THE SHADOW KNOWS Week 5 2021
Sunday in the nation's capital when the New Orleans Saints take on the Washington Football Team, two of the very best in the league at their respective positions will square off-and they just so happen to be old friends and former teammates.
Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin and New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore played together at Ohio State in 2016 in 2017. "Scary Terry" is still waiting for his big payday in the pros, but Lattimore just hit the jackpot-a five-year, $97 million contract that makes the 25-year-old the third-highest paid player at his position in the league. As Luke Johnson wrote for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen firmly believes that Lattimore is worth every penny.
"I honestly feel like cornerback is the hardest position to play in the (NFL) because you're going against the best athletes in the world - they know where they're going, and you have to try to figure it out," Allen said. "From a skillset standpoint, I think it's an incredibly difficult position to play and when you have talented people like (Lattimore), it does allow you a little more flexibility in what you can do and how you can play the other guys."
Lattimore has held up his end of the deal so far this season, allowing just 52.4 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed this season. But McLaurin hasn't exactly been sitting on his hands either. Through four weeks McLaurin is 12th in targets (38), 14th in receptions (25), seventh in receiving yards (354) and seventh in PPR fantasy points.
This reunion may not be the best of matchups for McLaurin, but he's an every-week fantasy WR1-especially with the Saints as a team allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Byron Jones vs. Mike Evans)
Sunday's showdown between Florida teams has the potential to feature quite the battle within the battle-one of the league's deepest Wideout corps in Tampa going up against the one-two cornerback punch in Miami of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. As Barry Jackson reported for the Miami Gerald, Dolphins corner Nik Needham knows that Miami has its hands full with all the talent the Buccaneers boast at receiver.
"Mike Evans is a big-bodied receiver," Needham said. "(Chris) Godwin has size [6-1], is fast. Antonio Brown has been playing well for 11 years. All bring different stuff. Brown is quick. Mike Evans is a jump ball-type guy. You need a different approach against each of those receivers."
Tampa's wideout talent isn't Miami's only problem this week-both Howard (groin) and Jones (quadricep) have missed practice time this week. The biggest concern for fantasy managers with the Tampa receivers is that there's just one ball to go around, but if Jones and Howard are both out there it could set Godwin up for a big week.
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers (Denzel Ward vs. Mike Williams)
There was a lot of pre-season talk that Williams could be on the verge of a breakout season playing the "X" receiver role in Joe Lombardi's offense. In fact, Lombardi reportedly told the 27-year-old that very thing. Per Hayley Elwood of the team's website, No one is happier to see that was more than just talk than Williams himself.
"We kind of talked," Williams said. "He said the "X" is gonna see a lot of balls in this offense and I told him I was looking forward to it. Obviously, hearing it doesn't really do much! But seeing it through the first few games, I'm feeling it right now. He stuck to his word, and we've got a lot more to build on for the rest of the season."
Williams admittedly had a dud last week, catching just one pass in a win over the Las Vegas Raiders. But a month into the season, Williams sits sixth in the NFL among wide receivers in PPR fantasy points. Cleveland's Denzel Ward is a talented young corner, but he isn't off to the best of starts this year-his 101.7 passer rating against after four games is a career-high.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (Kenny Golladay vs. Trevon Diggs)
There isn't a cornerback in the NFL off to a better start than Trevon Diggs of the Dallas Cowboys-the former Alabama standout has intercepted a pass in every game this year and leads the league with five picks. As Nick Eatman wrote for the team's website, teammate Amari Cooper is concerned that if Diggs keeps playing at this level, those opportunities for interceptions could dry up.
"Hopefully he can keep it up," Cooper said. "But I told him, ' I don't think they're going to keep throwing at you. So, you've got to get it while you can. It's inevitable that he'll get some more opportunities, but I don't think he's going to get as many. It's just a respect thing."
This week at least, Diggs probably doesn't have anything to worry about-given the injuries that have besieged the New York Giants at wide receiver, Kenny Golladay is easily the best option left standing. Fantasy managers of Golladay may not be too keen on Golladay facing the league's hottest corner after finally posting a solid stat line a week ago. But DJ Moore of the Carolina Panthers did OK against Diggs in Week 4, catching eight passes for 113 yards and two scores.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (Tre'Davious White vs. Tyreek Hill)
Last year in the AFC Championship Game, Tyreek Hill roasted the Buffalo Bills like a Christmas goose, hauling in nine passes for 172 yards. The Bills have to do better against Hill to have a chance in this rematch, and Nick Vojton of Bills Wire has a suggestion-shadow Hill all game long with Pro Bowl cornerback Tre'Davious White.
"Both wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce gave the Bills fits last year, especially in the playoffs," he wrote. "Kelce is a whole other beast, but Tre'Davious White has to have a lockdown effort against Hill. Hill does move around the formation to create mismatches, but White should just shadow him, no offense to slot corner Taron Johnson."
The thing is, Sean McDermott has shown no real inclination to either shadowing White on No. 1 receivers or moving him into the slot, where Hill spends a lot of time. Johnson's not a bad player in his own right, with a completion percentage against in 2021 of under 40. But if Jesus himself were covering Hill you'd still roll the sixth-year veteran out there-especially after his 11/186/3 explosion last week against the Eagles.
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (Michael Pittman vs. Marlon Humphrey)
There hasn't been a ton to be pleased about for either the Indianapolis Colts or fantasy managers of their offensive players to cheer about this season. But things are looking up for both after the Colts notched win No. 1 last week in Miami, and as Kyle Yates of Fantasy Pros pointed out, wide receiver Michael Pittman is become a relatively valuable fantasy option.
"Did you know that Michael Pittman is tied for the third-most Inside-the-10 targets in the entire NFL? Unfortunately, it hasn't converted to any receiving touchdowns just yet, but these opportunities are golden for fantasy football," Yates wrote. "Pittman was just a few yards away from finding the end zone last week against Miami too, which would've spiked his fantasy football production. Over the past three weeks, Pittman has now seen 32 targets and he's reeled in 20 of them for 250 receiving yards. He's the WR23 in fantasy football over that time frame, but as mentioned before that number could be so much higher based on his red-zone involvement. Those targets eventually start to translate to touchdowns and it's coming for Pittman."
Unfortunately, that breakout game probably isn't coming on Monday night in Baltimore. With Marcus Peters on the sideline after tearing his ACL, the Ravens secondary isn't quite as formidable as it was a year ago. But Marlon Humphrey is a Pro Bowl-caliber talent in his own right, and with Pittman far and away Indy's best receiver he should see a ton of Humphrey in Week 5.