The Week 1 DFS WR vs CB Matchups will be the first of a weekly staple of our DFS offerings. In this article we will break down one wide receiver from the top, mid, and lower tiers to give you the edge in NFL DFS. This should give our readers a safe option to employ from every range of the salary scale. Metrics include in this article come from our friends at The Quant Edge (TQE), which provide you with groundbreaking tools for research in order to help you get ahead of your competition.
TOP-TIER ($6500+ on DK)
Mike Evans ($7,900 DK/$7,900 FD) – It is Mike Evans SZN in DFS. Evans is my favorite top-tier WR play on the slate. If you find the room to get him in the lineup I think he will produce a nice floor/ceiling combination. What’s different this year from last? Enter Bruce Arians to save this offense. Evans was a beast without Arians. However, rational coaching finally resides in Tampa Bay. I believe that Arians will make this offense more viable than ever before.
This weeks matchup will pin Evans against Ahkello Witherspoon. Let’s start with Witherspoon, who played in zone, man, and press coverage almost equally this past year at 30% each according to TQE. However, its his production against press coverage that pops off the page. Witherspoon yielded 4 TDs and a QB rating of 121.9 against his opponents while playing press coverage. This is no isolated incident either. In 2017 Witherspoon yielded 3 TDs and a QB rating of 140.8 in the same coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, Witherspoon graded out as 39.8 in coverage. Woof. A lengthy corner at 6’2″, Witherspoon checks in at 195 pounds. Not bad for a corner who wants to play press coverage, but dealing with a 6’5″ and 225-pound receiver in Evans is a different task.
Now for Evans- this man is a beast. Against press coverage, Evans produced QB ratings of 125 in 2018. Apart from that, Evans can also beat man and zone, although Witherspoon excels in zone coverage. If Arians can find a way to exploit this matchup when Evans draws press or man coverage, then we may find Evans easily touch 8 receptions for 100 yards and a TD which will return 3X value. I feel this is actually a conservative estimate for Evans in this offense and can tell myself a story where he goes for 10-12 receptions and 150+ yards with one or more TDs.
MID-TIER ($4600 – $6400 on DK)
Dede Westbrook ($4800 DK/$5900 FD) – I don’t think we will see Westbrook this cheap against a plus matchup for the rest of the season. I fully expect Dede to emerge as the top target in Jacksonville. This week Dede will be matched up in the slot against Kendall Fuller who carries more name value than true talent.
In a game where they should play from behind and let Foles sling it around the yard, Dede pops off the page in a plus matchup. Per TQE, Dede hauled in 58 receptions on 87 targets with 8 yards per target and an aDot of 7.9. While running from the slot, something he did nearly 80% of the time, he yielded a rating of 96 for his QB. Think about who his quarterback was and how impressive that actually is. I expect Foles to be an upgrade- albeit not a significant one. This upgrade at QB could lead to more consistency from Dede and his numbers.
But apart from Dede himself, the man he will be facing allowed 55 receptions on 76 targets and 8.9 yards per target with an aDot of 9.9 and a QB rating of 108.2. Wow. Fuller is #bad when he ran man coverage. He did this almost half the time in which he yielded a QB rating of 117.1 and 30 receptions on 40 targets.
BUT WAIT, it gets better. Dede himself produced a QB rating of 118 when running routes against man coverage. This is a dream match-up for a player who could very well be peppered with targets early and often. Not to mention the upside that he has to take one to the house on any given play. With the highest expected game total and the Jags being less than a touchdown underdog, this game could be a smash spot. At a salary of $4600 on DraftKings, one TD will all but ensure Dede hits 3X.
LOWER-TIER ($4500 and Lower on DK)
Jamison Crowder ($4100 DK/$5400 on FD) – Crowder is new to the Jets system but should provide a nice safety blanket for Sam Darnold. In this game, he will be matched up against returning slot-man Taron Johnson. Per TQE, Johnson played almost exclusively from the slot and playing zone coverage nearly 64% of the time. In 12 games he yielded 16 receptions on 23 targets and a rating of 83.2.
On the other hand, Crowder proved very successful against zone coverage over the past three seasons in Washington. Even in a down year last year, Crowder caught 18 of his 29 targets with 7.5 yards per target and an aDot of 10.7 which was good for a rating of 82.1. He ran nearly 60% of his routes against zone coverage. This was his worst output in his last three years as he produced a rating of 86.9 in 2017 and 94.2 in 2016.
Yes, Crowder was not the same in 2018. With a new team, quarterback, and healthy, I suspect Crowder can provide a nice floor for your lineup. I expect him to be all over the field and an important piece of the game plan. With the second-lowest game total on the slate this game could be completely ignored. 6 receptions and 65 yards are all he needs to return 3X value at his price. This is a very reasonable expectation for the vet.
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