Team: Buffalo Bills

Division: AFC EAST

WR1: Stefon Diggs

Number of Potential Shadow Coverage Match-ups: 8

Historical Production

Stefon Diggs vs Shadow Coverage 2018-2019

Stefon Diggs vs. Shadow Coverage
Opponent Games PPG
Vs. Shadow Coverage 6 11
All other opponents 24 13.4

*Point per game based on receiving stats only

Diggs has seen some mixed results vs. shadow corners. Top cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Peterson and Darius Slay held him under 50 yards over the past two seasons. However, Diggs did have one dominate performance vs. Chris Harris and the Denver Broncos. In five of six games he was held under the 13.4 points per game average he has in all other match-ups while failing to reach double digit fantasy points in 50% of those games in .5 PPR. Overall Diggs only produced one WR1 week in the games he saw shadow coverage from a tier 1 cornerback.

2020 Schedule

Stefon Diggs will be taking over the lead role as the Bills unquestioned number one wide receiver. He draws a tough road in his first season in Buffalo as the Bills will see seven Tier 1 shadow coverage match-ups and eight total in 2020. The Bills play in a division that includes the Patriots and Dolphins who will employ shadow coverage from top tier cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore, Bryon Jones and Xavien Howard. In addition, the Bills play the NFC and AFC west this season which includes shadow corners Patrick Peterson, Jalen Ramsey, Casey Hayward, Chris Harris and A.J. Bouye. The final match-up will be vs. the Tennessee Titans and Tier 2 cornerback Adoree Jackson. Jackson held opponents to under one yard per covered snap in 2019 while being assigned to shadow coverage three times. We should know by week 5 if the Titans will use Jackson more in shadow coverage this season.

Buffalo Bills
Team Week(s) Shadow Corner 2019 Yards Per Covered Snap
Miami Dolphins
Bryon Jones 0.62
Xavien Howard 1.50
Los Angeles Rams 3 Jalen Ramsey 1.15
Tennessee Titans 5 Adoree Jackson 0.94
New England Patriots 8,16 Stephon Gilmore 1.06
Arizona Cardinals 10 Patrick Peterson 1.25
Los Angeles Rams
Casey Hayward 0.71
Chris Harris 1.12
Denver Broncos 15 A.J. Bouye 1.48
League Average 2019 Yards Per Covered Snap 1.31

Early Season Schedule (Weeks 1-4)

The Bills have two early season shadow coverage match-ups including week 2 on the road vs Miami Dolphins and Week 3 at home vs. the Los Angeles Rams. New Dolphins off-season acquisition Bryon Jones was Pro Football Focus #14 cornerback in 2019 holding opponents to .62 yards per covered snap. The good news we will have week 1 to see how Bryon Jones will be deployed, but if Brian Flores heavy man scheme from 2019 is any indication, Diggs will see a lot of Jones in week 2. Week 3 Diggs has an imposing match-up vs. one of the top shadow corners in Jalen Ramsey. Once Ramsey joined the Rams he held the likes of Juju Smith-Schuster, Allen Robinson, D.K. Metcalf and Amari Cooper to a combined 8-113 over the second half of 2019.

Fantasy Playoff Schedule (Weeks 14-16)

Two of the three fantasy playoff week match-ups include games vs. Denver Broncos and new top corner A.J. Bouye in week 15 and the New England Patriots and Stephon Gilmore in week 16. Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio is well known for his dominate defenses from his days in Chicago, and new cornerback A.J. Bouye will be taking over as the top corner for Chris Harris. Bouye’s play did fall off a bit in 2020, but we should know if Fangio has worked his magic by the time these two square off later in the season. It is notable that the 3rd match-up for Buffalo is against the Steelers and Joe Haden so Diggs might be someone to unload before the trade deadline this season.

2020 Recommendation

If you do draft Diggs, don’t be afraid to pivot in weeks where Diggs sees shadow coverage. However, currently being drafted as the wide receiver 26 in the back of the 5th round, Diggs is going ahead of players like T.Y. Hilton, Marquise Brown and Michael Gallup who all have softer schedules in 2020. Gallup should avoid top cornerbacks as Amari Cooper will draw that coverage on most weeks, Hilton should see a nice boost in pass volume with Philip Rivers in town and Brown should take a leap in his second season now fully recovered from his Lisfranc injury in college.  Overall Diggs is priced reasonably at his ADP, but with John Brown, Cole Beasley and Dawson Knox all heading into their second year with Josh Allen, I don’t see enough targets for Diggs to compensate for the tough schedule this season.