Matchups to Attack
Cooper Kupp vs P.J. Williams
Cooper Kupp has missed the last two weeks after suffering a sprained MCL against the Denver Broncos. He was limited at Wednesday’s practice, and is tentatively expected to join the starting lineup this week. He was enjoying an outstanding season before his injury, totaling 30 receptions for 438 yards and five touchdowns through five weeks. He has scored 10+ DK points in every healthy game this season, including a ridiculous 40.2 DK point performance against the Minnesota Vikings.
Kupp has been featured in the slot this season, playing 72% of his snaps as the Los Angeles Rams slot receiver. He will get an elite matchup against P.J. Williams, who has played 79% of his snaps as the New Orleans Saints slot corner. Williams grades out as the second worst cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, while allowing a 72% catch rate, while being targeted on 19% of his routes covered. Williams has also struggled, allowing 0.5 fantasy points and 1.92 yards per route covered. If Kupp is forced to miss this game, Robert Woods would slide into the slot and make an elite play. Keep an eye out for news on Kupp’s health as we get deeper into the week.
Michael Thomas vs Marcus Peters/Troy Hill
Michael Thomas missed practice on Wednesday with a shoulder injury, but it’s difficult to believe he’s truly questionable for this game. He has cooled off after a scorching hot start to the season, but he’s still averaging 8.3 receptions for 95.6 yards and 0.6 touchdowns on 9.1 targets per game. Thomas has seen a 26.6% target share this season, while also ranking sixth in the NFL with 14 red zone targets this season.
This is a bit of an interesting matchup, as Michael Thomas moves around the New Orleans Saints formation quite a bit. Still, he has played 70% of his snaps as an outside receiver this season. The Los Angeles Rams cornerbacks have also moved around the formation quite a bit throughout 2018, but Marcus Peters and Troy Hill are their primary outside cornerbacks. The ideal matchup is against Peters, who has graded out as a bottom-five cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. He has been targeted on 15% of his routes covered, allowing a 75% catch rate. Thomas could also see time across from Troy Hill, who has graded out as a bottom-15 corner this season. Hill is targeted more often (23%), allowing a 61% catch rate this season. Hill also ranks second last in the NFL, allowing 2.57 yards per route covered this season. Regardless of who covers Thomas on the outside this week, he’ll see an elite matchup, as Peters and Hill have both struggled to slow down their opponents.
Adam Thielen vs Nevin Lawson
Adam Thielen has been the best receiver in the NFL this season, as he’s leading the league in receptions and receiving yards, while ranking fourth in receiving touchdowns. He has recorded 100+ yards in every game this season, while also catching a touchdown in each of his last five games. He’s averaging a 9.3/115.6/0.8 line on 12.0 targets per game. Thielen has also scored 25+ DK points in each of his last six games.
He has played the majority of his snaps (62%) out of his slot for the Minnesota Vikings this season. He’ll face off against Nevin Lawson, although the Detroit Lions cornerbacks have moved around the formation quite a bit. Regardless, Darius Slay is expected to shadow Stefon Diggs, allowing Thielen to work against Lawson and Teez Tabor. Lawson has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 14th worst cornerback this season, allowing a 63% catch rate, while being targeted on 18% of his routes covered. Tabor has been a bit worse than Lawson, allowing an 83% catch rate, while being targeted on 20% of his routes covered. Tabor also ranks in the bottom-three of the NFL in fantasy points (0.55) and yards (2.57) per route covered. Thielen is in an elite position this week with Slay occupied with Diggs, although I wouldn’t be worried about Slay if Detroit moves him on Thielen during the game either.
Matchups to Avoid
Buffalo Bills WRs vs Chicago Bears CBs
The Buffalo Bills have struggled offensively throughout the majority of the 2018 season. Zay Jones has been their best receiver, totaling 25 receptions for 281 yards and one touchdown through eight games. They also recently signed Terrelle Pryor, although it’s unknown if he’ll be ready to play this week. Regardless, Buffalo may be sporting the worst group of receivers in the NFL, and they should struggle with Nathan Peterman back under center.
The Buffalo receiving group simply cannot matchup against one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Bryce Callahan, Kyle Fuller, and Prince Amukamara grade out as the eighth, ninth, and 12th best cornerbacks in the NFL, per PFF. They rarely move across the formation, but that won’t matter in this matchup. The Bears feature an elite pass rush, helping this trio of cornerbacks out, and they are in a great spot to get pressure on the quarterback once again.
Doug Baldwin vs Desmond King
Doug Baldwin has struggled with injuries throughout the 2018 season, and it has been suggested that he will have to play the entire season injured. He has found a bit of success against the Oakland Raiders, but he has struggled in each of his other games. Overall, Baldwin has only totaled 14 receptions for 159 yards on 20 targets through five games, although he saw limited snaps in a few games. It’s difficult to trust Baldwin with his injuries and role in the offense this season, especially when he gets a tough matchup.
Baldwin has played 66% of his snaps as the Seattle Seahawks slot receiver this season. He’ll matchup against Desmond King, who has played 94% of his snaps as the Los Angeles Chargers slot cornerback. King has only been targeted on 13% of his routes covered this season, allowing a 68% catch rate. He has graded out as the Pro Football Focus’ second best cornerback in the NFL, as well. Baldwin has seen limited opportunities in a run heavy offense, and he could struggle to produce with limited opportunities again this week.
Calvin Ridley vs Josh Norman
Calvin Ridley set the world on fire over a three game span early this season. In those games, he totaled 15 receptions for 264 yards and six touchdowns on 19 targets. He hasn’t found the same success in his other four games, though, totaling 12 receptions for 128 yards on 16 targets. Overall, he averaged 27.2 fantasy points from Week 2 through Week 4, while averaging only 6.2 DK points in his other four games. He’s still the third receiving option on the Atlanta Falcons, limiting his opportunities for big games without touchdown production.
Ridley has played 46% of his snaps as the Falcons right outside receiver this season. He’ll get a matchup with Josh Norman, who has played 88% of his snaps as the Washington Redskins left outside cornerback. Norman shadowed Odell Beckham Jr. last week, but that was the first time he shadowed any receiver since OBJ in their previous matchup. Norman has graded out as a top-15 cornerback in the NFL this season, according to PFF. He’s allowed a 72% catch rate, but has only been targeted on 14% of his routes covered. Ridley could struggle to see opportunities once again this week, and he’ll likely struggle to produce an efficient line in this matchup.
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