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Cover the Field: WR vs. CB | NFL DFS Matchups for Week 7 | Hunter Henry

Sam Smith

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Chris Giordani breaks down the Week 15 Thursday Night Football NFL odds, and gives the best NFL betting picks for Chargers vs. Raiders

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 daily fantasy football lineups, Week 7 on DraftKings and FanDuel.

NFL DFS WR-CB Matchups | Week 7

Chalk Studs

NFL DFS Pick: Terry McLaurin vs. Dallas Cowboys

Washington’s Benny Hill skit of a quarterback room has limited McLaurin’s ceiling a little bit, mostly due to his touchdown numbers not following his volume production. As testament to McLaurin’s talent, however, he has still been a viable fantasy receiver thanks to 36 catches on 55 targets (both top seven among receivers) and 487 yards in six games. He has yet to be targeted fewer than seven times in 2020, and his lone dud game (three catches for 26 yards) came last week when Alex Smith had to step in for Kyle Allen. This past week, Allen threw to McLaurin 11 times, resulting in a low-efficiency seven catches for 74 yards. Still, it is abundantly clear that Washington’s quarterbacks love McLaurin and will force-feed him the ball no matter the situation.

This week’s situation is pretty much ideal for a top-shelf receiver. Dallas has been arguably the worst pass coverage unit in football this year, allowing the league’s fifth-most passing touchdowns and 16th-most yards despite seeing the eighth-fewest pass attempts. As a whole, PFF ranks the Cowboys’ coverage dead last, and their 21st-ranked total pass DVOA is only boosted by a decent pass rush. When quarterbacks have time, they and their receivers have been fantasy kingpins — at least one opposing receiver has had either 100 yards or multiple touchdowns in nearly every game this year. Part of the issue has been injuries; Chidobe Awuzie has not played since Week 2 — but another big problem has been lackluster play all over the field, particularly from rookie Trevon Diggs. Diggs is currently the second-most targeted corner in the NFL and has allowed the third-most yards in coverage.

Depending on where he lines up this week, McLaurin could see a lot of one-on-one time with Diggs. Diggs always sticks to one side of the field in-game, but which side that ends up being changes week to week. Regardless, nothing about McLaurin’s individual or team matchups looks even remotely daunting this week. The only player on the Cowboys with more than two penalties is slot corner Jourdan Lewis, and McLaurin has only run a quarter of his routes from the slot. The rest of the Dallas secondary has been largely penalty free, and the only player with a targeted passer rating under 100 is Awuzie, who will not be playing this week.

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Volume is going to be key with McLaurin based on his quarterback. This year, across three different passers, McLaurin has only eight red zone targets and two catchable deep targets, so the touchdown upside is pretty minimal. Instead, we’re counting on one of those 15-target, nine-catch games that Dallas is certainly wont to allow. And because McLaurin’s touchdown numbers are so lackluster, his price has stayed modest, currently below $6,000 on DraftKings. As such, Awesemo grades him as a top-five receiver value this week, though keep in mind his ownership is also top five at the position.

NFL DFS Pick: Robby Anderson and/or D.J. Moore vs. New Orleans Saints

These two are neck and neck in just about every metric of Awesemo’s projectionAdd News. They are right nearly identical as values relative to price and in wide receiver ownership. Anderson understandably has a slight edge over Moore in most projections, but the margin is surprisingly narrow given how much more productive Anderson has been this year. Anderson has five more targets, 13 more receptions and nearly 100 more yards than Moore, and he even ranks top six among all NFL receivers in all three categories. However, Moore has actually been the more utilized receiver in terms of air yards; his problem has been efficiency. He has the sixth-worst reception rate of any receiver with at least 30 targets (44 receivers). Anderson has been better at making the most of his targets, but that does not mean Moore has not been on Anderson’s level of utilization. Both are viable ceiling plays on a week-to-week basis, especially with Christian McCaffrey still unlikely to play.

The matchup at first glance does not seem totally advantageous. Marshon Lattimore purports as a stopper, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a great slot cover (where both Anderson and Moore run about a quarter of their routes), and Janoris Jenkins is returning from injury. However, the Saints have been a bottom-five coverage unit according to PFF, and like the Cowboys, their middling overall pass defense metrics belies a struggling secondary thanks to a solid pass rush. Lattimore is actually allowing a perfect passer rating in his coverage this year and has allowed a touchdown in three of four games he has played. Plus, safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Williams, a supposed strength of the secondary, have both severely underperformed expectations and have allowed two touchdowns apiece. That gives some credence to Anderson and Moore’s big-play abilities hitting pay dirt despite the fact that four Saints defensive backs have committed at least two penalties this year.

While in theory avoiding Jenkins in favor of matchups with Lattimore would be ideal, Anderson and Moore split their time all over the field fairly evenly, and the Saints corners largely stay put. Plus, individual matchups in coverage are not nearly as important as team coverage, and the Saints are vulnerable all over the field. Both Anderson and Moore project as strong values with Anderson slightly higher due to his more efficient play to date. Still, Moore is drawing slightly less ownership (as in less than a percentage point less) and is a slight discount, but both are below $6,500 on DraftKings and have WR1 upside for Week 7.

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Tight End

NFL DFS Pick: Hunter Henry vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Afternoon Game)

The Chargers have been a surprisingly good team for fantasy this year. Their quarterback is aggressive downfield at times without turning the ball over at a high rate, their defense is bad which keeps the offense throwing, and the myriad receivers have created stackable options at different pricing tiers. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are basically the exact same team from a fantasy viability perspective, surrendering a lot of points and throwing the ball enough themselves. All in all, while this game is largely irrelevant in the football world, it appears perfect for our purposes. Any number of receivers on either side has appeal, but I am going to once again break the mold of my own article and look to a tight end, one who has maintained consistent volume without breaking a slate as of yet.

As an in-line receiver, the matchup doesn’t scream advantageous for Henry. Jacksonville has some solid coverage linebackers, most notably Myles Jack, and only Jonnu Smith has had a true ceiling game against them as a tight end. The advantage for Henry, however, comes from Jacksonville surrendering touchdowns to tight ends in nearly every game in 2020 and the threat Henry poses as a slot receiver. Henry leads the Chargers comfortably in routes run from the slot and is second on the team with 14 targets and eight receptions for 92 yards. Meanwhile, the Jaguars allow a passer rating of 134.5 on slot targets, including five touchdowns. That speaks to opportunity for Henry, Keenan Allen and Jalen Guyton, and Allen certainly hits as a great value this week if he is able to play without limitations. Mike Williams does as well, though he mostly lines up outside.

A stack with any number of the Chargers weapons looks strong this week because of this matchup, as a matter of fact. That said, Henry is my preference as he gets all the benefits of the strong matchup as a de facto receiver and has high touchdown potential, but he costs less than Allen, Williams and all Charger running backs. Even guys like Robert Tonyan and Rob Gronkowski are carrying heftier price tags right now. Granted, those guys have paid off more as red zone threats — Henry has just five targets and one catch inside the 20 — but Jacksonville is a sieve in the red zone, particularly against tight ends. And if Allen cannot go or is not at full health, Henry directly benefits as the main guy in the red zone. Awesemo is projecting him to be the fourth-highest-scoring tight end this week, but he is outside the top 12 in salary, making him one of the best values at the position.


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Sam Smith is a writer and editor with Awesemo.com. He has been immersed in the world of professional sports data since 2015, while also writing extensively on the NFL for a multitude of blogs and websites. With Awesemo, Sam looks to blend his sports and editorial expertise with Awesemo's data to bring you the best fantasy information possible. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samc_smith.

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