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Slot report, Week 1: Dede Westbrook to get a boost

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  • By Michael Florio
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Just like Popeyes Chicken Sandwiches... slot receivers are all the rave right now! Utilizing the slot has become a staple in the modern NFL offense, which leads to more fantasy production. Knowing which players will be manning the slot, as well as who is in a position to succeed in a given week could be the difference between a win and a loss that week. I am super happy to announce the weekly slot report, which breaks down the best matchups and who benefits from them, is back!

Studs Who Get a Boost:


Julian Edelman is always in play, but this week he gets an added boost in value going against the Steelers, who allowed a league-leading 9.9 receptions per game and 120.6 receiving yards per game to slot receivers. All in all slot receivers put up 25.3 PPR PPG against the Steelers, the third-most in the NFL. He is a WR1 in PPR leagues this week.

Chris Godwin was potentially the most hyped up player this draft season and it should come to fruition right out the gate. The Bucs take on the 49ers who allowed 15 receiving touchdowns in 2018, tied for the most in the NFL with the Bucs themselves. They also allowed 20.93 PPR PPG to slot receivers, the sixth-most in the NFL. Godwin was the Bucs slot receiver all preseason long with the ones, and he has a very strong chance of scoring a touchdown this week, on top of the big yardage he could put up in a potentially high-scoring affair. He is a borderline WR1 this week.

DJ Moore should make a splash right out the gate, against a Rams team that allowed 14 touchdowns to slot receivers in 2018. Additionally, they allowed 22.23 PPR PPG to slot receivers, the fifth most in the NFL. There should be a lot of points scored in this game and Moore comes in as a very safe WR2 with upside.

Slot Start of the Week: Dede Westbrook's breakout season is set to begin in a big way against the Chiefs this week. The Chiefs allowed 92.9 receiving yards per game to the slot last season, which was the ninth-most in the NFL. That bodes well for Westbrook, who led the NFL with 441 slot routes in 2018. Additionally, he was fourth in targets from the slot (84) and that was before Nick Foles joined the Jaguars. Foles threw to the slot 36.4 percent of the time last season, the most in the NFL now that Andrew Luck is retired. In fact, he throws more to the slot then he did out wide (27.7 percent). If there are any doubts that Westbrook is Foles top guy, know that seven of the 10 passes Foles threw this preseason went to Westbrook. The Jaguars are going against the top offense from 2018 (35.3 PPG) and very well could be chasing points, which leads to even more volume. Make sure to get him into your lineup this week, regardless of league size or format!

Dante Pettis should man the slot when the 49ers go to a three wide receiver set with Marquise Goodwin and Deebo Samuel/Kendrick Bourne manning the outside. The Niners are without Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd, who are expected to man the slot when healthy. However, Pettis averaged 12 slot routes per game in the second half of 2018, the most on the 49ers. That puts him in play for sure this week against the Bucs, who allowed 27.29 PPR fantasy PPG to slot receivers in 2018, by far the most in the NFL. The Bucs also allowed 15 touchdowns to slot receivers, which tied for the leagues most. Pettis should be viewed as a WR3 with much more upside in what could be a potential shootout.

Emmanuel Sanders returned from an Achilles rupture in record time and looks ready to pick right up where he left off before getting injured in 2018. Sanders averaged 21.3 slot routes per game last year, and caught 36 of his 51 slot targets for 409 yards and two scores. The Raiders allowed 20.43 PPR PPG to slot receivers in 2018, the eighth most in the NFL. They also allowed 14 touchdowns to slot receivers, which put them in a tie for the third most allowed in the NFL, one of which was caught by Sanders teammate DaeSean Hamilton. He took over as the primary slot receiver when Sanders went down and will see some time from the slot this season. Sanders is a borderline WR3/flex option this week, while Hamilton is a name to keep an eye on going forward.

Larry Fitzgerald ran 22 slot routes this preseason, which was more than Christian Kirk (18). Those two are expected to both see some time from the slot, along with Andy Isabella, who ran 40 slot routes this preseason, playing mostly with the twos. Manning the slot on any team boosts value, but if the Cardinals run a fast-paced offense as expected, it should only provide an even larger boost in value. This week especially, the Lions allowed 20.44 PPR PPG to slot receivers in 2018, the seventh-most in the NFL. Slot receivers averaged 6.6 receptions per game, 93.1 receiving yards per game and scored a total of 12 touchdowns against the Lions last year. Fitzgerald is a flex play in 12-team leagues and should definitely be started in anything deeper.

Cole Beasley will man the slot for the Bills this season and if preseason is any indication, he will be heavily utilized. Josh Allen attempted 28 passes this preseason and eight of them (29 percent) went Beasley's way. He caught seven of those for 71 pass yards, showing they have a strong rapport already. That should be showcased right out the gate against the Jets, who allowed 25.55 PPR fantasy PPG to the slot in 2018, the second-most in the NFL. Slot receivers gashed the Jets for 8.9 receptions per game, 113.9 receiving yards per game and scored 13 touchdowns in 2018. The Bills new weapon is more of a flex option, but is certainly in play in deeper leagues this week. To steal a line from the great Marcas Grant, Beasley will be "dropping bars, not passes this season!"

Trey Quinn is going to man the slot for the Redskins this season. Case Keenum will start for them to open the season and he threw to the slot 29.2 percent of the time last season, which is on par with the 28.5 percent in 2017. The last two primary slot receivers he played with is Adam Thielen and Emmanuel Sanders/DaeSean Hamilton and they thrived in that position. Quinn has gone under the radar in draft season, but that should change now that he is healthy and has the opportunity to carve out a large target share in an offense with very little proven wide receivers. Pro Football Focus also ranks this the second most favorable wide receiver matchup in Week 1, putting him in a prime position to succeed out the gate.

Ryan Switzer is not a name to trust in Week 1, but he is a player you should be monitoring. JuJu Smith-Schuster dominated from the slot last season putting up the third-most receptions (59) and yards (788) from the slot in 2018, but his role very well may changing this season. In the preseason he ran just three slot routes, while Switzer ran 12, according to Next Gen Stats. The Patriots allowed the fourth-most PPR PPG to slot receivers last year, at 22.43, so this is a very favorable matchup, but lets keep an eye on how the Steelers manage the slot this week.

Follow Michael Florio on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio.

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