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By the Numbers

NFL Week 5 WR/CB Matchups and TE Analysis

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: October 3, 2019, 10:24 am ET

DeAndre Hopkins is busting out of his slump Sunday afternoon against the Falcons. Heard it here first.

Anyways, we're on to Week 5! I'll be breaking down the WR/CB matchups all season long with a focus on figuring out who could be facing shadow coverage as well as the best and worst overall situations. We'll also briefly touch on each team's TE group.

Rams at Seahawks

Rams Offense

LeftBrandin Cooks701894.33Tre Flowers752024.45
SlotCooper Kupp742044.62Jamar Taylor711924.39
RightRobert Woods722014.51Shaquill Griffin721944.38

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Each of Cooper Kupp (9-121-1), Brandin Cooks (6-71-0) and especially Robert Woods (13-164-0) had great days at the office in Week 4. Of course, each of their stat lines were inflated by Jared Goff nearly setting an NFL record by attempting 68 passes. Only Drew Bledsoe (70) in 1994 and Vinny Testaverde (69) in 2000 have ever thrown the ball more in a single game.

Regardless, Goff has managed to consistently keep his top-three WRs involved in their 12 games together since 2018.

Both Kupp and Cooks have had fairly extreme ups and downs against the Seahawks in their past matchups. Meanwhile, Woods has rattled off solid enough lines of 5 receptions-66 yards-0 TDs, 6-45-1, 5-92-0 and 4-89-0.

Goff's extreme home/away splits (and generally mediocre play this season) have each of the Rams WRs carrying a bit more of a lower floor than usual. Still, we have plenty of evidence that Goff can keep each consistently involved in the offense, and they're facing a defense that hasn't been tested yet this season in matchups against Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger/Mason Rudolph, Drew Brees/Teddy Bridgewater and Kyler Murray.

TE Breakdown: Gerald Everett (5-44-1) saw a career-high eight targets last week, while Tyler Higbee's (4-41-0) seven targets were one away from his career-high mark. They are the main outlier producers from Goff's aforementioned ridiculous pass-game volume. Both are fine enough real-life TEs, but don't chase this production in fantasy.

Seahawks Offense

LeftD.K. Metcalf752284.33Marcus Peters721974.53
SlotTyler Lockett701824.4Nickell Robey-Coleman671694.53
RightJaron Brown742054.45Aqib Talib732024.44

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Metcalf showed off his floor with a 1-6-0 line in Week 4, but continued to get all sorts of fantasy-friendly targets. Overall, his seven end zone targets this season are tied with Kenny Golladay for the most in the league (per ESPN's Mike Clay). Continue to invest in Metcalf before an inevitable boom week comes to fruition.

Lockett underwhelmed in Week 4 with a 4-51-0 line on just four targets. This is an unfortunate weekly possibility due to OC Brian Schottenheimer's undying loyalty to running the ball, particularly when they're facing a cake opponent like the Cardinals.

Blowout game script shouldn't be an issue for Lockett this week. He remains locked in as Russell Wilson's undisputed No. 1 target and is set up well against a secondary he had his way with in 2018.

Jaron Brown has been slowly losing snaps to David Moore. Neither are on the fantasy radar with part-time roles in this run-first offense.

TE Breakdown: It's Will Dissly szn whether you're ready or not. The second-year TE has posted 5-50-2, 6-62-1 and 7-57-1 lines on an average of 6.7 targets per game over the past three weeks. His 79% snap rate in Week 4 was a career high after the Seahawks shipped Nick Vannett off to Pittsburgh. Fantasy's PPR TE6 won't find the end zone every week, but he's still set up to work as an every week TE1 as long as he maintains this level of volume and chemistry with Wilson. This holds true even in a tough matchup against a Rams Defense that has allowed the 10th-fewest PPR to TEs this season. 

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Jaguars at Panthers

Jaguars Offense

LeftChris Conley742134.35Donte Jackson711784.32
SlotDede Westbrook721784.44Ross Cockrell721914.56
RightD.J. Chark751994.34James Bradberry732114.45

Projected shadow matchups: D.J. Chark vs. James Bradberry

WR/CB breakdown: Lost in Minshew Mania is the fact that Chark has emerged as one of the league's top young WRs. Specifically, he's posted 4-146-1, 7-55-1, 4-76-1 and 4-44-0 lines to start the season. Last week's somewhat pedestrian performance would've been better if Chark's 18-yard touchdown wasn't negated by a penalty.

The man is balling.

Up next is Chark's toughest matchup to date against Bradberry, who has won each of his shadow matchups this season against Mike Evans (4-61-0) and DeAndre Hopkins (5-41-0).

Chark is clearly the Jaguars best WR, but the offense has been fairly spread out in the passing game through four weeks.

Westbrook and Conley aren't dealing with easy matchups either against the Panthers' fourth-ranked defense in pass DVOA (Football Outsiders). I love Gardner Minshew as much as the next guy, but we shouldn't necessarily expect him to have more than one fantasy-relevant WR in this run-first offense. Minshew has finished with fewer than 215 passing yards in three consecutive games.

TE Breakdown: Neither O'Shaughnessy nor Swaim are realistic fantasy options as long as they continue to split snaps and targets alike, particularly against the Panthers' fifth-ranked defense in fewest PPR allowed to the TE position.

Panthers Offense

LeftD.J. Moore722104.42A.J. Bouye721864.6
SlotJarius Wright701804.42D.J. Hayden711914.45
RightCurtis Samuel711964.31Jalen Ramsey732094.41

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Jalen Ramsey (back) should be considered questionable for Sunday. Even if he's active, I don't anticipate the Jaguars having him travel with either of the Panthers' outside WRs. This was the case when the Jaguars faced the Titans in Week 3, who also boast two very solid threats on the perimeter in Corey Davis and A.J. Brown.

Meanwhile, Tre Herndon would draw the start if Ramsey is again sidelined. Herndon was roasted continuously by the Broncos in Week 4, as the 2018 undrafted free agent allowed 6-of-9 targets into his coverage to be caught for 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

A matchup with Herndon would be exception news for Curtis Samuel, who has been on the wrong side of deep-ball variance to start the season.

WRs with 200-plus more air yards than receiving yards this season (per AirYards.com)

Basically, Samuel has consistently been targeted downfield, but hasn't managed to come down with many of the targets. Yet.

Moore racked up an asinine 24 targets with Cam Newton under center in Weeks 1-2 ... but has seen just seven combined targets during the Kyle Allen era. He's largely been delegated to a complementary role alongside Greg Olsen and Jarius Wright. Moore is plenty capable of taking any pass to the house thanks to his ridiculous ability after the catch, although he's tough to trust as anything other than a boom-or-bust WR3 in this tough matchup due to the volume concerns.

TE Breakdown: Olsen shredded the Cardinals' league-worst defense against TEs to the tune of a 6-75-2 line in Week 3 before falling back to earth against the Texans with a 2-5-0 performance. Christian McCaffrey is this offense's focal point, while Samuel has emerged as the featured field-stretching option. This leaves Olsen, Moore and Wright to largely fight for leftover targets for the time being. I'm treating Olsen as a low-end TE1.

Patriots at Redskins

Patriots Offense

LeftJosh Gordon752254.57Josh Norman721974.66
SlotJulian Edelman701984.57Fabian Moreau722064.35
RightPhillip Dorsett701854.33Quinton Dunbar742014.49

Projected shadow matchups: Josh Gordon vs. Josh Norman

WR/CB breakdown: The Patriots' passing game was shut down last week in Buffalo, as Tom Brady's 150 pass yards marked just the 28th time in 273 regular season games that he failed to clear that threshold.

The entire unit is fully expected to get back on track this week against the Redskins' 29th-ranked defense in pass DVOA. Only the Jets and Eagles have allowed more PPR per game to the WR position. The secondary deserves plenty of blame, but the team's dire situation on offense certainly hasn't helped keep their defense off the field.

Enter: Flash Gordon, who hasn't managed to quite breakout through four weeks. That could change in a potential shadow date against Norman. Alshon Jeffery (5-49-1) and Amari Cooper (4-44-1) each managed to find the end zone this season in shadow dates with the once-elite CB, and Norman's pedestrian 7% snap rate in the slot means that the Patriots can easily free up Gordon from the matchup if they feel like it.

Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett are also obviously set up well against the Redskins' other CBs. Quinton Dunbar deserves credit for nabbing two interceptions against the Giants in Week 4, but it's tough for any CB to consistently deal with Dorsett's speed for 60 minutes. Edelman is plenty capable of dominating any matchup, particularly if Fabian Moreau (knee) enters Sunday's game at less than 100%.

Note that Gordon (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday.

TE Breakdown: Ben Watson's suspension is over! It's unclear how big of a role he'll have in the Patriots' passing game with so many WRs and RBs involved, but the 38-year-old baller has maintained the ability to threaten defenses down the seam throughout his 15-year career. Watson is firmly in the mix as a boom-or-bust streamer option, but pretty much every DFS site saw his return coming and priced him appropriately. 

Redskins Offense

LeftTerry McLaurin722084.35Stephon Gilmore721904.4
SlotTrey Quinn712034.55Jonathan Jones691864.33
RightPaul Richardson721754.4Jason McCourty701934.35

Projected shadow matchups: Terry McLaurin vs. Stephon Gilmore

WR/CB breakdown: Colt McCoy (leg), Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum are engulfed in a three-way competition to decide who gets to be sacrificed to the Patriots' league-best defense.

McLaurin F1 (hamstring) didn't suit up last week, but appeared to be a true game-time decision based on pregame reports. He appears to at least have a shot to suit up Sunday after managing to get in a limited practice on Wednesday. Be sure to monitor our Week 5 Injury Dashboard for a full list of the week's injured players as well as their daily practice participation with estimated and official game statuses.

Regardless of McLaurin's ultimate status, it's best to stay away from these Washington pass catchers. This includes poor Trey Quinn, who broke free for sure-fire chunk plays twice in Week 4 only to be overthrown on both occasions.

The Patriots quite simply boast the league's scariest group of CBs. There's nowhere to hide.

TE Breakdown: Jordan Reed (concussion) remains without a timetable for return. Vernon Davis (concussion) is also in the protocol. Davis has played at least 70% of the offense's snaps in Reed's absence, but Davis (eight targets) and fellow backup TE Jeremy Sprinkle (seven) have been equally involved in the passing game over the past two weeks. It's best to avoid both in this brutal matchup.

Bills at Titans

Bills Offense

LeftJohn Brown701794.34Malcolm Butler701874.4
SlotCole Beasley681774.54Logan Ryan711914.56
RightZay Jones742014.45Adoree' Jackson701864.42

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: It's unclear if Josh Allen (concussion) will be cleared from the protocol by Sunday. I'd advise fantasy owners to hold tight, as Allen will face off against the Dolphins, Eagles, Redskins, Browns, Dolphins (again) and Broncos following the Bills' Week 6 bye.

Matt Barkley would draw the start if Allen is ultimately unable to suit up. Barkley has started just seven games since entering the league in 2014, but he's at least shown a willingness to test defenses downfield unlike most backup QBs. Overall, Barkley has averaged a more-than-solid 8.6 adjusted yards per attempt in limited action over the past two seasons while posting an even higher average target depth than Allen.

Barkley certainly didn't shy away from featuring the Bills' No. 1 WR in his limited action last week.

Bills targets in Week 4 with Barkley under center

The Titans rank third in DVOA against No. 1 WRs this season and are one of just nine defenses to allow fewer than nine net yards per pass attempt. They're not a matchup to target, but Smokey should at least have opportunities to roast on the outside.

TE Breakdown: Dawson Knox is slowly but surely becoming the next big thing in Buffalo. The third-round rookie's snap rates have increased in each of the past two weeks, and Knox has responded with solid 3-67-1 and 3-58-0 performances. Knox reeled in a circus catch in contested coverage last week and was fed a jet sweep (!!!) in Week 3. He still doesn't have more than four targets in a game this season, but the best could be yet to come as the Bills have the TE position's second-softest schedule in Weeks 5-8.

Titans Offense

LeftA.J. Brown722264.49Levi Wallace721794.63
SlotAdam Humphries711954.58Kevin Johnson721884.52
RightCorey Davis752094.53Tre'Davious White711924.47

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: A.J. Brown is a stud that is averaging a league-high 22.3 yards per reception. He's also erroneously stuck in a rotation as the offense's No. 3 WR with Tajae Sharpe, who has inexplicably out-snapped Brown 137-117 through four weeks. Sheesh.

The good news is that Brown (17 targets) is within shouting distance of Corey Davis (18) and Delanie Walker (23) for the team-high mark. The bad news is that it's going to be tough to expect week-to-week production in this run-first offense that features numerous TEs and RBs that are involved in the passing game as well.

This same idea hold true for both Davis and Adam Humphries. Good weeks will happen: All three WRs have proven the ability to function at a high level in this league. Unfortunately, they're battling to be the No. 2 pass-game target behind Walker on a weekly basis with a QB that hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt in terms of consistency.

Throw in a matchup against a Bills Defense that ranks among the league's top-five units in virtually every passing metric, and you should feel comfortable fading this spot.

TE Breakdown: Walker had a season-low two targets in Week 4 and responded with a brutal 1-4-0 line. Even the undisputed lead target of the Titans' passing game isn't immune to down performances. Only the Panthers (20.2) have allowed fewer receiving yards per game to the TE position than the Bills (22.6) this season. Walker is best treated as a low-tier touchdown-dependent TE1.

Ravens at Steelers

Ravens Offense

LeftSeth Roberts741964.46Steven Nelson701974.49
SlotWillie Snead711954.62Mike Hilton691784.6
RightMarquise Brown69166 Joe Haden711934.62

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: No, Lamar Jackson hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations he set as a passer in Weeks 1-2 in his last two matchups against tougher defenses.

Yes, I was brutally incorrect about predicting a blowup performance from Hollywood Brown in Week 4.

Also yes, I'm not about to shy away from this passing offense moving forward.

The Ravens have made it clear their passing game runs through Brown (34 targets) and Mark Andrews (32). Both players are among the league's top-30 most-targeted players through four weeks. Nobody else on the Ravens has more than 12 pass-game opportunities this season.

I'm hesitant in predicting a breakout for either player this week on the road against a Steelers Defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard receiver this season. Still, they've hardly been immune to solid performances, as each of Phillip Dorsett (4-95-2), Julian Edelman (6-83-0), Tyler Lockett (10-79-0), Josh Gordon (3-73-1), D.K. Metcalf (3-61-1) and George Kittle (6-57-0) have been just fine.

Both Hollywood and Andrews will have down weeks in this run-first offense as Jackson continues to mold himself as a passer. Still, both players are too talented to take a seat on your fantasy football bench regardless of the matchup.

TE Breakdown: Please see the previous sentence.

Steelers Offense

LeftDiontae Johnson701834.53Maurice Canady731934.49
SlotJuJu Smith-Schuster732154.54Brandon Carr722074.44
RightJames Washington712134.54Marlon Humphrey721974.41

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Part of the allure of the Mason Rudolph experience was the idea that his background as a gunslinger at Oklahoma State would keep the Steelers' vertically-minded pass offense afloat.

This simply wasn't the case in Week 4. The amount of pop passes the Steelers called between Rudolph and wildcat QB Jaylen Samuels was honestly nauseating.

Mason Rudolph

Rudolph's updated target distribution through 2.5 games reflects the reality that it's going to be tough for any of these WRs to rack up anything resembling the type of production we've grown accustomed to seeing over the years.

Rudolph's target distribution

Yes, Johnson has scored two touchdowns in as many weeks. Also yes, the first came on a ho-hum streak that 49ers CB Jason Verrett inexplicably stopped running on, and the second came on a completely blown coverage against the Bengals last week.

JuJu Smith-Schuster fantasy owners likely don't have many better options to roll with, but I'd generally advise against investing in these WRs in future weeks. Note that JuJu (toe) didn't practice Wednesday.

TE Breakdown: Nick Vannett caught 2-of-2 targets for 28 scoreless yards in his Steelers debut. His presence doesn't do much in fantasy other than lower Vance McDonald's ceiling and floor alike. It's going to be tough for any pass catcher to offer consistent fantasy value in this offense as long as both James Conner and Jaylen Samuels are racking up a combined 16 targets per game.

Ian Hartitz

All things NFL. Great day to be great. You can follow Ian on Twitter @Ihartitz.