Fantasy Football Week 13 Lineup Strategy: Larry Fitzgerald rebounds and a shootout in Oakland
Banking on Larry Fitzgerald, Sammy Watkins, Willie Snead, Amari Cooper for Week 13? Heath Cummings analyzes their matchups and Fantasy prospects.
We talk about matchups in Fantasy Football a lot, but too often we look at it on the macro level. We think if a team is good or bad against the pass then that affects all receivers the same.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
Thankfully, our friends at ProFootballFocus provide data on the coverage skills of individual players, which gives us a much more reliable starting point. Each week in this column I'll focus on some of my favorite matchups for wide receivers, and at least one matchup you should try to avoid.
I look at PFF's individual coverage grades. This helps sort out some of the noise and give us an idea of how each cornerback has performed, where they generally line up and who they'll cover most often.
I've included the PFF grade of each corner we're targeting this week. This grade is on a scale of 0 to 100, making it easily digestible.
Larry Fitzgerald vs. Kendall Fuller (PFF Grade: 51.2)
The Washington Redskins have a pretty solid secondary, but their biggest weakness is in the slot. That works out well because the Cardinals only have one competent NFL wide receiver, and he plays in the slot. Larry Fitzgerald should have his way with Kendall Fuller.
Fuller has given up a 117.2 quarterback rating on the 47 targets he's faced in the slot. That's due to giving up more than 10 yards per target and 1.98 yards per snap in coverage. That second number is the third worst mark in football. Fitzgerald hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5 but he has 47 receptions for 442 yards over that span. I'll bet on the volume in a fantastic matchup.
Willie Snead vs. Quandre Diggs (PFF Grade: 52.9)
We targeted Stefon Diggs in this matchup last week but told you if he sat that Adam Thielen would be a decent target. Thielen was quality in PPR with 13.3 Fantasy points but fell short in standard leagues. The difference this week is that Willie Snead is actually a good NFL receiver.
Snead has struggled with consistency this year because there are so many mouths to feed in New Orleans but he has by far the best matchup on paper of the three New Orleans Saints receivers. That doesn't mean I want to start Snead over Michael Thomas or Brandin Cooks but it does make the former a borderline No. 2 this week.
Sammy Watkins vs. David Amerson (PFF Grade: 83.5)
Don't let that Amerson grade deceive you. He has made some huge plays, but he's given up just as many. Amerson has given up a 99.4 QB rating the 8th most receiving yards in the league (582). This is despite the fact that he's been among the league leaders in passes defensed. That's because he takes chances, which is a bad plan against Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins.
Taylor and Watkins were one of the best pairs in the league in terms of deep ball production in 2015 and jumped right back on that path last week. I'll confidently start Watkins as a No. 2 in a game that could turn into a track meet. Of course you need to make sure Watkins is playing, which could be up in the air after leaving practice Wednesday.
Amari Cooper vs. Stephon Gilmore (PFF Grade: 69.8)
I know last week was a disappointment and the last three haven't been great. Much like Matt Ryan , Derek Carr is doing a phenomenal job of taking what the defense gives him. When teams take Cooper away, Carr is more than content to throw the ball to Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts . Fortunately for Cooper owners, he should be matched up with Stephon Gilmore this week primarily.
Since Week 8, Gilmore has given up 13/17 for 209 yards and a 116.7 rating. He had a very solid start to the year, but he's been terrible lately. Look for Carr to focus on getting his most talented wide receiver more involved in the offense as the Raiders will need to throw the ball to move it.
One to avoid
Kelvin Benjamin vs. Seattle Seahawks
I was on the Kelvin Benjamin train last week because I couldn't buy that he was going to keep averaging 60-70 yards a game without scoring a touchdown. That worked out, but it felt a little lucky and I don't feel like pushing my luck against Richard Sherman and the Seahawks. Yes, Mike Evans got the best of Sherman, but Benjamin is no Mike Evans.
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