If this is a sign of how things are going to go all season in the NFL, self-sanity will be at a premium as the months go on. Antonio Brown kicked things off by popping up in the headlines for what seems like the trillionth time during his minuscule tenure with the Raiders, this time for nearly coming to blows with GM Mike Mayock. Quickly after, Atlanta Falcons star wideout Julio Jones got fantasy owners in a frenzy when he responded with “I don’t know” to questions regarding whether or not he would play for the Falcons in week one.
Chances are you spent around a second-round pick on either of these receivers, and are now left scrambling. While Jones seems more likely to play than Brown this coming week, you better have a backup plan in case things go sidewise as quick as the Raiders-Brown relationship has gone.
New York Giants wideout Sterling Shepard is a player who many fantasy owners were high on when the offseason kicked off. Yet, the fourth year receiver was slowed down by a thumb injury early in camp, which caused his ADP to drastically drop.
Shepard is now at full strength and ready to step into the massive shoes left behind by Odell Beckham Jr. He will undoubtedly be in the New York Giants starting lineup come week 1, but will he be in yours?
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Sterling Shepard Fantasy Outlook vs. Dallas
With OBJ shipped off to Cleveland and Golden Tate serving a week 1 suspension, Sterling Shepard enters the week as the unanimous go-to target at wideout for the New York Giants. However, the matchup presented leaves much to be desired from a fantasy standpoint.
Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones is one of the NFL’s premier lockdown corners, ranking 7th by PFF at his position amongst 131 qualified players. The good news for Shepard owners is he has the ability to be moved around the lineup and has done his most damage throughout his career from the slot. Moving to the slot will likely mean avoiding Jones, yet the nickel back waiting for him in the slot ain’t no scrub himself.
Jourdan Lewis had slot receivers on lockdown for the majority of 2018, and will look to continue that trend, starting with Shepard on Sunday.
Should You Start or Sit Sterling Shepard in Week 1?
Shepard has been average at best over his six career matchups vs. Dallas. The wideout has averaged below four receptions, and less than 40 receiving yards per game against the division-rival Cowboys.
Evan Engram will likely draw coverage his way, working the seams of the defense, leaving Shepard to do damage underneath. Plus, with a depleted WR group, someone needs to catch passes in the Giants offense. Shepard should be a reliable option in PPR scoring formats.
Don’t expect to plug in Shepard for a Julio or AB and get the same production. Still, fantasy owners should feel safe trotting Shepard out as a WR3/Flex starter, with WR2 upside if he can find the end zone.
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