Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. Ladarius Webb (BAL)
- In the three games (left after 4 snaps in Week 5) Devante Parker has missed, Landry is averaging just under 7 receptions on 11.6 targets, 67 receiving yards and more importantly has scored a TD in 3 straight games, something he's never done before in his career. It's only the second time he's ever had back-to-back TD games in his 4-year career. His YPR over the first three games of this season, an excruciatingly low 6.64 but that number has shot up to nearly 10 from Weeks 5-7.
- While Baltimore's pass defense is among the best in the league, that only holds true for their outside CBs and standout safety Eric Weddle. Ladarius Webb, the Ravens slot CB, on the other hand has been the weak link in this group.
- Webb has graded out 71st overall of 78 CBs playing in Week 8, defending 97% of his routes from the slot. He's been targeted on 21% of the routes he's covered which is tied for 7th most in the NFL. Landry, on the other hand, is being targeted on 30% of his routes, ranking 3rd in the NFL behind only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Webb also ranks 75th in receiving yards allowed per route covered (2.05).
- DeVante Parker has been practicing on a limited basis this week, but is definitely questionable as they get a short week, starring on TNF. If he does wind up playing, he'll be less than 100% with a really rough matchup against Jimmy Smith.
- Look for Matt Moore to play, well, not like Jay Cutler and settle for efficient, short passes over the middle to Landry all night. In his career, Landry averages nearly 3.5 half-point PPR FPs more per game (8 games) with Moore at QB than without him (46 games). Fire up Landry as a high-end WR2 in PPR formats, and a mid-WR2 in standard.
Nelson Agholor (PHI) vs. K'Waun Williams (SF)
- Agholor, who runs 86% of his routes from the slots gets a ribeye juicy matchup with SF's slot CB K'Waun Williams.
- The Eagles 2015 1st round pick has been one of 2017's biggest fantasy and real life surprises, running away with the starting slot role following the departure of Jordan Matthews. Agholor is now sitting at WR9 in standard fantasy leagues. He has the 13th highest YPR in the NFL among WRs with more than 25 targets (70 WRs) and has been making big play-after-big play for the red-hot Carson Wentz. Agholor is sitting behind only Jordy Nelson, Michael Crabtree and DeAndre Hopkins with 5 receiving touchdowns on the season and has scored in 3 straight games heading into Sunday's throw down.
- According to PFF, Agholor has the single highest "advantage" of any WR-CB matchup in Week 8. Agholor has a 3-inch height advantage, weighs 15 pounds more than Williams and is more than a tenth of a second faster than the 49er on his 40-time.
- According to Football Outsiders, SF's DVOA versus opponent's WRs is ranked 28th in the NFL. Nothing about this game is going to be pretty for the California based team traveling cross-country as 12.5 point underdogs.
New England Patriots WRs/CBs vs. Los Angeles Chargers WR/CBs
- There's some insightful analysis to be had on both sides of the ball in this matchup. On the LA side, Casey Hayward and the Chargers are coming off a 21-0 win over the Broncos. Hayward shadowed Demaryius Thomas on 84% of his routes, not allowing a single catch on 2 targets. He's been lights out this year as a shadow corner, which has been in 4-of-7 games. PFF expects Hayward to shadow Patriots WR Brandin Cooks on Sunday, which could make sense seeing as he's playing a legitimate outside WR role for the Pats in 2017, running just 19% of his routes from the slot, compared to Chris Hogan (52%) and Danny Amendola (88%). Outside of Week 1, when Hayward shadowed Demaryius Thomas who posted a mediocre 4-64 line against him, his shadowed opponent's (Alshon Jeffery, Amari Cooper, Demaryius Thomas 2nd time) have combined for 2 catches and 20 yards on 7 targets.
- Both outside CBs for LAC, Hayward (7th) and Trevor Williams (9th), rank as Top-9 PFF graded CBs on the year. I'm not exactly sure how this will play out for Hogan and Cooks in terms of coverage, but it'll prove to be a tough matchup regardless. LAC's Football Outsiders DVOA versus opponent's WR1 ranks 12th in the NFL while they rank 3rd versus WR2s. Allowing just 185 passing yards per game to opponent's, this is one of the toughest matchups in the NFL for incoming WRs.
- On the other side of things, Keenan Allen has a gorgeous matchup against this New England who will again be without slot CB Eric Rowe due to a torn groin. With Rowe out, Jonathon Jones will play the slot. Jones has a PFF grade of 62.4 on the szn, the 75th ranked CB in the league. The Patriots have been much better over the last couple of weeks on defense, but that doesn't mean they're not still allowing the NFL's most passing yards per game to opponents (310).
- Patriots outside CB Stephon Gilmore has returned to a limited basis of practicing after sitting out since their matchup with TB in Week 5. If active, Gilmore and Malcolm Butler should man the outside and project to have success against under-performing Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, so I wouldn't fire either of them into your lineups unless you're extremely desperate given that Mike Williams has returned and will splits snaps here as well.
Kelvin Benjamin/Devin Funchess (CAR) vs. Robert McClain/Brent Grimes (TB)
- While this has been the case almost every week, the two monsters on the outside for Carolina boast an 8-inch and 6-inch height advantage over the CB lining up across from them this week in Tampa.
- Both McClain (68-of-78) and Grimes (49-of-78) have graded poorly this year per PFF and the team as a whole has been a slump-buster for any passing offense in 2017. TB trails only the Patriots and Colts in passing yards allowed per game (295). The Bucs rank dead last in coverage DVOA on opponent's WRs in 2017 per Football Outsiders. They have only 7 sacks on the season, lowest total of any NFL team and 3 less than the next lowest New York Jets defense. Cam should have all day in the pocket to let his WRs exploit their matchups down the field. Already ranking 12th among QBs in air yards on the year, expect Superman to crack the top-10 following Sunday's tilt.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) vs. Quandre Diggs (DET)
- Given the recent turmoil in Pittsburgh with Martavis Bryant, the rookie slot WR JuJu Smith-Schuster will probably be a popular play in DFS and flex spots for fantasy owners. No Martavis, JJSC is hot, Slay draped on Brown, what could go wrong? I'm here to pump the breaks.
- The rookie was already playing in 65-70% of the teams snaps as it was, and he'll remain in the slot despite the absence of Bryant. His play time will increase minimally, if at all this week.
- Despite the hype around Darius Slay, he's not actually the highest graded CB on Detroit this year. That belongs to Quandre Diggs, the 4th highest graded slot CB in the NFL. Diggs has limited receivers to the 6th-fewest yards/cover snap when in the slot (per Rotoworld). He's allowing just 55% of passes his way to be completed. DET overall is ranked inside the top-12 among Football Outsider's DVOA versus WR1s, WR2s and all other WRs on the year.
- JJSC isn't a bad play if you're desperate in PPR but I'm not ready to anoint him a no-brainer start in Week 8.
WRs expecting Shadow Coverage
- Brandin Cooks (NE) vs. Casey Hayward (LAC) [7th ranked CB]
- Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. Darius Slay (DET) [15th ranked CB]
- Julio Jones (ATL) vs. Morris Claiborne (NYJ) [42nd ranked CB]
- Patrick Peterson (ARZ) is the only CB that has shadowed an opposing WR every week. Morris Claiborne is the only other CB that has shadowed an opponent WR moe than 4 times this szn.
- The top five (5) rated PFF WRs that are playing in Week 8, in order, are Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Doug Baldwin and Tyreek Hill... they may be onto something here with their grading system.
- The top five (5) rated PFF CBs that are playing in Week 8, in order, are Marshon Lattimore, Jason McCourty, Tre'Davious White, Patrick Robinson, and Aqib Talib.
- Zay Jones, Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis are the lowest graded WRs in Week 8.
- Kenny Vaccaro, Kyle Fuller and Phillip Gaines are the lowest graded coverage defenders for Week 8.