The Shadow Knows Week 5 2022

By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport

Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell has had quite the rollercoaster of a first four games of the 2022 season.

After really coming into his own in his second season, many expected that Terrell would take his place among the league's best at the position. Instead, over the first two weeks of the year, Terrell was victimized repeatedly in coverage. By Week 4 he had allowed as many touchdowns in coverage as he did all of last year.

However, former Atlanta defensive coordinator Raheem Morris (now holding that same title with the Rams), told Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire that anyone underestimating Terrell does so at their own peril.

"He's scary. A.J. Terrell is a guy that I have high regard for," Morris said. "I remember him coming out of college and we all bashed him because he got beat by Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. I think we all kind of wanted to retract those statements. You're talking about a high-quality individual that came on and was very competitive right from the beginning. I noticed his competitiveness right away."

Sure enough, against DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3 and especially against Amari Cooper of the Cleveland Browns in Week 4, Terrell looked the part of a Pro Bowl cornerback. That momentum will come in handy this week in Tampa, because Terrell draws another tough coverage matchup in Mike Evans of the Buccaneers.

Prior to this season, Terrell has never shadowed Evans, but given how much he has been doing so with other opponents this season that will likely change. It's not a bad idea for the Falcons given what Evans did to Atlanta in 2021-in two meetings, Evans caught 12 of 19 targets for 176 yards and two scores. Evans is always a threat to post a fat stat line thanks to his red-zone prowess. But he's going to have to earn it in Week 5.

Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints (DK Metcalf vs. Marshon Lattimore)

After a slow start to the season, Metcalf has heated up of late-over the past two games, Metcalf has erupted for 12 catches for 213 yards and a touchdown, numbers that rank him sixth in PPR points among wideouts over that span. Now comes a date with a familiar face in Marson Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints. It's a matchup Metcalf told reporters he's looking forward to.

"I think it's going to be an exciting matchup," Metcalf said. "He's a good corner. They got a good defense. Their defensive structure is pretty much the same as we've seen last week so looking to see some similar coverages. But it's going to be an exciting game."

On some level, it's not hard to see why Metcalf is looking to seeing Lattimore-the last time the pair met, Metcalf scored an 84-yard touchdown. But that was on a play where Lattimore fell down, and in the rest of that game, Metcalf had one reception for 12 yards. Given how well, Metcalf is playing, he's once again a must-start for fantasy managers. But this is not an easy matchup, as Lattimore excels covering bigger-bodied wideouts.


Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns (Asante Samuel Jr. vs. Amari Cooper)

After catching at least seven passes, topping 100 yards and scoring a touchdown in two straight games, Cooper vanished last week, in part because of smothering coverage from Falcons cornerback AJ Terrell. While speaking to reporters earlier this week, Cooper tried his best to put a positive spin on his one catch for nine yards on four targets.

"Obviously, from my perspective, I just want to help the team win in whatever way," Cooper said. "But sometimes the ball don't always come your way. Sometimes the games go by really fast. Sometimes the games go by really slow. It just all really depends on how the flow of the game is going. Obviously, the coaches, they know the personnel we have - pass catchers, guys who carry and run the ball. So I think they're going to always put us in the best position to win - or at least try to."

The good news for Cooper (and his fantasy managers) is that things should open up quite a bit in Week 5 against the Chargers. With J.C. Jackson (ankle) still not 100 percent, the Chargers have tasked Samuel with covering opposing No. 1 receivers more often than not this season-and while Samuel is a talented youngster with a bright future, he has also been gettable in coverage. This isn't a smash spot for Cooper, but he should at least rebound into WR2 territory.




Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals (Darius Slay vs. Marquise Brown)

The Philadelphia Eagles are the lone remaining undefeated team in the NFL, and a big part of the credit for that 4-0 start goes to Philly's stifling defense. Cornerback Darius Slay is one of the cornerstones of that defense, having already put the clamps on Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings this season. If you want to know how good the 31-year-old Slay is, all you have to do is ask him.

"You know how it always goes -- the older you get, the more they think you're falling off. But I ain't one of them guys. I'm still at an elite level. I deserve a lot of respect in this league," Slay told reporters earlier this season. "I take no matchup lightly. I am one of the best in the world."

Slay has never been shy about talking, but he has also usually backed that talk up over his career. Meanwhile, Cardinals wideout Marquise Brown has been among the league leaders in both targets (45) and receptions (30) so far this season. With DeAndre Hopkins still out, the Cardinals have leaned heavily on "Hollywood." That target volume is appealing to fantasy managers, but Slay is about as tough as coverage matchups come-his passer rating against this year is a ridiculous 24.5.




Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals (Darius Slay vs. Marquise Brown)

If you ask most people to assemble a list of the NFL's best lockdown corners, it's a safe bet that only two will list Byron Murphy of the Arizona Cardinals among them-and that pair is his parents. However, as we move through the 2022 season Murphy is starting to get some run, although Cardinals safety Budda Baker told the team's website that Murphy's teammates already knew he was capable of shadowing the league's best.

"It's great to know your teammate, your peer, you little brother wants that matchup," Baker said. "He's mad when he doesn't get that matchup. You want guys who want to go up against the best that want to travel. We want those type of corners on this defense. In this league corners make good money for a reason."

Given that Murphy is set to hit free agency after the season, games like this are as important for his future as they are Arizona's present. It's not certain Murphy will shadow Brown-the past couple of weeks the fourth-year veteran has been kicking inside in subpackages. But he did shadow Davante Adams of the Raiders in Week 2, holding Adams mostly in check. That isn't to say he can repeat that feat against fantasy's No. 9 receiver, but Murphy's 7.5 yards allowed per completion and 4.2 yards allowed per target are not stats to scoff at.




Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (CeeDee Lamb vs. Jalen Ramsey)

In the eyes of quite a few people, Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams is the gold standard at his position. But Ramsey's 2022 campaign has been rocky-the Rams were boatraced by the Bills in Week 1, and last week against the rival 49ers Ramsey was embarrassed on a long touchdown by Deebo Samuel. Per the Los Angeles Times, Ramsey has heard the snickers about his play this year-and no one is harsher on him about it than he is.

"I take it as a compliment that people don't think I ever played a bad game," Ramsey said sarcastically. "There's never anything anybody can tell me that I haven't already told myself - times 10 probably," he said. "Like, I cuss myself out in my mind like worse than anybody I could ever speak to. Just how I am, and the standards I hold myself to and just how much I care."

It hasn't just been Ramsey getting roasted-four games into the season the Rams are allowing more PPR points to wide receivers than any team in the league. With that said, with CeeDee Lamb of the Cowboys nursing a groin injury and Ramsey seething after being trolled on social media after the loss to San Francisco, downgrading Lamb at least a bit here isn't a bad idea. It could also be a sneaky smash spot for Michael Gallup or Noah Brown, who will face the Rams corners not named Jalen Ramsey.




Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (Chidobe Awuzie vs. Rashod Bateman)

The Baltimore Ravens are already rather short on impact players at the wide receiver position. Now they could be that much more short-handed, as No. 1 wideout Rashod Bateman missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a foot injury. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman told the team's website he's hopeful the second-year pro will play, but confident others can step up if called upon.

"Bate is really valuable to us," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. "He's really coming along as a receiver, so if he's not out there, he's definitely going to be missed, but the flip side of that is we have some other guys who can step in there and make plays for us as well. I like what I'm seeing out at practice this week, so we just have to keep working through it. We have a multitude of tight ends, our receivers are doing a great job, when you look at their production based on what we're asking of them, they're extremely productive. I feel really good about it. Some other guys will step up."

Even if Bateman was 100 percent healthy, this wouldn't be an easy matchup-Awuzie is an underrated cornerback who just held his own against Jaylen Waddle in Cincinnati's Week 4 win over the previously undefeated Dolphins. Now you have a banged-up wideout with just five catches for 76 yards over the last two weeks combined with a difficult matchup. Add in the Sunday night start, and Bateman is an awfully risky fantasy play in Week 5.