By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport


There are two times a season when there is no question which cornerback vs. wide receiver matchup is going to lead off The Shadow Knows.

If the New Orleans Saints are playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it has to be Tampa wideout Mike Evans and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore—two gentlemen who genuinely do not like one another. Like Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson don’t like one another.

Mind you, this is a feud that goes back so far that Saints quarterback Jameis Winston has been on both sides. In fact, he sort of started it. There have been pushes. Shoves. Ejections.

Several ejections.

This is a hatred so heated that even Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles admitted to reporters that he’s hopeful the duo can just stick to football this go-round.

“You've got two great players, and they want to compete,” Bowles said. “Both want to win. As long as they play within the whistle, that's fine. We don't want to hurt our team. I'm sure they don't want to hurt their team, so it'll be a competitive ball game just keeping them between the whistles.”

Evans is off to a great start to the 2023 season playing with Baker Mayfield (no, really), he’s averaging 99 receiving yards and a touchdown per game and ranks fifth in PPR points among wide receivers. His target share in 2023 is a career-high (and ridiculous) 31 percent. He’s as must-start as he has ever been.

However, it’s worth noting that the last time Evans had 15 PPR points in a game against the Saints was in Week 1 of 2018. That was also the lone 100-yard game Evans has had against the Saints with Lattimore covering him.

Evans may be a must-start. But Lattimore has (for the most part) owned this rivalry, Don’t be surprised if Evans cools off in Week 4—especially if he gets ejected in the second quarter for throwing hands.


Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (Xavien Howard vs. Stefon Diggs)


If recent history is any indication, this will be a true “shadow” matchup—the Bills and Dolphins met three times last year including the postseason, and all three times Howard spent the game in Diggs’ pocket. While addressing the media, Diggs said he knows that he and the Bills offense will need to execute at a high level in this AFC East showdown.

“They’re an athletic group, fast group. You’re gonna see press man-to-man,” Diggs said. “You gotta beat man-to-man coverage. You gotta just execute at a high level as far as like doing everything you need to do to get open for your quarterback and (then) catch the ball. That defense. I think they’re a good group. They’re active and they fly around.”

Diggs caught seven of nine targets for 114 yards in Buffalo’s playoff win over Miami, but his other two stat lines were relatively pedestrian—at least by Diggs’ standards. He caught seven of 11 targets for 74 yards in Week 3, and then followed that up with a 5/60/0 line on nine targets in Week 15. You can’t really downgrade Diggs—especially in a game where the Bills are going to pressed to keep up with the Dolphins’ offensive juggernaut. But Howard has been as effective as anyone at keeping Diggs in check.


Washington Commanders at Philadelphia Eagles (Terry McLaurin vs. Darius Slay)


This matchup is a tale of two very different teams with similar records. The Commanders are 2-1 but were just exposed in a big way in a 30-point beatdown at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. Commanders quarterback Sam Howell was sacked nine times in that game, and Brandon Blanco of Fantrax thinks the Philly pass rush may be a bigger problem for McLaurin’s fantasy prospects than Slay’s coverage.

“McLaurin is currently the WR46 and has been fairly disappointing thus far,” he wrote. “The entire Commanders offense besides Brian Robinson has been underwhelming. The Eagles are not the same in the secondary as the previous season, but their rush defense is still just as good and maybe even better. My worry is how much time Sam Howell will have to get the ball to McLaurin.”

The Philly secondary has been the weak point of their defense, but the entire Eagles team has rather been that way—undefeated or no they have yet to put together a complete effort. That effort is coming, and the Commanders are struggling in a big way through the air. McLaurin and Jahan Dotson are both shaky fantasy plays this week—at best.


Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears (Patrick Surtain vs. D.J. Moore)

Last week, the Denver defense imploded in a fashion that the NFL has rarely seen. The 70 points they allowed against the Miami Dolphins were the most a team has surrendered in a game since 1966. The 726 yards of offense they allowed were the second-most in the history of the National Football League. After that historic beatdown, Broncos defensive coordinator offered approximately all the platitudes ever in between bites of crow.

"Well it was, obviously--it wasn't good," Joseph said. "When your unit plays that way, my first thought is, 'It's me and (needing to do) better as a coach and getting guys ready for the challenge.’ When those things happen, it's me first. I'll fix it quickly. We have to."

To be clear, Denver’s defense is not good. Joseph may not last the month, let alone the season. And Surtain played his part in the meltdown. Fortunately for them, they now play a Chicago offense that aspires to rack up 726 yards in September. Last week against the Chiefs, Justin Fields passed for 99 yards—in a blowout loss. There wasn’t even garbage time.

There might be a fleeting temptation to believe that Chicago’s offense will rebound in Week 4, That Moore could have a big week. But he has lined up on the perimeter over 80 percent of the time this season, which means he’ll draw Surtain.

Just stay away from this game. On both sides. “First team to 13 wins” isn’t a winning fantasy formula.


Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (Davante Adams vs. J.C. Jackson)

If there was any question about how Jimmy Garoppolo and Davante Adams would get along, it has been settled—in last week’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Garoppolo targeted Adams a whopping 20 times on the way to 13 catches for 172 yards and two scores. However, Garoppolo also landed in concussion protocol after the game, although Adams did his best to downplay the effect playing with a backup quarterback could have this week.

“I mean, we’ve been all working together for so long now, so it’s really not as big of a thing as what it might seem on the outside as far as the adjustment and getting used to going with somebody new,” Adams told reporters. “But even within training camp, Jimmy would take a couple of reps and then (Brian) Hoyer would come in and throw. I caught balls from Aidan (O’Connell) in training camp as well. So, it’s definitely less than what I’ve caught from 10 [Garoppolo], but we’re making it up right now.”

Since 2019, there isn’t a player in the NFL who has more interceptions than the 20 Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson has tallied. And the notion of that coverage plus a downgrade under center might be making Adams managers a tad nervous. But the Chargers have allowed more PPR points to wide receivers than any team in the NFL through three weeks, and it’s Davante Adams.

Just chuck the ball in his general direction—he’ll do the rest.


Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets (L’Jarius Sneed vs. Garrett Wilson)

Before the season, Jets wideout Garrett Wilson was a trendy breakout pick among fantasy analysts. Some considered him a potential top-10 fantasy option. Others still saw the top-five. Then Aaron Rodgers got hurt, and everything changed. However, despite the Jets offense going into the tank, Wilson told Uproxx Sports that he believes he and Zach Wilson can still get something going just as they did in spots last year.

“I feel like we’re in a good spot and Zach sees the game very well. And for me, it’s just changing how I see it a little bit to match that. There’s no right or wrong way, it’s kind of just how they see it and how I can get on the same page with that being a receiver. For me, it’s my job to make the quarterback’s job easy and you know, that’s what I’m on the chase of right now all the time. And yeah, man, that’s definitely an adjustment that us as an offense we’ve all had to deal with.”

For the sake of avoiding confusion, we’ll go first names from here.

Garrett isn’t at all the problem here—he’s the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year for a reason. But truth bomb time—Zach is not an especially good professional quarterback (I know, it’s a stunner). Add in Sneed, Trent McDuffie and a sneaky-good Kansas City secondary allowing the sixth-fewest-PPR points to wideouts, and you have the makings of the latest indignity being visited upon those sad souls who saw that breakout coming.