Week of the Slot Receiver: Adam Thielen is a Lock

by Conor O'Brien ·

This is the week of the slot receiver as Doug Baldwin, Adam Thielen, and Coley Beasley will draw favorable CB match-ups hiding in the slot from more imposing outside cornerbacks from Janoris Jenkins to Jimmy Smith. Here are PlayerProfiler’s favorite candidates to exceed fantasy football expectations in week 7 of the NFL regular season based on advanced stats, metrics, and analytics profiles.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks

The key to Doug Baldwin’s match up this week depends on how much time he spends in the slot. While Janoris Jenkins and the much improved Eli Apple both present challenges on the outside. Baldwin will be able to find production against Dominique Rodgers Cromartie in the slot.

Before his suspension from the team last week, Rodgers-Cromartie wasn’t giving the Giants much to be excited about. Opposing quarterbacks have a sparkling passer rating of 101.5 when targeting Rodgers-Cromartie this season, and he is allowing a whopping 1.7 Fantasy Points per Target. Rodgers-Cromartie plays 31.3 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in the slot, while Apple and Jenkins both play less than 4 percent each. With Baldwin playing over 50 percent of the Seahawks offensive snaps in the slot, he should be in for a big day against the aging Rodgers-Cromartie

Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings

Volume will power Adam Thielen through a tough matchup against the Baltimore Ravens this week. The Ravens have been excellent against receivers this year, allowing -10.55 Fantasy Points below the Mean to them, the second lowest mark in the league.
What works in Thielen’s favor is the absence of Stefon Diggs, who will miss this week with a groin injury.

Adam Thielen Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Thielen is already a target vacuum for the Vikings, averaging a whopping 8.8 targets per game along with a 26.6 percent Target Share (both No. 7 among all receivers). Like with Baldwin, Thielen gets a big boost from his time in the slot, where he has spent 53.8 percent of the Vikings snaps this season. This allows him to avoid lock down cornerback Jimmy Smith, who has played on another level for Baltimore this year.

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots

Chris Hogan also finds himself in a fortunate slot matchup. The Falcons have been pretty good against the receivers, allowing -2.65 Fantasy Points below the Mean (No. 20). However, one weakness in this good defensive backfield is nickel cornerback Brian Poole.
Poole currently boasts an unimpressive -0.04 Coverage Rating. Along with that he is allowing a catch rate of 65.4 percent, and opposing quarterbacks have a solid passer rating of 84.8 when targeting him. While Brandin Cooks may struggle with the duo of Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant on the outside, Hogan should work well in the slot where he plays over 30 percent of the team’s snaps. Hogan should be an easy option for Tom Brady to chose when going through his reads.

Devin Funchess

Devin Funchess continues to roll along in his breakout campaign. Through 6 games, Funchess has 45 targets, a huge step forward from last year when he managed 58 targets in 14 games. He’s also already matched last year’s touchdown total, scoring three times this year as opposed to four times in nearly a full seasons of work last year.


Working in Funchess’s favor in his size. The Bears have struggled to contain big bodied receivers this year, with Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Jordy Nelson all managing to turn in productive outings this year. Funchess is one of the largest players at his position at 6-4 232 lbs and an impressive 33 ½ inch (90th Percentile) arm length. Funchess should be able to bully the Bears into a big day.

Cole Beasley, WR Cowboys

The Cowboys are in great shape to snap their two game losing streak this week against the 49ers. A big reason for that is how well Cole Beasley matches up against them. The 49ers have been vulnerable against receivers this year, allowing +3.25 Fantasy Points above the Mean. In particular, they have been vulnerable in the slot due to poor depth at cornerback, with Larry Fitzgerald and Josh Doctson both scoring touchdowns out of the slot in recent weeks.

Beasley lives in slot, playing almost 60 percent of the Cowboys offensive snaps there. Dak Prescott has also been throwing the ball Beasley’s way more often, Beasley has 6 targets in each of his last two games after averaging 4.6 targets per contest over the first three weeks of the season. Beasley should have no problem turning in a big day.

Derrick Henry, RB, Titans

Derrick Henry took a huge step forward in overthrowing Demarco Murray as the Titans lead back last week. His monster 20 touch 145 yard outing saw him finish as a top 10 running back for the first time this season. Looking at Henry’s rushing attempts, one interesting note stands out. In the Titans three losses this year, Henry never has more than 6 carries. In the team’s three wins, he has at least 13 in each. The Titans seem to be most comfortable giving Henry the ball with a lead later in the game to act as a closer. Fortunately for Henry and the Titans, they shouldn’t struggle to build a lead over the hapless Browns.


The Browns have been fairly tough on running backs this year, allowing -2.92 Fantasy Points below the Mean. However, paving the way for Henry is one of the league’s top offensive lines. The Titans have a 128.3 Run Blocking Efficiency, the highest in the league. Look for the big guys up front to lead Henry towards another productive fantasy outing.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals

The Joe Mixon breakout game is finally upon us. After managing only 37.4 rushing yards a game through his first 5 NFL games, Mixon gets a break in the form of a porous Pittsburgh Steelers run defense. The Steelers have been vulnerable against the run all year. While Jordan Howard and Leonard Fournette both had standout games against them, other backs have had success too, as Pittsburgh has allowed +3.28 Fantasy Points above the Mean to running backs, No.7 in the league.


While Mixon is plagued by an offensive line with  a league worst 5.8 Run Blocking Efficiency, he has shown the ability to go beyond what he is given. He has 2.1 Yards Created per Carry (No. 7 among NFL running backs) and also posts a 30.8 percent Juke Rate (No.11). Mixon is too good, and the Steelers run defense will afford Mixon copious running lanes.

Dion Lewis

The once forgotten man in the New England backfield has a great chance in front of him sunday night. Dion Lewis has a chance to do to the Falcons what James White did to them in Super Bowl LI. The Falcons have allowed zero touchdowns to tight ends this year, and have been solid against receivers this year as mentioned earlier in the article. Running backs have been the Achilles’ heel of their defense, as Atlanta has allowed +2.18 Fantasy Points above the Mean (No.10).

Dion Lewis-Running Back-New England Patriots

Dion Lewis Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Lewis has almost certainly earned himself a larger role as of late. He currently has a +35.8 Production Premium (No. 7), and has the league’s highest Juke Rate at 51.4 percent. He also does an excellent job of going beyond what’s blocked for him, sporting 2.9 Yards Created per Carry (No.3), a necessary skill given the struggles New England’s offensive line has had this year (No. 29 in Run Blocking Efficiency). Lewis should be the all purpose contributor for New England in this week’s Super Bowl rematch.