Apologies for the absence last week, but we are back in the saddle with the Elites Outside. With fantasy trade deadlines surfacing in season-long formats, it is do-or-die time to make a push for the postseason. Welcome back for Week 11!
The elites outside – Week 11 wide receiver matchups
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens (TNF)
It’s showtime in the AFC North on Thursday Night. The Ravens’ coverage unit continues to play exceptionally well and will be matched up with Ja’Marr Chase. It seems unlikely Tee Higgins will suit up on the short week; Chase and Tyler Boyd will rotate playing on the outside and in the slot. Outside, Ja’Marr Chase will see Brandon Stephens when lining up on the left side of formations. Chase should take advantage underneath in this matchup with an aDoT of 9.1 (PFF) compared to that of Stephens at 10.1 (PFF). Ja’Marr Chase is an elite talent acquiring YAC, and Brandon Stephens is approaching the top 20 in YAC allowed (PFF) in the NFL this season. Keep an eye out for Chase catching the ball behind the line of scrimmage, a depth where he has produced 179 of his 376 YAC in 2023 (PFF).
On the opposite side, Marlon Humphrey’s status is up in the air, but Chase should thrive here regardless. Humphrey has received just 17 targets in coverage in 2023 (PFF). Expect the Bengals to test him and look for the big play to Chase up against Humphrey, who gives up the highest competitive passer rating among Ravens’ corners at 92.5 (PFF). Joe Burrow has a passer rating of 105.7 (PFF) while targeting Chase on routes exceeding 20 yards. Tyler Boyd has been on a roll; this should continue if Boyd is granted opportunities out of the slot despite the likely absence of Tee Higgins. Baltimore slot corner Arthur Maulet is vulnerable, giving up over 13 yards per catch (PFF) on 71.4% (PFF) of targets. Boyd should post receptions from the slot, and this could be a red zone matchup Joe Burrow keeps top of mind.
We are well aware that Mark Andrews will be coming out of the slot; expect Bengals safety Mike Hilton to draw the assignment defensively here. Hilton has been rock solid in coverage thus far; he is yet to give up a touchdown, and opposing quarterbacks carry a rating of 77.7 (PFF) while targeting him. Andrews will need to make contested catches underneath to boost his reception total with a slightly deeper aDoT than Hilton at 8.2 (PFF). Andrews carries a contested catch rate of 42.9% (PFF) into week 11, which barely cracks the top 30 in the NFL among receivers and tight ends. Regardless, Andrews should salvage his day with a Touchdown catch; he is 6 inches taller than Hilton and has posted six touchdowns in 2023.
Zay Flowers should be splitting time on both sides of formations outside and may see some snaps from the slot. This gives him potential matchups with Cam Taylor-Britt, DJ Turner II, and Chidobe Awuzie. Fade Flowers, due to a lack of opportunities from the slot, Baltimore should be giving Andrews those looks. Flowers could be forced outside where Taylor-Britt and DJ Turner II have deep aDoTs at 16.1 (PFF) and 13.1 (PFF), respectively. This limits the big play opportunities for Flowers; he should not be used in flex slots.
Matchup Winners: Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, Mark Andrews
Matchup Losers: Zay Flowers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Buccaneers will travel from one bay to another when they take on the 49ers Sunday afternoon. San Francisco comes in graded 3rd best in coverage across the NFL(PFF), but Mike Evans and Chris Godwin present a formidable challenge to this elite unit.
Evans has posted six touchdowns in 2023 (PFF), and Chris Godwin ranks 5th overall among receivers in contested catch rate at 64.3%(PFF). Mike Evans is firmly planted on the left side of Tampa Bay formations, setting up a showdown with Deommodore Lenoir. Buy Mike Evans here; he has an aDoT of 14.9 (PFF), over 5 yards deeper than that of Lenoir. The San Francisco corner may need to turn his head to maintain coverage of the near-elite veteran Buccaneers receiver. Lenoir concedes receptions on 72.6%(PFF) of targets he receives, which ranks 59th overall (PFF) among corners in the NFL; Evans should tally a sizable reception total. Lenoir is yet to concede a touchdown in 2023 (PFF), but that changes Sunday on a deep ball; on routes over 20 yards this season, Mike Evans has a receiving grade of 98.6 (PFF) and has scored four touchdowns (PFF).
Chris Godwin will face off with Charvarius Ward in what should be a physical matchup where catches are hard-earned. Godwin and Ward play at similar depths; Godwin’s ability to make contested catches will help his reception total, but Ward has allowed only 130 YAC( PFF) on 373 coverage snaps (PFF) this season. Godwin may struggle to run with the ball, and with only a single touchdown on the board thus far, he is not a reliable WR2/Flex this week.
Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk should swap sides frequently on Sunday; they will draw Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis III of Tampa Bay. I like Brandon Aiyuk in this matchup; Davis III has allowed receptions on 70.7%(PFF) of targets and conceded the sixth most touchdowns among corners in the NFL (PFF). Aiyuk will certainly stretch Davis III’s coverage down the field, leading to potential chunk yardage plays for his fantasy output. Aiyuk should give Jamel Dean issues as well; Dean has allowed three touchdowns himself and a passer rating of 118.5 (PFF).
Fade Deebo Samuel, as his aDoT is shallower than Davis III and Dean, and the Tampa Bay duo has done well with YAC. Samuel will need to beat these two deep on routes over 20 yards, a section of the field where he has only two receptions in 2023. The Buccaneers use two linebackers to defend players like George Kittle, who are nearly identical in coverage; they are Devin White and Lavonte David. White’s status is up in the air for Sunday, but still fade Kittle. Kyle Shanahan may lean on his other weapons, with neither White nor David allowing a touchdown in 2023 (PFF).
Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Seahawks look to get their trio of receivers going against a coverage unit of the Rams that is graded 32nd (PFF) in the NFL, which would be dead last. With the alignments we have seen in 2023, Tyler Lockett will spend most of his day dealing with Akhello Witherspoon. It’s a good matchup for Lockett this week with a shallower aDoT than Witherspoon at 12.3 (PFF).
This may sound counterintuitive, but Lockett is producing on routes of 10 yards or less; on such routes, Lockett has accounted for over half of his receiving yardage total and two touchdowns (PFF). If Witherspoon decides to press Lockett, there is a risk of being beaten over the top for a long touchdown. Lockett should be considered a solid WR2. DK Metcalf will face Rams’ corner Duke Shelley on the opposite side; Shelley replaced Derion Kendrick, who was benched in Week 9 before the Rams’ bye in Week 10. While Shelley’s action has been limited in 2023, he has received a coverage grade of just 36.9 (PFF), giving up a touchdown, and allowed a competitive passer rating of 121.2 (PFF).
The Seahawks should get Metcalf the ball, no questions asked. This is a potential spike week for DK Metcalf; he has WR1 upside. Jaxon Smith-Njigba continues to trend in the right direction and will be working out of the slot against Cobie Durant of the Rams. While JSN does outgrade Durant in receiving vs. coverage, fade the rookie slot receiver. The Seahawks should have better opportunities throwing on the outside with Metcalf and Lockett. JSN has been impressive in YAC scenarios, but Durant has conceded only 90 YAC (PFF) all season and has the deeper aDoT. JSN may find receptions underneath, but they may lack productivity.
We should see Cooper Kupp spend more time out wide this week; the best Seahawks corner in 2023 has been rookie Devon Witherspoon, who plays in the slot. Witherspoon is allowing catches on just 47.8% (PFF) of targets. Kupp has played more snaps on the left side of formations, leading him to Tariq Woolen of the Seahawks. Woolen is the most vulnerable piece of this coverage group, allowing three touchdowns already with an aDoT of just 9.7 (PFF). Kupp has an aDoT of 11.4 (PFF) and will get running mate Matthew Stafford back to help expose this matchup. Kupp should score his second touchdown of the year come Sunday. Puka Nacua should spend most of his game aligned with Seahawks’ corner Tre Brown, who is putting together a nice coverage season.
Fade Puka Naqua, as he continues to recover from a knee injury, will face a corner in Brown that does not allow YAC, his strongest category. Nacua is 8th overall among receivers in YAC (PFF)this season, but Brown has allowed only 57 yards total in the category on 215 coverage snaps (PFF). Brown holds the deeper aDoT; Nacua will catch the ball and be stopped; consider him a flex player this week.
Matchup Winners: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Cooper Kupp
Matchup Losers: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Puka Nacua
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs (MNF)
Congratulations to A.J. Brown’s managers! The Eagles’ receiver is having a career year on the field and a career year in fantasy production as well. Against the Chiefs on Monday Night, Jalen Hurts will have a major advantage throwing the ball when Brown is covered by Chiefs’ corner Jaylen Watson. Watson has allowed five touchdowns in 2023 on just 25 targets (PFF). Brown’s receiving grade is 91.8 (PFF) on the season, and the coverage grade of Watson is 51.6 (PFF).
Brown will ask Watson to cover him further down the field than he is used to with the deeper aDoT as well. He will play side to side in formations, and opposite Jaylen Watson is Chiefs corner L’Jarius Snead. Snead does not have a spectacular coverage grade either at 55.1 (PFF) but is buttoned up in reducing fantasy output. Snead has not given up a touchdown in 2023 and allowed a passer rating of just 64.5 (PFF). All things considered, Brown is capable of beating Snead; he should have plenty of opportunities against lesser opponents and continue his elite fantasy production.
Devonta Smith is a tough call in this game. He has scored two touchdowns in his last two outings and has advantages against both Chiefs cornerbacks. But his sporadic production throughout the season makes it hard to predict if the Eagles will expose the Chiefs through the air with Smith. Fade Devonta Smith; the Eagles may protect the football with their run game on the road and look to AJ Brown primarily through the air.
The Chiefs are an anomaly at 7-2, carrying just one consistent starter in fantasy football, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. Rashee Rice hasn’t jumped off the yardage page just yet, posting 378 (PFF) receiving yards in 2023. He has, however, caught four touchdowns from Patrick Mahomes, and the reigning MVP has a passer rating of 129.0 (PFF) while targeting Rice.
Travis Kelce continues to work predominantly out of the slot, tasking Rice with Darius Slay and James Bradberry, the duo in coverage on the outside for the Eagles. Rice is likely to catch the ball in front of these two, which will not bode well against Bradberry, but it will against Darius Slay. The veteran corner is 11th overall (PFF) in YAC allowed among corners this season. Bradberry, on the other hand, is 2nd overall among corners in touchdowns allowed, giving up six through week 10 (PFF). Regardless of which side Rice is on, he will have a chance to expose the weaknesses of a regressing pair of Philadelphia corners.
Travis Kelce is likely to draw Eagles’ safety Kevin Byard out of the slot and linebackers Nicholas Morrow and Zach Cunningham on his inline snaps. Surprisingly, fade Travis Kelce. These three Eagles defenders have not allowed a touchdown (PFF) in 2023, and with Byard carrying most of the load in coverage, Kelce may very well be limited to catching the ball underneath. Nicholas Morrow is elite among linebackers in YAC allowed, conceding the 3rd lowest yardage total among linebackers in the category throughout the NFL. Cunningham cracks the top 10 at the linebacker position in forced incompletion percentage (PFF). This corner/ linebacker combo could give Kelce issues, leading to a non-Kelce-like fantasy day.
Matchup Winners: AJ Brown, Rashee Rice
Matchup Losers: Devonta Smith, Travis Kelce
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