2020 Shadow Coverage Report – San Francisco 49ers

Team: San Francisco 49ers

Division: NFC West

WR1: Deebo Samuel

Number of Potential Shadow Coverage Match-ups: 11

Historical Production

Deebo Samuel has yet to draw shadow coverage in his career as last season some teams elected to take away Emmanuel Sanders. The luxury of having a great play caller like Kyle Shanahan is he gives Samuel multiple ways to produce.  Shanahan does this by using Samuel in the run game which helps raise his floor even in tougher match-ups. Samuel was utilized in the slot as well seeing 25% of his routes on the inside and roughly 35% of his targets from that position. These factors will be notable when evaluating Samuel throughout the season.

2020 Schedule

Samuel’s schedule is nothing short of a gauntlet. Already behind the eight-ball dealing with an off-season foot injury Samuel is returning to the toughest shadow cornerback schedule of any wide receiver in 2020. This season he won’t have another wide receiver like Sanders to draw attention away, so Samuel will be the player that defensive coordinators target for shadow coverage. Heading into 2020 Samuel has 9 tier 1 cornerback match-ups and 11 total for the season.  In his own division he will see match-ups vs. top shadow cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Patrick Peterson. The NFC West will be facing off vs. AFC and NFC East that hosts some top shadow cornerbacks including Bryon Jones (Dolphins), Stephon Gilmore (Patriots), Tre’Davious White (Bills) and James Bradberry (Giants). If this wasn’t tough enough the other NFC teams they face are the Saints (Marshon Lattimore) and the Packers (Jaire Alexander).

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This year, there is one guy who I will be trying my hardest to roster on every fantasy team that I draft. He is not a guy I need to spend an early pick on, in fact, I have been and think that I will continue to be able to get him way below his value. I have been able to get him in the late rounds in my SFBX draft and both other drafts I have done since. He’s not flashy, he’s not big, he’s not fast, and he’s not a big name. He is a guy who is being drafted after guys like Antonio Brown and Devonta Freeman, who don’t even have jobs in the league! The disrespect is real, and I plan to take full advantage of it – and you should too!

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As expected, in the midst of a pandemic, NFL players around the league are deciding to opt out of the 2020 season. All eyes will be on the MLB for the next couple of weeks to see how outbreaks within organizations are handled. After all of the positive tests for the Marlins and the two positive tests in the Phillies’ organization, it’s hard to imagine the NFL functioning with travel in the fall. At this point, Goodell is going to try and push through and have teams play in their home stadiums. I don’t understand why the NFL can’t move their operation down to Texas for the season and play in those nice high school facilities that they have down there. I get that NFL players want the cushy locker rooms and state of the art weight lifting facilities, but you have to look at the NBA campus and notice that there hasn’t been a positive test in weeks. Having 53 players per roster following proper guidelines in a high contact sport seems far-fetched enough as it is. As I previously mentioned, the consequences of the less than ideal protocols are opt outs, and it’s already having an effect on fantasy football. But first, the Buccaneers made an interesting roster move on Thursday. 

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Let’s get right to the point: you’re here because you don’t know what to make about Joe Mixon, running back for the Cincinnati Bengals. I don’t know what to make of him, either, to be honest. People smarter than me have him ranked as the 6th player off the board in 2020 Fantasy Football. However, he’s a running back with the [checks notes, does double take, spills papers] second worst offensive line in the NFL. Over at the NFFC, Mixon is the first round player that expert drafters just completely disagree on–he’s gone as high as 4th, as low as 20th, and holds an average of the 9th player off the board. So, let’s take a closer look at Joe Mixon, who is probably your first round target if you’re drafting in the bottom half of the first round. 

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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.

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When I was a pubescent boy, deciphering the ebbs and flows of the squiggly lines from the scrambled cable channels provided much pleasure. I owe all my creative juices to that endeavor. After my voice cracked and hair appeared in places that never existed before….it was never one hair, then two hairs. One day it was nothing. The next day there was a forest. One of life’s great mysteries. Anyways, figuring out how to get onto all the bases was the next challenge. Then, it was about finding a woman that would actually say yes. Kids. White picket fence. Yadda yadda. Now, it’s about fantasy sports. Wet dreams and tents in the pants are fostered by thinking about men playing with a brown, prolate spehroid-shaped ball. Talk about devolution. It is what it is, though. With all that’s been going on in this Rona-infested world, my one solace has been from the sexual healing of Adam Thielen. Sorry wife and kids. Here’s why:

In 2018, the Vikings rushed 357 times and attempted 606 passes under John DeFilippo, good for 27th and 6th in the league respectively. Mike Zimmer, a defensive-minded coach wasn’t having any of that. As a result, he went with Kevin Stefanski as offensive coordinator the following year and mandated a more run-heavy approach. Mission accomplished, as the Vikings rushed 476 times and attempted only 466 passes, good for 4th and 30th. But Stefanski became the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns in the offseason and Gary Kubiak was promoted.

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It’s 1934, prohibition is finally over, but the country is in the midst of the Great Depression. Of course, you are sitting at the local watering hole drowning your sorrows when a well-dressed man walks into the bar requesting a cold one. The bartender requires the man to pay upfront because of the economic times. He reveals a large wad of cash and the bartender questions, “Where did you get all that money?” The stranger proclaims he’s a professional gambler. Everyone in room disparages him, claiming even the best bets are 50/50.

The gambler does what gamblers do, he wagers with the patrons. “I’ll bet you $50 I can bite my right eye!” When the bet is taken, he pulls out his glass eye, pops it into his mouth, and shoves the fresh Ulysses S. Grant in his pocket. He proceeds, “Perhaps that was unfair, so I’ll bet you $50 I can bite my left eye?” Seeing him walk into the room, knowing he isn’t blind, the bartender obliges. The gambler pulls out his fake teeth, bites his left eye, snatches the cash, and heads to the back of the room to drink up.

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Good news, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed on COVID-19 amendments to the current CBA! I haven’t sifted thru all of the amendments yet, but I can only assume the NFL’s billion dollar attorney’s have convinced the NFLPA’s million dollar attorney’s that the players should play this season in exchange for oat milk coupons rather than money. On the plus side, this paves the way for a timely start to the NFL season. But what else does it mean for us fantasy fiends? Well, here’s a breakdown of what the new powder puff training camp will look like:

You’ll hear talking heads declaring that this scaled back training camp will drastically reduce preseason injuries. Then you’ll hear others state that poor conditioning will lead to more in season injuries and an overall poor on field product. Both might be right, both might wrong, both might be crazy. Only 8-pound, 6-ounce, newborn infant Jesus knows the answer. The one thing I’m sure of is the incoming tidal wave of NFL corona absences headed our way. Which should make each and every bench spot as valuable as a roll of March 2020 two-ply. I’ll be running for the hills at the first sign of preseason injuries, which is why Deebo Samuel was omitted from my top 40 and top 60 wide receiver rankings. But he did land a spot in my top 80 wide receivers for 2020 PPR fantasy football:

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Every year there are a handful of players that can elevate a fantasy team to the championship or sink it to the depths of the standings. All players are unique in their skill sets, team context, and career trajectory but some profiles do line up. 

As we get into draft season, we’re all trying to avoid the next big bust. With injuries, it’s often just bad luck but often times we can see a storm brewing around a player. Last year Le’Veon Bell was returing after a season off on a new team with a lackluster coach and a disappointment was almost too easy to spot, but many fell for it anyway. In the name of value, drafters will hold their nose and take players they know they shouldn’t. Sometimes it’s just best to avoid a bad situation.

So who will be this year’s not NEXT team? (ADPs via fantasydata)

Jared Gofftop 10 QB who is demoted to streamer

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Joe Douglas traded the best player on his team.  The Jets, a perennial team of dysfunction, has found itself a worse team than it was less than 24 hours ago.  Did they get a good return for a player who was vocal about his displeasure and contract status? Absolutely. When comparing this trade to the Dolphins trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins were absolutely ripped off by the Steelers. 

Jamal Adams and a fourth round pick go from the Jets to the Seahawks for Bradley McDougald, two first round picks and a third round pick. The Jets made out well and will have two first round picks in each of the next two drafts.  The Seahawks get a top 5 safety, who some consider the best safety in the league. So where does this leave Adams’ fantasy value? Stock DOWN is the forecast. 

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