Receiver plays are a week-to-week thought process, due to a variety of outside factors impacting receiver performance. One of the best ways to predict who will break out is by examining their secondary opponents for that individual game. Every week of the season, Sam Smith will take a look at advantageous matchups for receivers against vulnerable secondaries, whether it be schematic advantage or merely a weaker cornerback head up on a star receiver. Let’s get into some NFL Matchups and give out some NFL DFS picks for your fantasy football lines, Week 3 on DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo and FantasyDraft, including Cooper Kupp and Chris Godwin.
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Lions @ Eagles: Kenny Golladay vs. Ronald Darby
Ronald Darby‘s recovery from ACL surgery is likely contributing to his early season struggles. Perhaps with another week of full practice under his belt, Darby will be back up to his stronger form, but he’s coming off a rough game in which both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley were able to pick up chunk yardage with Darby in coverage. And while Kenny Golladay got most of his 117 yards against the Chargers working against a struggling Brandon Facyson, he also pulled in a long touchdown over All-Pro Casey Hayward. The Lions have found ways to get Golladay isolated and Stafford has already targeted him 19 times in only two games.
For the most part, Darby has stuck to the left side of the field. As such, we will not see one-on-one battles between him and Golladay on all passing plays. Still, given what the Lions have shown thus far, they are going to go after Darby with Golladay as much as they can when they see him in man coverage.
Rams @ Browns: Cooper Kupp vs. Browns’ Slot Defense
Cooper Kupp has owned the slot through two games, recording team highs in both targets and yards. Though the majority of Kupp’s targets have come in the short-to-intermediate range, his sheer volume has made him a strong asset in PPR situations. Any of he Rams’ three-headed receiver monster can take off at any time while the others fall back. But given Kupp’s role in the offense, his production seems fairly safe week-to-week.
This game seems to set up well for Kupp against the Browns. Los Angeles’ high use of tight formations consistently creates mismatches with him. T.J. Carrie and Terrance Mitchell essentially split Cleveland’s nickel reps, but Kupp’s positioning close to the tackle means he frequently goes up against linebackers on short and intermediate routes. Because of that, teams playing the Rams will show a lot of zone and blitz looks to mitigate mismatches. The Browns do that plenty as is, but against the Rams, expect even more of it. That is where they may run into trouble with Kupp. He is excellent at sitting in soft parts of zones and has a knack for using misdirection to his advantage. So while the Browns may have success against Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, given their solid corner duo outside, Kupp should see a lot of targets once again in week 3.
Buccaneers vs. Giants: Chris Godwin vs. DeAndre Baker
Being a rookie corner in the NFL is never easy, but DeAndre Baker has been making it look especially difficult. Particularly in zone coverage, Baker has looked completely lost for stretches of both games. In his defense, he has matched up with some solid receivers in this early going, but Baker’s struggles have largely been mental. This past week, his lapses led to big plays for both John Brown and Cole Beasley multiple occasions. It is not going to get much easier in week 3.
Tampa Bay’s offense, while not achieving levels hoped with Bruce Arians, largely runs through their two strong downfield threats, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Presumably, Janoris Jenkins will more or less shadow Evans this week. That will leave Baker with man responsibility on Godwin. With Evans laggin a bit, Godwin has accounted for 174 yards and two touchdowns thus far while averaging almost 16 yards per reception. Look for Tampa to exploit Baker’s zone struggles and push the ball downfield early and often with Godwin.
Cowboys vs. Dolphins: Randall Cobb vs. Dolphins’ Pass Coverage
With Michael Gallup out, the challenge for Dallas will be filling in his high production. Randall Cobb is the most obvious answer, given his experience and relatively high targets. The Cowboys’ passing game has exploded under Kellen Moore, so there is a decent chance that whoever takes on that WR2 role is going to put up some numbers. Cobb’s days as Aaron Rodgers’ favorite gadget may be well behind him, but he can still make splashy plays.
All that having been said, the fact of the matter is that placing Cobb here has more to do with the opponent than him. The Dolphins have clearly given up on the season. Just this week, they dealt their second-best coverage man in Minkah Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh. Now, the only talent they have in their secondary is Xavien Howard. One would assume Howard will shadow Amari Cooper. That leaves the task of covering the other receivers to a passing defense that ranks 28th in yards allowed and dead last in touchdowns. Those awful numbers, by the way, come in spite of seeing the third-fewest passing attempts in the league. In other words, you can pretty much count on Dallas to put up points this week. And with Cobb likely stepping into the role opposite Cooper, he figures to be the beneficiary.
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