Mecole Hardman (@ BUF)
With Sammy Watkins declared out for the week, it’s Mecole Hardman’s time to shine. Hardman has the perfect opportunity this week despite the overall perception. Buffalo’s defense has not been living up to the same level as its 2019 season.
This Monday night showdown has the highest total on the week at 57 points. Hardman will have a good portion of Watkins 17% target share and the best receiver matchup. 79% of the time, Hardman will escape Tre’Davious White’s lockdown coverage. Most of that will be spent going up against Derrick Henry’s son Josh Norman, who gives up a gracious .54 PPR points per route run. The interesting part of Mecole’s season so far is his average depth of target. Hardman, who is known by all as a deep threat, has 2.47 yards per target. He has yet to be targeted on one-shot play this year. Expect him to get at least one this Monday night against a Bills’ defense that is surprisingly ranked 23rd in explosive pass plays allowed.
James Washington (v CLE)
It’s Chase Claypool Season! Or is it? After a massive game from Claypool last week, it may be a different Pittsburgh receiver’s turn; and no, it’s not Juju Smith-Schuster. Pittsburgh will face off against the Browns this week with a high game total of 51 points and will provide plenty of passing against a defense that allows the 2nd most points to WR. However, the matchup research is very intriguing. The Browns corners are not necessarily bad as Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson have posted great numbers. The weakness comes from the other outside corner in Terrance Mitchell.
Washington will primarily be matched up with Mitchell throughout the game while Diontae Johnson sits along with his 18% target share. Where it gets really interesting is how the Browns give up points and how Washington is being used in the Steelers offense. Despite being 31st in receiver scoring, the Browns allow the 3rd lowest explosive pass rate. Last year, we would be scared to play Washington with this in mind. However, Washington’s deep threat usage has been taken over by Chase Claypool. James Washington now only holds an aDOT of 7.53 while Claypool owns an aDOT of nearly double at 13.85.
David Montgomery (@ CAR)
After the Tarik Cohen injury, the Bears handed over the reins to David Montgomery. Since Cohen went down for the season, Montgomery’s snaps have increased from 50% to 80%. Along with snaps, the receiving work has been handed over as well. David Montgomery is now getting five targets a game and plenty of carries along with it. Carolina’s defense ranks dead last in RB receiving production and 29th in defensive run DVOA. Expect Montgomery to be fed all game and to eat against this Panthers defense.
Jerry Jeudy (@ NE)
Yes, I am suggesting a receiver against the Patriots defense. Much like Buffalo, the Patriots have not lived up to their name on paper. With New England ranking 22nd against receivers and 29th in allowing explosive pass plays, Jerry Jeudy could legitimately boom. Drew Lock is back with no Noah Fant, no Cortland Sutton, and no Melvin Gordon. Jeudy will avoid Gilmore as a slot receiver and matchup against Jonathon Jones. With a 20% target share and 28% air yard share, Jeudy has been used immediately in Denver. Jones gives up .56 points per route and is targeted over 30% of the time. Noah Fant’s 20% target share will also be spread around, mainly to Jeudy in this game. Expect a double-digit target game as the Broncos are projected to be trailing early.
Matthew Stafford (@ JAX)
My quarterback lock of the week: Matthew Stafford. Back to the well against the Jacksonville Jaguars pass defense. The Jaguars stayed 32nd in the NFL for Pass Defense DVOA after Deshaun Watson shredded them last week. DVOA is especially important to look at with a close spread of only three points. With Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones healthy, boom plays will be happening early and often. A game total of 54 points and Jacksonville ranking 30th in explosive pass plays is perfect for the two big play receivers. Throw in TJ Hockenson and the rest of the Lions’ receiver group, and Stafford should have a field day.