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 4 on DraftKings and FanDuel, including Cooper Kupp and D.J. Moore.
NFL DFS WR-CB Matchups | Week 4
Cooper Kupp vs. New York Giants (Sunday Afternoon)
There isn’t a ton of over-the-top value among studs this week (that is, unless Michael Thomas returns and Drew Brees regains some arm strength). No one is really underpriced for their value among those $6,500 and up. With that said, Kupp is standing out a bit from the pack given his matchup and the efficiency of the Rams offense. The Giants ranks third worst in the league by passing DVOA, struggling mightily in both coverage and rushing the passer (bottom 10 in both according to Pro Football Focus). Their poor metrics are also not brought down by upside-limiting penalties; the secondary has only committed one this year. Additionally, the Giants’ two primary slot coverage options, Darnay Holmes and Logan Ryan, are seeing targets roughly every five coverage snaps. As a unit, the Giants are allowing a passer rating of 121.1 in slot coverage. And given Kupp is one of the more prolific slot receivers in football (top 10 in both slot catches and yards), that seems like an area to exploit.
On the whole, Kupp is having an efficient start to the year, ranking ninth in catches and 13th in yards per route run. Despite the Rams offense choosing to rely more on run-heavy, methodical drives, Kupp and Jared Goff have maintained their connection from last year and produced solid numbers to start. Kupp is not going to be a top-scoring threat week in and week out like other studs, but the efficiency with which he converts targets into catches (no one with at least 20 targets has caught a higher percentage of said targets) gives him a safe floor most of the time. Against an extremely suspect Giants secondary and at a non-prohibitive price tag with low ownership, Kupp is a comfortable upper-priced receiver play.
D.J. Moore vs. Arizona Cardinals
When I say chalk with this pick I mean maybe the chalkiest play of the week. Moore is projecting roughly double the DraftKings ownership of any receiver in Week 4. The reason for this is Moore’s substantial price down after a two-catch Week 3, down into the mid-$5,000s, well shy of what his WR1 status would suggest. There is also the matter of Moore being yet to score a touchdown, limiting his fantasy output. Those numbers do not concern me, however. He played 20 fewer snaps last week than the week before, and those two catches still resulted in 65 yards. He has 26 targets and 14 catches on the year and is averaging over 17 yards per, so Moore is making the most out of what targets he does find. Plus, while Robby Anderson has more catches and yards, Moore leads the Panthers in targets.
Moore’s get-right Week 4 game comes against a favorable Arizona opponent that has at times struggled to contain opposing receivers. All three primary corners have been targeted at least 12 times, with Patrick Peterson faring the best with six allowed receptions and 105 yards. With Moore most often lining up wide to the left, he would primarily get Dre Kirkpatrick in one-on-one situations. Kirkpatrick has struggled, but also has a couple of penalties to his resume, so that is not the part of this matchup I like. Rather, it is Moore’s deep-ball potential that has me intrigued. Arizona’s best defensive back, free safety Budda Baker, is playing through a terrible thumb injury that he says will require surgery. As the center field of the defense, that gives Moore an advantage in contested downfield catch situations.
Additionally, unlike last year, Moore is producing on deep passes. Despite being a huge home run threat, Moore caught just six of 21 deep passes in 2019. That is largely because Kyle Allen was throwing the ball, as evidenced those six catches being the only balls deemed catchable. This year already, Moore has three deep catches on four targets, so he and Bridgewater are finding a connection in that regard. With Baker ailing, I expect the Panthers to take shots downfield with Moore. It will only take one long touchdown to make Moore hammer his questionably discounted price tag. Again, he is going to be popular, but Awesemo still has him as one of the top values at any position in Week 4.
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Mid-Priced GPP Play
Justin Jefferson vs. Houston Texans
Obviously this looks like a cop-out “ride the hot hand” fallacy pick. And in a way, Jefferson exploding last week plays a role in targeting him in Week 4. But instead of expecting another seven catches at 25 yards a reception, I view Jefferson’s breakout as him firmly stepping into the role vacated by Stefon Diggs. Jefferson proved to be a lethal deep threat, sure, but also a methodical mid-range target. Adam Thielen is the more consistent safety blanket, but Jefferson is no slouch in that area either, and he provides the huge-play upside that Kirk Cousins relied upon so heavily with Diggs in 2019. Jefferson looking like a stud for one week gives me more confidence he will completely usurp Olabisi Johnson as Minnesota’s WR2. His snap shares have jumped around with last week’s 78% being his highest to date. I expect that to trend upwards moving forward.
As with last week, Houston’s corners look especially targetable. Bradley Roby and Vernon Hargreaves are a liability, combining for 22 receptions allowed on 32 targets for 221 yards and two touchdowns, and Hargreaves does not have the penalties committed to possibly counteract the fantasy exploitability. Roby has two, so there is a bit more to consider in that regard, but there is also a non-zero chance he will shadow Thielen. Regardless, individually Houston’s defensive backs do not rate well, and their overall coverage unit is eighth-worst according to PFF. Jefferson and Thielen both look like strong options this week given the matchup, and Minnesota’s abysmal defense is always a factor in leading to a pass-happy game script. Jefferson, however, is the stronger play given his $1,400 discount to Thielen.
Isaiah Ford vs. Seattle Seahawks
A lot of this is a game flow move. The Seahawks are lighting up the scoreboard in the early goings of the season, and their opponents are throwing a ton in an attempt to keep up. On top of that, the Seattle defense has shown a lot of weaknesses, leading to shootouts pretty much every week. The Dolphins, while not a traditional passing powerhouse, showed last week that they can put up some pretty significant passing numbers if the game dictates it, and Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s targets have to date been evenly spread to every one of his pass catchers. As such, we can target a lower-priced Dolphin and hope that he will find a ceiling game against a Seattle passing defense that ranks fourth worst by DVOA.
Ford gets that call here since he is second among Dolphins receivers in targets, receptions and yards yet falls below $4,000 on DraftKings. While two of Ford’s games have featured two catches and fewer than 14 yards, Week 2 saw him catch seven of eight targets for 76 yards. And that came against a Buffalo secondary widely believed to be one of the best in the NFL. Obviously, there is nothing safe about Ford’s floor, but Miami’s myriad options mean literally anyone can pop on a given week. Ford is primarily a slot receiver, and the Seahawks have allowed a 113.0 passer rating in slot coverage. The one major caveat with Ford’s potential is Seattle’s grabby play — six penalties between their defensive backs — but with Ford priced so low and getting almost no ownership, there is little risk in taking this flier.
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