Receiver plays are a week-to-week thought process in NFL DFS due to a variety of outside factors impacting receiver performance. One way to predict who will break out is by examining their secondary opponents for that individual game. Every week of the season, Sam Smith will take a look at advantageous matchups for receivers against vulnerable secondaries, whether it be schematic advantage or merely a weaker cornerback head up on a star receiver. Let’s get into some NFL Matchups and give out some Week 10 NFL DFS picks for your daily fantasy football lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.
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NFL DFS Picks: WR-CB Matchups | Week 10 Daily Fantasy Football
Davante Adams vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s become commonplace this column to recommend eating the chalk with Davante Adams. There isn’t that much secret sauce behind the trend; to put it simply, Adams ranks first among receivers in fantasy points per snap and is within an arm’s reach of Tyreek Hill and D.K. Metcalf for most fantasy points scored this season despite missing multiple games. He is PFF’s top-graded receiver, he’s fourth in quarterback passer rating when targeted among qualified receivers, and he is first in yards per route run. Essentially all players with comparable per-target efficiency metrics have a fraction of the targets Adams has. In other words, he is the most efficient WR1 in daily fantasy football in 2020.
The matchup has not mattered all that much with Adams this year; his lone stinker game came against the mediocre Lions in Week 2, in which he got injured. But when matchups justify lofty expectations, it’s an added bonus and lends more credence to paying Adam’s steep price tag. Jacksonville, despite getting solid individual performances from defensive backs, has one of the most exploitable coverage units in the league. They are seeing the ninth-fewest pass attempts yet have surrendered the fifth-most passing yards and 10th-most touchdowns. They also rank dead last in pass DVOA despite a pass rush that is only slightly below league average.
There is not any one player to point to in the Jaguars’ defensive backfield when diagnosing their struggles. Sidney Jones and C.J. Henderson have been fairly solid at corner, and safety Jarrod Wilson is PFF’s No. 5 coverage safety. The only starter with strikingly negative marks is safety Josh Jones, who has allowed 94.7% completion and two touchdowns. But as far as individual metrics go, the Jaguars defensive backs are fine. It goes to show how little impact individual matchups factor in opponent performance. There is no denying the Jaguars are one of the game’s worst pass coverage teams even though their players on paper appear to be playing fairly well.
And frankly, team coverage is the only way to defend Adams. He’s too precise to sic one guy on him for a whole game, so bracketing would be the only defense. Fortunately for our purposes, the Jaguars have given no indication they can hold up with team coverage. So while Adams’ price tag is flying through the roof and his ownership is top three, his Awesemo value ratings are still pretty strong in Week 10.
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Josh Reynolds vs. Seattle Seahawks (Sunday Afternoon)
The Seahawks are the defense to exploit right now when stacking passing attacks. Because of their offensive firepower, they are seeing a ton of throws, and those throws are in kind resulting in a ton of yards. They are now the most passed-against defense in football and have allowed the most passing yards. In fact, in eight games they have allowed fewer than 300 passing yards only twice, and one of those games saw 299 yards. On a per-play basis they are not quite as bad, ranking 20th in PFF coverage grade, but the sheer volume they see and surrender has moved them into 29th place for pass DVOA. In just the last three weeks, they have allowed six receivers to catch at least eight passes, and not all of them have been WR1s; John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Kendrick Bourne and Brandon Aiyuk went off as well.
That is good news for those looking to load up on the Rams passing game this week. Jared Goff‘s inconsistent play and willingness to spread the ball have made targeting Ram receivers a difficult ask. Cooper Kupp gets the most volume but does not convert it into a lot of fantasy value. Robert Woods scores touchdowns but does not have consistent volume to justify prices in the mid-$6,000s. Meanwhile, Josh Reynolds is priced near minimum and is not way off Woods’ target volume (Woods has 47, Reynolds 37). He has been targeted eight times each of the last two weeks and has touchdowns in two of the last three, so there is some semblance of an upswing despite unspectacular fantasy outputs. This is not to say we should expect Reynolds to usurp Woods and Kupp this week from a target share perspective, but there is no denying he is the better value at this point.
The key thing is the extremely pass-heavy game scripts that follow Seattle everywhere. Yes, the Rams run the ball a lot. Yes, their pass catchers ride the rollercoaster of production. But recent weeks have shown lower-level receivers splash at lower price tags, and Reynolds is trending upwards with his involvement. At just over half the price of Woods and Kupp on DraftKings, Reynolds is a Top-10 receiver value in Awesemo’s eyes.
Travis Fulgham vs. New York Giants
This game is the perfect example of how team coverage matters considerably more than individual coverage when exploring receiver matchups. James Bradberry is an elite corner that consistently shadows star receivers. Just last week, Bradberry was in shadow coverage on Terry McLaurin for a chunk of that game, and he held him to one catch in his coverage. It was by most metrics an excellent individual performance by Bradberry. But McLaurin in total caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Bradberry’s excellent coverage does not mean a thing when the rest of the secondary is lackluster. Even the best corners are almost never left on an island for every single coverage snap; they play zone, pass receivers off to safeties, drop when their man takes underneath routes. So though Bradberry looks like a mismatch for Travis Fulgham on paper, Fulgham’s status as a target hog against a bad all-around Giants secondary is actually very enticing.
Fulgham is now perhaps the unlikeliest of WR1s in the NFL. He did not record a single catch in his career prior to Week 4 of 2020, but he has been targeted at least seven times in his last four games, recording at least five catches all four times. He also has four touchdowns in his five games and a targeted passer rating of 134.5. With Eagle pass catchers falling off to injury around him, Fulgham has taken control of the receiver room. Even with some guys returning to action, Fulgham figures to factor heavily into the passing game, as he is top 10 among receivers in targets, catches, yards and touchdowns since Week 5. Granted, he has faced some terrible defenses in that stretch like the Cowboys and Giants, but his best performance — 10 catches, 152 yards and a score — came against the Steelers, the No. 3 pass defense in the NFL by DVOA.
This week’s matchup for Fulgham is interesting. For one, Bradberry’s likely shadow coverage will be Fulgham’s first time seeing such defense in his NFL career. Like I said before, that is not a huge factor, but it could be an adjustment for him. Secondly, Fulgham’s worst fantasy output came three weeks ago against these same Giants, where he caught five passes for 73 yards but needed 11 targets to get there, and he did not score a touchdown. That said, the volume of 11 targets lends me to believe he can get his against the Giants coverage unit, and Carson Wentz will look to get him the ball a lot. I have no qualms whatsoever about Fulgham’s matchup. On the contrary, it’s advantageous. The only qualm I would have is with his price, which is starting to creep up towards WR1 territory on DraftKings at $6,400. That is depressing his value in the Awesemo projections a little bit, but it also is driving down ownership to the point Fulgham is projecting for under 2% owned on both sites. As such, he makes a solid pay-up-slightly-to-be-contrarian NFL DFS pick option.
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