THE SHADOW KNOWS Week 10 2019
From an NFL perspective, the biggest game of Week 10 is taking place Monday night in San Francisco between the undefeated San Francisco 49ers and 7-2 Seattle Seahawks in Santa Clara.
But from a fantasy perspective, Sunday is all about the NFC South-specifically the return to action of offensive stars galore when the New Orleans Saints face the Atlanta Falcons at the Superdome. And with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan looking likely to play after missing Atlanta's last game with a sprained ankle, a new level on intrigue has been added to the notion of Falcons wideout Julio Jones and Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Latimore of the Saints locking horns.
There's just one small problem-they probably won't.
In his first matchup against the Saints last year, rookie wideout Calvin Ridley roasted New Orleans so badly (seven catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns) that the Saints moved Lattimore off Jones and onto the rookie. By the time the two teams met for the second time, the Saints had acquired Eli Apple, but the plan didn't change-Lattimore shadowed Ridley, while Apple (with safety help) drew Jones.
If that sounds like it would bode well for Jones, you're right-he caught 11 passes for 147 yards. But Ridley didn't exactly slink off into fantasy obscurity-he reeled in eight balls for 93 yards and a score.
Lattimore's one of the best young cover men in the game. But this has all the makings of a "start 'em if you've got 'em"-style shootout.
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Patrick Peterson vs. Mike Evans)
The Cardinals were overjoyed (at the time) to get Peterson back a couple of weeks ago, but something rather odd has happened since. As Matthew Freedman wrote for Fantasy Labs, Peterson hasn't looked like much like a three-time first-team All-Pro.
"In past seasons, if a wide receiver - any wide receiver - were facing Patrick Peterson, he'd get an automatic downgrade in projections and rankings," he said. But in his three games this year since returning from a six-game suspension, Peterson has been rough, allowing an 82.4% catch rate, 204 yards and two touchdowns. Granted, two of his games came against wide receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders - but in the past he was rarely embarrassed the way he has been this year, and that was with him shadowing No. 1 receivers almost every week."
Peterson may rarely have been embarrassed in his career, but Evans has done a pretty good job of it. His average stat line in two career meetings with Peterson is around five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. It's also worth noting that Evans was targeted over a dozen times per contest.
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns (Tre'Davious White vs. Odell Beckham Jr.)
Beckham (much like the Browns as a team) has been a massive disappointment in 2019. But as Terez Paylor wrote for Yahoo Sports, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield insisted that both team and player can still turn things around.
"I think people have this picture-perfect thing where it was going to be sunshine and rainbows and he was going to have a whole lot of one-on-ones," Mayfield said. "It is Odell Beckham; he is going to have double coverage and we have to find ways to format things to get him the ball and force-feed him early on to where he can make an impact before we can have the perfect look to have a shot [at a] play. That is something we have learned the hard way, but I think as the weeks have gone on, we are continuing to improve on how to get the ball to him."
In related news, you too can win Powerball.
Will things get better for Beckham in 2019? God, I hope so. Will it happen this week against a Bills team that ranks third in the NFL in pass defense and 28th in PPR fantasy points allowed to wide receivers while being shadowed by a young corner who ranks in the top-10 at his position in just about every CB metric imaginable?
I hate being a Browns fan some days. Just the ones that end in "Y."
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (Darius Slay vs. Allen Robinson)
There hasn't been much that's gone right for the Chicago Bears offensively in 2019. But per ESPN's Jeff Dickerson, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has a plan-turn off all the TVs at Halas Hall so he doesn't have to hear about how badly he's been playing.
"Trying to get some of these TVs in the building turned off because you've got too many people talking on TV about us and what they think about us -- what we should do, what we are and what we're not," Trubisky said. "But they don't really know who we are, or what we're capable of as people, or what we're going through, or what we're thinking. It's just the outside viewers looking in. So, tunnel vision, earmuffs and just come to work every day and try to get better and get back to what we know we're capable of doing."
For most of this season, Robinson's been able to weather the cyclone of suck that is Chicago's offense.-he was a top-15 wide receiver in PPR formats over the first eight weeks of the season. But that's not sustainable in Trubisky can't average 200 passing yards a game, and he hasn't come especially close. Slay's coverage skills don't help this situation, but they aren't A-Rob's biggest problem.
Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers (James Bradberry vs. Davante Adams)
Adams made it back onto the field last week in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last week, bet per the staff at Packers News Adams admitted after a pedestrian (by his standards) seven catches for 41 yards that his bad toe isn't toetally healed.
See what I did there.
"It gets beat up a little bit," Adams said, "but it's definitely no setbacks. Nothing like that. We just want to be smart so I can heal up and continue to get better and better. I'm obviously healed at this point, but as far as being a thousand percent back to myself, I wouldn't quite say I'm quite there yet."
See? Obviously healed. But not toetally healed.
If Adams is on your roster and playing, he's in your lineup. That's just how it works with guys like him. But he's not entirely right, and in theory James Bradberry is the kind of lanky corner who can body Adams up and present a matchup problem for a nine-toed wideout.
Thing is, Bradberry's not right either-he's tentatively expected to play while battling a groin injury. Which injury is more painful I'll leave to the readers' imagination.
Now imagine both…at the same time. Stubbing your toe while falling on a stupid pumpkin.
Stop laughing. It wasn't that funny.
Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys (Xavier Rhodes vs. Michael Gallup)
Yes, you read that right. And no, I did not spell Amari Cooper's name wrong.
As CB/WR matchup maestro Ian Hartitz of Rotoworld wrote, while Xavier Rhodes is easily Minnesota's best corner and a player with experience shadowing No. 1 wideouts, he hasn't of late-and even if he did Cooper could be schemed open easily enough.
"Rhodes hasn't shadowed since Week 2," Hartitz said. "Cooper could escape the situation for a good portion of the game if the Vikings change course, as he's spent at least 20 snaps in the slot in consecutive games. Nobody in the entire league has averaged more yards per route run than Cooper (4.47) in the slot among all players that have spent at least 20 snaps inside this season."
Were Cooper 100 percent (or close), he'd be set up for a BIG game at home against Trae Waynes. But the reality is he's not-he's supposedly playing Sunday night, but his knee is clearly limiting his ability to both run and cut. So the Vikings can leave Rhodes on Gallup, take away Dallas' lone real vertical threat and force the Cowboys to dink-and-dunk.
Gallup won't be a top-40 fantasy receiver in Week 10.