NFL News | Latest NFL Football News | NFL.com

Week 9 Favorable Slot Matchups

The trade deadline was certainly not boring. There were a number of trades that will have a big effect on fantasy, perhaps none bigger than the Eagles acquiring Golden Tate from the Lions. As we know, Tate is one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. The only issue here is that the Eagles had a pretty good slot receiver of their own in Nelson Agholor. On the season, Agholor ran 24.5 routes per game from the slot, averaging 3 catches, 26 yards and 6.35 PPR points per game from the slot. For context, Tate has run 25 routes per game from the slot, and has been far more productive than Agholor, averaging 10.53 PPR PPG. I expect Agholor to still see some time in the slot, but primarily to be lined out wide while Tate runs the majority of slot routes.

This will also dampen Tate's opportunity, as he had a 27 percent target share in Detroit. That will be tough to replicate in Philly with Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffrey. All three should see slightly fewer targets per game, but being in the Eagles offense will continue to make them fantasy options you can trust going forward. As for who replaces Tate with the Lions ... keep reading to find out!

Main Targets

Sammy Watkins has yet to appear in the slot write up, largely because he wasn't running routes from the interior early in the season. Throughout the first six weeks of the season, Watkins ran only 10.7 routes per game from the slot and averaged 3.7 PPR PPG. That all changed in Week 7 when he ran 20 routes from the slot and then in Week 8 when it translated into fantasy production. This past week, he ran 13 routes from the slot and had four catches for 53 yards and a TD, racking up 15.3 fantasy points. As we know, moving to the slot can really boost the fantasy value for a wide receiver and it has done so for Watkins. This week, he faces the Browns who have allowed 86.8 receiving yards per game and three touchdowns to players in the slot since Week 4. Watkins has been a high ceiling WR3 this season, but the move to the slot makes him easier to trust. You can value him as a WR2 this week.

Jarvis Landry is a regular in this column cause he is one of the most reliable slot receivers in all of football. That shouldn't change this week as he faces the Chiefs high-powered offense and weak defense, which is a match made in heaven for opposing wideouts. Since Week 6 the Chiefs have allowed 15.33 PPR PPG to enemy slot receivers, the 10th most in the NFL in that span. They have also allowed 74 receiving yards per game and a touchdown in that span, which bodes well for Landry. Add in the fact that he has seen 10 or more targets in all but one game this season and Landry is a very reliable WR2, especially in PPR leagues.

Danny Amendola once appeared as a deep sleeper, but he has proven to be a reliable option with the Dolphins so banged up at WR, scoring at least 13 PPR points in three straight games. Expect that streak to continue this week as he faces a Jets team that has allowed over 21.44 PPR PPG since Week 4. During that streak, the Jets are allowing 97 receiving yards and five touchdowns to slot receivers. Amendola has averaged the ninth most PPR points from the slot over the past three weeks and can be used as a WR3 or flex in PPR leagues.

Willie Snead faces the Steelers this week who have certainly been vulnerable to slot receivers as of late. The Steelers have allowed 22.5 PPR PPG to slot receivers since Week 4, the second most in the NFL. During that stretch, they've allowed an average of 90 receiving yards per game to slot receivers, as well as four touchdowns. Snead averages just under 28 routes per game from the slot and just last week he had five catches for 54 yards out of the interior. He goes under the radar, but Snead has seen at least seven targets in five straight games. Snead does not have the highest ceiling, but he provides a very safe floor in this matchup.

Randall Cobb has been up and down this season, but this week he has a favorable matchup as he faces the Patriots who have allowed 19.3 PPR PPG to slot receivers since Week 5, the fifth highest mark in that span. While he only ran 14 routes from the slot last week, he has averaged 33.8 routes/game on the season. Over the last month the Patriots are allowing 91 receiving yards per game and three touchdowns to slot receivers. Due to his usage last week he is a little volatile, but it is possible that the Packers were just easing him back into the mix. Still, given the usage before his injury and the favorable matchup -- Cobb is a high-upside WR4 this week.

Who to pick on the Bucs with this week?

On paper the Panthers may not have a slot receiver you can use to exploit the terrific matchup against the Bucs. However, it is worth mentioning that in Week 8 D.J. Moore ran five routes from the slot and was targeted on four of them. He caught each target for 71 yards and 11.1 PPR points. I would expect his usage in the slot to increase this week, and even if it doesn't the Panthers seem to put him there on plays specifically designed for him to exploit a mismatch. He does not need a high volume of routes from the slot to pick on the Bucs, who have allowed by far the most points to slot receivers. The Bucs allow 28.14 PPR PPG to opposing slot wideouts, nearly seven points higher than any other team allows on average. Moore has a great chance to score this week and is a legitimate WR2.

Moore is not the only player that can exploit this great matchup. In Week 8, Greg Olsen ran a team-high 20 routes from the slot. It did not translate to much fantasy production (just one catch for 17 yards) but he did catch a touchdown for a second straight game. That streak has a great chance of continuing as the Bucs not only struggle against those in the slot, but they've allowed four touchdowns to TEs this season. No team is allowing more fantasy points per target to tight ends than the Bucs.

Deep Sleepers

Seth Roberts runs the most routes from the slot for the Raiders, just ahead of Jordy Nelson, who also gets a boost in this matchup. The 49ers have allowed 17.10 PPR PPG to slot receivers since Week 5, the eighth most in that span. Roberts found the end zone last week and could do the same this week in the favorable matchup. Jordy Nelson is a floor-WR4 this week, while Robert is an upside flier for those in deeper formats.

T.J. Jones is a name that you should become familiar with. With Golden Tate now in Philly, someone has to replace the 25 routes per game he ran from the slot. Jones has been used very sparingly this season, but he has averaged 6.5 routes per game from the slot. We do not have much to go by based on his usage this season, but it is worth mentioning that in 2017, Jones ran the second most slot routes for the Lions behind Tate. Sure, Jones will not replicate Tate's production, let alone his 27 percent target share. Still, there is a huge void in production and Jones is certainly worth picking up in deep formats. This week, the Lions face the Vikings who rank 15th in the NFL in PPR PPG allowed to slot receivers. With six teams on a bye, you could do worse in 14-team leagues.

-- 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.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.