NFL Week 5 WR/CB Matchups: Xavier Rhodes Squares Off with Alshon Jeffery, More Shadow Dates
- The Steelers passing game is set up for success at home against the Falcons' injury-riddled defense.
- Week 5 has an incredible eight projected shadow matchups around the league.
- The Jaguars and Rams passing attacks have plenty of upside this week in their respective great matchups.
I’ll be breaking down the top wide receiver/cornerback matchups every week throughout the 2018 NFL season.
Here’s a data-driven analysis of Week 5’s best passing-game matchup, three potential shadow matchups and five potential non-shadow matchups. Then we’ll round it out with a quick look at plus and minus matchups.
Matchup of the Week
Steelers Offense vs. Falcons Defense
Ben Roethlisberger leads the league with 1,414 passing yards and is averaging a career-high 353.5 yards per game. The offense has heavily featured receivers Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster, but auxiliary pass-game options Vance McDonald and James Conner have also been heavily involved:
- Brown: 13.3 targets per game, 38% air yard market share, five red-zone targets
- Smith-Schuster: 12.3 targets per game, 22% air yard market share, 13 red-zone targets
- Conner: 6 targets, 1% air yard market share, 3 red-zone targets
- McDonald: 5 targets, 8% air yard market share, 1 red-zone targets
Rookie James Washington is only averaging 3.7 targets per game, but his team-high average target depth of 17.4 yards makes him a weekly high-upside dart throw.
The only concern in the Steelers passing game concerns AB’s less-than-dominant performance after four weeks. The standard for the league’s best receiver is certainly higher than most, but Brown has objectively had his worst start since he became a full-time starter in 2012:
Of course, a home matchup against a banged-up Falcons defense might be just what AB needs to resume his status as the best receiver alive. Per our NFL Trends tool, Brown has averaged a position-high 27.6 DraftKings points per game with a +6.4 Plus/Minus and 67% Consistency Rating at home since 2014.
The Falcons’ injury-riddled defense has allowed 80 points over its last eight quarters. They’re without starting safeties Ricardo Allen (Achilles, injured reserve) and Keanu Neal (knee, IR), along with stud linebacker Deion Jones (foot, IR), for the foreseeable future. They accordingly changed up their coverage schemes in Week 4 against the Bengals.
- Desmond Trufant played 11 snaps in the slot in Weeks 1-3 combined.
- Trufant played 53 snaps (75%) in the slot in Week 4.
- Robert Alford didn’t play a single snap at left cornerback in Weeks 1-3.
- Alford shadowed lined up as the left cornerback on nine snaps in Week 4.
The Falcons’ decision to ask Alford and Trufant to shadow A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, respectively, means we can expect Alford to shadow AB, and Trufant to follow Smith-Schuster.
Both Green (4-78-1) and Boyd (11-100-0) proved plenty capable of winning these matchups, and the Steelers’ more-talented options are certainly capable of doing the same.
Still, consider exposing your fantasy lineups to lesser-owned options on the Steelers offense that might not have the full attention of the Falcons’ 30th-ranked scoring defense.