Slot report, Week 4: Shepard, Watkins to succeed

With three weeks in the books, we are starting to get a sense of teams strengths and weaknesses. These first three games are now giving us a useable, albeit still small, sample size. With that, I want to take a look at which slot receivers are being used the most, as well as which matchups have been exploitable and which have been tough.

Week 3 Slot Leaders

Routes- Larry Fitzgerald, 43
Targets- Nelson Agholor, 12
Receptions- Christian Kirk, 9
TD- Nelson Agholor, 2

Slot Volume Leaders:

Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk are tied for the league lead in slot targets, with 27 a piece. Both are heavily used in the Cardinals raid offense. Fitzgerald is a super safe WR2 going forward, who will flirt with being a WR1 this season. The results may not fully be there yet for Kirk, but the volume is there and usually, the production follows.

Christian Kirk and Nelson Agholor are tied for the league lead with 17 slot receptions. Agholor is useful while the Eagles receivers are banged up, but when they are at full health he becomes more of a bench receiver.

Tyler Lockett is pacing the league in slot receiving yards with 247. Larry Fitzgerald (205) is the only other player with over 200 slot yards. Lockett is starting to blossom into a WR1 before our eyes.

Nelson Agholor and Phillip Dorsett lead the NFL with three slot touchdowns each. Dorsett is averaging 15 slot routes per game and 4.5 slot targets per game, and 68.5 routes per game from the slot in Weeks 1 and 3 (no Antonio Brown). He is quickly becoming a weekly option as the Pats third target.

Tough Slot Matchups:

  1. Packers, 4.5 fantasy PPG (Nelson Agholor)
    1. Seahawks, 5.03 fantasy PPG (Larry Fitzgerald/Christian Kirk)
    2. Titans, 7.87 fantasy PPG (Mohamed Sanu)
    3. Cowboys, 9.03 fantasy PPG (Michael Thomas)
    4. Patriots, 9.37 fantasy PPG (Cole Beasley)

Studs Who Get a Boost:

Tyler Boyd is in a fantastic position to succeed this week against the Steelers who have allowed the most fantasy PPG to slot receivers this season (31.83). Additionally, they allow the most fantasy PPG to receivers in general (54.73). They have also allowed a league-leading 151.7 receiving yards per game to slot receivers and four touchdowns. Slot receivers have victimized the Steelers all season long and Boyd, with his 20 slot routes per game, will be the next.

Sterling Shepard faces a Redskins team that is allowing the fifth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers (21.23). Shepard runs 34 slot routes per game and averaged a team-high 6.5 slot targets per game. He also is coming off a huge game with Daniel Jones aka Danny Dimes. So did Evan Engram who averages 15.7 slot routes and 4.7 slot targets per game. Both get a boost this week and should be in your lineup.

Sammy Watkins may not have had big games since Week 1, but he has seen 13 and 8 targets, meaning the opportunity is there. That bodes well against the Lions, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers (20.63). Sammy Watkins averages a team-high 24 slot routes per game. But he does share it with Mecole Hardman who averages 16 slot routes per game. They are the top two slot targets as well, with Watkins averaging 6.3 and Hardman 3.0 per game.

Keenan Allen is an obvious must start option right now. But, he may be able to follow up his monstrous Week 3, as he takes on the Dolphins who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers (20.27).

More Slot Options:

Jarvis Landry faces the Ravens, who have actually allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers (21.43). Landry runs 29.7 slot routes and sees 6 slot targets per game, but he could see an uptick this week. If the Ravens are able to get pressure on Baker Mayfield and that Browns struggling O-line, Cleveland may have to settle for a lot of short, quick passes. That means volume for Landry. He is a safe WR3 in PPR leagues this week.

Randall Cobb get the Saints this week, who are allowing the second-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers (25.40). Cobb is the Cowboys top slot receiver, averaging 22 slot routes and 4 slot targets per game. He is a safe floor option in deeper leagues.

Adam Humphries broke out last week with six catchers for 93 yards on nine targets. He has a chance to repeat and have another big game against the Falcons, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers (19.07). Humphries averages 18 slot routes and 3.3 slot targets per game. Delanie Walker gets a boost as well, as he averages 11.7 slot routes and 4.3 slot targets per game.

You can follow Michael Florio on Twitter at @MichaelFFlorio

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