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Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 1

Week 1 of the NFL season is upon us and considering how little offensive and defensive starters played this preseason, we don't have much to go off of to project how new players and coaches will impact teams on both sides of the ball.  Early on in the season, we will need to use 2018 data and project how new players and coaches will make an impact until we have a representative sample of data to rely on for the 2019 season.  Until then, we will do our best to help you construct your DFS rosters and set your seasonal-league lineups with wide receivers that have advantageous matchups.

Nothing is more important than matchup analysis when it comes to fantasy football. Playing your teams’ best players on a regular basis is important, but picking apart the top matchups on a week-to-week basis can win you a championship, or even better, some cold hard cash in DFS. Matchups for the wide receiver position aren’t always as black and white as they can be for other positions. Receivers need to be broken down even deeper by analyzing the potential cornerback matchup they’re going to draw. This is especially true in potential shadow coverage cases such as any time an X receiver plays against Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals. The data used here such as fantasy points allowed per route covered, and percentage of routes run on the left side, right side, and in the slot, is courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 1. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the DFS games.

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WR/CB Matchups to Target in Week 1

Dante Pettis ($6,500 Fanduel/$5,400 DK) vs Carlton Davis

Dante Pettis is the 49ers best wide receiver and Kyle Shanahan will move him around the formation to put him in good situations to get the ball.  In 2018, Pettis lined up on the left side of the formation 43% of the time and played 40% of his snaps out of the slot.  Although Pettis may see some of Tampa’s best CB Carlton Davis on Sunday, he will inevitably see M.J. Stewart when he lines up in the slot and even a little Vernon Hargreaves as he moves around the formation, both of who are not good.  The Bucs were terrible against the pass in 2018 and did nothing in the offseason to improve their pass defense. Regardless of where the second-year wide receiver lines up for the 49ers this weekend, he will have a great matchup and he’s a good bet to come through in a game that Caesars expects to put up 50 total points.

Pivot: Marquise Goodwin ($5,400 Fanduel/$4,000 DK) vs Vernon Hargreaves

This game should have around 50 points scored according to the betting lines and no matter who Goodwin lines up on, he’s going to have a tremendous advantage in the speed department with his 4.27 wheels as Tampa Bay’s starting cornerbacks are all 4.5+ guys.


Brandin Cooks ($7,000 Fanduel/$6,500 DK) vs Donte Jackson

Donte Jackson is one of the only cornerbacks in the NFL that has the wheels (4.32 forty) to keep up with LA Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks.  Regardless of Jackson's speed, the second year corner can be beaten.  In 2018 Jackson was only targeted on 16% of the routes he covered, but when he was challenged, he gave up a 74% catch rate, .39 fantasy points per route covered and 1.81 yards per route covered.  Cooks had 22 receptions of 20 or more yards in 2018 and four of those went for over 40.  The Rams deep threat is a good bet to pop off a long one on Sunday, especially since this game could shoot out.  According to Caesars, this game will have a total of 49.5 points.


Tyler Boyd ($6,900 Fanduel/$5,800 DK) vs Seahawks Slot Cornerback Ugo Amadi/Akeem King

The Legion of Boom is no more in Seattle. It’s unclear who the Seahawks will deploy in the slot to start the year and they may actually take a committee approach covering opposing slot receivers. Until we have a few games of data to evaluate, we can only speculate who the Seahawks slot corner will be based off training camp reports. The over/under on this game is fairly low at 44 points, but the Bengals are without AJ Green and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton should need to hit Tyler Boyd with plenty of short passes before Jadeveon Clowney and the re-tooled Seahawks pass rush gets to him.  Dalton may be looking to get the ball out of his hands extra quickly now that Bengals left tackle Cordy Glenn has been ruled out for Sunday.  If the Seahawks are truly still looking to figure their slot corner situation out this week, Boyd may be able to exploit that matchup as the Bengals number one option in the passing game.

Pivot: Damion Willis ($4,500 Fanduel/$3,000 DK) – If you are looking for a player with a minimum price to help you fill out a top-heavy roster or you believe the Seahawks will take out Tyler Boyd, you can take a leap of faith and put Damion Willis in your lineup.  The Bengals rookie receiver has excellent body control and could shock some people this weekend.  Only consider Willis is you are not averse to some (or a lot of) risk.


Chris Godwin ($6,900 Fanduel/$6,200 DK) vs K’Waun Williams

When Chris Godwin lines up in the slot for Tampa Bay this Sunday he will face off against K’Waun Williams who gave up .30 fantasy points per route, a 65% catch rate and 1.31 yards per route covered in 2018.  Even if the third year breakout candidate lines up outside he should line up across from 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.  Both of these matchups are wins for Godwin.  Caesars thinks that at least 50 points will be scored in this one and Godwin should be a big part of that offensive assault with Richard Sherman expected to guard Mike Evans for much of the day.


DeSean Jackson ($5,600 Fanduel/$4,500 DK) vs Quinton Dunbar

The Philadelphia Eagles move their wide receivers around the formation while the Washington Redskins cornerbacks play sides a majority of the time.  When DeSean Jackson lines up across from Quinton Dunbar the advantage will lie with DJax as Dunbar gave up .40 fantasy points per route run in 2018 along with a 67% catch rate.  Even if the 32 year-old Eagles wide receiver moves to Josh Norman’s side, he should be able to use his elite speed to beat Norman.  Although Norman is an excellent cornerback, he is not a speedster by any means and can be burned.  Jackson is arguably the best deep threat that Carson Wentz has ever had at his disposal since entering the league and if Norman doesn’t have help over the top, he can be beat.


Jamison Crowder ($5,400 Fanduel/$4,100 DK) vs Taron Johnson

NY Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson ($6,300 Fanduel/$5,200 DK) has been nursing a calf injury he suffered late in training camp and although he should play in this one, he will be lining up against Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White who shadows the opposition’s best wide receiver.  That being said, NY Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is likely to exploit matchups in the middle of the field and Jamison Crowder may be the biggest beneficiary.  Crowder should line up on Bills slot corner Taron Johnson on Sunday who gave up a 68% catch rate and .29 fantasy points per route run in 2018, advantage Crowder.

Pivot: John Brown ($5,500 Fanduel/$4,300 DK) vs Trumaine Johnson – The Jets gave up 58 plays of 20 or more passing yards in 2018 and Brown is a big play waiting to happen.  If you don’t mind some risk, Brown is a solid option at his price in his first game with the big-armed Josh Allen throwing him the ball.


Donte Moncrief ($5,400 Fanduel/$4,400 DK) vs JC Jackson/Jason McCourty

The Steelers wide receiver group is a hard one to peg to start the season now that Antonio Brown has moved on and JuJu Smith-Schuster assumes the role as the Steelers number one wide receiver.  Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore normally shadows the opposition’s top receiver, but Smith-Schuster spends much of his time in the slot when the Steelers go three-wide.  Heading into Week 1, we need to assume that Gilmore will he follow JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is priced at $8,100 Fanduel and $7,500 DK, into the slot, therefore capping his upside.  Caesars expects 50 points to be scored in his matchup which means somebody needs to catch the ball for the Steelers in what should be a high scoring game.  Donte Moncrief has had a slow start to his career but has flashed potential and he will be playing with the best quarterback he's had in years.  Moncrief should be able to do some damage against Patriots cornerbacks JC Jackson or Jason McCourty given the extra attention that will surely be paid to Smith-Schuster.


WR/CB Matchups to Target On The Monday Night DFS Slate

Michael Thomas ($8,500 Fanduel/$8,000 DK) vs Bradley Robey

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas has a 4” height advantage on Bradley Robey who gave up a 67% catch rate and .33 fantasy points per route covered in 2018.  Thomas is Drew Brees favorite passing target and this game figures to be a shoot-out with an over/under of 52.5 according to Caesars.


Emmanuel Sanders ($5,600 Fanduel/$5,300 DK) vs Lamarcus Joyner

Lamarcus Joyner was argeted on 29% of routes he covered in 2018 which was the highest mark in the NFL and although he only surrendered a 57% catch rate, he did give up 2.04 yards per route covered and .37 fantasy points per route covered.  Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders looked like he was in pre-injury form this preseason and Joe Flacco is an upgrade at quarterback from who had throwing the ball to him last year.

Pivot: Courtland Sutton ($5,900 Fanduel/$4,700 DK) – The Raiders gave up 59 passes of 20 yards or more in 2018 and Sutton is a legitimate

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