2020 Shadow Coverage Report
Division: NFC West
WR1: D.K. Metcalf (Primary Outside WR)
Number of Potential Shadow Coverage Match-ups: 9
|D.K. Metcalf vs. Shadow Coverage|
|Vs. Shadow Coverage||3||7.1|
|All other opponents||13||10.7|
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year I am sure you have seen those ridiculous photos of D.K. Metcalf with his shirt off. Metcalf is probably the closest person we have to a super hero based on his physique, but it is important to remember for super heroes “with great power comes great responsibility.” The responsibility for Metcalf will be to learn how to beat top shadow corners consistently in 2020.
Last season Metcalf’s rookie success started catching the eye of defensive coordinators as teams began to target him with their top corners over the final weeks of 2019. Weeks 14-16 Metcalf faced tier 1 shadow corners Jalen Ramsey (6-78), James Bradberry (2-36-1) and Patrick Peterson (0-0). In two of those match-ups Metcalf just barely cracked 10 points in .5 PPR and the other game we saw his floor with a zero-point performance. We should point out Metcalf was a rookie and growth in his second season should help vs. these tough match-ups. Overall his early season success vs. shadow coverage will dictate whether he can overcome a brutal mid-season stretch in 2020.
2020 Shadow Coverage Schedule
2019 Yards Per Covered Snap
|New England Patriots||2||Stephon Gilmore||1.06|
|Arizona Cardinals||7,11||Patrick Peterson||1.25|
|Buffalo Bills||9||Tre’Davious White||1.02|
|Los Angeles Rams||10,16||Jalen Ramsey||1.15|
|New York Giants||13||James Bradberry||1.14|
|League Average 2019 Yards Per Covered Snap||1.31|
Early Season Schedule (Weeks 1-4)
A week 1 match-up vs the Atlanta Falcons should dazzle the imagination of all D.K. Metcalf owners as he will probably dominate the young secondary of Atlanta. The very next week Metcalf will face off vs. the Defensive Player of The Year Stephon Gilmore and New England Patriots. It is notable that last season Gilmore was assigned to Sammy Watkins when they faced the Chiefs instead of Tyreek Hill. We could see a similar approach as Gilmore could be tasked to cover Metcalf as he plays more on the outside. The likelihood of anyone sitting Metcalf is probably zero especially if he has a big game vs. Atlanta, but Gilmore held 13 of 16 wide receivers to under 10 points in .5 PPR in 2019.
The next shadow coverage match-up comes vs. the Miami Dolphins and cornerbacks Bryon Jones and Xavien Howard in week 4. The jury is out on Byron Jones being a true shadow corner as he played in a lot of zone in Dallas. However, the Dolphins gave Jones a big contract to be their top guy and if he can live up to his .62 yards per covered snap in 2019 then wide receivers are in trouble. The good news for Metcalf is we will see how the first few weeks go for Jones before recommending a potential pivot in this match-up.
Fantasy Playoffs Schedule (Weeks 14-16)
Heading into the fantasy playoffs Metcalf has an insane mid-season stretch where he will face off vs. some of the best tier 1 cornerbacks in the NFL. This includes two match-ups vs. Patrick Peterson in weeks 7 and 11 who held him to zero points in 2019. The other match-ups are Jalen Ramsey, Tre’Davious White, James Bradberry oh and for good measure we will sprinkle in the Eagles and their potential shadow corner Darius Slay. If Metcalf flops early on vs. Stephon Gilmore and Bryon Jones, it’s going to be hard to trust Metcalf as more than a flex during this stretch.
The one thing you will learn about me is I will always try to find us a silver lining or a potential angle on getting value from these players. That value will come in the fantasy playoffs. Metcalf faces off vs. the Redskins and Jets in weeks 14 and 15. As we are aware the Redskins are a tier 3 shadow coverage match-up as Head Coach Ron Rivera used a lot of it during his time in Carolina. Currently the Redskins don’t have a corner who has any previous shadow coverage experience, but if one emerges we will be sure to let you know.
In week 16 things don’t look as rosy as Metcalf will square off once again vs. Jalen Ramsey. Metcalf did have some success vs. Ramsey last year as he posted a 6-78 line, but it’s not an ideal situation with your championship on the line. The good news about this game coming so late in the season is we will already have seen if Metcalf can overcome this match-up as these two will square off in week 10. Furthermore, by this time Metcalf will have faced 7 tier 1 cornerbacks so we will know if he’s a must start even in a tough match-up.
2020 Draft Recommendation
It’s tough to love Metcalf’s schedule as 8 tier 1 cornerback match-ups is daunting. Metcalf does have a chance to get off to a decent start if Bryon Jones flops in his role as a shadow corner as 3 of his other first 5 games he can exploit. This includes the Vikings who have a very young and inexperienced secondary, the Falcons as discussed previously and the Cowboys who ironically just lost their top cornerback Bryon Jones in free agency.
Currently being drafted as the wide receiver 19 in the 4th round players going behind Metcalf I would rather take are Tyler Lockett, D.J. Chark and Terry McLaurin who all have much easier cornerback match-ups in 2020.