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Matchups to Attack
Amari Cooper vs Trumaine Johnson
Amari Cooper has looked unstoppable throughout the 2019 season. Through 5 games, he has posted 32 receptions for 512 yards and 5 touchdowns on 43 targets. He’s coming off of his most difficult matchup of the season, torching Jaire Alexander for an 11/226/1 line on 14 targets. Cooper ranks slightly outside of the top-10 in the NFL in air yards (515). He also possesses a 12 aDOT this season. Furthermore, he ranks second on the Dallas Cowboys with four red zone targets, while also dealing with injuries at times this season.
Cooper has played almost exclusively as an outside receiver for Dallas this season, specifically on the right side, where he has seen 46% of his snaps. He gets a matchup against Trumaine Johnson, who has played 86% of his snaps as the New York Jets left outside cornerback. He has struggled in 2019, giving up a 71% catch rate, while being targeted on 18% of his routes covered. He has also given up 0.28 fantasy points and 1.53 yards per route covered. Overall, Johnson has graded out as Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) third worst cornerback in the NFL. Cooper recently dominated one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and he should find plenty of success in a significantly easier matchup this weekend.
Michael Thomas vs Tre Herndon
Michael Thomas has been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL this season. He’s as efficient as anyone in the NFL, recording 45 receptions for 543 yards and 3 touchdowns on 55 targets. Thomas has scored 16+ fantasy points in each of his 5 games this season, and he’s coming off of his best game of the season, scoring 44.2 fantasy points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Thomas has played the majority of his snaps (45%) as the New Orleans Saints left outside receiver in 2019. He’s expected to get a matchup against Tre Herndon, who has played 66% of his snaps as the Jacksonville Jaguars left outside cornerback, but he’s expected to move to the right side this week. He has been targeted on 24% of his routes covered, giving up only a 58% catch rate. Herdon has struggled with 0.44 fantasy points and 1.86 yards per route covered this season, as well. He has been a bottom-five cornerback in the NFL, per PFF. Similarly to Cooper, Thomas has performed well in significantly more difficult matchups, and he makes an elite option once again this weekend.
DeAndre Hopkins vs Bashaud Breeland
DeAndre Hopkins has struggled a bit through five games this season. He owns 31 receptions for 347 yards and 2 touchdowns on 44 targets. He currently ranks sixth in the NFL in targets and ninth in air yards, though, while also possessing a 12 aDOT. Surprisingly, Hopkins has only seen two red zone targets this season, turning both targets into touchdowns. After Will Fuller had his breakout game last week, it may be time for Hopkins to take advantage of a great matchup.
Hopkins has played 41% of his snaps as the Houston Texans left outside receiver. That won’t matter this week, though, as Bashaud Breeland is currently expected to shadow him in this game. He played surprisingly well when shadowing Tyrell Williams and T.Y. Hilton earlier this season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Breeland has only been targeted on 12% of his routes covered, while allowing a 57% catch rate. He has also given up 0.21 fantasy points and 1.13 yards per route covered. He has graded out as the 12th worst cornerback in the NFL, according to PFF. This game should be fast paced and high scoring, and Hopkins could flash 30+ fantasy points upside once again in 2019.
Matchups to Avoid
Randall Cobb vs Brian Poole
Randall Cobb flashed in the Dallas Cowboys season opener, but he has struggled since then. Through 5 weeks, he has posted 17 receptions for 210 yards and 1 touchdown. He has also scored single-digit fantasy points in each of his last four games. Cobb has only seen a 10.1 aDOT to go along with 272 air yards. He ranks third on the Cowboys with three red zone targets, failing to score on any of them. Excluding his first game of the season, Cobb is averaging only 7.1 fantasy points per game in 2019.
He has played almost exclusively in the slot this season, as he has seen 89% of his snaps in the slot for Dallas this season. He gets a matchup against Brian Poole, who has played 98% of his snaps as the New York Jets slot corner in 2019. He has held his opponents to a 59% catch rate, while being targeted on only 14% of his routes covered. He has also quietly held his opponents to 0.23 fantasy points and 0.97 yards per route covered. Poole has graded out as the third best cornerback in the NFL, according to PFF. Cobb could also struggle with game script, as the Cowboys are relatively large favorites, and he’s likely to score single-digit fantasy points once again this week.
Odell Beckham Jr. vs Shaquill Griffin
Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t been enjoying the season that many were expecting from him with the Cleveland Browns. He has seen 43 targets in 2019, turning those into only 23 receptions for 335 yards and 1 touchdown. With that being said, he has seen 518 air yards with a 12 aDOT thus far, and his catch rate should increase 5% or more. Beckham has also seen only three red zone targets this season, failing to record any touchdowns. While he is due for positive regression, that may come later in the season rather than in a difficult matchup this weekend.
Beckham has only played 28% of his snaps as the Cleveland right outside receiver, but that’s where he’s expected to see the majority of his snaps in this game. If that’s the case, he’ll get a matchup against Shaquill Griffin, who has played 94% of his snaps as the Seattle Seahawks left outside cornerback. He has only been targeted on 14% of his routes covered this season, allowing his opponents to post a 67% catch rate. Griffin has held them to only 0.20 fantasy points and 1.12 yards per route covered in 2019, as well. He has graded out as PFF’s ninth best cornerback in the NFL this season, and Beckham could struggle to produce at a high level once again this week.
Preston Williams vs Quinton Dunbar
Preston Williams has performed well for an undrafted free agent. He has posted 15 receptions for 201 yards and 1 touchdown on 30 targets. He has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his four games in 2019. Williams has also seen 364 air yards with a 12.1 aDOT this season. He leads the Miami Dolphins with five red zone targets, scoring one touchdown on them thus far. His biggest concern this season has been his 50% catch rate.
Williams has played the majority of his snaps (65%) as the Dolphins left outside receiver his rookie season. He’ll get a matchup against Quinton Dunbar, who has played 76% of his snaps as the Washington Redskins right outside cornerback. He has given up a 67% catch rate, while being targeted on 19% of his routes covered. Dunbar has also posted 0.31 fantasy points and 1.81 yards per route covered this season. He has graded out as a top-five cornerback in the NFL, according to PFF, and he could shut down the inexperienced Williams in this game.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)