Fantasy News  

 

Week 8 Favorable Slot Matchups

Print
  • By Michael Florio
More Columns >

Last week, the favorable slot matchup article debuted and brought you Jarvis Landry (second-most fantasy points from the slot), Danny Amendola (third-most), and Sterling Shepard (most). Matchups do matter! We will just forget about that Jermaine Kearse recommendation (he put up zero points for those still tilting).

Hopefully, you avoided Kearse's donut! Regardless, there’s a whole bunch of new matchups you can exploit to help your fantasy playoff push:

Main Slot Receiver Targets


Jarvis Landry was able to shake off some recent poor performances and excel last week, largely cause of his favorable slot matchup. That shouldn’t change this week, as Landry takes on the Steelers who have allowed 24.8 PPR PPG to slot WRs over the last month (since Week 4), the second most in that span. During that stretch, the Steelers have allowed the most receiving yards per game (108.0) and the second most touchdowns (3) to slot receivers. In his previous game against the Steelers in Week 1, Landry caught seven of his 15 targets for 106 yards. It should also make you feel good that Baker Mayfield has targeted Landry 10 or more times in every one of his starts. Landry is once again a very reliable WR1 in all formats.

Emmanuel Sanders has performed like a top-10 receiver this season, largely because he has run the most routes from the slot on the Broncos. He has been highly productive in the slot, and we know Case Keenum has a history of success targeting slot receivers. This week, just like every week it seems, you want to use Sanders over Demaryius Thomas. Since Week 5, the Chiefs have allowed 86.7 receiving yards per game to slot receivers, the eighth most in the league in that time. Meanwhile, they have not allowed a touchdown to wide receivers out wide since Week 3. Sanders is a safe WR2, while Thomas is in the WR3/flex consideration category.

Doug Baldwin was once an obvious must-start, but that has changed this season. Still, he should find his way into your starting lineup this week. Baldwin and Tyler Lockett have split routes from the slot this year, but Baldwin has started to take over as the primary slot receiver as of late. Both should be in play this week, though -- as they take on a Lions defense that has allowed 135 receiving yards per game and three touchdowns to slot receivers since Week 5, both the highest mark during that span. Given that Baldwin is coming off the bye and has had another week to rest those knees, plus that he has taken over as the primary slot receiver, I am higher on his outlook of this duo. But, Lockett can be trusted as well, as he has averaged 12 routes per game from the slot in recent weeks.

Nelson Agholor may seem like he has a scary matchup on paper, but the Jaguars lone weakness on defense is through the slot. The Texans were going to use Keke Coutee to exploit that matchup in Week 7 as he saw three targets on his first seven routes, before exiting the game with a hamstring injury. During the first six weeks (before Coutee's early injury), the Jags allowed 16.70 PPR PPG to slot WRs, the fifth most in the NFL. That includes four touchdowns, which is tied for the second most in that span. Remember what Cole Beasley did to them just two weeks ago? Keke Coutee was going to have a big game against Jacksonville if he didn’t get hurt; but, Agholor should make up for it this week. Agholor runs 25.7 routes per game from the slot, and has averaged 5 targets per game from the interior over the last month. While many will have Agholor as a WR4 this week, he comes in as a solid WR3 or flex option for me this week. Do not let the scary matchup on paper put you off. While Alshon Jeffery deals with shadow coverage from Jalen Ramsey, Zach Ertz and Agholor should be the most productive pass catchers for the Eagles this week in London.

Anthony Miller is one of my favorite streamers this week. Miller, who was highly touted entering the season, saw a season-high seven targets last week. He only caught two of them for 35 yards, but the volume is what we care about. Perhaps the best sign for Miller was that he ran a season-high 30 routes from the slot, surpassing Taylor Gabriel in that role. That bodes well for Miller, as the Bears face the Jets who have allowed a league-high 103.9 receiving yards per game to slot receivers. They have also allowed four receiving TDs, which ranks second in the NFL. If Miller sees similar opportunity this week, he should do plenty of damage against the Jets. This could be the breakout week that many have been waiting on.

Who to pick on the Bucs with this week?


Tyler Boyd left a lot to be desired last week, but that should not stop you from trusting him this week and reaping the lofty rewards that come from facing the Bucs. The Bucs, despite already having a bye week, have allowed the most yards and touchdowns (eight) to players in the slot. To put that into perspective, no other team has allowed more than 4 TDs to receivers in the slot. Obviously, this is a matchup you want to exploit every week and Boyd is just the player to do so this week. Boyd is averaging 26.4 routes from the slot this season, easily the most on the Bengals. From the interior, Boyd has seen 5.6 targets per game and put up 8.46 PPR fantasy points per game. Boyd is a rock-solid WR2 regardless of format this week.

It is also worth mentioning that A.J. Green runs about 10 routes per game and has caught four of his five TDs from the slot. Everyone gets an added boost from facing the Bucs.

Deep Sleepers


It is crazy to see Larry Fitzgerald listed as a deep sleeper, but that is the world we now live in. Fitzgerald is still the primary slot receiver on the Cardinals, running 32 routes in Week 7 compared to just eight for rookie Christian Kirk. While it hasn't translated to much success this season, Larry the Legend is streamable in deeper leagues this week. The 49ers have allowed 94.7 receiving yards per game to slot receivers since Week 5, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL in that span. That number jumps to a league-leading 123.5 over the past two weeks, including 22.20 PPR PPG to slot receivers in that span (fourth-highest). Perhaps the firing of OC Mike McCoy helps rejuvenates Fitzgerald’s (likely) final season. Regardless, the Niners have been exploited through the slot as of late, and Fitzgerald is the Cards best chance of continuing that trend.

Jermaine Kearse greatly disappointed last week, but while everyone else is giving up on him, there is still value to be had. Last week, Kearse played on 90 percent of Jets' offensive snaps, most among their rag-tag receiver corps. While Kearse may have only seen two targets, he did run a team-high 28 routes from the slot. That should continue this week against the Bears, who have allowed 19.40 PPR PPG to slot receivers since Week 5 (seventh-most in this span). Kearse should bounce back this week and can likely be had off the waiver wire as many fantasy owners abandoned ship after last week's debacle.

-- Michael Florio is a freelance fantasy writer at NFL.com. Make sure to check back every Thursday to find out which slot receivers you can stream in the upcoming week. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio.

Print