In Week 5, we saw the receiving landscape shift in fantasy football; to all Justin Jefferson managers, I am sorry for your loss to IR. Congratulations on the regression back to the mean to all Ja’Marr Chase and DeAndre Hopkins managers.
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Welcome back for Week 6, and four more key matchups for all of our receivers heading into another fantasy weekend.
The elites outside – Week 6 wide receiver matchups
Seattle Seahawks vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals enter Week 6 after their best overall coverage performance of 2023. The Seahawks have traditionally been a “run first” team, but this week offers serious opportunities for their receivers. The wide corners in Cincinnati are DJ Turner II and Cam Taylor-Britt; Turner has been rock solid, allowing only 33 yards (PFF) in coverage, but Taylor-Britt is more vulnerable, typically being targeted further down the field (aDoT 18.9, PFF).
I see the Seahawks trying Tyler Lockett deep in play action when he draws the matchup with Taylor-Britt; Lockett is well overdue for his first completion of over 20 yards after being targeted seven times on such routes this season (PFF). Lockett should be a valuable WR2/flex-start; do not sit him if you are weighing options for that spot. DK Metcalf is listed in my program at 6’3”, 229 lbs; when I turn the page, I find Turner II and Taylor-Britt both at 5’11”, with Turner II weighing only 180 lbs.
I hope Shane Waldron has Metcalf in the center of the game plan, as he will simply overpower these two with his size. As long as the targets are there, DK can have his best performance of the year, adding to his already outstanding receiving grade of 80.1 (PFF).
Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins (hopefully), and Tyler Boyd will square off with Tariq Woolen and Michael Jackson on the outside and Devon Witherspoon in the slot. The Seahawks have a spotty pass rush (their 11-sack game was against the Giants), and with Joe Burrow’s calf looking better by the week, I expect Chase to be a rock-solid foundation for his managers’ receiving lineups.
Witherspoon appears to be a standout rookie, and with Tyler Boyd taking nearly 90% (PFF) of his snaps out of the slot, sit him if you have other options to fill in for injuries or byes. If Tee Higgins can go, I do not like his matchup when he draws Woolen or Jackson, both of which play at similar depths to the routes Higgins has run so far this year. Expect a lot of Chase and a lot of Mixon from the Bengals.
Matchup Winners: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Ja’Marr Chase
Matchup Losers: Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins
New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans
In Houston on Sunday, we have three young and consequential fantasy wide receivers on display when the Saints and Texans square off. Nico Collins is contending with the very best in the NFL when it comes to receiving grades thus far; he is 8th overall at 87.6 (PFF). Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo will challenge him and Tank Dell on the exterior.
I am out on Nico Collins this week — Lattimore and Adeboo are very stingy when it comes to breaking up passes, both of which are currently in the top five in the NFL in forced incompletion percentage (PFF). Collins has also made a big impact with YAC thus far, coming in at 4th in the NFL – Lattimore and Adebo have given up a combined 87 YAC over five weeks (PFF).
Tank Dell and Robert Woods may be the better options for fantasy lineups as both come into the slot at a higher rate than Collins, where they will find Alontae Taylor. Taylor is the weakest of the three corners by a significant margin when it comes to competitive passer rating (PFF), and his aDoT is much shallower (7.5, PFF) than that of Tank Dell (12.5, PFF). Bringing Dell into the slot and attacking Taylor down the field may be a match-up CJ Stroud tries to expose against this secondary.
Chris Olave is yet to log a stand-out fantasy performance in 2023, although we know he is more than capable- Olave is playing at similar rates out wide (55.1%, PFF) and in the slot (43.1%, PFF). Playing Olave in the slot this week against Grayland Arnold should allow him to bring in multiple catches; Arnold is allowing completions on 83.3% (PFF) of targets. The fact that Olave can play outside will also offer opportunities against Ka’Dar Hollman and Steven Nelson.
Nelson is an impressive coverage corner, playing 189 coverage snaps in 2023 (PFF) and conceding a quarterback rating of just 54.2. Hollman has had limited action out wide this season, so Derek Carr may try to find Olave and Michael Thomas in that matchup. I am banking on Olave breaking out for his managers finally in Week 6 and support starting Thomas in a flex spot.
Matchup Winners: Tank Dell, Chris Olave, Michael Thomas
Matchup Losers: Nico Collins
Detroit Lions vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Detroit Lions are currently ranked 3rd in the NFL in overall receiving (PFF). Amon-Ra St. Brown is trending for a return to the gridiron in Week 6 and will be accompanied by Josh Reynolds and Sam LaPorta at tight end to round out the stellar pass-catching group.
The Buccaneers will most likely be throwing Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis at them out wide, with Christian Izien manning the slot. St. Brown and Reynolds will hold an advantage running their routes regardless of where they lineup; their near elite receiving grades, 82.4 and 82.9, respectively (PFF), will outweigh the coverage grades of all members of the Tampa Bay secondary. St. Brown should maintain his high floor this week, and Reynolds will add to the three touchdowns he has already brought in with Dean covering him as much of Carlton Davis’ attention may be drawn to Amon-Ra; do not sit Reynolds.
I am fading LaPorta this week as he will spend most of his time dealing with Devin White and Lavonte David, who are nearly identical in coverage and are yet to concede a touchdown through the air in 2023(PFF). LePorta should catch the ball in the middle third of the field inside 10 yards, but the ceiling will not be there.
If Mike Evans is able to go in Week 6, he will be matched up with Jerry Jacobs more often than not- I expect Evans to go off in this matchup as Jacobs is not used to being targeted more than 12 yards (PFF) down the field and the bulk of Big Mike’s production has been on deep targets in 2023. Evans has posted over half of his yardage, two of three touchdowns, and nearly a perfect receiving grade (99.6) on targets over 20 yards (PFF).
Chris Godwin is more likely to see Cameron Sutton lining up to Baker Mayfield’s right on over half of the snaps he’s played this season (PFF). I expect Godwin to be productive as he outgrades Sutton and can capitalize underneath where most of his receptions have come. Keep an eye out for Godwin in the red zone, where I believe he will be moved outside to draw Sutton and avoid the rookie Brian Branch in the slot if he is able to go. This game is friendly for fantasy managers- bet the over, the total is too low at 43.5 (Caesars).
Matchup Winners: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin
Matchup Losers: Sam LaPorta
Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Cowboys will look to bounce back after being eviscerated on Sunday Night Football by the 49ers in Week 5. Keenan Allen is one of the premier slot talents in the NFL; his opposite this week will be Jourdan Lewis, who is coming off his worst coverage grade of the season against San Francisco. Allen is being targeted primarily under 20 yards, which could limit his big play ability in the middle of drives. He has been extremely efficient at that depth, however, and should tally plenty of targets head-to-head with Lewis as Justin Herbert will try to get the ball out quickly with Micah Parsons coming after him.
On the outside, Joshua Palmer has been the recipient of the majority of targets following the loss of Mike Williams for the remainder of the season. Palmer is overmatched out there this week with Stephon Gilmore and DaRon Bland eyeing him; Palmer should take a seat on your bench if he is in your flex rotation.
CeeDee Lamb has a massive advantage coming inside this week against Ja’Sir Taylor- Lamb grades out in receiving in 2023 at 75.0 (PFF) versus the 50.6 (PFF) in coverage for Taylor. These two have identical aDoTs at 8.8 yards (PFF); I am expecting Lamb to win on talent alone. Dak Prescott should be looking for Lamb to take Taylor deep as well- Lamb and Prescott are 4/4 (PFF) on deep targets, and I am sure Dak will be itching to complete some big throws after never getting going last week. I am calling for Lamb’s best fantasy output of the season.
The Chargers are night and day with their wide corners having one very good one, Asante Samuel Jr., and another that has struggled in Michael Davis. Davis has already been beaten for four touchdowns, which could be why Samuel Jr. is moving back and forth across formations; he has nearly an even split on the left and right side.
Brandon Cooks and Michael Gallup have some upside, as I am sure Dak Prescott is aware of Davis’ vulnerability and won’t hesitate to throw a bomb to either one in man-coverage when they draw Davis. I would hedge slightly toward Gallup catching a long touchdown as he is running the better deep routes (20 yards +) thus far in 2023 with a grade of 83.6 (PFF) against the 57.3 (PFF) of Cooks on such targets.
Matchup Winners: Keenan Allen, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup
Matchup Losers: Joshua Palmer
Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s (SEA) NFL career has gotten off to a slower-than-expected start, registering only 18 targets (PFF) through five games. His matchup with Chidobe Awuzie this week in the slot could open the door for a coming-out party. Awuzie hasn’t been tested much this year, but when he has been targeted, quarterbacks have a rating of 137.8 (PFF) and are completing 85.7% (PFF) of their throws.
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