2020 Shadow Coverage Report

Detroit Lions

Division: NFC North

WR1: Kenny Golladay

Number of Potential Shadow Coverage Match-ups: 8

Historical Production

Kenny Golladay vs. Shadow Coverage
Opponent Games PPG
Vs. Shadow Coverage
7 13.5
All Other Opponents
24 12.3

*PPG based on receiving stats only

Before we get started I want to go on record stating I didn’t go into my research expecting this to be a puff piece about Kenny Golladay; however, 2020 keeps throwing us curve balls and so sit back, relax and enjoy the love fest.

When doing the analysis on Golladay his stats vs. shadow coverage was astonishing. Not just because he had a higher PPG in the 7 contest when he faced shadow coverage, but it was who he did it against that was most impressive. Golladay has succeeded in games vs. notable tier 1 shadow coverage corners including Chris Harris, James Bradberry and Tre’Davious White. In 5 of the 7 games he had at least 14 points in .5 PPR with only 1 terrible game that was under 8 points.

A big reason why Golladay can do this is his usage is pretty unique as in 2019 he was only player in the NFL to have an ADOT of over 16 yards while also receiving over 30 red zone targets. At 6-4 215 that usage gives Golladay a very big ceiling heading into 2020 with a healthy Matthew Stafford.

2020 Schedule

Detroit Lions
Team Week(s) Player
2019 Yards Per Covered Snap
Green Bay Packers 2,14 Jaire Alexander 1.3
Arizona Cardinals 3 Patrick Peterson 1.25
New Orleans Saints 4 Marshon Lattimore 1.21
Jacksonville Jaguars 6 C.J. Henderson #N/A
Washington Redskins 10 TBD #N/A
Tennessee Titans 15 Adoree’ Jackson 0.94
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 Carlton Davis 1.08
League Average 2019 Yards Per Covered Snap 1.31

Early Season Schedule (Weeks 1-4)

Heading into 2020 Golladay has 8 potential shadow coverage match-ups, but only two come against tier 1 cornerbacks. Both of those match-ups come early in the season in week 3 vs. Arizona Cardinals and Patrick Peterson and week 4 vs. the New Orleans Saints and Marshon Lattimore. Before we dive into those match-ups lets start from the top.

In week 2 the Lions take on division rival the Green Bay Packers and tier 2 cornerback Jaire Alexander. In week 6 of last season Alexander was assigned to Marvin Jones and Kevin King was tasked with Kenny Golladay and that didn’t go so well. Golladay ripped him for 5-121 in that game. Later in the season Marvin Jones was out and the Packers as a team had much more success containing Golladay as he finished with a modest 3-72.

Even if Alexander gets assigned to shadow Golladay, he is giving up 6 inches and will be no match for him in the red zone. Long story short I won’t be fading him in this match-up and neither should you.

In week 3 things get a lot tougher as Golladay will square off vs. Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals. Now earlier I told you about that one dud game vs. shadow coverage and well that came vs. Patrick Peterson who locked Golladay up for 2-5. Even with Golladay’s success vs. shadow coverage overall it will be hard to justify him as more than a flex in week 3 on the road in Arizona.

The final match-up in the early season slate comes vs Marshon Lattimore and the New Orleans Saints. After Lattimore took a beating from DeAndre Hopkins in week 1 of 2019 he followed it up with elite performances holding Amari Cooper, Mike Evans and D.J. Chark to under 50 yards his next three match-ups. Overall Lattimore held WRs in his shadow coverage to 7.7 PPG in .5 PPR last season. Golladay will be at home in this game, but it’s best to view him as a low-end WR2/flex vs. Lattimore.

Fantasy Playoff Schedule (Weeks 14-16)

Ironically almost all of Golladay’s shadow coverage match-ups come either in the first month of the season or during the fantasy playoffs. The great news for the fantasy playoffs is all three match-ups come against tier 2 cornerbacks.

In week 14 Golladay will once again face Green Bay. Based on how the Packers try to employ Jaire Alexander earlier in the season we should have a better idea how to view Golladay in this game.

The next match-up in week 15 comes against Adoree Jackson and the Tennessee Titans. Typically, Jackson is tasked to shadow smaller speed receivers like Tyreek Hill and Marquise Brown, but he did hold D.J. Chark to 5-38 in week 12 last season. However, we will need to monitor Jackson’s usage as a shadow corner throughout the season as he did flash dominate play in 2019 holding WRs below 1.00 yard per covered snap. This could be a potential red flag for Golladay.

Finally, in the fantasy championship Golladay has an intriguing match-up vs. up and coming cornerback Carlton Davis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Davis down the stretch really became a nightmare for opposing #1s. This includes holding down Julio Jones (5-68) and (7-78) and DeAndre Hopkins (5-23) to well below their season averages. During the season it will be pivotal to see if Davis takes the next step as his match-up in week 16 vs. Golladay could make or break championships.

2020 Draft Recommendation

After diving into the research Golladay has moved up a notch in my book and at the 2/3 turn I wouldn’t blame anyone for making the investment. His early season schedule could lead to some frustration after tough match-ups in weeks 3 and 4. Right after these games the Lions have a week 5 bye, and Golladay might be able to be grabbed at a value from a frustrated owner who might need a win while he is out. Don’t get me wrong I am officially a Golladay believer and with Stafford back in the fold he should be able to return value at his current WR7 ADP. Personally I am taking the stance that he might be my #1 mid-season trade target instead of a draft asset in 2020.