Through nine games, he’s averaging 6.2 receptions for 78.6 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 8.2 targets per game. Sanders has struggled a bit in his last two games, though, totaling only 10 receptions for 104 yards on 13 targets. Surprisingly, Sanders has not been a red zone option this season, as he has only seen six red zone targets, ranking behind Demaryius Thomas (now in Houston) and Jeff Heuerman.
He has played 63% of his snaps as the Denver slot receiver, and he’ll get a matchup against Desmond King. King has played 95% of his snaps as the Los Angeles Chargers’ slot corner. He has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ best cornerback in 2018. He has allowed a 70% catch rate, but has only been targeted on 11% of his routes covered. Denver has proven that they don’t feel the need to pepper Sanders with targets, as he has seen four targets twice this season. He should see limited targets against an elite corner, limiting his floor for a high price tag.
Keenan Allen vs Chris Harris
Keenan Allen has found plenty of success through nine games this season. He’s averaging 5.9 receptions for 76.3 yards and 0.2 yards on 8.3 targets per game. He has scored double digit fantasy points in eight of his nine games, including two games with 20+ DK points. Allen has also seen an uptick in targets since criticizing the offense for not getting him involved, as he has been targeted 19 times over his last two games, totaling 12 receptions for 181 yards and one touchdown over that span.
He has played 53% of his snaps as the Los Angeles Chargers slot receiver this season. He’ll get a matchup against Chris Harris, who has played 69% of his snaps as the Denver Broncos slot corner. He has allowed a 67% catch rate this season, while being targeted on only 15% of his routes covered. He has graded out as a top-eight cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. Harris also ranks as an above average cornerback in terms of fantasy points allowed (0.28) and yards allowed (1.19) per route covered. In his career (excluding playoffs), Allen is averaging only 4.3 receptions for 39.5 yards and 0.7 touchdowns on 8.0 targets per game against Denver, and a large part of that is Harris.
Demaryius Thomas vs Josh Norman
Demaryius Thomas has posted a few big games this season, but he has also struggled at times. Through nine games, he’s averaging 4.3 receptions for 51.4 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 6.6 targets per game. He was traded to the Houston Texans during the season, posting a 3/61/0 line on three targets in his only game with them. He could be more involved in the offense this week, as he has finally had plenty of time to learn Houston’s playbook and practice with his new teammates.
Thomas has moved all over the formation this season, but he has played the majority of his snaps (39%) as the right outside receiver. That is expected to stay the same in Houston, as well. The matchup is interesting, as he’s tentatively expected to play across from Josh Norman, who has played 75% of his snaps as the Washington Redskins left outside cornerback. With that being said, Norman has shadowed players mid-game, and he could slide onto DeAndre Hopkins if need be. Norman has looked outstanding this season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 11th best cornerback in the NFL. He has been targeted on 14% of his routes covered, allowing a 68% catch rate. For the time being, Norman is expected to see plenty of Thomas in this game, but check about him shadowing Hopkins before Sunday.
NOTE: It looks as if Josh Norman will shadow DeAndre Hopkins, leaving Demaryius Thomas in a great matchup against Danny Johnson. See the chart below for the changes.