Okay, seriously… who released all of the bad juju in the NFL this season? What are these injuries? Are the Sanderson sisters hiding somewhere, cackling as chaos runs amok (amok, amok, amok)
Here’s a list of notable fantasy players on injured reserve currently:
- Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Jets
- Anthony Richardson, QB, Colts
- De’Von Achane, RB, Dolphins
- James Conner, RB, Cardinals
- Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
- Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers
So far, only two of these have been season-enders. Justin Jefferson might not even return this season and that’s a backbreaker for early first-round drafters. De’Von Achane was looking like the next Jamaal Charles for fantasy… insane efficiency and production on limited touches. Anthony Richardson has been electric but has only finished a game once.
Diontae Johnson is slated to return to the sinking ship Pittsburgh Steelers after their bye week. And let’s all pour one out for Nick Chubb.
Still, the NFL presses on and fantasy with it. Next man up! So here are the WR/CB matchups to target and avoid in week six.
FAVORABLE WR MATCHUPS
Josh Downs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Josh Downs has quietly had a very good start to his rookie season with the Colts. He’s creating 2.22 yards of separation per route against man coverage, which ranks sixth among all WRs in 2023. He’s clearly doing his part in getting open. What’s held him back is the inadvertent carousel of quarterbacks the Colts have had to deal with.
Gardner Minshew and Richardson have been essentially splitting snaps for most of the season due to Richardson’s propensity for injury.
Opportunity-wise, the only thing truly holding Downs back has been elite target volume.
He’s seen 33 targets across his five games. A little over six targets per game is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a good mark for rookies and clearly reflects how the Colts feel about him. So why will things be different this week?
Well, in week one against the Jags, he was immediately targeted seven times. Across his last three games, he’s seen 21 total targets. His yardage totals have been creeping up too. In fact, he’s averaging 62.7 yards per game, including going for 97 against Tennessee last week.
Downs is pacing for 91 receptions on 119 targets and 1,065 yards. He’s yet to find the end zone and is due to dance in paydirt.
Downs, who lines up primarily in the slot, is facing Tre Herndon, who has been a liability this season.
Herndon ranks 25th in catch rate allowed, 29th in yards allowed per slot coverage snap, and 28th in rate of pass plays going more than 15 yards.
Even without a trip to touchdown town, Downs is a WR2 PPR play with week-winning upside if he scores.
Gabe Davis vs. New York Giants
Four straight games. Gabe “Daddy” Davis has scored in four straight games. Perhaps he’s a fan of my work and read where I said to sit him.
His production profile is unsettling. He’s seen four or fewer targets in three of his five games. That’s terrifying to bet on. In the spirit of Halloween, I will lean into the fear and recommend Davis this week.
I’m a fan of chasing hot streaks and riding them until they die. If you hit on a player that goes on a tear, it can usually lead to a winning streak and a position of power in your league standings.
Davis’ matchup against the New York Giants, particularly Tre Hawkins, is enticing.
While the Bills were more trick than treat in London, Davis caught six of his eight targets for 100 yards and a score. Yes, please.
Hawkins is allowing 0.38 fantasy points per route run against him, which ranks middle of the pack among CBs. Overall, the Giants are the 29th-scoring defense in fantasy.
While the Giants are a bit more of a run-funnel defense (31st in touchdowns and 30th in rush yards), the Bills ground attack doesn’t exactly inspire fear. Josh Allen is going to sling, slide, and scramble his way to offensive production and I want to bet on one of the likely fantasy beneficiaries.
Other favorable matchups: CeeDee Lamb vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Jordan Addison vs. Chicago Bears
WR Matchups to Avoid
Tyler Lockett vs. Cincinnati Bengals
This isn’t necessarily a slam on Tyler Lockett at all.
Father Time comes for all, and Lockett is starting to show signs of age.
Lockett is averaging just 1.26 Y/RR and 2.6 YAC/rec., both career lows since 2017. He projects to see a heavy dose of Chidobe Awuzie, who is stifling receivers (0.95 yards per snap in coverage).
More importantly, Sunday could really feature a lot of Kenneth Walker, as the Bengals are near the bottom in the league at stopping the run. Pete Carroll is notorious for favoring a run-heavy offense, and Lockett could be relegated to run-blocking duties a lot.
Amari Cooper vs. San Francisco 49ers
I know there will be Deshaun Watson slander after reading this but XFL darling PJ Walker stinks. Facts are facts.
In his seven starts, he has thrown for five touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Amari Cooper is going to have to suffer the Walker experience against arguably the best defense in football, and he should only be played in times of desperation.
Cooper lines up all over the formation for the Browns and is the clear alpha WR, sorry Elijah Moore stans.
With Watson, Cooper is pacing for almost 1,400 yards and six touchdowns. He’s putting up elite numbers. Cooper is really, really good, and that’s the only reason he should sniff rosters this week.
While Walker is likely an upgrade over the harrowing start that was Dorian Thompson-Robinson, just how much can you trust a guy with a career 57.5% completion percentage at a paltry 6.7 yards per attempt?
Other WRs to avoid: Marquise Brown vs. Rams, Terry McLaurin vs. Falcons