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 NFL DFS picks for your fantasy football lineups, Week 2 on DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo, including Julio Jones and Parris Campbell.
NFL DFS WR-CB Matchups | Week 2
Julio Jones vs. Dallas Cowboys Secondary (Particularly Trevon Diggs)
Note: Julio Jones listed as questionable on injury report as a limited practice participant Wednesday.
Top-shelf receivers ran amok in Week 1. Limited preseason reps will do that to a defense, it seems. Jones was no exception with 157 yards on 12 targets, though his production was curtailed a hair by not finding the end zone. The most important thing about this game, however, was that Jones still exploded in a game where Matt Ryan spread the ball around a ton, with three receivers targeted 12 times. Week 2 against Dallas figures to similarly be a shootout like the game against Seattle was, so volume should not be an issue for Jones.
The matchup with Dallas looks to be fairly exploitable for all involved. They were expected to be a middling secondary this year after losing Byron Jones, but Week 1 suggested they could even fall short of that. They are relying on rookie Trevon Diggs, a second-round pick, to pick up the slack left by Jones, and he struggled a bit in his debut. While only targeted thrice, all three resulted in catches totaling 63 yards, though he committed no penalties. That is not an abysmal mark per se, but the Falcons have a more high-flying offense than the Rams do, and Jones and Calvin Ridley are arguably better than anyone Diggs covered in Week 1.
Across from Diggs, Chidobe Awuzie is a far more accomplished corner and likely poses the greater threat to Jones. However, I’m not so enamored with him or Dallas’ safety tandem that I think any of them will put a great damper on Jones’ production this week. Plus, Jones has lined up about twice as much on the left throughout his career, which would place him opposite Diggs the majority of the time.
This week, Jones is one of the top values among high-priced receivers given he is a slight discount from the very top of the heap. And with Michael Thomas now out for a while, the pickings among ace receivers are a bit slimmer. It’s reasonable to be concerned about Russell Gage and Ridley leaching targets from Jones, but as we saw last week, that does not necessarily detract from his production. He is still among the three best receivers in the game and is priced slightly below that echelon for the moment
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Breshad Perriman vs. San Francisco 49ers sans Richard Sherman
With news of Sherman moving to IR, there is a non-zero chance that Perriman’s ownership could creep as the week progresses. For now, he’s hovering around 5% projected ownership coming off a five-target, 17-yard Week 1 performance. Ordinarily, I would not target a mediocre, straight-line receiver against a defense that many consider to be elite. Even in a loss, San Francisco held the Cardinals to 230 passing yards, after all. But the loss of Sherman is a significant one with regard to outside coverage, which the 49ers had some issues defending last week. DeAndre Hopkins played almost all of his snaps split out wide (mostly avoiding Sherman by staying on the left side), and he recorded 14 catches and 151 yards on 16 targets. And that was with Sherman playing the majority of the game.
You don’t need me to tell you Perriman is no Hopkins. However, at $3,800 on DraftKings, Perriman only needs a fraction of that production to pay off that price considerably. He closed last season with three 100-yard games for Tampa Bay, scoring four touchdowns in the process. If Sam Darnold has adequate time (which is a massive if), Perriman has slate-breaking upside as an outside threat against a suddenly banged-up 49er secondary. There is also the chance of Jamison Crowder monopolizing targets again out of the slot, plus the 100% guarantee that Adam Gase will be the Jets coach, but hey, that’s why this is a flier. Perriman is a low-cost, low-risk play with a pretty appealing ceiling.
Parris Campbell vs. Minnesota Vikings’ Struggling Corners
It may be a bit overzealous to call Campbell’s game against Jacksonville a “breakout,” but it was easily the best game of his career. He equaled T.Y. Hilton for the most targets with nine and led all wide receivers with six receptions and 71 yards. Drafted to presumably be a future WR2, Campbell appears to be graduating from his gadget role of “screen and jet sweep guy.” He still has only one touchdown in eight career games, however, so I am staying week-to-week with him as his price remains low even though his target share could be expanding.
The big part of this play is Minnesota’s cornerback room. As expected, the Vikings young, relatively inexperienced corners were torched by the Packers last week, allowing a combined 20 catches on 24 targets between the three main players (Mike Hughes, Holton Hill, Cameron Dantzler). All three Packers receivers I discussed last week paid off their respective price tags against the Vikings’ coverage unit despite pretty strong play from their safeties and linebackers. It is clear that this will be an exploitable unit unless the rookies Dantzler and Jeff Gladney take massive steps as the season progresses.
Slot coverage will be an interesting focus in this game. Campbell ran almost all of his routes from the slot (58 of 61 snaps), and he did a lot of his damage on crossing routes. Similarly, Green Bay’s Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling combined for 10 catches and 151 yards on 11 targets when lined up inside against the Vikings. Minnesota threw a lot of different guys at the slot too, though Hughes did the most slot coverage, allowing four catches and 69 yards on 18 slot snaps. To be fair, their coverage on the whole suffered, so Campbell’s positioning may not be as relevant as the fact Minnesota has a massive dearth of corners. With Philip Rivers building a rapport with Campbell, double-digit targets could be in play this week, especially at low ownership and a modest price tag.
Kendrick Bourne vs. New York Jets’ League-Worst Defense
Bourne is the quintessential low-floor/high-ceiling play this week among low-owned fliers. Much of this pick comes down to the pass-catcher situation in San Francisco possibly opening things up and the opponent being, at best, suspect. Though the doors of the 49ers passing game were far from blown off against Arizona, and Bourne himself saw just five targets (catching two), Jimmy Garoppolo may be without his two favorite targets in George Kittle (questionable) and Deebo Samuel (out). Rookie Brandon Aiyuk also is nursing an injury, and though he looks on track to play, making his NFL debut with a hamstring injury is sub-optimal.
All this is to say that the relatively few passes Garoppolo will throw Monday may have a depleted roster of potential recipients. Bourne is capable of giving touchdown-dependent results on middling target volume (six touchdowns in 2019), so any uptick in target share opens up some ceiling potential. His price is probably not low enough to make him better than middling value at $4,900 on DraftKings, but at almost no ownership, he has some contrarian value.
The big kicker should be the matchup with the lowly Jets. The Jets allowed the Bills receivers some solid numbers despite Josh Allen‘s best efforts, and the 49ers receiver room will be considerably less crowded. PFF labeled the Jets as the dead worst pass coverage unit of Week 1 with all six defensive backs allowing at least one catch and four allowing at least 33 yards individually. San Francisco’s game script works against their receivers most weeks, so again, Bourne is extremely touchdown-dependent. That said, he may be the de facto WR1 going against the worst secondary in the league. That is worth a gamble or two regardless of the name on the back of the jersey.
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