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Matchups to Attack
Zay Jones vs DeAndre Baker
Zay Jones is coming off of a successful 2018 season after showing bust potential during his rookie campaign. Last season, Jones saw 102 targets, posting 56 receptions for 652 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also flashed in the final two games of the season, recording an 11/160/3 line on 18 targets against the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. The Buffalo Bills brought in John Brown and Cole Beasley to fill out their starting lineup, but Jones still saw five targets last week. While that was the lowest total of the group, only three receivers saw targets, meaning he has the potential for higher volume in an elite matchup.
Jones has only played 15% of his snaps as the Bills left outside receiver, but that’s the role he’s expected to play with Beasley lining up in the slot. He’ll face off against DeAndre Baker, who played 69% of his snaps as the New York Giants outside right cornerback in his NFL debut. More importantly, Janoris Jenkins is expected to shadow John Brown, leaving Baker to play the majority of his snaps across from Jones. In limited snaps, Baker has given up a 100% catch rate, while being targeted on 25% of his routes covered. He has also given up 1.45 fantasy points and 8.25 yards per route covered this season. While Baker isn’t likely to play this bad as the season progresses, he has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) worst cornerback in the NFL. He may not be ready for the NFL, and Jones is a sneaky option to take advantage of that.
Josh Gordon vs Eric Rowe
Josh Gordon played 11 games with the New England Patriots, recording 40 receptions for 720 yards and 3 touchdowns on 68 targets. Those numbers extrapolate to a 58/1,047/4 line on only 99 targets over a 16 game span. Gordon was reinstated only slightly before the NFL season began, and he continued his tremendous efficiency in Week 1. He needed only 4 targets to post 3 receptions for 73 yards and 1 touchdown in a blowout win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Gordon has played the majority of his snaps (59%) as the Patriots left outside receiver, and that’s expected to continue this season. He’s expected to get a matchup against Eric Rowe, who has only played 22% of his snaps as the right outside cornerback, but that’s his new position with the Miami Dolphins. Rowe has been targeted on 17% of his routes covered, while giving up a 74% catch rate. He has also given up 0.63 fantasy points and 2.42 yards per route covered. Rowe’s move to the outside will likely increase his efficiency, but he has graded out as the second worst cornerback in the NFL, per PFF. The only concern is Xavien Howard shadowing Gordon if Antonio Brown is ruled out, but Miami didn’t shadow last week, and they aren’t currently expected to this week. If they do, Gordon will be no longer belong in this section.
Dede Westbrook vs Aaron Colvin
Dede Westbrook is coming off of somewhat of a breakout sophomore campaign, as he posted 66 receptions for 717 yards and 5 touchdowns on 101 targets. He also posted tremendous advanced metrics, such as separation yards during the 2018 season. Westbrook was seen as a potential breakout fantasy candidate because of his chemistry with Nick Foles, but the latter has since been injured, leaving Gardner Minshew to take over as the Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback. Still, Westbrook recorded 5 receptions for 30 yards and 1 touchdown on 6 targets against the Kansas City Chiefs. While he has less appeal with Foles hurt, he could see an uptick in targets after another week with Minshew.
Westbrook has played 89% of his snaps as Jacksonville’s slot receiver. He gets a plus matchup against Aaron Colvin, who has played 76% of his snaps as the Houston Texans slot corner. Colvin has been targeted on 17% of his routes covered, allowing his opponents to record an 80% catch rate. He has struggled with allowing 0.36 fantasy points and 1.71 yards per route covered, as well. Colvin has graded out as a bottom-five cornerback in the NFL, according to PFF, and it may be time to buy low on Westbrook after he was overshadowed by Chris Conley and D.J. Chark during Week 1.
NOTE: Aaron Colvin has been released. Westbrook can be used unless otherwise noted.
Matchups to Avoid
Danny Amendola vs Desmond King
Danny Amendola only saw 79 targets for the Miami Dolphins in 2018. He turned those into 59 receptions for 575 yards and 1 touchdown. Amendola signed with the Detroit Lions in the offseason. He didn’t technically draw the start in Week 1, but he posted a 7/104/1 line on 13 targets. He led Detroit in targets last week, and it wouldn’t be shocking if he continues to see a large role for the Lions as the season progresses.
Amendola has played the majority of his snaps (81%) in the slot. He gets a matchup against Desmond King, who has played 97% of his snaps as the Los Angeles Chargers slot corner. He has given up a 66% catch rate, but he has been targeted on only 12% of his routes covered. King has also looked outstanding, allowing 0.20 fantasy points and yards per route covered. He has graded out as PFF’s best cornerback in the NFL, and there’s little to no reason to believe Amendola will see continued success in this particular matchup.
DeVante Parker vs Stephon Gilmore
DeVante Parker has been a fantasy darling since being drafted in 2015. He only played in 11 games (7 starts) last season, posting 24 receptions for 309 yards and 1 touchdown on 47 targets. His talent has never truly been in question, as injuries have kept him down for the majority of his career. Parker had a highlight reel catch during Week 1 that was the lone bright spot of the Miami Dolphins game. Overall, he recorded 3 receptions for 75 yards on 7 targets in that game.
Parker has played 45% of his snaps as the Dolphins left outside receiver, but he’s expected to slide over to the right side of the field this season. That won’t matter this week, though, as Stephon Gilmore is expected to shadow him in this game. He’s comfortable moving around the formation, as he was a shadow player last season. Gilmore was targeted on 18% of his routes covered last season, giving up a 59% catch rate. He has held his opponents to 0.26 fantasy points and 1.18 yards per route covered, as well. The Miami offense already comes with plenty of risk, and Parker gets a matchup against the second best cornerback in the NFL, according to PFF.
Kenny Golladay vs Casey Hayward
Kenny Golladay broke out as a sophomore in 2018, posting 70 receptions for 1,063 yards and 5 touchdowns on 119 targets. That breakout was expected after recording a 28/477/3 line on 48 targets in 11 games (5 starts) as a rookie. Golladay wasn’t efficient in his 2019 season debut, as he caught 4 balls for 42 yards and 1 touchdown on 9 targets. Surprisingly, he was tied for second on the team in targets, even in a plus matchup against backup cornerbacks.
Golladay has played all over the formation for the Detroit Lions, as he has played nearly 33% of his snaps in each of the three receiver positions. That may not matter this week, though, as Casey Hayward is expected to shadow him. He rarely played in the slot last season, but if he doesn’t follow Golladay to the slot, the latter will see a terrible matchup against Desmond King, who has been outlined above. Hayward has given up a 59% catch rate, while being targeted on only 13% of his routes covered. His opponents are only averaging 0.25 fantasy points and 1.12 yards per route covered against him, as well. Hayward has graded out as a top-16 cornerback in the NFL, per PFF, but he often shadows the opponents WR1, making his numbers that much more impressive.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)