Our first set of team byes are on the horizon. An extra week of rest could not have come at a better time for those teams. As with each passing week, we find ourselves one step closer toward learning the matchup strengths of rookies and those receiving their first dose of extended action. Whether you’re a tournament (GPP) junkie or fighting tooth-and-nail to stay above that Cash/Single-Entry (SE) line, you’ve set your GPS to the precise location toward fulfilling those goals. Rest assured that I am fighting that fight right alongside you in both regards, and everything uncovered from my weekly analysis can be found below.
The entirety of my Mondays are devoted to watching/re-watching every game from the previous week. I also use that time filling in the defensive coverage scheme blanks in my databases. From the time I wake up, until the time my head hits the bed, Tuesday is devoted entirely to refreshing everything in my databases to account for everything from the previous week. Whether or not the previous week returned profits for the efforts, every single step is followed to the letter at the dawn of a new week.
NEW FEATURE ALERT: I am unveiling something new in this week’s edition that I am anticipating will maximize our profits: a coverage scheme algorithm that has taken weeks of my time. The projections provided by this algorithm factors coverage scheme success, anticipated coverage scheme rates, and current opportunity rates, i.e., route percentages, target shares, carry shares, etc. for each QB, RB, and WR. Unfortunately, projections for TEs will not be ready until Week 7. But the TE position easily affords the lowest reliability due to multiple factors that I feel requires more time to develop. While I am excited for the impact I feel the algorithm will immediately provide, it will only play a secondary role in Advanced Matchups until I am able to increase my sample collection.
If you’d like to learn more about/refresh yourself with each of the defensive coverage shells mentioned throughout this series and other relevant schematic details, utilize the following resources:
Fantasy Shells: Coverage Glossary
Fantasy Shells: Cover 1
Fantasy Shells: Cover 2
Fantasy Shells: Cover 3
Fantasy Shells: Cover 4
We may have four less teams to analyze this week, that only means every second normally devoted to those franchises will be shifted toward deciphering matchups from each of the other 14 games. Without further delay, let’s get to the action.
*14-17 (45%); 5-4 in Week 5
Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (+1.0) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals (+3.0) at Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills (-6.0) at Tennessee Titans
*11-10 (52%); 5-3 in Week 5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles (Over 52.5)
Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars (Under 47.5)
Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants (Under 47.5)
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team (Over 55.5)
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (Over 52.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns (Over 49.5)
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (Under 51.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks (Under 42.5)
*15-4 (79%); 7-1 in Week 5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-275) at Philadelphia Eagles
Los Angeles Rams (-575) at New York Giants
Kansas City Chiefs (-305) at Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Chargers (+135) at Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts (-400) vs. Houston Texans
Cincinnati Bengals (-180) at Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (+105) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals (+140) at Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys (-170) at New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers (-225) vs. Seattle Seahawks
Buffalo Bills (-265) at Tennessee Titans
It’s such a shame that this game isn’t on the main slate. I do love seeing the NFL branch out to other countries, sharing the sport that we hold so dear with an entirely new population. Miami will face the Jaguars on the home field of the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium) in London, United Kingdom. But the 9:30am ET morning startup means that, if we want classic lineup exposure to any of its participants, we are forced to use the Thursday-to-Monday slate. A slate that does not offer anything close to the level of GPP rewards as the main slate or primetime showdown captain matchups.
Matchups to Target
Tua Tagovailoa, MIA ($4.0K DK | $6.6K FD) vs. Jaguars’ Cover 1 | 3
And it just so happens that a couple individuals are extremely interesting from this faceoff between teams with a 1-9 combined record. Designated to return from IR yesterday due a rib injury suffered at the hands of Bills’ nasty defense, Tua Tagovailoa has now been penciled in to take the start after one day of practice. It comes as a great time for the Dolphins since Tagovailoa’s replacement, Jacoby Brissett, only narrowly survived Week 5 intact due to a variety of ailments.
Am I anticipating a monster outing from Tua? By no stretch of the imagination. And my interest in Tagovailoa is restricted to DK since he is available to us with bottom pricing of $4.0K! With the only exception being his starting debut against the Rams last season, in every other game Tua has started and finished, he has exceeded 12 FPs. In the seven games that fulfill that requirement, Tagovailoa has averaged 18.48 FPs. A repeat of that average would bring us a 35% profit over his expected floor value. By the way, this Jacksonville defense is several light years in quality below the 2020 LA Rams. The Jags are handing 19.9 FPG to opposing QBs. Meeting that potential would return a 40% profit.
James Robinson, JAC ($6.3K DK | $8.2K FD) vs. Jerome Baker, MIA
No defense has delivered more FPs to entire opposing teams than the Dolphins over the last four weeks (116.7). We do need to remind ourselves that the ‘Phins have faced Tom Brady, Josh Allen, Derek Carr, and a suddenly-hot Carson Wentz over the last four weeks. So, we can reasonably expect to see some progression from those struggles. A date with a rookie QB (Trevor Lawrence) on the calendar could be the perfect medicine. That said, Jacksonville will pack along one of the hottest RBs in football for their trip across the pond. And Miami has commissioned the second-most FPG to RBs (31.6) that has been fueled by the highest average of red zone touches (7.80).
Some may be surprised to find out that James Robinson ranks inside the top-five RBs in just about every important rushing measure over the last three weeks. He’s fourth in rushing yards (315), leads all RBs with 6.2 YPC, and is second with four TDs. Even more impressive in that he’s succeeding behind one of the worst run blocking O-lines that’s only provided him with 1.34 yards before contact/attempt (eighth-lowest). Robinson has countered that deficiency by leading all RBs with 4.73 yards after contact/carry. The fifth-highest rate of 20-plus yard runs fits in nicely alongside the fourth-highest pure rushing FPG from JRob this season (12.5).
Final notes on Miami
We need to be very careful with Myles Gaskin ($5.9K/$6.0K) exposure coming off a game where he collected 31.9 FPs. He took a 71% share of RB carries in Week 5, but Miami only handed the ball off seven times. He delivered 92.2% of his FPS from a 10/74/2 receiving line. At least 4/49/1 of that was posted in the first quarter. What is clear is that the Malcolm Brown ($4.0K/$5.0K) experiment as the featured back has fizzled out. Salvon Ahmed ($4.0K/$4.9K) now appears to be Gaskin’s top backup.
While we have some interesting matchups for Miami’s receivers, do not hesitate to utilize Tua Tagovailoa naked in Cash/SE at his $4.0K DK pricing. On the other hand, Jaylen Waddle ($4.9K/$5.5K) will see plenty of Tre Herndon on Sunday morning. Among 38 qualified slot CBs, Herndon has permitted 2.60 yards/coverage snap (YPCS, 37th), 0.63 FPs/coverage snap (FP/CS, 38th), 0.62 air yards/coverage snap (AY/CS, 38th), and a 139.4 targeted passer rating (TPR, 35th). If DeVante Parker ($5.2K/$5.7K) does take the field despite the hamstring injury that kept him out of Week 5, he’ll face the one Jaguar corner performing at a quality level, Shaquill Griffin.
If Parker is out again, Griffin will work across from Albert Wilson ($3.0K/$4.9K). It’s who’s on the opposite perimeter that could provide reasonable returns. Playing in only his second game after losing most of the ‘20 season with a foot injury, Preston Williams ($3.1K/$5.3K) entered a quality performance last week against the Buccaneers. His 3/60/0 line on five targets may not seem like much, but he’ll do much of his work across from Chris Claybrooks. Since Claybrooks has played two-thirds of his coverage snaps in the slot, he is ranked among slot corners. But he kicked out to start at right CB last week. His coverage ranks 38th in YPCS, 36th in FP/CS, 36th in AY/CS, and 31st in TPR. Mike Gesicki ($4.3K/$5.8K) will also be a solid option. Myles Jack was just stripped of the green dot (play calling duties) and is dealing with an oblique injury.
Final notes on Jacksonville
Several of Miami’s ‘20 breakout defenders have fallen well short of the lofty expectations they established. Xavien Howard has been torched in coverage, Emmanuel Ogbah has been unable to get home on QBs, Jerome Baker has struggled in run defense, and even Eric Rowe had an unforgettable Week 5. It would not be that surprising if Trevor Lawrence ($5.7K/$6.8K) leaves London with the finest performance of his rookie season. Marvin Jones Jr. ($5.5K/$6.1K) saw an average of nine targets the first three weeks. The fact that his targeting has declined to only 3.5 over the last two weeks is the only reason he is not a consideration for me against Howard. Xavien has certified a combined 17/317/5 line to his coverage over the last four weeks.
For the reasons detailed in last week’s issue, Laviska Shenault Jr. ($4.9K/$5.7K) was, in fact, shifted to work outside in place of DJ Chark Jr. in the first game after breaking his foot. Perhaps due to settling in on the switch, Shenault posted season lows in route percentage (61%) and target share (10%). The slot reps were then split between Jamal Agnew ($3.5K/$5.0K) and Tavon Austin ($3.2K/$5.1K). Agnew’s excellent speed was fed with a 23% target share (seven) that is worth underlining for future reference. He’ll work against Nik Needham but, after a strong start, Needham’s coverage metrics have since been very inconsistent. It’ll just be difficult to trust him at this stage. The pass catcher for the Jags that has my eye is Dan Arnold ($3.0K/$5.0K). Exactly 14 days since being acquired from Carolina, Arnold led Jacksonville with eight targets, and a 6/64/0 line. While he’ll work against the quality coverage of Eric Rowe, a 26% target share for a TE is nothing to sneeze about.
Matchups to Target
Kadarius Toney, NYG ($5.6K DK | $6.0K FD) vs. David Long Jr., LAR
For all of the hot air floated about on Kadarius Toney in camp and during the first couple weeks, all of those statements did not age well. Toney was only on the field for 59% of team passing plays last week. But… wait for it… he still collected a 33% target share! He flipped 13 targets into a 10/189/0 line, 32.6 FPs. Even more impressive is that he collected 4/70/0 within the coverage of Trevon Diggs. The only thing that could contain Toney on Sunday proved to be himself. After a late push from Damontae Kazee, Toney threw a punch in retaliation that resulted in being disqualified. A fine is definitely headed his way. But, if Roger Goodell decides to suspend Toney, it will be a decision in poor taste. Punching a helmet with a bare fist is more detrimental to oneself than the target.
Los Angeles is authorizing the 13th-most FPG to opposing WR groups. Take a moment to allow that thought to settle. That average includes 15.6 receptions (third-most), 180.0 yards (13th), and 1.8 TDs (ninth). They’re allowing the seventh-most FPG to WRs over the last four games. Just don’t toss the blame at Jalen Ramsey. In a zone-heavy scheme, every unit must hold up their end. That just hasn’t been the case for the LBs, or for corners without the surname Ramsey. Darious Williams was placed on IR after Week 5. It appears the Rams will keep ‘21 fourth-rounder Robert Rochell at left corner. That leaves David Long Jr. to defend the slot. And that puts a good amount of the responsibility for Toney on Long’s shoulders. Ranked among the 91 qualified corners, Long is consenting to 1.03 YPCS (32nd), 0.21 FP/CS (25th), and a 97.2 TPR (47th).
If Toney can abuse the coverage of Diggs, Ramsey could end up being forced to dust off his shadowing cleats.
Matchups to Avoid
Sterling Shepard, NYG ($5.0K DK | $6.2K FD) vs. Jalen Ramsey, LAR
Just when I felt I had a grasp on Jalen Ramsey’s alignment, all of the data was rendered worthless. After aligning at a three-to-one clip in favor of the slot compared to outside over the first four weeks, he completely reversed that ratio in Week 5. We could try to blame it on Williams’ injury, but Ramsey started the game on the perimeter. Why do we care? Ramsey is limiting his coverage to 0.96 YPCS (14th-best), 0.22 FP/CS (16th), and a 79.1 TPR (fifth-best). And he’s collected those numbers at an altered alignment against a new breed of WR. Leave it to the offspring of a Scandinavian Lutheran missionary and a Mexican deacon to remind the populus:
Tracking the movements of Ramsey is of the highest priority. With Kenny Golladay set to miss time with a knee injury, the fact that Sterling Shepard returned to practice on Wednesday is a big deal. But the Giants will likely need Shepard to shift to the outside — as he’s done throughout his career — with Toney holding down the slot. A Shepard vs. Ramsey showdown may not elicit gasps from the crowd, but Sterling has kicked his game up a notch this season. In line with his coverage projection, Shepard will not find the yards easy on Ramsey’s right side if he ends up taking on Golladay’s 50% alignment percentage at left wideout.
Final notes on Los Angeles
Even though he’s leading all QBs with 0.589 FPs/dropback (FP/Db) and facing a defense warranting the seventh-most FPG to QBs, the coverage algorithm isn’t projecting Matthew Stafford ($6.7K/$7.9K) for a profit in excess of his pricing this week. In my opinion, if Stafford doesn’t manage to hit above his floor, he’ll still do well enough that exposure will not dovetail the lineup. Another player the formula loves this week is Darrell Henderson Jr. ($6.0K/$7.3K). He’s projected for 21.1/19.8 FPs against a run defense permitting 29.2 FPG to RBs (fifth-most), 138.4 rushing YPG (sixth), and 4.7 YPC (fourth). For as long as Hendo maintains his health, Sony Michel ($4.3K/$5.4K) is simply not worth our attention.
From a FPs/route (FP/Rt) viewpoint, it’s uncanny how similar the numbers are for Cooper Kupp ($7.9K/$8.2K) and Robert Woods ($6.1K/$6.9K) against Cover 2 and Cover 3 during the last three seasons. Sean McVay has used his genius to scheme Bobby Trees with enough slot reps that it’s nearly impossible to predict which corner will work against either Kupp or Woods with any reliability. He is using Van Jefferson Jr. ($3.4K/$5.4K), DeSean Jackson ($3.7K/$5.4K), and even Tyler Higbee ($4.4K/$5.5K) on the outside to limit his opponent’s usage of alignment percentages to their advantage.
With James Bradberry’s struggles continuing last week, he’s now permitted at least 50 receiving yards in four games, and a TD in four, as well. He’s handing out 1.68 YPCS (68th among 91 qualified outside CBs), 0.40 FP/CS (80th), and a 117.1 TPR (71st). On the other side of the field, Adoree’ Jackson’s coverage metrics have begun to slip, as well. After a hot start, he ranks 45th in YPCS, 55th in FP/CS, and 53rd in TPR. All of that to state that the opportunities will be there for the Rams’ WRs. Kupp leads everyone with 25.0 FPG. Woods may sit at 23rd with 15.2, but he just put up 12/150/0 (30.0 FPs) on 14 targets in Week 5. The pricing for Woods is the draw in this matchup since I will want Tyreek Hill over Kupp when I’m splurging for elite pricing at WR.
Final notes on New York
It was such a scary sight seeing Daniel Jones ($5.5K/$7.2K) wobble across the field with jelly legs after taking this helmet-to-helmet hit from Jabril Cox last week:
Reports suggest that chances are good that Jones will clear the protocol in time to play. If you really think about it, QBs always seem to have little issue gaining clearance from concussions. Even if Jones isn’t cleared, Mike Glennon ($5.0K/$6.4K) has shown to be capable enough to feed WRs with solid lines. Darius Slayton ($3.8K/$5.5K) returned to practice alongside Shepard on Wednesday. All the more important with Golladay out. IT will be interesting to see if Slayton’s return will come at the expense of John Ross III ($3.1K/$5.4K). For those still taking nostalgic chances on Evan Engram ($3.4K/$5.0K), his TE17/TE18 pricing may seem to be a bargain, but he ranks outside the top-35 at the position in FP/Rt, YPRR, yards/target (YPT), YAC/reception, and TPR.
Saquon Barkley ($6.8K/$6.5K), on the other hand, will miss at least this week with an ankle injury. Some will pounce on the quasi-discount pricing of Devontee Booker ($5.4K/$5.9K). I’ve fought the numbers in front of me on Los Angeles’ run defense for long enough. LAR has just not lived up to their ‘20 standards under new DC Raheem Morris. The algorithm likes Barkley in this spot. But I’m not going to extend that projection onto Booker since I’ve always felt he’s been overrated since his Utah days. With a full week of practice, Gary Brightwell ($4.0K/$4.9K) could end up putting a dent in the backfield share.
Matchups to Target
Tyreek Hill, KC ($8.5K DK | $8.7K FD) vs. Washington’s Cover 1
The Football Team currently resides within a base Cover 1 package that fields five defensive linemen, one LB, Cole Holcomb, two CBs, and three safeties. It’s a collection of 11 defenders that, using Week 5 as the example, played just under 90% of all snaps. That’s not to say that HC Ron Rivera and DC Jack Del Rio haven’t made attempts to alter that setup. Previous attempts to insert ‘21 first-round LB Jamin Davis, ‘21 third-round CB Benjamin St-Juste, and 2017 UDFA CB Torry McTyer into starting roles have ended in big numbers for the wrong team. Despite preliminary efforts to identify the likely coverage counterpart to Tyreek Hill, it is crystal clear that no one defender will attempt to contain the slot. For example, in Week 3, WFT used Kendall Fuller, Bobby McCain, St-Juste, Davis, Jon Bostic, and even Chase Young to defend Cole Beasley. It resulted in Beasley submitting an 11/98/0 line on 13 targets.
During their 38-20 beating at the hands of Buffalo, Hill was limited to a 7/63/0 line, mainly within the coverage of Tre'Davious White (4/33/0). White does not typically trail a single WR, but he made the exception in Hill’s case. But Tyreek will see nothing even remotely resembling the zone-heavy shadow of White from Washington. Attempting to envision a Cover 1 using the personnel of WFT takes some effort. The Football team is featuring the ninth-highest rate of Cover 1. But they do still fall into Cover 3 and Cover 4 zones at top-15 rates. Washington is approving 44.8 FPG to WRs and the market is betting this matchup will result in the highest total scoring output (55.5).
When you are covering Hill, you do not want to do so from a Cover 1 without an elite shadow. William Jackson III actually fits that mold but, like Cincinnati before them, Washington has not utilized WJ3 in that role. On 23% of routes against Cover 1 over the last three seasons, Hill has tracked down 25% of his receptions, 33% of his yardage, and 37% of his total TDs. Hill’s 0.67 FP/Rt under those conditions ranks sixth-highest, his 3.34 YPRR is also sixth, and he’s third with 12.72 YPT. Why should I devote three paragraphs to a Hill recommendation? Two reasons. First, the coverage algorithm projected Hill as the top-scoring WR for Week 6, collecting more than five FPs over value on both platforms. Second, Hill was just closed down on a national stage that nearly resulted in being doubled-down. Hill and Kansas City will enter Week 6 extremely pissed off.
Taylor Heinicke, WAS ($5.8K DK | $7.3K FD) vs. Chiefs’ Cover 2
This game features the two highest QB projections of Week 6. As long as you can squeeze in the Patrick Price, Mahomes is still expected to hit profit levels. But the algorithm is calling for 24.8 FPs from Taylor Heinicke, 7.4 profit on DK (30%), and 6.6 profit on FD (26%). Kansas City combines the worst run defense along with the league’s weakest pass rush. It’s inadequacy at a level that has resulted in alloting 32.6 PPG to opposing offenses. That’s 1.6 more than the second-to-last team, which happens to be Washington. It appears that Charvarius Ward is trending in the right direction from a quadriceps injury. The Chiefs just better hope Ward returns with superior quality to the one that ranked among the bottom-five corners in YPCS, FP/CS, AY/CS, and TPR over the first two weeks.
KC is delivering the most FPG to entire opposing teams overall (111.3), and second-most both over the last four (113.2) and last two weeks (114.8). They have been the most generous to opposing QBs the last two weeks (32.3), last four (32.0), and overall (28.1). Heinicke’s capability to utilize his legs (5.5 FPG over the last three weeks) will come in handy against the defense permitting the most pure rushing FPG to QBs (8.32). If we hand-picked a defensive scheme matchup for Heinicke, it’d be a choice between a Cover 2 or Cover 4. Kansas City is featuring the seventh-highest rate of Cover 2. During his career against Cover 2, Heinicke ranks 12th-best with 0.33 FP/Db that is elevated by a 15% boost to his passer rating (third-highest).
Even with the knowledge that Heinicke is likely to be one of the highest-owned QBs on the main slate, I will still have heavy GPP exposure. His upside is too great for QB17/QB13, his floor is too high to ignore. If you tail that thought process, make sure the savings he provides is used wisely.
Final notes on Kansas City
The bargain pricing for Heinicke could possibly lead to Patrick Mahomes II ($8.3K/$9.0K) going underowned. A 16.6% cap investment on DK will be very difficult to carry, but devoting the 15% needed on FD is not as difficult. The power vacuum in the wake of the Clyde Edwards-Helaire IR placement seems to have settled on the shoulders of ‘20 playoff darling Darrel Williams ($4.9K/$5.2K). The one aspect of Washington’s defense that has been game has been against the run. But they have empowered the third-most pure receiving FPG to RBs (15.0). That happens to be an area of Williams’ game where he excels. And the algorithm is projecting big numbers. Implicated for 19.6/17.4 FPs, he will kick back a cool 25% profit on both platforms. In Cash/SE, Williams will be found with must-ownership status. Leave Jerick McKinnon ($4.4K/$4.6K) for the deepest of GPP punts.
Though I normally avoid Mecole Hardman ($4.2K/$5.5K), Week 6 is likely to be one of the juiciest matchups he’ll face all season. Just be warned: now that I’ve touted Hardman, he’s most likely set to fail on an epic level. Josh Gordon ($3.4K/$5.5K) appeared in game shape in his return to the NFL. We will just need to wait for the final week of the regular season for him to receive a target share at a level to matter. After picking a late stinger, the expectation was that Travis Kelce ($7.0K/$8.5K) would land on the injury report. Not the case. Zeus is good to go for Week 6. If WFTs pass rush puts Mahomes under frequent pressure, Kelce could be peppered with volume.
Final notes on Washington
Nearly every starting skill on both teams is deserving of a Matchup to Target nomination. With sights set on getting this entry published with enough time to assist DFS needs, I’ll limit the Targets in a game the Vegas numbers already verifies as being hot. For Kansas City, the very elite plays outside of Mahomes, Hill, and Kelce is Williams. For Washington, it’s all about Heinicke, Antonio Gibson ($6.5K/$6.7K), and Terry McLaurin ($7.1K/$7.4K). The coverage formula is projecting excellent profits for Gibson. For clarity, the algorithm for RBs is built with up to three years of coverage success data as both a runner and receiver. KC is giving up 141.0 rushing YPG (fourth-most), 5.2 YPC (third), the second-highest rate of 20-plus yard runs, the highest rate of rushing first downs, and 1.80 TDs/game (the highest).
For F1 McLaurin, when he aligns on the right side on half of his routes, Mike Hughes will be stationed across from him. Hughes is allowing 1.56 YPCS (67th), 0.43 FP/CS (82nd), 0.48 AY/CS (60th), and a 107.2 TPR (61st). When working against Cover 2, McLaurin will benefit from Heinicke’s history of success. When the Chiefs’ tap into their top-15 rate of Cover 1, Scary Terry’s game will provide the boost back on Heinicke. When defended by Cover 1 during his career, McLaurin has assembled half of his 14 TDs, 32% of his yardage, and 28% of receptions on only 24% of routes.
Is J.D. McKissic ($4.8K/$5.2K) the most annoying player in the NFL from a fantasy perspective? He pulls the rug out from underneath Gibson’s floor in the most vanilla matchups, then faceplants against the better defenses. That has amounted to trading one poor showing for one good, rinse-and-repeat. This happens to be a game after a flop and he’ll face a cupcake defense. Is it enough to trust him? If we want to invest in the deepest of GPP punts, look no further than Adam Humphries ($3.4K/$5.0K). With Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, and Cam Sims all dealing with varying levels of injury, Humphries posted a 3/73/0 line on five targets last week against New Orleans. He’ll match up with nickelback L'Jarius Sneed, who has allowed 1.53 YPCS (30th out of 38 qualified slot CBs), 0.37 FP/CS (33rd), and a near perfect 152.8 TPR (37th). Logan Thomas’ replacement, Ricky Seals-Jones ($3.0K/$5.0K), will also face a soft matchup this week from Daniel Sorensen.
This game was nearly left without a single player worthy of a dedicated writeup. Based on the coverage algorithm, nobody from this game is set to return a profit. However, Jaire Alexander is already on IR. Now Kevin King is facing an uphill battle to play in Week 6 due to a shoulder injury of his own. And it really speaks to the issues at corner for Green Bay that they are horrified by the thought of playing without King. He ranks among the bottom 25% in YPCS, FP/CS, AY/CS, and second-worst among 91 qualified outside CBs with a 155.8 TPR.
Matchups to Target
Darnell Mooney, CHI ($4.3K DK | $5.6K FD) vs. Isaac Yiadom, GB
It’s very possible that Darnell Mooney could see extended coverage from Isaac Yiadom on Sunday. During his 27 unqualified coverage snaps, Yiadom has been even more generous than expected. Everything the Packers do on defense revolved around Alexander closing off his portion of the secondary. But ‘21 first-rounder Eric Stokes has instantly emerged as their CB1 while Jaire tends to his injuries. The possibility of coverage from Yiadom provided the final factor in favor of a positive outlook for Mooney. The speedster’s outlook would go from promising to nonexistent if Allen Robinson II (ankle) is unable to take the field. It’ll be a hard pass on a Mooney vs. Stokes matchup. But Mooney will be able to attack Yiadom within Green Bay’s top-five rate of Cover 4. On 10% of his career routes, Mooney has collected 12% of his receptions, 20% of his yardage, and 25% of his total TDs against Cover 4.
Final notes on Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers ($7.2K/$7.7K) has been decent this season, just a good distance short of the level of play that will one day land him in the Hall of Fame. In addition to four consecutive victories over Chicago, Rodgers has tossed for four TDs in back-to-back meetings. But the ‘21 Bears have been outstanding in defense of QBs, RBs, and TEs. Too bad Aaron Jones ($7.3K/$8.0K) can’t face the Lions every week. He’s only been a slightly above average RB in his four other matchups. With comments of regret that AJ Dillon’s ($4.9K/$5.4K) usage hasn’t been higher from Packers’ coaches, Jones is one of the easiest fades of Week 6.
The one vulnerability of Chicago is defending WR units (11th-most FPG). To date, the Bears’ top corner Jaylon Johnson has grown roots as the devoted right CB. That said, he made the following comment in regards to Davante Adams ($9.0K/$8.5K) today:
Bears CB Jaylon Johnson asked if he wants to “follow” Davante Adams on Sunday.— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) October 13, 2021
“I want to follow the best receiver in every game.”#Bears
Johnson has limited his coverage to 0.74 YPCS (14th-best), 0.12 FP/CS (sixth), and a 41.4 TPR (second). The ‘20 second-rounder has played so well that Adams could have his hands full. If Johnson limits Adams’ output, Randall Cobb ($3.9K/$5.3K) could come into increased volume. I’m completely off Robert Tonyan ($3.8K/$5.2K) until he shows back up with some consistency.
Final notes on Chicago
More than a few have judged Justin Fields ($5.1K/$6.4K) a bit harshly. The key to evaluating rookie QBs is with the expectation of seeing gradual improvements. And that’s precisely what Fields has provided. We can gush over Mac Jones game-managing the Patriots with 40 attempts amounting to 200 passing yards en route to a 2-5 record just as easily as we can with Fields winning three-of-four while ranking with the fifth-highest air yards/target among all QBs. Just when it seemed we would have a consistent presence from Damien Williams ($5.8K/$6.5K) while David Montgomery’s MCL sprain is mended, when Khalil Herbert ($4.6K/$5.5K) took a 29% share of the carries. Production or not, it would be devastating for Chicago if Allen Robinson II ($5.3K/$5.9K) is unable to play.
Matchups to Target
Keenan Allen, LAC ($6.4K DK | $7.1K FD) vs. Tavon Young, BAL
We’ve seen Keenan Allen’s pricing jump around quite a bit this season. And the pricing has followed closely behind his erratic scoring. He got off to a hot start with back-to-back 100-yard games. The second of which was collected against the elite coverage of Trevon Diggs. Even an 8/50/1 day against the Chiefs in Week 3 seems low against that secondary. And he’s flopped the last two weeks with only 12.1 FPG. The data suggests Baltimore could present another difficult challenge for Allen, but we just saw these Ravens surrender 402 passing yards, at a 71.4 completion clip, and 11.5 YPA to Carson Wentz on Monday Night Football.
The Ravens utilize an exotic collection of schemes that prevents QBs from reading the middle of the defensive field. They feature top-five rates of Cover 0 and Cover 6 — the only team that can currently make that claim. The frequent all-out blitzing has resulted in a top-10 collection of QB pressures. And that constant desire to apply pressure should lead to volume delivered Allen’s way on his underneath routes. Allen will see a good amount of Tavon Young in the slot. Young is permitting 1.63 YPCS (32nd), 0.36 FP/CS (30th), and a 101.6 TPR (25th).
Mark Andrews, BAL ($5.2K DK | $6.3K FD) vs. Kyzir White, BAL
Speaking of the most recent Monday Night Football game, without Mark Andrews, the Colts would have walked away with the victory. MANdrews obliterated the Indianapolis defense for 44.7 FPS (11/147/2). A Darren Waller-esque 31% target share pushes his season target share to second-highest (23.7%), just behind Waller’s 24.9%. Chasing after that output might seem volatile, but we’d be on Andrews this week without that performance. The Chargers are gift-wrapping 19.3 FPG to TEs this season (second-most), 21.2 over the last four weeks (the most). And Andrews will do plenty of work inside the coverage of Kyzir White. His coverage is delivering 1.02 YPCS (46th out of 84 qualified LBs), 0.23 FP/CS (41st), and a 95.3 TPR (30th).
Final notes on Los Angeles
Justin Herbert ($7.3K/$8.0K) is averaging 41.4 passing attempts/game (second-most) and 331.6 air yards/game (fifth). He’s using play action to target receivers deep at the fifth-highest rate. That play action targeting has accounted for a full one-third of Mike Williams’ ($8.1K/$8.0K) receiving yardage. I am fully expecting Williams to be fine to play this week. And he will see enough action against Anthony Averett to post meaningful numbers. But we no longer have the luxury of pricing under $7K. He’s ticketed with WR3/WR4 salaries. We not only need the volume, we need an accompanying TD at that pricing to hit value. But Williams has six TDs in five games, six in four if you remove his Week 4 dud.
The algorithm is dinging Williams due to the Ravens limiting opposing passing games and limitations in his coverage profile. But, like Herbert and Austin Ekeler ($7.9K/$8.4K), the ‘21 version of Williams is not one that should not be faded with impunity. Speaking of Ekeler, in spite of his pricing, his calculated projection lands him as the RB3 on DK with 23.3 FPs, and as the RB6 on FD with 21.2. When projections hit, they will always fall under the actual. His unique skill set renders him one of the most difficult RBs to defend. And Baltimore has been vulnerable to RBs overall (sixth-most FPG) and through the air (fifth-most). How Jalen Guyton ($3.4K/$4.8K) has managed to run at least 28 routes in every game and only managing a combined 8/106/0 line in this offense is puzzling. A matchup with Marlon Humphrey will not help matters, especially since Humphrey has caught fire after a slow start to the season.
Final notes on Baltimore
One of my biggest regrets from Week 5 is looking past the Chargers’ Cover 1 rate as it relates to Baker Mayfield. His resulting output stands as a missed opportunity. The process calling to avoid an LAC defense shutting down QB production with an exotic zone rotation was sound. But I knew better than to allow an opponent using a top-10 rate of Cover 1 to slip past Mayfield’s schedule. The process is calling for a similar treatment of Lamar Jackson ($7.4K/$8.2K) this week. But Jackson is not a Cover 1 killer like Mayfield. The difficulty in a Jackson fade is his rushing potential rearing its head. These are all factors that are built into the algorithm. And the projected numbers do not look great for Jackson. Calling for QB20 output with QB5/QB6 pricing.
The backfield situation for Baltimore is a disaster among Latavius Murray ($5.7K/$5.8K), Ty’Son Williams ($4.9K/$5.8K), and Devonta Freeman ($4.0K/$5.3K). Sammy Watkins ($4.3K/$5.5K) appears to be doubtful after failing to finish last week’s game. Should he be ruled out, perhaps we’ll finally see Rashod Bateman ($3.0K/$5.0K) take the field. If Watkins does suit up, the coverage of Michael Davis will ghost his output. And Marquise Brown ($5.9K/$7.0K) will also have a challenge on his hands from Tevaughn Campbell.
Matchups to Target
Carson Wentz, IND ($5.4K DK | $6.7K FD) vs. Texans’ Cover 1 | 2
The premium plays in this matchup are the same individuals whose excellent performances were plastered all over American televisions on Monday Night Football. And that is likely to be verified when the anticipated ownership numbers are calculated. Rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Displaying impressive determination Carson Wentz rehabilitated himself into game shape following preseason foot surgery in time for Week 1. He gutted out two sprained ankles at Tennessee in Week 3, but still pushed through to start the following week. Subtracting that hobbled Week 3, Wentz has averaged 20.6 FPG in the remaining four games, and providing quality profit levels to those who invested in him. And investing in Wentz is something I intend to do this weekend.
The Texans have faced Josh Allen (in bad weather), Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and a pair of rookie QBs this season. Taking their 20.15 FPG allowance to QBs at face value is unreliable. The Houston defense is allowing opposing offenses to score the fifth-most PPG at 28.2. Prior to Week 5, relying on a passing offense facing the Texans came ingrained with script volatility. That is, until Davis Mills proved capable of advancing the Houston offense against New England. As long as he can continue to keep his offense moving, it will prevent the script from working against Wentz and his passing offense. Houston features the league’s second-highest rate of Cover 2. And Wentz has shredded Cover 2 over the last three seasons with 0.36 FP/Db (eighth-most), a 103.2 passer rating (seventh), and a 22.5% spike in YPA (seventh).
Wentz looked like the QB that Frank Reich mentored during his MVP runner-up season in 2017. Exposure in GPPs will require efforts elsewhere to differentiate the lineup, but his stable floor, and outstanding chance to continue returning the profits with QB22/QB23 pricing is too much to pass up.
Michael Pittman Jr., IND ($5.5K DK | $5.8K FD) vs. Terrance Mitchell, HOU
After posting a disappointing 5.9 FPs in Week 1, Michael Pittman Jr. has quickly established himself as Wentz’s go-to target. His scoring drought since reaching the end zone for the first time in Week 11 of last season finally came to an end on Monday night. If he can add scoring potential to averaging 6.5 receptions, 84.8 yards, and 17.4 FPG over the last four weeks, MPJ will quickly elevate himself up the WR charts. In four games this season, Terrance Mitchell is distributing 1.25 YPCS (46th among 91 qualified outside CBs), 0.27 FP/CS (50th), 0.44 AY/CS (51st), and a 93.8 passer rating (42nd). The current line sits at -10 in favor of Indianapolis. A number that would prove silly if Mills continues to generate offense… and indirectly benefit the fantasy production of the Colts’ passing offense.
Final notes on Houston
The sample size is far too small. But we are seeing some trends emerge for Davis Mills ($5.2K/$6.7K). He entered good Cover 1 numbers at Stanford, just not enough of a sample size to invest. Should he continue attacking a single-high scheme the way he did against New England, it will not only be to the benefit of Houston, Mills will also offer us reliable utility. The other factor emerging after eclipsing 100 dropbacks is posting in the negative against Cover 3 (-0.08 FP/Db) and Cover 6 (-0.26). More than enough reason to fade him against an Indy defense featuring the third-highest rate of Cover 3 and top-15 rate of Cover 6.
Easily the most eye-opening projection from the coverage algorithm is calling for Mark Ingram II ($4.2K/$5.3K) to nearly hit his floor FPs. Perhaps, but no thank you. Brandin Cooks ($5.8K/$6.5K) works across the formation enough to avoid most defenders. Concerning ourselves with the status of Xavier Rhodes (concussion) is not out of concern, but related to the potential boost in Cooks’ upside should Anthony Chesley be forced to start on the right side in Week 6. The same deal applies to monitoring the status of Rock Ya-Sin (ankle) who, if ruled out for a second straight game, would lead to featuring Isaiah Rodgers on the left perimeter. If you have a formula to determine when we can count on Chris Moore ($3.1K/$5.3K) or Chris Conley ($3.3K/$5.2K) reproducing their Week 5 performances, I’d love to hear about it.
Final notes on Indianapolis
If Wentz can maintain his momentum, Jonathan Taylor ($6.6K/$7.5K) will be one of the main beneficiaries. For Week 6, the Texans have displayed the worst tackling fundamentals of any team this season. If we could only count on JT consistently generating 38.7 yards after the catch. But the three reception average over the last two weeks would be a welcome bonus. The hope is that the Colts have been providing Marlon Mack ($4.0K/$5.0K) with more touches than Nyheim Hines ($4.8K/$5.1K) over the last two weeks in order to develop his trade market. If not, Hines’ upside will have evaporated before most knew it was in danger to begin with. Is it true? Has Parris Campbell ($3.4K/$4.9K) finally turned the corner toward actual results? If he intends to carry that momentum forward, he’ll need to do so against Tavierre Thomas’ solid coverage.
T.Y. Hilton ($4.1K/$5.0K) had his 21-day window to return from IR activated. He would be a tremendous value at his pricing if he manages to take the field and we get some word on his potential usage. Hilton’s return will eliminate every bit of Zach Pascal’s ($4.4K/$5.3K) fleeting upside. After Pittman, the receiving option to get to know yesterday is Mo Alie-Cox ($3.1K/$5.0K). Far too many have no idea of the type of oozing athleticism MAC possesses. Or of the fact that he already currently ranks ninth-highest in FP/Rt (0.439), 13th in rate of deep targeting (15.7%), 14th in YPRR (1.63), 10th in air yards/target (10.2), and ninth with a 139.1 passer rating. And he’ll utilize those talents against a Houston defense permitting the most FPG to opposing TEs this season (20.8).
Matchups to Target
Ja’Marr Chase, CIN ($6.7K DK | $7.8K FD) vs. Amani Oruwariye, DET
Ja’Marr Chase is just straight averaging 20.9 FPG (seventh-highest) with five TDs in his first five NFL games. No window dressing required with that presentation. He ranks inside the top-15 wideouts in YPRR, YPT, and air yards/target. He ranks inside the top-10 in route percentage, air yards/game, and TPR. And he hasn’t required the level of a target share to do his damage that would leave Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins out in the cold. If Chase required further reasoning in favor of exposure, the coverage of Amani Oruwariye on just under half of his reps should do the trick. Oruwariye is providing his coverage responsibilities with 1.61 YPCS (70th), 0.31 FP/CS (62nd), and an 87.7 TPR (32nd). The Lions feature a variety of zone schemes, rotating between Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 4, and Cover 6 at top-15 rates.
Final notes on Cincinnati
The simple idea of a throat contusion is … ouch. The actual injury is most definitely far more unpleasant. Joe Burrow ($6.3K/$7.4K) was provided with that very injury from the Packers last week, but will play this week. Like the Colts, the main hurdle facing the Bengals’ passing attack against Detroit’s defense will be script-based. The Lions have been horrendous against the run, as in giving Kansas City competition as the worst in the game. It is a factor that should set up Burrow-Chase stacks for lower ownership numbers. Detroit did play well in Week 3 against Baltimore. But they padded their numbers the next two weeks facing a rookie QB (Justin Fields) and the Dalvin Cook-less Vikings.
The Lions field the worst CB unit, and their safeties and LBs rank among the bottom-five in pass defense. Sans a down performance in Week 2, Burrow is averaging 20.7 FPG in his other four games. Needless to say, Joe Mixon ($6.4K/$7.0K) should do well against Detroit. The real question is if it’ll be Tee Higgins ($5.3K/$6.4K) or Tyler Boyd ($5.4K/$6.3K) that eats on Sunday. Higgins will see plenty of coverage from ‘21 UDFA Jerry Jacobs. Boyd will work across from AJ Parker out of the slot. Boyd would seem to have the more generous matchup, but we need a larger sample size for predictive reliability. The algorithm is giving the slight edge to Boyd. Of course, C.J. Uzomah ($3.1K/$5.3K) could always decide to crash the party if Detroit forgets about him.
Final notes on Detroit
Holding so much promise providing profitable returns in three of his first four games, Jared Goff ($5.1K/$6.9K) has now laid a pair of under-10 point duds in two of the last three. D’Andre Swift ($6.3K/$7.1K) is trading 20-plus games for those barely providing 50% of his floor expectations. And Jamaal Williams ($4.9K/$5.7K) has fallen off the utility map. Outside of rolling the Swift dice, the one Detroit playmaker showcasing consistency the last two weeks has been Amon-Ra St. Brown ($4.2K/$5.2K). He’s put together a 13/135/0 combined line on 16 targets over the last two. With Quintez Cephus breaking his collarbone, ARSB may have earned himself consistent volume, potentially as the Lions’ go-to wideout. That is, unless you believe Kalif Raymond ($5.0K/$5.1K) will transform from a one-trick, deep threat into a possession receiver.
Don’t buy into the narrative that absences along the O-line have forced T.J. Hockenson ($5.0K/$6.4K) to block more in recent weeks. It’s lazy reporting. And untrue. His blocking rates are lower the last two weeks than during the first three weeks. The O-line for Detroit has actually reduced the QB pressure rate by 35% during the last three weeks when Hock’s production plummeted than during the first two weeks when he killed it. The only unknown factor to avoid simply describing it as poor play from either Hockenson or Goff is poor health. Hock picked up a knee injury in Week 4 that could explain his dropoff.
Matchups to Target
Adam Thielen, MIN ($5.8K DK | $7.2K FD) vs. Keith Taylor, CAR
Both teams have banged up superstar RBs with promising backups holding DFS applicability if elevated into a starting role. Despite that potential, it’s the schematic match for Minnesota’s passing game that has my attention. After squaring off with Zone-heavy schemes in each of the last three games, Adam Thielen’s DK pricing has been gifted with an 18% discount from his $7.1K salary from Week 2. And the reduction comes at the perfect time. I’m seeing some promising trends from defensive rosters hit with the injury bug. Teams that made previously made adjustments toward Zone-heavy rotations have been forced to utilize higher Cover 1 rates due to losing key secondary participants to injury. As those Cover 1 snaps dip into the top-10 highest rates, the path laid by Zone intentions leads directly down the mouth of hell into Cover 1-killer territory.
The three offensive trios opposing defenses featuring a Cover 1 simply do not want to face are the Titans (Ryan Tannehill-A.J. Brown-Julio Jones), Buccaneers (The GOAT-Mike Evans-Antonio Brown), and the Vikings (Kirk Cousins-Justin Jefferson-Thielen). DC Phil Snow will want his current CB1, Donte Jackson, defending Jefferson on as many snaps as possible. With Jaycee Horn on IR with a broken ankle and the release of Rashaan Melvin, ‘21 fifth-rounder Keith Taylor received the start at right CB last week. He played well in coverage of fellow rookie DeVonta Smith in Week 5, but Thielen will present him with a different beast entirely. Over the previous three seasons on 22% of total routes against a Cover 1, Thielen has assembled 28% of his receptions, 33% of his yardage, and 42% of his total TDs. He ranks seventh-best with 0.67 FP/Rt opposed by single coverage during that time.
Kirk Cousins, MIN ($6.2K DK | $7.1K FD) vs. Panthers’ Cover 1 | 4
Everything Jefferson and Thielen are able to do against Cover 1 would go to waste if not for the skills of Kirk Cousins. During those last three seasons for Cousins, he has passed for 27 TDs to only three INTs, ranks with the highest FP/Db at 0.58, and the highest passer rating at 116.4 against Cover 1. His YPA spikes by 20% (third-highest), air yards/attempt by 18% (ninth), and passer rating by 11% (fourth).
Final notes on Minnesota
Even if Dalvin Cook ($7.7K/$8.8K) is available this week, I’ll be looking elsewhere to store my salary dollars. Had he returned in Week 5, I planned to throw him into a couple large-field GPPs. Now that he’s actually practicing, his ownership will be high enough to offer the opportunity to hold off until we see him prove his health. If he’s ruled out for another game, Alexander Mattison ($6.2K/$7.7K) will again become a Cash/SE staple. Assume nothing with Justin Jefferson ($8.0K/$7.9K) not being listed as a Target. His Cover 1 numbers are superior to Thielen’s, across the board. His WR4/WR5 pricing leaves him in Final Notes. K.J. Osborn ($3.5K/$5.0K) is an interesting option. His big outings this season came against the highest rates of Cover 1 — Week’s 1 and 2. Irv Smith Jr. provided the tertiary Cover 1 utility that Tyler Conklin ($3.2K/$5.1K) lacks.
Final notes on Carolina
Carolina is such a nice opponent for the Vikings because they have an offense led by Sam Darnold ($6.1K/$7.5K) that will put points on the board. That viewpoint will find further footing if Christian McCaffrey ($8.8K/$10.0K) manages to gain clearance. Chuba Hubbard ($5.9K/$6.9K) is a physical back, but fails to offer anything remotely similar to the receiving prowess of CMC. It was only a matter of time. After single-handedly fueling the Panthers’ passing attack, DJ Moore ($7.3K/$7.6K) fell short of adding a fifth game to the streak against the Eagles. Easily one of the biggest flops of the ‘21 season, the millions wasted on Robby Anderson ($4.8K/$5.5K) built the tension to a breaking point last week. Anderson comically threw a hissy fit, certainly related to his being a complete waste of space when on the field. Tommy Tremble ($2.6K/$4.8K) decided to wait until after I had abandoned him for dead to catch the ball again, adding his first TD reception.
Matchups to Target
Baker Mayfield, CLE ($5.9K DK | $6.8K FD) vs. Cardinals’ Cover 1 | 4
The opportunity to roster Baker Mayfield stacks against the 12th-highest rate of Cover 1 from the Chargers slipped through my hands. But Week 6 places the Browns’ passing attack in a nearly identical matchup across from the Cardinals’ 13th-highest rate. During his NFL career, Mayfield has connected on 25 TDs with only seven INTs against Cover 1. He ranks 10th-best with 0.46 FP/Rt and 97.3 passer rating.
Even though both of these offenses rank inside the top-10 teams in rushing rate, they still combine for the fourth-highest pace of play matchup on the Week 6 schedule (131.8). That is a significant factor toward the upside for both passing offenses since these teams are not aiming to feed their ground games with the goal of eating up the clock. Before devoting concerns with the FPG numbers allowed by Arizona to opposing QBs (eighth-fewest at 16.2), take a look at those same numbers for the Chargers’ defense (seventh-fewest at 15.8). Despite that quality defense of QBs by LAC, Mayfield still posted 305 passing yards, two TDs, and 26.0 FPs (37% profit over floor).
Final notes on Arizona
I would totally be on Kyler Murray ($7.9K/$8.4K) in this spot, as well, if he wasn’t priced so high. He’s a bonafide MVP candidate. The Cleveland run defense is no joke. And they aren’t permitting the high receiving numbers to backs as the other elite run Ds, i.e., Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Dallas, etc. That fact renders Chase Edmonds ($5.6K/$5.9K) and, just like every other week, James Conner ($5.5K/$6.1K) as easy fades. If I’m selecting a WR to target based on the coverage history, Christian Kirk ($5.0K/$5.9K) stands above DeAndre Hopkins ($7.8K/$7.7K). His Cover 4 numbers heading into a matchup against the highest rate of Cover 4 stands well above those for Nuk. Yes, the issue lies with the targeting rates. However, target shares are at the heart of Hopkins only averaging 15.6 FPG this season. The current target totals after Week 5: 32 for Nuk, 26 for A.J. Green ($4.9K/$5.4K), 24 for Rondale Moore ($4.6K/$5.7K), and 23 provided to Kirk. With that in mind, select one WR from following options:
- The WR with a three-year, 34/450/3 combined line on 232 routes against the featured coverage of that week’s opponent, priced 36%/23% lower, and currently fed with a 15% target share (or)
- The WR with a three-year, 50/545/3 combined line on 286 routes against the featured coverage of that week’s opponent, priced 36%/23% higher, and currently fed with a 21% target share
Final notes on Cleveland
The pricing between Nick Chubb ($7.2K/$8.1K) and Kareem Hunt ($6.2K/$7.4K) and half PPR scoring on FD favors Chubb exposure. The pricing and full PPR scoring on DK favors Hunt. It’s really that simple. Check out that target share for Odell Beckham Jr. ($5.1K/$6.0K) in a game where 89 points went up on the scoreboard (10%). Does it seem off? From a blind point of view, yes. With the knowledge that OBJ was up against a Cover 1-/Man-heavy defense, no. It’s a clear limitation in Beckham’s game at this stage of his career. I’ll eat my words if he blows up in this spot, but Week 6 is not the week for an OBJ fix. If we’re not adding Beckham to our Mayfield stack, who should we be targeting? In actuality, we have three excellent options between Donovan Peoples-Jones ($3.5K/$5.1K), Rashard Higgins ($4.4K/$5.3K), and David Njoku ($3.7K/$5.1K). Austin Hooper ($2.8K/$4.7K) has fallen out of favor as much as OBJ has fallen out of favor. It’s just a poor stylistic matchup to their abilities.
Matchups to Target
Amari Cooper, DAL ($6.0K DK | $6.8K FD) vs. J.C. Jackson, NE
Week 6 is the best collection of Cover 1 defenses facing offenses that smash single coverage that we’ve seen this season. And only Miami features a higher rate than the 41% played by New England. For J.C. Jackson, while he’s held his coverage out of the end zone on all sans one target, the metrics still indicate allowances far higher than his breakout ‘20 season. He is giving up 1.92 YPCS (84th out of 91 qualified outside corners), 0.36 FP/CS (73rd), 0.53 AY/CS (53rd), and a 74.9 TPR (21st) that is sustained through a pair of INTs of Zach Wilson. Jackson played an excellent game in Week 4 defending Mike Evans. But, if my money was on the line, I would not wager against Mr. Spygate, Bill Belichick, having an entire library of footage featuring Tom Brady practicing during his Patriots’ days.
As was the case last week when Davis Mills slapped 312 passing yards, three TDs, and 27.68 FPs on New England’s defense, Belichick will not be provided with the advantage of practice footage of Dak Prescott and his playmakers. So Jackson will need to deal with Amari Cooper on 45%-plus of his routes using the footage available to every NFL GamePass subscriber. And he will have his hands full against a WR that ranks ninth-best over the last three seasons with 0.63 FP/Rt opposite Cover 1. Cooper has commanded a 31% Cover 1 target share (third-highest), and with a 58% increase in YPRR (second). On 24% of all routes over that time, Cooper has fabricated 34% of his yardage, 40% of his yardage, and 38% of his total TDs against Cover 1.
Amari Cooper on his hamstring status following #Cowboys victory over Giants -- seen limping before returning in short order in the third quarter:— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) October 11, 2021
"I'm good. I came out of it pretty clean."
Cooper finished with 60 yards and a TD.
Matchups to Avoid
Jakobi Meyers, NE ($5.5K DK | $5.8K FD) vs. Trevon Diggs, DAL
After five games, Trevon Diggs has only played 17% of his snaps in coverage out of the slot. With that knowledge, please understand that it is very possible that Diggs doesn’t end up playing a significant number of snaps across from Jakobi Meyers since he’s run 73% of his routes out of the slot. The reasoning behind listing Diggs in coverage of Meyers is centered on the counting stats. Meyers has collected a 31/302/0 receiving line over 199 routes this season. The combined line for the rest of the Pats’ WRs stands at 35/423/2 over 356 routes. And we were just witnesses to Diggs kicking inside to defend Kadarius Toney when no other Dallas corner had any luck containing him. It’s unlikely that we’ll see Diggs on Meyers on the first snap but, when Jakobi starts seeing the consistent targeting he sees every week, Diggs may be compelled to shut that source of production down.
Final notes on Dallas
Dak Prescott ($7.1K/$8.1K) has also generated excellent numbers against Cover 1 over the previous three years. His 0.49 FP/Db ranks eighth among all QBs against the scheme during that time frame. He’s also posted a 101.3 passer rating (seventh-best), 20% spike in air yards/attempt (sixth), and has thrown 25 TDs in comparison to six INTs against Cover 1.
As you can see in the embedded Tweet below, there’s more than enough rushing production to go around for Ezekiel Elliott ($7.1K/$8.3K) and Tony Pollard ($5.6K/$6.0K) when running behind the league’s top O-line. And New England has yet to oppose a ground game to the level they’ll face on Sunday afternoon. It’s a significant factor that will prevent Belichick from providing his Man corners assistance.
Week 6 will be unique in that I am not going to have dedicated exposure to CeeDee Lamb ($6.5K/$7.0K) since his coverage success favors Zone matchups. It’s been a breakout season for Dalton Schultz ($4.9K/$6.5K), currently being fed with a 19% targets share (fourth-highest), 2.33 YPRR (third), and a 138.9 TPR (10th).
Pace this season:— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) October 14, 2021
Ezekiel Elliott (1,536)
Tony Pollard (1,105)
CeeDee Lamb (1,183)
Amari Cooper (1,081)
No team in NFL history has featured multiple 1,000-yard rushers and multiple 1,000-yard receivers.
Final notes on New England
Mac Jones ($5.2K/$6.5K) is a low upside, low floor option on a weekly basis. We need to keep a watchful eye on the status of Damien Harris ($5.2K/$6.2K). If he were to miss Week 6, Rhamondre Stevenson ($4.5K/$5.1K) would see the first start of his career. It’s far from the best matchup against a stout run defense of the Cowboys, but intriguing nonetheless due to Stevenson’s physical playstyle and outstanding footwork. Just brace yourself for more target thievery from Mr. PleaseRetireASAPSoWeCanSeeThePatriotsDiscoverATrueBellCowBack himself, Brandon Bolden ($4.7K/$5.2K). No defense in the NFL is going to lose sleep with the prospect of facing Nelson Agholor ($4.0K/$5.4K), Kendrick Bourne ($3.8K/$5.2K), N’Keal Harry ($3.0K/$5.0K), Hunter Henry ($3.9K/$5.6K), or Jonnu Smith ($3.0K/$4.8K) with Jones’ noodle arm, and absolute refusal to target receiver downfield.
Damien Harris trending toward missing Week 6 https://t.co/Bg69ACTJAV— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 14, 2021
Through six weeks, this is the first matchup of the season where I am fading all options. The fallout from Jon Gruden’s firing is nowhere close to being realized. The rolling list of outcomes range from seeing the Raiders’ players rally behind one another to steamroll the Broncos on sheer adrenaline alone, to Denver destroying their intra-division rival that leaves interim HC Rich Bisaccia with quite an embarrassing first taste of NFL head coaching. I simply have no idea how to approach the situation.
Final notes on Las Vegas
Derek Carr ($5.6K/$7.0K) is going to be fine. Darren Waller ($6.6K/$7.0K) and Hunter Renfrow ($4.9K/$5.7K) are going to be fine. On the other hand, this is likely an uncomfortable situation for Henry Ruggs III ($5.2K/$5.5K) and Bryan Edwards ($3.6K/$5.4K) since they have yet to live up to the cost of their draft stock, and the man responsible for welcoming them into the Raiders’ organization is having his name and likeness scraped from the record. A new approach to the offense could also finally see Josh Jacobs’ ($5.9K/$6.8K) ridiculous hold on offensive touches reduced. He’s been an absolute flop of a first-rounder, no better than a timeshare thunder back in search of his lightning. Perhaps the new approach will extract the best of Kenyan Drake’s ($4.3K/$5.3K) talents. But it’s always possible that Jacobs, Drake, 🤮 Peyton Barber 🤮, and Jalen Richard transform the backfield into a complete joke. Every scenario is currently on the table in Las Vegas.
Final notes on Denver
The pass defense of the Raiders has been among the best in football. Teddy Bridgewater ($5.7K/$6.6K) has played very well this season, just not well enough to expect him to succeed where all others have fallen short. And that outlook clouds the upside of Courtland Sutton ($6.2K/$6.6K) and Tim Patrick ($5.1K/$6.1K), especially since they are currently being forced to feature Kendall Hinton ($3.1K/$6.0K) out of the slot. The targeting limitations allowed the Steelers to completely eliminate Noah Fant ($4.8K/$5.8K) in what should’ve been a smash spot for him last week. The anticipation for John Brown to acclimate himself to the offense must be palpable. If any DFS trust is to be afforded to this game, Melvin Gordon III ($5.1K/$6.0K) and Javonte Williams ($5.0K/$5.6K) are the prime targets facing a porous Raiders’ run defense.