Matchups to Target
DeAndre Hopkins, ARI ($8,200 DK | $8,800 FD) vs. Daryl Worley, DAL
DeAndre Hopkins has alternated games with 26 FPs (Weeks 1, 3, and 5) and 16 FPs (Weeks 2 and 4) this season. For the average human, 16 FPs is quite an achievement. For Hopkins and his bloated salary, that’s simply not going to get it done for DFS exposure. You can toss that trend into the buck list -- intentional pun -- with a juicy matchup on the horizon in Week 6. Note that Hopkins will not be shadowed by Daryl Worley. However, Hopkins has run over 80 percent of his routes at left wideout, while Worley has played RCB on around 70 percent of snaps.
First of all, the Cowboys have permitted the third-most fantasy points to WRs this season (45.6). The list of WRs topping 20 FPs includes Calvin Ridley (Week 2), Tyler Lockett (Week 3), D.K. Metcalf (Week 3), Odell Beckham Jr. (Week 4), and Darius Slayton (Week 5). Second, Dallas has allowed the sixth-highest third-down conversion rate in 2020. Since the beginning of 2019, Hopkins has collected the fifth-most third-down conversions in the NFL.
As for the individual matchup, Dallas leans toward zone coverage at a rate slightly higher than league average. They’ll align in a Cover 3 on the highest percentage of snaps. It’s that fact alone that elevates Hopkins toward max exposure-status. Hopkins’ yardage per route efficiency has increased by 19 percent this season when facing Cover 3. That has also coincided with a 10 percent rise in average depth of target. The pace of these two offenses could push this game toward 150 plays. Granted, the change from Dak Prescott to Andy Dalton could force Dallas to slow things down to a traditional level, but there will be enough opportunities for Hopkins to possibly set some season highs in Week 6.
Calvin Ridley, ATL ($7,800 DK | $8,600 FD) vs. Mike Hughes, MIN
As far as Week 6 matchups with stack potential go, this pair of teams could offer more top WR plays than any other. It really doesn’t matter if you want to put the blame for the team’s 0-5 start on GM Thomas Dimitroff and/or HC Dan Quinn. Or if you want to blame Matt Ryan for the struggles of the offense over the last three weeks. We can blame Julio Jones being limited to 15 combined snaps since Week 3 for the offense playing directly into the defensive preferences of the Bears, Packers, and Panthers. Which has been to drop multiple defensive backs deep to limit long gains. Over that stretch without the secondary attention focused on Jones, Ryan has completed four-of-15 attempts over 20 yards with zero TDs. He completed six-of-12 deep attempts with two TDs the first two games.
The Falcons will face a Vikings’ secondary that has permitted the most receptions, yardage, and TDs of 20-or-more yards this season. While Calvin Ridley was completely shut down by the Packers in Week 4, he still managed to eclipse 100 receiving yards with 19.2 FPG in Weeks 3 and 5. I’ve listed him as matching up with Mike Hughes since he’ll line up across from him on around half of snaps. Hughes has been solid this season while splitting time between LCB and the slot. The same cannot be said for third-round rookie Cameron Dantzler at RCB. In three games this season, Dantzler is permitting 18.9 FPG with 1.81 yards per coverage snap (YPCS, league average is 1.10).
Minnesota will primarily scheme the Atlanta offense in man with Cover 1 and in Cover 2 and Quarters zone alignments. Ridley’s exceptional route running abilities allow him to separate independently of scheme. A potential return of Jones would be a boon to Ridley and the entire offense. Even if Jones is out, the added attention from Ryan will equate to at least 10 targets. As much as I think this matchup will provide a return to form for Atlanta, I would hesitate before overloading LUs with Atlanta stacks if Jones is eventually ruled out.
Adam Thielen, MIN ($7,300 DK | $7,400 FD) vs. A.J. Terrell, ATL
As mentioned above, this matchup is rife with stacking options. While I usually look for a bit more man coverage snaps before exposing my LUs to Kirk Cousins, this week is the exception. The Falcons offer us enough Cover 1 to go along with liabilities in the secondary to confidently roll the dice on a tad over a half of snaps facing a zone. I should also add that I am just as high on the upside of Justin Jefferson in Week 6 as I am with Adam Thielen. But the target share overwhelmingly in favor of Thielen (36 to 19 percent) acts as the tiebreaker.
Let me be clear here: the Vikings drool on their Sunday shirts when teams employ man coverages. On 28 percent of snaps since 2019, Thielen has a 29 percent target share for 34 percent of his receiving yardage. I get it, you’re not impressed. Could I change your mind if I told you he’s scored 75 percent of his TDs on those snaps? How about if I passed along that his yardage per route increased by a massive 37 percent? Seriously, if that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.
While those numbers drop quite a bit against zone schemes, let me finish off the persuasion with stuff on the Atlanta secondary. The Atlanta secondary expected to see the field on Sunday will average a 139.1 QB rating when targeted that has surrendered the ninth-most FPG (43.6) to WRs this season. Get your Minnesota stacks ready.
Laviska Shenault Jr., JAX ($5,200 DK | $5,800 FD) vs. Desmond Trufant, DET
You tossed D.J. Chark Jr. into a slew of LUs last week against a Houston secondary that’s allowed the eighth-most passing TDs this season and were rewarded with 4.6 FPs. What gives? Two words: Bradley Roby. He may not receive the recognition of a Jalen Ramsey or Stephon Gilmore but he should be considered on that exact level as a shutdown, Cover 1 corner. Chark will enter Week 6 free of the Roby “glove.” Although, he’ll face another defense featuring a Cover 1 man shell at the league's highest rate and as, at best, the team’s No. 2 WR.
The Jaguars will host a Detroit secondary with liabilities throughout. The Lions have allowed the 10th-most FPG to WRs (40.7) in spite of having a good deal of luck in facing the Mitchell Trubisky Bears, the Packers when Davante Adams injured his hamstring, and the Saints without Michael Thomas. With Chark lining up across from Amani Oruwariye, easily the best defender for the Detroit secondary, Laviska Shenault Jr. will face man coverage from Desmond Trufant on the majority of snaps Sunday.
On 29 percent of snaps when facing Cover 1 this season, Shenault has collected 48 percent of his total receptions, and 52 percent of his yardage. We don’t have much of a sample size of Shenault facing Cover 2 -- the preferred zone shell utilized by the Lions -- but Gardner Minshew II has completed 88 percent of attempts this season when facing the scheme. The factor that has kept Shenault from receiving more DFS attention has been a lack of TDs. Detroit has permitted the eighth-most TDs to opposing WRs this season despite facing that vanilla schedule of wideouts. I am anticipating that “Viska” will end Week 6 with a similar line to last week’s (seven receptions, 79 yards) but with at least one TD.
Chase Claypool, PIT ($5,200 DK | $5,600 FD) vs. Browns’ Cover 3 | 4 | 6
As hard as it may be to believe, the Steelers could let JuJu Smith-Schuster walk at the end of the season. Only Heinz Ward and Antonio Brown have been extended a second contract from Pittsburgh in recent history and they are already expected to be in excess of the 2021 salary cap. However, it’s the emergence of Chase Claypool that could seal Smith-Schuster’s fate. On a minimum of 75 routes, Claypool currently ranks 6th in FPG (18.6) among all WRs this season.
The Steelers passed along that Diontae Johnson will be limited in practice heading into Week 6. Johnson left their victory over the Eagles with a back injury after only six snaps. But the real damage -- Claypool’s emergence -- has already been done. Only JuJu has played more snaps since Week 2 among Pittsburgh WRs. And the 6-4, 238 pound rookie with 4.42 speed has more than doubled every other Pittsburgh wideout in yardage gained per route this season.
In Week 6, the Steelers will face a Cleveland zone secondary that has permitted the second-most FPG to opposing WRs (46.9) in 2020. OC Randy Fichtner cycles his WRs in equal proportions across their 11 personnel formation. So we can’t pinpoint a specific matchup. Claypool’s ridiculous success per snap also prevents us from identifying any coverage preferences or liabilities. What we can look toward is how they are scheming to get the ball into his hands. He scored one TD in Week 5 on a goal-line screen and ended up with a 29 percent target share in addition to three carries. I love Claypool this week with or without Johnson in play. Even if Johnson does play, he will come nowhere close to his 36 percent target share the first two weeks.
Other matchups to consider:
DeVante Parker, MIA ($6,300 DK | $6,400 FD) vs. Jets’ Cover 1 | 2 | 3
- Read about Parker vs. Cover 3 here
- Read about Jefferson vs. Man Coverage here
Matchups to Avoid
Marquise Brown, BAL ($6,500 DK | $6,300 FD) vs. Darius Slay, PHI
Even with Chase Claypool going nuclear on the Eagles last week, Darius Slay still limited his coverage responsibilities to 1.27 YPCS. The Eagles play Cover 1 at the league’s third-highest rate. On 25 routes against Cover 1, Marquise Brown has only generated 15 yards. That’s a 74 percent dip from his yardage per route over 144 total routes this season. On the flip side, Slay has allowed a miniscule 5.9 yards per target through five weeks, less than Jalen Ramsey, Casey Hayward Jr., or Stephon Gilmore.
Just as they did against Cincinnati’s hapless bunch, the Ravens’ stunt-crazy pass rush will chew up an Eagles’ O-line missing three starters and possibly also without RT Lane Johnson. As 7.5 favorites with the fourth-lowest implied total, Vegas isn’t expecting many fireworks on Lincoln Financial Field. Baltimore’s pace of play -- second-lowest in the league -- within a positive game script will limit the opportunities for Brown to accumulate his counting stats (receptions and receiving yards). If you want exposure to Ravens’ receivers, pay up for Mark Andrews against the defense enabling the third-most FPG (18.6) to opposing TEs.
Robby Anderson, CAR ($6,300 DK | $6,500 FD) vs. Kyle Fuller, CHI
The Carolina offense is picking up speed with three consecutive victories and inching closer to the return of Christian McCaffrey. While Robby Anderson has exceeded all expectations, Teddy Bridgewater’s refusal to air it out (fourth-fewest air yards) has forced Carolina WRs to do the majority of the work after the catch. That caught up to Anderson’s upside in Week 3 against the Chargers’ Cover 3 and it’ll catch up to him again in Week 6 against Chicago.
The Bears have allowed the least FPG to opposing WRs this season thanks, in part, to world-class coverage from Kyle Fuller. Fuller is in the midst of a monster season as he’s permitted a microscopic 4.7 yards per target (league average is 8.6) and 0.75 YPCS. Since Anderson moves around the formation, he’ll only face off with Fuller on snaps at RWR. But he’s run the most routes from right wideout so he’ll clash with Fuller enough to matter. Since Anderson’s upside is directly tied to his counting stats, the Bears’ top-five pass rush and zone secondary provide more than enough reasons to fade Anderson in Week 6.
A.J. Brown, TEN ($5,600 DK | $6,500 FD) vs. Bradley Roby, HOU
Frustrating shadowed WRs on a weekly basis for longer than you might be aware, Bradley Roby has held his coverage responsibilities to an elite 5.3 yards per target this season. He’s held his coverage responsibility to under 15 FPs in every game this season and, in two of those games, to under five FPs. We just watched A.J. Brown’s return to the field on Tuesday night with 21.2 FPs against a Buffalo secondary sans both starting CBs. In addition to playing man coverage on half of snaps, the Texans will also fall back into a variety of zone coverages. It’s on those routes run by Brown against zone coverage where he is likely to generate his offense.
Looking back to last season, Brown posted 23.9 FPG over two games against the Texans. However, looking deeper, Roby sat out the Week 17 game, and, in Week 15, Roby held Brown to 11.7 FPs. In fact, over half of his receiving yardage in Week 15 was gained within the coverage of his current teammate Johnathan Joseph. I’m not implying that Brown will be shut out, simply highlighting that Brown will need to battle for his numbers this weekend. Predicting matchup results is an entirely volatile practice. Even the CBs that shadow at the NFLs highest rates are unlikely to cover a single WR the entire game. But the name of the game is to decide when to circumvent and when to expose.
Kenny Golladay, DET ($6,200 DK | $7,200 FD) vs. Sidney Jones, JAX
As I’ll explain, I’m cheating a bit with this matchup. We only have 33 snaps to evaluate him, but make sure to take note of the potential of adding another shutdown corner to the list with Sidney Jones. If you remember back to the 2016 season, Jones was drawing praise out of the University of Washington as the top CB in the nation. He was considered a first-round lock for the 2017 draft after leading his school to the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs. However, he ruptured an Achilles tendon during his Pro Day, and ended up being drafted by Philadelphia in the second round. Jones spent his first season with the Eagles on the reserve/non-football injury list while recovering from the injury. Over the next two seasons, he suffered through a series of nagging hamstring injuries that ultimately led to his release.
Jones was signed to Jacksonville's practice squad just over a month ago and got his first taste of action in Week 4. He responded by shutting out Tee Higgins on five snaps. In Week 5, with C.J. Henderson sidelined, Jones shadowed Will Fuller V for much of the game, and completely shut him down. In fact, he intercepted both targets intended for Fuller. This recommendation will require following injury reports, as Jones’ snaps may be limited if Henderson returns to action. But Jones has been electric in coverage on every snap this season. He’s emerged fully healthy, and has appeared to be a step ahead of his assignments. It may not be this week or next, but Jones is a name to watch out for whenever he is provided with another opportunity.
Should Jones cover the right side in place of Henderson in Week 6 with the same ballhawking skills shown over the last two weeks, he will be more than capable of restricting the output of either Golladay or Marvin Jones Jr.. Keep in mind that I strongly feel that Golladay is one of the top-five WRs in the game, when at 100 percent health. That’s how impressed I am with Jones. The Jaguars may just have plucked a 24-year-old winning lottery ticket from the refuse bin.
Other matchups to avoid:
Darius Slayton, NYG ($5,400 DK | $6,000 FD) vs. Washington Cover 3 | 4
Preston Williams, PIT ($4,700 DK | $5,400 FD) vs. Jets’ Cover 1 | 2 | 3