The Shadow Knows Week 10 2017

By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport There is one pass defense that has emerged as a genuine concern for fantasy owners where the passing game is concerned in 2017.

That defense leads the NFL in passing yards allowed, at just 156.4 yards per game – a ridiculously low number for 2017.

That defense is also allowing the fewest PPR fantasy points per game to wide receivers – by a sizable margin.

That defense is the Jacksonville Jaguars.

No, really. It’s true.
This week it will fall to Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen and the Los Angeles Chargers to try to move the ball through the air against the Jags. Rivers admitted to Mike DiGiovanna of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he knows it isn’t going to be an easy task.

“This is certainly the best group of guys they’ve had together,” Rivers said. “They’re playing really well, with a lot of confidence, and they’re playing fast. They’re all active and relentless.”

The Jaguars have made a habit (with the exception of Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown – stunner) of shutting down No. 1 receivers this season. The latest victim was Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, who had one catch for six yards last week before he was ejected for fighting with cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

If you have any kind of comparable options at wideout, this is a good week to have Keenan Allen on the bench.

With that happy news out of the way, and in a week where two of the NFL’s top corners (Seattle’s Richard Sherman and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson) have already played, here’s a look at Week 10’s corner vs. wideout matchups of note.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (at ATL – Desmond Trufant)
As Kelsey Conway of the team’s website reported, Bryant’s ability to snare 50/50 balls impresses Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn. “One of the things that I really respect and admire about his game is his ability to go up and catch the contested passes,” Quinn said. “We call it high point, so when the ball is up in the air, he’s really aggressive to go after it. Not just on a normal coverage, but when it’s really up high he can really get up and go catch it. He’s got aggressive hands, and that clearly shows up in the red zone where two guys are going to battle for it playing man-to-man and he really goes after it.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: Bryant’s banged up (he’s nursing both knee and ankle injuries), but he insisted to June Slater of the NFL Network that he’s playing, saying that, at the end of the day y'all know I'm gonna play.” Trufant’s nicked up himself, but he practiced Thursday and should be good to go for one of the more interesting matchups of Week 10. With Ezekiel Elliott out after his suspension took effect (again), the Cowboys may have to open up the offense more than in recent weeks.

Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots (at DEN – Chris Harris)
In his first season with the Patriots, Cooks is on pace for his fewest yards and catches since his rookie year. He allowed to Ryan Hannable of WEEI Radio that he’s still acclimating to playing with Sir Tom the Golden Boy. “I think it’s been going well," Cooks said. "We’ve still got a lot of work to do to be able to play our best ball together, but I think we’re headed in the right direction. What I admire about him — I mean, his work ethic and attention to detail is unbelievable. You’ve got to respect that for a guy that’s been playing this game for so long.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: This would appear at first glance appear to be a perfect chance for Cooks to get cooking, given the uncertain status of Chris Hogan (shoulder). But in addition to facing a seething Broncos defense that was just embarrassed on the road by the Philadelphia Eagles, Hogan’s absence would allow the “No Fly Zone” to focus more of their attention on Cooks.

Although there is that Gronkowski guy to contend with, too. I hear he’s good.

Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings (at WAS – Josh Norman)
As Dan Harris of Fantasy Pros pointed out, Diggs could face an uphill climb in Week 10 – maybe. “Diggs should be fully healthy after last week's bye,” Harris wrote, “which almost always means that fantasy success is coming. But he draws an incredibly tough matchup this week against the Redskins, who allow the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Diggs has primarily lined up on the outside this year, so he should see a heavy dose of either Josh Norman or Bashaud Breeland, both of whom have played at a high level this year. But Diggs' performance when healthy this year has been elite, and it's hard to think of him as anything less than a borderline WR1.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: There an easy enough way for the Vikings to keep Diggs off Norman. Just line him up on the right side of their formation – the Redskins have been leaving Norman at RCB for most of this season. With Adam Thielen doing much of his damage in the slot this season that would put him on Kendall Fuller and Diggs on Breeland. There’s no guarantee that’s what the Vikings will do, but it just goes to show there are ways around the “incredibly tough matchup.”

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (at TEN – Logan Ryan)
Green drew a $42,000 fine for going ballistic on Ramsey last week – a fine he told ESPN’s Katherine Terrell he won’t appeal. "I accept my fine, I'll pay it, and move on," Green said. "I did something I wasn't supposed to do so now I have to accept the consequences and that's fine. I put myself in a position where I hurt my team and I hurt myself. I can't ever let that happen again. I apologize to the people I hurt and my family. That's not who I am. I just can't go out there and black out like that. That was not professional.

THE SHADOW SAYS: Green also brushed aside Ramsey’s assertion earlier this week that Green is “soft and weak,” saying, "I'm done with that and I'm not even going to entertain what he said." The thing is – I don’t believe him. Green’s going to entertain it all right – by showing God and everyone just how “soft” he isn’t against the Titans Sunday. This is a Tennessee defense that’s struggled at times with star receivers in 2017, and if Andy Dalton can put the rock where he’s supposed to I expect Green to ballistic again in Week 10.

Only in a good way this time.

DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (at LAR – Trumaine Johnson)
Per CBS Sports, the SportsLine computer model isn’t feeling Hopkins in Week 10. “Hopkins is currently a top five Fantasy wide receiver,” they said, “but he should be on your bench this weekend. He's projected to have just 7.09 Fantasy points, a number that will put him outside the top 20 wide receivers. The Rams' defense has only allowed one touchdown to opposing receivers in the past four games. And Hopkins' QB, Tom Savage, completed just 19 of 44 passes in Sunday's 20-14 loss to the Colts.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: On one hand, it’s hard to argue most of their points about Hopkins’ prospective lack thereof. The Rams have been playing excellent defense, and Johnson’s a more than capable cornerback, with a passer rating against of less than 70. And there’s no denying that Savage is, um, how shall I put this – he stinks. But Hopkins is going to be targeted a ton in a game where the Texans will all but surely will be playing from behind. And that could open the door for the same sort of stat line (6/86/1) stat line we saw from “Nuk” in last week’s loss to Indianapolis.

Gary Davenport is a Senior Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks, an NFL and Fantasy Football Analyst at Bleacher Report, a Contributing Writer at Rotoworld and a Contributing Author and Associate Editor at Football Diehards. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Gary was the winner of the 2015 FSWA award for Print Article of the Year.