Slot report, Week 11: Mike Evans, Godwin get boosts

The fantasy football season is only 16 weeks, but it is filled with ebbs and flows. We learn patterns and trends that help us make decisions, but it being a small sample size sport, you need to use as much information as possible to determine which matchups are strong plays. When we get this late in the season it is not just helpful to look at the recent weeks as well.

Week 10 Slot Leaders

Routes- Randall Cobb, 39

Targets- Tyreek Hill, 11

Receptions- Tyreek Hill, 8

Yards- Tyreek Hill, 129

Tough Slot Matchups:

Top-5 teams (not on bye) allowing the fewest fantasy PPG to slot WR and their Week 11 opponents top slot option:

  1. 49ers, 8.18 fantasy PPG (Christian Kirk/Larry Fitzgerald)
  1. Eagles, 8.39 fantasy PPG (Julian Edelman/Mohamed Sanu)
  1. Cowboys, 8.72 fantasy PPG (Danny Amendola)
  1. Bears, 9.08 fantasy PPG (Cooper Kupp)
  1. Bills, 9.08 fantasy PPG (Albert Wilson)

Notable Slot Storylines

There are a lot of big names with tough slot matchups this week. With that, fantasy players are going to wonder if they should be plugging them into their lineup. Look, I get that Cooper Kupp was held to no catches last week, but he had 200 yards in the game before that. Him and Julian Edelman are must start options each and every week regardless of the matchup. Christian Kirk has overtaken Larry Fitzgerald as the Cardinals top receiver. Since Week 8, he is running 35.3 routes per game, 8.7 targets, 114.67 air yards per game and 19.73 fantasy PPG. Not only is all that more than Fitzgerald, Fitz has only averaged 8.57 fantasy PPG in that span. Kirk is the top dog there now and he can be started as a WR3 despite the tough matchup. Fitzgerald on the other hand can be benched this week. While Edelman is a must start, Sanu is not. He is coming off a huge game in which he led the Patriots in targets, receptions, air yards and fantasy points. While the Eagles have been tough against the slot, their secondary has been torched by receivers this season. You can start Sanu with confidence this week. The other names above can be sat.

QBs Throwing to Slot the Most

Top-5 QBs in percent of passes to the slot:

  1. Kyler Murray, 40.8 percent
  1. Jared Goff, 40.0 percent
  1. Lamar Jackson, 39.6 percent
  1. Carson Wentz, 38.3 percent
  1. Ryan Tannehill, 38.2 percent

Studs Who Get a Boost:

Michael Thomas is a must play option every week. He is the only player in fantasy football to score 16 fantasy points in every game this season. He is also one of just two receivers with at least 50 yards in every game. Those streaks should safely continue this week against the Bucs, who have allowed the most fantasy PPG to slot receivers this season (19.79). That is a trend you can trust, as they have allowed the third-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers since Week 7 (22). That is after they allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers in 2018. He is the WR1.

DeAndre Hopkins may not look like a slot receiver, but he sure has been operating as one. He leads the Texans with 13 slot routes per game, five slot targets, and nearly eight fantasy PPG from the slot. This week he faces the Ravens in a strong slot matchup. Baltimore has allowed the fourth most fantasy PPG to slot receivers since Week 7 (18.67) and the fifth most on the season (16.51). In fact, they have allowed the most receiving yards to slot receivers (86.6 per game), which are actually easier to trust than touchdowns. The Ravens seem like a tough matchup on paper, but the slot is the place to attack them. Hopkins is a Top 5 receiver this week.

Tyreek Hill is a must-start option each and every week. But his added usage from the slot only increases his weekly floor. Just look above at the weekly leaders and you will see the damage he did from the slot in Week 10. Look for that to continue this week against the Chargers, who have allowed the fifth most slot receptions to receivers since Week 7. The Chargers have also allowed 75.5 receiving yards per game to slot receivers since Week 7, the ninth-most in that span. Hill needs to be started every week, but he gets an added bump in value.

Mike Evans has been running more from the slot as of late. Since Week 8 he is running 17 slot routes per game, while seeing 4.3 slot targets. In that span he has 207 yards and two touchdowns out of the slot. His teammate, Chris Godwin is averaging 23 slot routes per game since Week 8, but he is seeing just as many targets as Evans (4.3). Since Week 8 he has 101 yards and no touchdowns out of the slot. Both get a boost this week against the Saints, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers this season (16.17). Godwin went off for 31.5 fantasy points in the first matchup against the Saints this year, while Evans put up a zero. Despite that, I like Evans as the stronger play here this week. Both are WR1's, but Evans should be the higher valued of the two.

More Slot Options:

Dede Westbrook faces the Colts, who have been stout against the run. But Westbrook this week is more about the return of Nick Foles, than it is the matchup. In 2018, Foles threw to the slot 36.4 percent of the time, the second most in the NFL. In fact, only the now retired Andrew Luck did so more. Not so coincidentally, Westbrook has ran 79% of his routes from the slot, the sixth-most in the NFL. I thought these two were a matchup made in slot heaven leading into the year, and would look to start Westbrook this week with Foles back.

Hunter Renfrow has one of the most friendly slot matchups a receiver can ask for against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed the most fantasy PPG to slot receivers since Week 7 (25.77). In that span, they have allowed 119 receiving yards per game and four touchdowns to slot receiver. On the season, they have allowed the third-most fantasy PPG (17.18) to slot receivers. Renfrow has been more used as of late, running at least 22 routes and having five or more targets in two straight games. He is a nice bye week replacement.

Cole Beasley does not have the highest ceiling, but he has a very safe floor. He has broke double-digits in three of his last four, and the one game he didn't in that span he scored 9.3. He has a touchdown in three of those games and four catches for 74 yards in the other. You get the point he is safe. He also has some added upside this week against the Dolphins, who have allowed seven touchdowns to slot receivers this season, tied for the most in the NFL. They've also allowed four touchdowns to slot receivers since Week 6, which is also tied for the most in the NFL in that span. Beasley is a good flex option this week.

Randall Cobb saw eight targets in two straight games. In Week 10, he caught six of those targets for 106 yards and a score, putting up 22.6 fantasy points. He can build on that this week against the Lions, who have allowed the fourth most fantasy PPG to slot receivers this season (17.17). The Lions have issued 75.9 receiving yards per game and five touchdowns to slot receivers this season. Since Week 7 they have allowed the fifth most fantasy PPG to slot receivers (18.53). Cobb has been used more as of late and has a strong matchup. He is definitely a flex option this week.

The slot position has been a hard one to trust for the 49ers, but it was Kendrick Bourne leading the way for them in Week 10 with 20 slot routes and six slot targets. He caught three of them for 34 yards and a score and could build off of it in Week 11 against the Cardinals. Arizona has allowed the third-most receiving yards per game to slot receivers this season (83.4) and the second-most since Week 6 (89.4). Bourne will be in play as a flex option if either George Kittle or Emmanuel Sanders sits out in Week 6. If they both suit up, he will purely be a deep league bye week replacement.

Make sure to follow Michael Florio on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.

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