As we arrive at Week 10, many fantasy leagues and their playoff seedings begin to take shape. While some teams have sewn up playoff berths already, there are still many teams on the fantasy postseason fence. For all the teams walking the barbed wire fence between contention and defeat, I continue breaking down your start or sit decisions weekly. Using our tools such as the Head to Head Tool, I will provide you with an in-depth, yet easily digested, way to look at player matchups that can give your fantasy roster an edge.
Start Sterling Shepard vs SF or Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs MIA ( Point per Reception Scoring)
Sterling Shepard is quietly putting together a stellar season. After eight games, Shepard is the WR26 in point per reception (PPR) scoring and on pace for 118 targets 80 receptions 1,084 receiving yards with four touchdowns. Shepard’s consistent volume (7.4 targets per game) has led to some ceiling games with three top-15 finishes among wide receivers.
This week Sterling Shepard takes on San Francisco’s slot corner, K’Waun Williams. This matchup sets up quite nicely for Shepard. Williams has surrendered a 65.4 percent catch rate and 96.8 rating in coverage. In primary coverage, Williams has allowed three different receivers (Golden Tate, Chris Conley, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling) to surpass the 80-yard receiving mark. Williams has seen 51.9 percent of opposing quarterback targets in man coverage. Sterling Shepard has dominated man coverage to the tune of an 81.2 percent catch rate and 135.7 quarterback rating.
With Nick Mullens playing effectively under center (yes I know it was the Raiders) behind a mauling run blocking line, the 49ers will be able to keep this contest close. With the San Francisco defense stronger versus the run (12th least rushing yards allowed per game) than the pass, the Giants will be more inclined to take to the air in this contest.
(Sterling Shepard’s Route Metrics vs K’Waun Williams’ Route Coverage Metrics via our WR/CB Matchup Tool)
After nine weeks of football, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has risen through the Packers’ wide receiver ranks to second in command behind pass catching general Davante Adams. Valdes-Scantling has done so with not only impressive production but also earning Aaron Rodgers trust, as he has yet to commit a drop this season. Valdes-Scantling has exploded onto the scene over the last four games after assuming this role. Valdes-Scantling has finished as a top-33 wide receiver in each of the previous four weeks (WR11, WR33, WR30, WR19). From Weeks 5 to 9, Valdes-Scantling has been the WR22 in fantasy points per game (14.7). With continued injury woes to Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison now on injured reserve, Valdes-Scantling has asserted a firm grasp on this lucrative role.
This week Marquez Valdes Scantling will matchup with Torry McTyer for the Dolphins. McTyer has been subpar, to say the least, allowing an 85.7 catch rate and 142.6 rating in coverage. Valdes-Scantling has been used a healthy amount down the field with 39.3 percent of his overall target volume with an average depth of target (aDot) of 13 yards or greater. On downfield targets with a 13-yard aDot or greater, McTyer has yielded an 80 percent catch rate and his only touchdown this season. This week feels like another spot where Aaron Rodgers posts Tecmo Bowl type numbers and Valdes-Scantling adds to his top-20 wide receiver weekly finish total.
(Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s Route Metrics vs Torry McTyer’s Route Coverage Metrics via our WR/CB Matchup Tool)
Start- Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Start Robert Woods vs SEA or Amari Cooper vs PHI ( Standard Scoring)
Robert Woods is the Rodney Dangerfield of wide receivers. This man gets absolutely no respect no matter his production. Woods is having one of the quietest top-12 wide receiver seasons in recent memory (currently WR9 in standard scoring). Woods has displayed both a high floor and a high ceiling this season. Woods has finished as a top-36 wide receiver in standard scoring in seven of his nine games, including four top-20 finishes. Robert Woods is currently tied for 12th in targets (74) on the season with Emmanuel Sanders. Woods has only one week on the season with less than seven targets, but even then, he finished with five receptions 101 yards and a touchdown.
Robert Woods has another plum matchup with week with Shaquill Griffin. In Griffin’s four most targeted routes (curl, out, post and slant), Woods has posted a 72.5 percent catch rate while securing two of his three touchdowns on the season. Given Woods stellar consistency and high ceiling, he will be a tough player to bench in any given week, much less a pleasant spot such as this. This game has sneaky shootout potential given the Rams pass defense woes in recent weeks, and the Seahawks ability to strike quick with the deep passes. Woods will see his usual volume of targets with room for much more if Seattle is able to keep pace with the Rams.
(Robert Woods’ Route Metrics vs Shaquill Griffin’s Route Coverage Metrics via our WR/CB Matchup Tool)
(Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Metrics against opposing Wide Receivers)
After one game in his new home as a Dallas Cowboy, Amari Cooper looked plenty comfortable in silver and blue. Cooper was the unquestioned featured and No.1 wide receiver, amassing eight targets while tying a season-high with four of those targets coming in the red zone. A new uniform did not dissuade Cooper from continuing a trend with this season. Cooper, in each game that he has garnered eight-or-more targets, has finished as a top-26 wide receiver in standard scoring.
Amari Cooper takes on a Philadelphia Eagles defense that has been vulnerable this season, especially to No. 1 wide receivers. The Eagles are in the 50th percentile or worse in receiving yards, receptions, and target share allowed.
Cooper will see a lot of Ronald Darby in this game. Darby has allowed 70 or more yards to his primary coverage receiver in four of his eight games. Darby has seen 49.2 percent of opposing quarterback targets in zone coverage surrendering a 62.5 percent catch rate and a 99 rating. Cooper has excelled versus zone coverage with a 105.4 rating against and a touchdown.
Considering the price that the Cowboys paid to acquire Amari Cooper and their dire need for a No. 1 receiver, look for this to be another week of force-fed targets versus a funnel defense in Philadelphia.
Start- Robert Woods
Start Josh Gordon vs TEN or Marlon Mack vs JAC (Standard Scoring)
Josh Gordon has defied the odds and returned to prominence as an upper echelon wide receiver in both “real football” and fantasy alike. Sitting here typing this, I will begrudgingly admit that I had my doubts in Gordon’s chances to do so considering that he was switching teams midseason and entering a complicated scheme that has eaten other talented receivers alive.
Josh Gordon has played 82 percent or more of the snaps over the last four games for New England. Since assuming the starting role, Gordon is the WR19 in standard scoring, surpassing 100 yards receiving twice. Gordon has also been active in the red zone with four red zone targets over his last four games as a starter for the Patriots.
Josh Gordon gets a heavenly matchup this week with former Patriot Malcolm Butler. Before we get to these two players, let’s take a short walk down narrative street. With Butler garnering plenty of press for his Super Bowl benching, tell me Coach Bill would not love to prove his point further by featuring his new playmaker against his former disgruntled corner. OK, now let’s turn the corner and get to the matchup.
Josh Gordon has been heavily targeted on go and slant routes so far by Tom Brady. Malcolm Butler has given up four of his touchdowns in these routes as well as a 104.2 or higher rating. Gordon has only secured 25 percent of the targets on these routes but considering the aDot on such routes is 16.4 yards and much greater this low conversion rate can be faded to a small extent. Butler is in store for a long day versus Gordon who is looking quite comfortable in his new home.
(Josh Gordon’s Route Metrics vs Malcolm Butler’s Route Coverage Metrics via our WR/CB Matchup Tool)
Since returning from early season injury woes, Marlon Mack has been everything that the Colts could have hoped for in a starting running back. From Week 6 to 8, Mack is the RB3 in standard scoring with two top three weekly finishes. Mack has been handling a heavy workload over this three-game stretch with 20.3 touches per game that has amounted to 133.6 total yards per game.
This week, Marlon Mack takes on the highly respected Jacksonville Jaguars defense. This season the Jags have not lived up to their elite billing versus opposing running backs. Overall this season the Jaguars are allowing the ninth most rushing yards per game (123.2 per game) total and 88.1 per game to the running back position specifically which is only in the 56th percentile. The Jaguars rank no better than the 64th percentile against both rushing touchdowns and yards per carry allowed per game.
In a game with Andrew Luck under center, the Jaguars defense must respect the passing game in the sense that they can’t sell out to stop Mack in the run game. With the Jaguars struggling at times versus the run and the Colts run game and their offensive line gelling at exactly the right time, look for Mack to find room to run in this game.
(Marlon Mack’s per game results vs Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive Metrics versus Running Backs)
Start- Josh Gordon
Derek also writes for Gridiron Experts, Fantasy Data, & is a co-author of the 2019 Fantasy Football Black Book. Weekly guest on Sirius Fantasy Sports Radio and expert consensus ranker at FantasyPros. Born in Louisiana he is a diehard Saints fan. Derek now resides Fort Worth, Texas with his beautiful, football loving wife and three kids.