Trying to figure out which matchup trends are legit, and which are just noise can be tricky. Football is a small sample size sport to begin with but breaking the schedule up into even shorter periods can be misleading. Should a slot matchup have added weight because a team has struggled all season? What if that team had a couple of bad games early on and made improvements since? If you try to look at the last month, what if the team allowed one receiver to have a big game and it skews the numbers? There are a lot of factors that you must weigh, which is exactly what I am trying to do! I attempted to find the slot matchups that have proved to be favorable over the last month AND on the season. This should cut out as much noise as possible!
Week 9 Slot Leaders
Tough Slot Matchups:
Top-5 teams (not on bye) allowing the fewest fantasy PPG to slot WR and their Week 10 opponents top slot option:
QBs Throwing to Slot the Most
Top-5 QBs in percent of passes to the slot:
Notable Slot Storylines
It appears not only can both Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu coexist in the slot, but they can both thrive! In Week 9, Edelman ran 40 slot routes, seeing seven targets and catching all of them for 44 yards. Sanu ran 19 slot routes, caught all four of his slot targets and had 20 yards and a touchdown. Both should see heavy volume as the top targets. Edelman is a must-start WR1, while Sanu is looking like a WR3 with lots of upside.
Chris Godwin is the Bucs lead slot receiver, right? Not so fast! While he still is, Mike Evans has been eating into that work. Since Week 8, Godwin has averaged 22.5 slot routes per game, while Evans is at 16. They've each seen 9 targets, but Evans has caught all nine, while Godwin has caught five. It's not close production wise, as Evans has 142 yards, two touchdowns and 35.2 fantasy points from the slot since Week 8, compared to 47 yards, no touchdowns and 10.4 fantasy points from the slot. This not only helps Evans trend up, but Godwin's arrow is pointing down. The slot usage here must be monitored moving forward.
D.J. Moore ran 10 slot routes and saw a team high three slot targets. He has only ran 17% of his routes from the slot this season, but his slot usage needs to be monitored moving forward. If he sees more slot time, it only increases his weekly floor and ceiling.
The slot has been a mess for the 49ers this year. In Week 9, Emmanuel Sanders ran nine slot routes, Deebo Samuel ran seven, Dante Pettis ran 6 and Kendrick Bourne ran 12. Samuel led them with three targets, while Sanders has two. The slot has been a mess and makes it tough to project on a weekly basis. Sanders is the only one to trust here.
Strong Slot Plays:
Jamison Crowder saw at least nine targets in a game for the third time this season last week. He turned that volume into 22.3 fantasy points, and you should be expecting big results again this week against the Giants. The GMen have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers since Week 6 (17.08) and have allowed the 10th-most on the season (15.98). Crowder has safe volume and is in a favorable matchup this week. Make sure he is in your lineup in this battle of the Big Apple.
Christian Kirk is a great play this week. Kirk is running 27.5 slot routes per game and seeing a team-high 6.7 slot targets per game. That should be turned into big points against the Bucs, who have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers this season (18.7). They have also allowed the third-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers since Week 6 (16.87). Still not sold? They allowed the second-most last year as well (19.85)! Oh, and as you see above, no QB throws to the slot more than Kyler Murray. Kirk is a great play and must be started this week. Larry Fitzgerald runs 30.9 slot routes and sees 6.0 slot targets per game this season. He may be trending downwards, but if you can't start him this week, why is he on your roster.
Tyler Boyd faces the Ravens, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers this season (17.43). They've also allowed the fifth-most since Week 6 (15.97) showing that this is a strong matchup for Boyd. And if the return of A.J. Green is scaring you, just know that Boyd averaged 17.44 fantasy PPG with Green last year and 12.82 without him. Fire up Boyd this week!
Adam Humphries gets the Chiefs, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers since Week 6 (16.53) and the eighth-most this season (16.12) Tannehill has thrown to the slot the fourth-most in the NFL this year. Humphries is likely best used in deeper leagues, but given all the byes, he is certainly on the flex radar.
Willie Snead V is in a prime matchup this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed the most fantasy PPG to slot receivers since Week 6 (22.97) and the third-most on the season (17.68). Lamar Jackson also throws to the slot the third-most in the NFL. Offenses have been picking on the Bengals all season and this week should be no different. Snead is a flex option, especially with six teams on bye.
Russell Gage is likely more of a player to watch or a bench stash, but he replaced Sanu and took over as the lead slot receiver for the Falcons in Week 8. The usage is slightly in question as it was with Matt Schaub and not Matt Ryan, but he saw eight slot targets. This week he faces the Saints, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers this season (17.38). He is a deeper league sleeper, but even if you do not need to start him, if you have a bench spot, pick up Gage and monitor his usage this week.
Increased Chance at a Touchdown:
Cooper Kupp and the Rams face a Steelers defense that has allowed a league-high seven touchdowns to slot receivers. Last week, Zach Pascal got the Steelers, scoring a touchdown on slot cornerback Mike Hilton. Kupp leads the Rams with eight red zone targets (no one else has more than four). He also has two end zone targets this season. Between the matchup and the volume, Kupp has a great chance of finding pay dirt this week.
Zach Pascal and the Colts take on the Dolphins, who have allowed a league-high seven touchdowns to slot receivers (tied with Steelers). While Chester Rogers mans the slot more often, it is Pascal that leads the Colts receivers in red zone slot routes. He also leads them with three red zone slot targets. Pascal has a good chance to score this week and should be in your lineup!
Cole Beasley has a three-game touchdown streak and has a good chance to continue that this week. He faces the Browns who have allowed six touchdowns to slot receivers, including three since Week 6. Josh Allen has been looking Beasley's way in the red zone and that should be the game plan this week in a favorable matchup.