Week 1 is in the books, but the fantasy football season is only getting started. This is the time of year where we are still learning much about how teams will run their offense and how certain players will be used. There were lessons to be learned regarding the slot as well. This week, I will discuss some strong matchups, but I will also talk about some of what we learned from Week 1!
Week 1 Slot Leaders
What we Learned in Week 1
Dede Westbrook lost his QB early in the first game of the season. Nick Foles, who targeted the slot receivers more than anyone (but Andrew luck) last season was a huge reason to like Westbook. However, do not give up yet. Gardner Minshew threw to the slot 32 percent of the time in Week 1, while Foles was 36.4 percent in 2018. In fact, Westbrook saw six targets from Minshew, the most he targeted anyone. Westbrook's value takes a hit without Foles, but do not panic yet, Minshew could salvage that value. Westbrook should be viewed as a WR3 with upside this week, against a Texans team that allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the slot in Week 1 (35.4) and the ninth-most in 2018 (20.1).
Larry Fitzgerald is going to be a problem in this Cardinals offense. He ran 51 routes from the slot and saw 11 targets. Not only that though, but he had 153 air yards and averaged 11.7 air yards per target. To put that into perspective, he's averaged between 8.0 and 9.6 air yards per target in the past three seasons. Fitzgerald could have a very big season if his Week 1 usage is an indication of things to come.
Jamison Crowder had 14 catches on 17 targets in Week 1, both the most in the NFL. Of that, he saw 14 targets and 11 receptions from the slot. Crowder has quickly become the favorite target of Sam Darnold, who threw to the slot 35 percent of the time in 2018. Crowder is a very safe play in PPR leagues this week.
Trey Quinn had six targets, four receptions, 33 yards and a score in Week 1. Perhaps the most encouraging part of Week 1 for him though was that he ran 33 slot routes in Week 1, while no other receiver ran more than nine. The slot in Washington will be manned primarily by Quinn, just like we thought heading into the season. He is in play this week against the Cowboys, who allowed the ninth-most yards to the slot in Week 1 (109).
Studs Who Get a Boost:
Keenan Allen plays a Lions team that allowed the ninth most points to the slot in Week 1 (26.2) after allowing the seventh-most (20.44) in 2018. Allen is always a stud, but in a great matchup this week with no Hunter Henry? He is going to go off!
Tyler Lockett only saw two targets in Week 1, luckily he turned one into a 44-yard touchdown. Look for him to to have a bigger week against the Steelers, who allowed 51.4 fantasy points to the slot in Week 1, the most in the NFL. That's after they allowed the second-most fantasy points to the slot (25.3) in 2018. Do not panic from the Week 1 results. Seattle could be chasing points this week against the Steelers.
Tyler Boyd takes on a 49ers team that allowed 20.44 fantasy PPG to the slot in 2018, the sixth-most in the NFL. He will be the top target of Andy Dalton with A.J. Green still out and should turn that into another very solid performance, with the upside to explode in this matchup.
Julian Edelman took advantage of a great matchup last week, catching six of his 11 targets for 83 yards. This week he faces a Dolphins team that allowed 41 yards and a touchdown to Willie Snead and a 47-yard touchdown to Marquise Brown all from the slot. Edelman is always in play, but he gets a value boost this week against the Dolphins.
More Slot Options:
Jarvis Landry caught four of his seven targets for 67 yards in Week 1. Look for him to build on that performance against a Jets team that has been hurt badly by the slot. They allowed 10 catches for 100 yards from the slot in Week 1 against the Bills, after allowing the third-most fantasy PPG to the slot in 2018 (23.29). In fact, they allowed 101.9 receiving yards per game to the slot in 2018, which was the third-most in the NFL. Additionally, they allowed 13 slot touchdowns, the sixth most in the NFL. Landry may no longer be the volume magnet he once way, but he is a strong play against the Jets this week.
Willie Snead faces a Cardinals team that just allowed 122 yards, a touchdown and 27.2 fantasy points to slot receivers in Week 1. That was after allowing 20.13 fantasy PPG to the slot in 2018, the 10th most in the NFL. Snead ran 12 routes from the slot in Week 1, the most among the Ravens, who did pull their starters. Marquise Brown is also in play, who ran seven slot routes. Brown has a much higher ceiling so is the preferred play, but in deeper leagues look to stream Snead.
Randall Cobb ran 21 slot routes for the Cowboys, while no one else ran more than eight. In fact, he had 37 yards and scored his touchdown all from the slot. This week he takes on a Washington team that allowed 151 yards, three touchdowns and 42.1 fantasy points to slot receivers in Week 1. Cobb is very much in play in deeper leagues.
Danny Amendola led the Lions in targets (13) and receptions (7) last week while adding in 104 yards and a touchdown. This week he takes on a Chargers team that allowed 16.6 fantasy points to slot receivers in Week 1, the 11th-most in the NFL. It's worth monitoring if his high usage holds up or if it was a one-week thing. But in deeper leagues, you can take a flier on him in a favorable matchup.
You can follow Michael Florio on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.