The Shadow Knows Week 8 2017

By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport There are matchups between cornerbacks and wide receivers in the NFL. Then there are marquee matchups. And then there’s the brouhaha brewing in the Emerald City this weekend between Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
Hopkins, who has 37 receptions for 382 yards and six touchdowns so far this year, is the third-most targeted wide receiver in the NFL. Sherman is a perennial Pro Bowler who is allowing a passer rating of just 66.8 on passes thrown in his direction in 2017.

Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Texans head coach Bill O’ Brien admitted that Hopkins and the Texans will have their hands full with Sherman Sunday. "You just put the film on and he's a guy that's very, very difficult to get open against," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's very smart, he studies tape, he knows what's going on and you better keep him guessing because if you don't, it's going to be a long day."

Andy Behrens of Yahoo Sports believes it’s going to be just that – a long day for Hopkins. “It’s tough to be optimistic about Hopkins this week, on the road at Seattle where he’ll see plenty of Richard Sherman,” Behrens said. “The Seahawks have allowed only three receiving TDs to wideouts so far, and no receiver has reached 90 yards against them. Hopkins owners have grown accustomed to double-digit fantasy performances, but Nuk isn’t likely to carry anyone to a win in Week 8.”

Those numbers are hard to argue with. This isn’t to say you should sit Hopkins – or even seriously consider it. There are six teams on a bye, and Hopkins’ ceiling is just too high.

But the odds he hits that ceiling (or even really comes close) aren’t especially good.

Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers (at NEP – Malcolm Butler)
Billy Stonick of Rotoballer is bullish on Allen this week. “Allen has had a quiet couple of weeks, but Week 8 is a ripe opportunity for him to go back to being the top dog in the receiving corps,” Stonick said. “Allen still officially leads the team in catches this season, but he's only hauled in an average of four passes per week for the last three weeks, and he hasn't topped 67 yards in any of those games. Tack on that he's without a score since Week 1, and he's been a pretty disappointing top receiver from a fantasy standpoint. However, New England's soft defense and lack of any big cornerbacks should give Allen a chance to have a huge game.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: It’s possible that Allen could wind up seeing more of Stephon Gilmore than Butler this week – the former is back at practice after missing two games – but it really doesn’t matter. Allen should be able to body up both of those defensive backs, and neither has played especially well. Add in that the Patriots are dead last in pass defense and third in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, and you have the makings of a strong fantasy play.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (at DET – Darius Slay)
Per Nate Atkins of MLive, Slay has one of the most valuable assets a top cornerback in the NFL can possess – a short memory. “He lives in the forgetful world of No. 1 cornerbacks,” Slay said. “A pass-happy league tends to get the best of them from time to time, and Slay is no stranger to the fall. For as clutch as Big Play Slay can be, he has a propensity for giving up his share of splash plays when he's caught out of position.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: That short memory will serve Slay well Sunday night against the Steelers. We’ve already seen him be abused by Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin at Ford Field this season. This time it’s Antonio Brown – who leads the NFL in catches, receiving yards and targets.

Brown also leads all receivers in PPR fantasy points – by over four points per game.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (at WAS – Josh Norman)
Josh Norman has missed the last two games with broken ribs, but as he told Rick Maese of the Washington Post he’s hopeful he’ll be back on the field Sunday against the rival Cowboys and his personal rival Dez Bryant. “I said last week, ‘Today was a good day.’ It was. But I didn’t play last week. So maybe I want to change a little bit this week,” Norman said. “But no, again, today was a good day. It feels a little sore, but that comes with the territory of that injury. But it felt fine. I don’t see any problems or reason why I can’t [play].”

THE SHADOW SAYS: Norman and Bryant’s rivalry is no secret – they’ve even parlayed it into a series of ads for Samsung. In two meetings with the Redskins last year, Bryant fared well, catching 12 passes for 178 yards. Given those numbers and with Norman at less than 100 percent even if he does play, there doesn’t appear to be reason for significant concern about Bryant’s prospects in Week 8.

Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. DEN – Chris Harris)
As Harris told ESPN’s Jeff Legwold, he’s well aware that Hill is a threat to put six on the board every time he gets the rock. "I've said he can always go the distance in any way he gets the ball," Harris said. "He has a lot of speed; he's one of the fastest guys we face, maybe the fastest. They do a lot of things to get him the ball and you can't really get to focused on him because they have [tight end Travis] Kelce catching the ball and [running back Kareem] Hunt coming at you too. And they give you a lot of looks, move people around; we have to be on our checks, read our keys ... and get to him before he gets in the open."

THE SHADOW SAYS: For all the problems the Broncos have in 2017, the pass defense remains very, very good – the Broncos rank sixth in the league in that regard and are 27th in PPR fantasy points surrendered to wide receivers this season. However (and didn’t you know there was going to be one of those) Hill has had some success against the team. In his only meeting with the Broncos last year, Hill caught nine passes for 52 yards and a score.

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.