The Shadow Knows Week 13 2017

By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport T.Y. Hilton's fantasy owners need a hug.

Hilton has been without question the most feast-or-famine wideout in fantasy football in 2017. Without his bestie Andrew Luck (he calls him "Andy" or "Bae") throwing him the ball, Hilton has had two types of games this season – huge and terrible.

For the most part, there has been no middle ground.

In three games this season, Hilton has topped 150 receiving yards. His largest stat line in the other eight? Three catches, 57 yards – all the way back in Week 1.

After exploding for 175 yards and two touchdowns on five grabs against the Houston Texans back in Week 9, Hilton has managed just four catches for 38 yards in his last two games combined. Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett admitted to Stephen Holder of the Indy Star that there have been times he should have looked to Hilton but did not.

“He’s last year’s leader in receiving in the league, he gets a lot (of attention) and he deserves that,” Brissett said. “We have to find ways to avoid that attention. If he’s open and I don’t see it because I felt he wasn’t open, then I just have to live and learn.”

That Brissett's "learning" is of precious little solace to Hilton's fantasy owners. Of even less solace is this week's matchup against Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It isn't just that the Jags lead the league in pass defense, allowing just 168.7 yards per game. Or that they also allow the fewest PPR fantasy points to wide receivers.

You see, we've seen this movie before. Hilton and the Colts just faced the Jaguars in Week 7. In that game, Hilton had a whopping two receptions for 27 yards in a 27-0 blowout.

And that was in Indianapolis.

While you sob quietly and pull Hilton out of fantasy lineups (seriously – bench him), here's a look at some of the other premier duels between wide receivers and cornerbacks in this all-important Week 13 – the last week of the regular season in many fantasy leagues.

Robby Anderson, New York Jets (vs. KCC – Marcus Peters)

Anderson found himself backpedaling this week after getting roasted by his coach for lobbying for Pro Bowl votes. "I was just excited," Anderson told Connor Hughes of "I wasn't trying to come off no bad way or nothing like that. It was just excitement, spur of the moment. Everybody knows I'm all for this team in every aspect. I make my life decisions based on my teammates. Everything I do is about being the best I can for my teammates ... I wasn't trying to come off no wrong way. I was just excited in the moment."

THE SHADOW SAYS: Anderson isn't exactly wrong to say his name and the Pro Bowl in the same breath – he threw up 146 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Carolina Panthers and has scored in five straight games. Marcus Peters might be more likely to make it to Orlando just based on name value, but Anderson's fantasy owners have little to worry about – only two NFL teams are allowing more PPR fantasy points to wideouts this season than Peters and the Chiefs.

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (vs. PHI – Ronald Darby)

After breaking his ankle early in Week 1, Darby finally made it back onto the field in Week 11 against the Dallas Cowboys. He told Dave Spadaro of the team's website that it was a mixed bag to be thrown into the deep end in his first start. "I thought I was going to get eased into everything. Day 1 (of practice leading up to the game), it was like regular," said Darby. "I was like, darn, I've got to get my endurance up. I threw up a few times. It was hard, the first few days. I just made sure I tried to run to the ball and played fast. I had to get my feet back under me."

THE SHADOW SAYS: To his credit, Darby played well in that re-debut against Dallas, intercepting a pass and breaking up a scoring throw intended for Dez Bryant. And Darby was acquired by the Eagles to be their No. 1 cornerback – their "shutdown" guy. But Darby's not an elite cover man (at least not consistently), and even if he was the Seahawks like to move Baldwin around. Start Russell Wilson's favorite target as you usually would.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (vs. MIN – Xavier Rhodes)

Jones told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he's more focused on himself than his matchup with Rhodes Sunday. "(Rhodes) is a very confident guy," Jones said. "Hopefully, man-to-man. We go out and hopefully we’ll get man-to-man. We’ll see. I don’t know how they are going to play me. They have a little tendency a little bit to cheat the safety to the star. But we’ll see Sunday. He’s a long guy. He just tries to get his hands on you and jostle you around a little bit. That’s it. I’ve got to go play my game. I’m not really going to worry about Rhodes or think about Rhodes in this game."

THE SHADOW SAYS: For someone who isn't concerned about Rhodes, Jones sure had plenty to say about the matchup, including "hoping" for iso coverage with Minnesota's best cornerback. Obviously, you're starting Jones – especially after he erupted last week against the Buccaneers. And the Vikings are actually just a middling matchup for wide receivers – 15th in fantasy points allowed to the position. But it's worth noting that Rhodes has historically been relatively successful against Jones – when last they met in 2015 Jones had five catches for 56 yards and was held out of the end zone.

Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (at AZ – Patrick Peterson)

Kupp had a big game in last week's equally big win over the New Orleans Saints, drawing praise from head coach Sean McVay. "He's a pretty sharp, impressive guy and I think he's just continuing to get better and better," McVay told Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "You talk about having an understanding above the neck like a quarterback (while) playing receiver, and I think that really helps. ... He's going to continue to be a big part of our offense for years to come."

THE SHADOW SAYS: At this point, you're probably wondering why I didn't list Sammy Watkins here. He's who most pundits think will draw Peterson on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, at least in part because that's what happened in Week 7. But the Cardinals got smoked in that game 33-0 – and Kupp caught a touchdown pass. Bruce Arians isn't stupid. Neither is Arizona DC James Bettcher. With Robert Woods out there isn't much question who the Rams No. 1 receiver is – and it ain't Sammy Watkins. Maybe I'm wrong. And Kupp may do OK even if he draws Peterson Sunday. But I can't shake the feeling that's exactly what's going to happen.

Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins (vs. DEN – NOT Aqib Talib)

Parker entered this season amid all sorts of buzz and proclamations of impending greatness, but the same person who made many of them admits that 2017 hasn’t gone according to plan. "Because of injury, it’s left me frustrated," Dolphins OC Clyde Christensen told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. You want these kids to show what they can do. I don’t think it’s one of those where he’s healthy and it hasn’t happened for him. It’s more a case of him not being 100 percent. Some of technique things and drops can’t happen.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: On paper, if ever there was a week for Parker to get off the mat, this is it. Jay Cutler (who has been infinitely more prone to target Parker than Matt Moore) is back under center after passing the concussion protocol. And Aqib Talib will sit the game out thanks to the suspension he drew for last week's brouhaha with Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree. But Parker's caught one touchdown pass this season and has topped 100 yards in a game (in 2017 at least) never. Denver's weakness on the back end is across the middle, not on the outside – Talib or no Talib.