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Michael Thomas
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By the Numbers

NFL Week 8 WR/CB Matchups and TE Analysis

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: October 25, 2019, 1:56 pm ET

We're on to Week 8! I'll be breaking down the WR/CB matchups all season long with a focus on figuring out who could be facing shadow coverage as well as the best and worst overall situations. We'll also briefly touch on each team's TE group.

Physical data is courtesy of NFL.com and PlayerProfiler.com, alignment information is from Pro Football Focus while each WR's target share and air yard market share is provided by the fine folks at AirYards.com.


Redskins at Vikings

Redskins Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Terry McLaurin 72 208 4.35 21% 50% Xavier Rhodes 73 210 4.43
Slot Trey Quinn 71 203 4.55 16% 17% Mackensie Alexander 70 190 4.54
Right Paul Richardson 72 175 4.4 14% 18% Trae Waynes 72 186 4.31

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: There's virtually nothing to be taken away from the 49ers' Mud Bowl Championship victory over the Redskins due to the extremely poor conditions, so completely erase Terry McLaurin's 1 reception-11 yards-0 touchdowns performance on two targets from your memory.

Instead, let's remember the first five games of McLaurin's remarkable rookie season:

  • Week 1 at Eagles: 5 receptions-125 yards-1 touchdown (7 targets)
  • Week 2 vs. Cowboys: 5-62-1 (9)
  • Week 3 vs. Bears: 6-70-1 (8)
  • Week 5 vs. Patriots: 3-51-0 (7)
  • Week 6 at Dolphins: 4-100-2 (7)

Up next is a sneaky-fine spot against the Vikings, who have allowed the eighth-most PPR per game to the WR position this season. None of Mackensie Alexander (PFF's No. 52 CB in coverage), Trae Waynes (No. 87) and even long-time stud Xavier Rhodes (No. 88) are playing at a level that should put any amount of fear into fantasy owners.

Of course, this logic applies to only McLaurin inside the Redskins' 30th-ranked scoring offense that has attempted just 37 passes in two games of action under interim head coach Bill Callahan. Trey Quinn has yet to reach 50 receiving yards in 10 career games, while Paul Richardson is averaging a career-low 8.2 yards per reception and hasn't come close to resembling the same contested-catch artist that we saw with the Seahawks from 2014-2017.

TE breakdown: Vernon Davis (concussion, out) is again sidelined. Jeremy Sprinkle has posted strong 92% and 79% snap rates over the past two weeks, but has a putrid 4-37-0 line on five targets to show for it. Don't go out of your way to target anybody in a Washington offense presently implied to score a slate-low 13 points (per FantasyLabs).


Vikings Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Stefon Diggs 72 195 4.46 22% 42% Quinton Dunbar 74 201 4.49
Slot Bisi Johnson 72 204 4.51 13% 13% Jimmy Moreland 70 179 4.51
Right Laquon Treadwell 74 221 4.68 3% 4% Fabian Moreau 72 206 4.35

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: There's massive blowout potential in this game, as the Vikings are 16-point home favorites. Of course, players need to rack up fantasy points in order for blowouts to occur. The problem is that the Vikings' run-first offense has taken things to an extreme level when dominating an opponent. Kirk Cousins attempted just 10 passes in a 16-point victory over the Falcons in Week 1, 21 passes in a 20-point beat down over the Raiders in Week 3, as well as 27 and 29 passes in 18-point wins over the Giants and Eagles, respectively.

This doesn't mean you should bench Stefon Diggs in fantasy. The Vikings' stud WR has posted 7-167-3 and 7-142-0 lines since his infamous Week 5 revolt. Diggs (3.25) joins Amari Cooper (3.03) as the only WRs averaging at least three yards per route run this season (PFF). Diggs also has the potential for enhanced target share with Adam Thielen (hamstring, out) sidelined, locking him in as a low-end WR1.

The Redskins surprisingly rank as the No. 1 defense in DVOA against No. 1 WRs (Football Outsiders), as they've managed to keep the likes of Alshon Jeffery (5-49-1), Amari Cooper (4-44-1), Allen Robinson (6-60-0), Sterling Shepard (7-76-0) and DeVante Parker (3-28-1) relatively quiet. Quinton Dunbar is PFF's No. 1 overall CB through seven weeks, but he's a stationary corner and has lined up on the right side of the field on an overwhelming 78% of his snaps this season.

Washington accordingly ranks 32nd in DVOA against No. 2 WRs, allowing notable blowup performances to:

Olabisi Johnson (4-40-1 on 8 targets) demonstrated some early chemistry with Kirk Cousins when Thielen was sidelined last week and is an upside streamer option in this plus spot.

TE breakdown: Kyle Rudolph ripped off a 5-58-1 line in Week 7 after posting a combined 9-72-0 line in Weeks 1-6 combined. Don't go point chasing with Rudolph this week, particularly with stud rookie TE Irv Smith Jr. also getting six targets and posting an equally impressive 5-60-0 line. I'll take my chances with the Vikings' talented second-round pick outproducing Rudolph with the same target share over the long term. Either way, don't treat either TE as anything other than a mid-tier TE2 with six weeks of evidence indicating this offense can't enable a fantasy-friendly TE.


Seahawks at Falcons

Seahawks Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left DK Metcalf 75 228 4.33 17% 26% Isaiah Oliver 72 201 4.5
Slot Tyler Lockett 70 182 4.4 21% 25% Damontae Kazee 70 184 4.54
Right Jaron Brown 74 205 4.45 11% 12% Kendall Sheffield 71 193 4.4

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Russell Wilson has fed DK Metcalf (40 targets) and Tyler Lockett (48) more similar workloads than just about anyone would've imagined before the season started. Equally surprising has been Chris Carson's (26) consistent involvement as a receiver.

Of course, Lockett and Wilson have continued to overcome middling target share with Jedi-like chemistry, as the Seahawks' No. 1 WR has caught 40-of-48 targets for 515 yards and four scores. Continue to fire up the PPR WR9 as an every-week upside WR2, particularly in a matchup against a Falcons Defense that has allowed at least six receptions to primary slot WRs such as Nelson Agholor (8-107-1), Larry Fitzgerald (6-69-0), Cooper Kupp (6-50-0).

Meanwhile, Metcalf offers serious boom-or-bust WR3 upside as Wilson's deep-threat and red-zone toy. Overall, the second-round rookie joins Lockett as two of just 11 players with at least nine targets inside the 20-yard line this season.

Jaron Brown has put up some solid performances in recent weeks, but Brown (60% snaps in Week 7) was the odd man out among the starters in favor of David Moore (42%) and Malik Turner (17%) vs the Ravens.

TE breakdown: Luke Willson (47% snaps, 13 routes, 1 target) worked well behind Jacob Hollister (51%, 27, 6) when it came to pass-game opportunities in the team's first game without Will Dissly. Still, expect inconsistent production from a part-time TE in the league's fourth-most run-heavy offense.

Falcons Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Julio Jones 75 220 4.39 21% 33% Tre Flowers 75 202 4.45
Slot Russell Gage 72 184 4.55 4% 6% Jamar Taylor 71 192 4.39
Right Calvin Ridley 73 189 4.43 15% 24% Shaquill Griffin 72 194 4.38

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The fantasy prospects of the entire Falcons' passing game hinge on whether or not Matt Ryan (ankle) is able to suit up. 38-year-old backup Matt Schaub started two games for the Ravens in 2015, but otherwise hasn't been anyone's idea of a qualified starter since 2013. If Ryan is starting, there's no reason to fear the artists formerly known as The Legion of Boom, as the Seahawks don't ask their CBs to move from sideline to sideline. This means the Falcons can avoid Shaquill Griffin (PFF's No. 9 overall CB) in favor of Jamar Taylor (No. 89) and Tre Flowers (No. 92) whenever they please.

Coach Dan Quinn stated Wednesday that he expects Ryan to play. This makes it hard not to be excited about the future prospects of second-year WR Calvin Ridley, who has done nothing except ball the hell out whenever gifted anything resembling a hefty workload.

Julio Jones has posted 8-108-0 and 6-93-0 lines over the past two weeks. He gained the bulk of the latter line in Jalen Ramsey's direct coverage against the Rams last Sunday, demonstrating the ability to win all over the field against one of the NFL's very best CBs. This should go without saying, but continue to treat Jones as a locked-in WR1 regardless of matchup and QB.

The Falcons are expected to utilize a mix of Russell Gage and Justin Hardy to replace Mohamed Sanu, who was traded to the Patriots Tuesday for a second-round pick. Neither is a realistic fantasy option as part-time players that should work as the No. 4 or worse pass-game options more weeks than not.

TE breakdown: Austin Hooper's league-wide crusade continued in Week 7, as Ryan's new BFF caught 4-of-5 targets for 46 yards and a touchdown against Eric Weddle and company. Overall, Hooper (124.6 PPR) is the overall TE1 by nearly 20 points over Darren Waller (105.2). Of course, nearly all of this production has come with the Falcons in comeback mode trailing by multiple scores ...

  • Hooper when the Falcons are leading or tied: 4-64-0
  • When the Falcons are trailing: 39-462-4
  • Hooper in the 1st half: 15-169-0
  • In the 2nd half: 31-357-4

... but it doesn't exactly look like that sort of game script is going away anytime soon. Continue to fire up Hooper as a matchup-proof TE1.

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Broncos at Colts

Broncos Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Courtland Sutton 75 218 4.54 23% 39% Rock Ya-Sin 72 192 4.51
Slot DaeSean Hamilton 73 203 4.57 12% 10% Quincy Wilson 73 211 4.54
Right Fred Brown 73 199 4.53 1% 1% Pierre Desir 73 198 4.59

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Emmanuel Sanders era is over in Denver. Beat writer speculation indicates that Fred Brown will compete with talented sixth-round rookie Juwann Winfree for the offense's No. 3 WR job. Tim Patrick, who started four games for the Broncos in 2018 and posted a 23-315-1 line on 41 targets, is expected to be activated from the PUP list following the team's Week 9 bye. For now, ignore each of the Broncos' auxiliary WRs.

Courtland Sutton is the PPR WR11 after seven weeks. Joe Flacco has fed the Broncos' talented second-year WR at least seven targets in every game, but no more than nine. That figures to change in upcoming games without Sanders (6.3 targets per contest) in the fold. Sutton thus has an enhanced ceiling moving forward as the offense's undisputed No. 1 pass-game option. 

Slot WR DaeSean Hamilton has caught fewer than three passes and failed to surpass 25 yards in all but one game this season. However, he demonstrated the ability to thrive with a larger workload in 2018 with Sanders sidelined for the final four games of the season.

  • Week 14: 7 receptions-47 yards-1 touchdown (9 targets)
  • Week 15: 7-46-0 (12)
  • Week 16: 6-40-1 (9)
  • Week 17: 5-49-0 (8)

Overall, Hamilton worked as the PPR WR22 during this stretch. It remains to be seen if Flacco will feed the Broncos' 2018 fourth-round pick a similar target share, but the arrow is at least pointing up for the former stud Penn State WR.

TE breakdown: I've been burned by the Noah Fant hype in DFS and Best Ball alike to this point. The Broncos' first-round TE has failed to clear 40 yards in a contest this season on an average of just 3.4 targets per game. With that said: It'd certainly make sense if the offense attempts to get their athletically-gifted rookie more involved moving forward. Backup TE Jeff Heuerman's snaps have decreased in consecutive games, making Fant a locked-in full-time starter with the position's fifth-easiest schedule in terms of PPR per game allowed to TEs during the next four weeks.

Colts Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Zach Pascal 74 219 4.55 9% 14% Davontae Harris 71 205 4.43
Slot Chester Rogers 72 185 4.56 8% 9% Will Parks 73 194 4.68
Right T.Y. Hilton 69 183 4.39 25% 34% Chris Harris Jr. 69 194 4.48

Projected shadow matchups: T.Y. Hilton vs. Chris Harris

WR/CB breakdown: It remains to be seen when Parris Campbell (abdominal) will return. Jacoby Brissett has featured the following target distribution during the last two weeks with Campbell sidelined and Hilton back in action:

Pascal has looked legit #good this season and deserves credit for catching 6-of-7 targets for 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Texans' backup CBs in Week 7, but there's simply not enough target share in the Colts' run-first offense to consistently enable multiple fantasy-relevant WRs as long as the complementary options are all splitting reps. Overall, each of Rogers (54% snaps in Week 7), Pascal (47%) and Cain (42%) failed to play even 60% of the offense's snaps last week.

Meanwhile, Hilton has scored five touchdowns in as many games this season. The "problem" is that he's failed to reach 100 yards in a game, and the Colts' long-time No. 1 WR's average of eight targets per game is fewer than he saw in any of his Andrew Luck seasons except for his rookie year back in 2012.

Tyreek Hill managed to get loose for a 57-yard touchdown in Harris' coverage last week. There appeared to be some confusion on the play; Harris seemed to think he had help on the inside or was passing off the route. Still, the play served as an example of the at-times fickle nature of WR/CB matchups and why you should never bench your studs just because of a tough spot.

A likely shadow date with one of the best CBs in the league is hardly a get-right spot, although you should continue to fire up the PPR WR23 with confidence as a low-end WR2.

TE breakdown: Ebron posted a 4-70-1 line on five targets in Week 7 while hurdling a defender and catching a highlight-reel one-handed touchdown along the way. Still, Doyle also saw five targets and posted a superior 76% snap rate over Ebron (42%). Much like the aforementioned side-piece WRs: It's tough to expect consistently solid production from anyone other than Hilton inside of the league's fifth-most run-heavy offense.


Buccaneers at Titans

Buccaneers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Mike Evans 77 231 4.53 25% 36% Malcolm Butler 70 187 4.4
Slot Chris Godwin 73 209 4.42 25% 27% Logan Ryan 71 191 4.56
Right Scott Miller 69 174 4.44 8% 17% Adoree' Jackson 70 186 4.42

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Mike Evans' demise has been a bit overstated, as he's posted 8-190-3, 4-89-1, 0-0-0 (touché, Marshon Lattimore) and 9-96-0 lines in his last four games following his flu-induced slow start to the season. Ultimately, the Buccaneers' matchup-proof No. 1 outside WR's average of 9.2 targets per game is tied with teammate Chris Godwin for the ninth-highest mark in the league.

The Titans have funneled production to the passing game this season, ranking 23rd in DVOA against the pass and third against the run. None of the defense's starting CBs have been liabilities per say, but this is hardly a matchup to worry about for either of the Buccaneers' high-volume WRs. Continue to fire up Evans and (especially) Godwin as weekly WR1s.

Sixth-round rookie Scott Miller posted season-high marks in both snap rate (60%) and targets (7) with Breshad Perriman (hamstring) sidelined the last time the Buccaneers played. Only Stefon Diggs (250 air yards), Mike Evans (226), Mike Williams (192), Tyreek Hill (171), Julian Edelman (169), Will Fuller (158) and Darius Slayton (156) had more deep-ball opportunity than Miller (147) in Week 6. Bobo Wilson has since been released. Miller offers intriguing GPP dart throw appeal (assuming Perriman is again sidelined) as a min-priced DFS option on most sites around the industry.

TE breakdown: Cam Brate (12-119-2 on 14 targets) has been a superior fantasy option to O.J. Howard (13-176-0 on 18 targets) after seven weeks of action. Neither (unfortunately) is anything more than a middling TE2 option at this point as long as they're each not seeing more than three targets per game.

Titans Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left A.J. Brown 72 226 4.49 15% 21% Vernon Hargreaves 70 204 4.5
Slot Adam Humphries 71 195 4.58 15% 12% Sean Bunting 70 195 4.42
Right Corey Davis 75 209 4.53 17% 24% Carlton Davis 73 206 4.53

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The first start of the Ryan Tannethrill era in Tennessee went well, as the former Dolphins QB threw for 312 yards and a pair of scores in the Titans' razor thin 23-20 victory over the Chargers.

Tannehill has the following target distribution this season:

It's easier to get behind Davis (75% snaps in Week 7) and Brown (61%) as fantasy options over Humphries (48%) due to both the talent discrepancy as well as raw opportunity.

While it might be a bit early to crown the Titans' new-look passing game, there should undoubtedly be optimism for the fantasy prospects of Davis and Brown alike.

The Titans boast the fifth-easiest schedule in terms of PPR per game allowed to the WR position over the next four weeks as well as the single-best stretch in Weeks 14-16 for the fantasy playoffs.

PPR WR Rank

TE breakdown: Coach Mike Vrabel said he was "frustrated" for Walker (ankle), and that the team will take his Week 8 status day by day. Even if active, Walker will almost assuredly be functioning at less than 100% come Sunday. This opens the door for Jonnu Smith to take on an even larger role. The Titans' SPARQ-plug backup TE had played between 42-68% of the offense's snaps in Weeks 1-7 before posting a season-high 83% snap rate in Week 7. Smith has flashed big-play ability for the position during his short three-year career, although stat lines of 6-44-0, 5-21-0, 2-20-0 and 2-22-0 in four career games with more than three targets don't demonstrate a massive ceiling. Still, a matchup with the league's 31st-ranked defense in PPR per game allowed to the TE position is tough to ignore.


Cardinals at Saints

Cardinals Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Damiere Byrd 69 180 4.32 11% 16% Marshon Lattimore 72 193 4.36
Slot Larry Fitzgerald 75 225 4.48 21% 27% Patrick Robinson 71 190 4.5
Slot Christian Kirk 71 201 4.47 22% 24% Chauncey Gardner-Johnson 71 210 4.48
Right Trent Sherfield 72 203 4.5 4% 9% Eli Apple 73 199 4.4

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Larry Fitzgerald's six-game streak with at least five receptions came to an end last week in a smash spot against the Giants, as he caught just 1-of-3 targets for 12 scoreless yards. Still, I'd caution in taking too much away from that game due to both unusual game script (the Cardinals built a 14-0 lead 10 minutes into the game) as well as inclement weather (heavy rain throughout the afternoon). Kyler Murray's 21 pass attempts vs. the Giants marked the first time all season he threw the ball fewer than 32 times.

Expect the Cardinals to have to pass a bit more in Week 8 as 9.5-point road underdogs. This is good news for both Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk (ankle, questionable), who are each set up brilliantly in the slot against the Saints' banged-up secondary.

  • Starting slot CB P.J. Williams is serving the final game of his suspension on Sunday.
  • Backup nickelback Patrick Robinson appeared to badly pull his hamstring after playing just one snap in Week 7.
  • Starting outside CB Eli Apple suffered a scary non-contact injury, although it's reportedly "just" a hyperextended knee and not expected to sideline Apple for an extended period of time.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury and company have embraced the ground game in recent weeks, but this is a spot in which they'll need to throw the ball to win. Fire up both Fitzgerald and Kirk (if active) as high-end WR3s against this injury-riddled secondary.

Both Trent Sherfield (82% snaps in Week 7) and Damiere Byrd (80%) are locked in as the offense's outside WRs. The Cardinals have embraced the TE position more than usual in Kirk's absence, as neither Pharoh Cooper (35%), Andy Isabella (15%) nor KeeSean Johnson (8%) played anything close to a full allotment of snaps in Week 7. It's tough to get behind any of these auxiliary WRs as realistic fantasy options, as none have been targeted even five times in a game during Kirk's absence.

TE breakdown: Both Maxx Williams (49% snaps in Week 7) and Charles Clay (46%) have played at least 40% of the offense's snaps in all three games without Kirk after each failed to reach that threshold in Weeks 1-4. Still, the TEs have combined for one game with more than two targets all season, rendering each as a non-viable fantasy option due to lack of volume.

Saints Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Michael Thomas 75 212 4.57 32% 41% Patrick Peterson 72 219 4.34
Slot Austin Carr 73 194 4.67 5% 9% Tramaine Brock 70 195 4.54
Right Ted Ginn 71 180 4.43 14% 32% Byron Murphy 71 190 4.55

Projected shadow matchups: Michael Thomas vs. Patrick Peterson

WR/CB breakdown: All Thomas has done without Drew Brees (thumb, questionable) this season is absolutely dominate.

Overall, the Saints' undisputed No. 1 pass-game option leads the NFL in receptions (62) and receiving yards (763), ranking as the PPR WR1 after seven weeks.

Up next is Thomas' toughest test of the season against the Cardinals' stud shadow CB. Peterson has been asked to travel with an opposing No. 1 WR on 18 separate occasions dating back to Week 1 of 2017. He's managed to win the overwhelming majority of these matchups:

The good news for Thomas is that Peterson hasn't played more than a handful of snaps in the slot per game throughout his entire career, so coach Sean Payton should be able to free his beastly WR from this matchup for extended stretches of time if he chooses to do so.

I wouldn't expect a blowup spot out of Thomas in this tough spot, but he wouldn't be the first WR to get the better of Peterson in recent history. Continue to fire him up as an every week high-end WR1.

Ted Ginn doesn't have 50 receiving yards per game since Week 1 and is off the fantasy radar as along as Brees remains sidelined.

TE breakdown: Jared Cook (ankle) failed to suit up in Week 7 and should be considered questionable for Sunday. He caught at least three passes in Weeks 4-6, but carries a lower floor this week with the potential for limited snaps despite the cake matchup against the league's single-worst defense against the TE position. Fire up Cook as a low-end TE1 if active, while Josh Hill (68% snaps in Week 7, 3-43-1) could be treated as a boom-or-bust TE2 if the Saints' starting TE is again sidelined.

Ian Hartitz

All things NFL. Great day to be great. You can follow Ian on Twitter @Ihartitz.