The NFL wasted no time manipulating people’s emotions and forcing them to abandon all reason and rationality.
The polarization around Trey Lance and what to expect this year was so divided it was like sitting and watching Congress debate a bill with a bag of popcorn. Pure theatre. Instead of waiting for a larger sample size and taking into account the impact torrential rain can have on game planning and execution.
Remember the advice I gave last week. Don’t overthink things. Don’t freak out and don’t panic.
Here are the facts of the matter, fantasy football isn’t played in a vacuum. Chaos theory very much applies. A series of small changes to initial conditions can cause drastic changes and instill a state of disorder and irregularity.
Let’s dive in!
FAVORABLE WR MATCHUPS
Christian Kirk vs Colts Secondary
Davis Mills isn’t terrible. Still, he moved the ball way too well for my liking against the Colts’ defense.
Kirk ran 87% of his routes from the slot and scored 0.47 fantasy points per route. He was targeted on 32% of his routes in the slot and likely will see a healthy dose of Kenny Moore II, who just gave up 0.46 fantasy points per route while in coverage.
Houston attacked Moore on 19% of his coverage routes and Trevor Lawrence clearly has eyes for Kirk, who saw 32% of the team’s targets and 35% of the air yards.
With Jacksonville likely trailing early and often to a Colts team under the microscope, Kirk represents a strong floor play with a clear path to a touchdown reception.
Sterling Shepard vs Carolina secondary
This leaves an awful taste in my mouth. Having to put faith in Daniel Jones feels bad… but having Brian Daboll in the picture softens the blow a little.
Last week, the Giants moved Shepard all around the formation on his 16 routes, but he primarily operated in the slot. Shepard averaged 0.94 fantasy points per route and caught two of his four targets for 71 yards and one touchdown.
Things in Carolina are an absolute mess on both offense and defense. While the Giants don’t appear to be an offensive powerhouse, Shepard should still be in line for a decent workload, especially with the status of Wan’Dale Robinson still in question.
Other favorable matchups: Brandon Aiyuk vs Seahawks, Marquise Brown vs Raiders
AVOID THESE WR MATCHUPS
Rashod Bateman vs Xavien Howard (proj. shadow)
Breaking! Xavien Howard is still a very good shadow corner. Last season, he posted a 70.9 coverage grade on PFF, which was 24th out of 116 eligible corners. Howard allowed only six yards per reception last week.
That number is likely heavily skewed since he did square up with the Patriots’ hapless offense and uninspiring receiving core. Regardless, his coverage instincts still appear to be intact and that’s enough for me to be a little apprehensive.
Bateman didn’t exactly light things up in his tilt against the Jets but did get loose on a beautiful 55-yard bomb from Lamar Jackson. On his five targets, Bateman did see 108 air yards, so the opportunity is always there to explode.
Still, the Ravens don’t project to open the offense with an unexpected aerial assault, and Bateman was targeted on only 20% of his routes. With limited opportunities and a healthy dose of Howard in shadow coverage, Bateman is a fade this week.
Brandin Cooks vs Patrick Surtain II (proj. shadow)
Brandin Cooks is also projected to spend a healthy dose of this weekends action in the shadow realm, this time with rising cornerback Patrick Surtain II in coverage.
Last week, Surtain kept DK Metcalf in check. Even though Metcalf did manage to catch all five of his targets while covered, it still amounted to the equivalent of a hill of beans, as Metcalf finished with only 36 receiving yards and zero trips to pay dirt.
With Cooks lining up out wide on 76% of his routes last week he is going to be well acquainted with Surtain. Pivot options might be encouraged.
Other risky matchups: Adam Thielen vs Eagles, DJ Moore vs Giants