10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 5
I’m currently taking my second dance class ever this semester in school. For all of you out there snickering, you probably have never done modern dance, which is a butt-kicking experience on both a physical and creative level. Imagine a Jillian Anderson workout tape meets P90X, but instead they tell you to come up with the choreography and explore complex emotional and personal ideas while you work out.
It’s not as easy as you think.
For some fantasy football players, setting a lineup is a simple task: the “start your studs” mentality maintains that, regardless of context, you should play the players with the highest points projected on their website. It’s much tougher than that, though. Cornerback matchups greatly influence wide receiver production, and we can’t always just giggle as we plug our usually strong options in against a stalwart cornerback.
It doesn’t need to be as complex as a Swan Lake pas de deux, but setting your lineup takes more than a few swipes and clicks. This article hopefully makes it easy to dazzle your matchups for the week.
Which cornerback matchups will make your wide receivers dance for joy in Week 5?
Five Lineup Locks
Antonio Brown vs. Darrelle Revis -- Two of our most usual suspects appear in this matchup, when the Pittsburgh Steelers’ über-lethal offense goes up against a bizarrely fraught New York Jets defense that ranks 30th in our schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play metric. Antonio Brown has been targeted a whopping 29 percent of his routes, the second-most among Week 5 starting wide receivers with at least 100 routes or more (per Pro Football Focus). He’ll likely see Darrelle Revis in shadow coverage this week, and if the Jets don’t use Revis this way, you can bet the Steelers will put Brown on his side plenty. Revis has been targeted on 20 percent of his coverage snaps and is giving up the second-most fantasy points among starting cornerbacks on a per-target basis. This is a certain “start your stud” situation, as Revis has no interceptions and no passes defensed through four weeks.
Jordan Matthews vs. Quandre Diggs -- This job becomes much simpler when both the receiver and cornerback stay primarily in the same spot pre-snap. Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews sees the majority of his work out of the slot, and Detroit Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs plays it almost exclusively. Matthews has seen the lion’s share of Eagles’ targets in 2016, per usual, and Diggs is giving up 2.59 fantasy points per target -- eighth-most among starting cornerbacks in Week 5. The Lions as a whole are getting wrecked, ranking dead last in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
DeSean Jackson vs. Shareece Wright -- Most fantasy football minds have been pounding the table for a Washington comeback in these coming weeks; no way is this a 2-2 team. If it’s going to happen, it’s likely to be in the be in the Battle of the Beltway matchup with the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. DeSean Jackson could be a big beneficiary here, as he’ll face off against cornerback Shareece Wright, who allowed Michael Crabtree 7 catches for 88 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 4.
Jarvis Landry vs. Brice McCain -- Another slot matchup makes this list, as Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry will draw Tennessee Titans cornerback Brice McCain, who has given up the fourth-most fantasy points among starting cornerbacks in Week 5. Even if Landry moves outside for a while, he’ll still get fed and have success (Tennessee ranks 19th in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP).
Kelvin Benjamin vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- There has been great research on the effect of height in wide receiver-cornerback matchups in a variety of places, but the summary is this: big receivers (due to enormous catch radii) tend to beat small cornerbacks. The bigger the height difference, the bigger they tend to outperform the matchup. That’s great news for Kelvin Benjamin, who stands six inches taller than any Tampa Bay cornerback and outweighs them by at least 40 pounds. The Bucs also rank 24th as a unit in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Vernon Hargreaves III figures to be his primary cover man, and VH3 is allowing the 13th-most fantasy points per target of Week 5 starters.
Five Good Stocks
Victor Cruz vs. Damarious Randall -- The Green Bay Packers' passing defense has been abhorrent in 2016, ranking 29th in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play through three games. The New York Giants' Odell Beckham draws all of the defensive attention, but Cruz should work well against Randall, who has allowed 2.59 points per target (ninth-most). The only thing holding Cruz back is a lower amount of looks than his teammates.
Cole Beasley vs. Darqueze Dennard -- Cole Beasley has become the focal point of the Dallas Cowboys’ passing attack, earning a 22.48% target market share this year. He may not get a ton of yardage or a score in a slot role, but Jarvis Landry saw 10 targets against Darqueze Dennard and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. That volume Dennard's struggles make Beasley a surefire PPR asset.
Tajae Sharpe vs. Tony Lippett -- This is definitely only a suggestion for you to break ties in Tajae Sharpe’s favor, as the Titans’ offense has been regressive and useless through the air. Sharpe should see soft coverage this week, though, against Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett. Lippett has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per target of Week 5 starters.
Danny Amendola vs. Tramon Williams -- Death, taxes, and slot receivers against the Cleveland Browns’ defense. New England Patriots slot receiver Danny Amendola has earned the fifth-most fantasy points per target among starting wide receivers. The Browns rank 18th in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, but Tramon Williams himself is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per target. Quarterback Tom Brady gets a cake matchup here, and the only reason Amendola isn't a "Lock" is his low target rate thus far.
Tyrell Williams vs. Sean Smith -- I’m honestly still stunned that the Oakland Raiders haven’t benched Sean Smith full-time, given how much he’s disappointed. Smith is a big reason Oakland ranks 26th in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play through Week 4. San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers likes to throw a fair amount and could use Tyrell Williams as a devastating force against this shoddy defensive backfield.
Two Smoking Craters
Will Fuller vs. Minnesota Vikings -- Will Fuller has been a pleasant surprise for the Houston Texans in his rookie season, earning 1.91 fantasy points per target thus far. Still, the smaller speed receiver will find a tough matchup against Minnesota Vikings shutdown cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who is allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points per target -- a rate identical to the Denver Broncos’ Aqib Talib. If Rhodes shadows DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller still won’t have much luck against Terence Newman.
Golden Tate vs. Philadelphia Eagles -- Golden Tate has gotten phased out of the Lions’ top receiver spot, now that an ancient Calvin Johnson isn’t his bookend in the passing game. He’s not going to regain any momentum in Week 5, with the Eagles blanketing him: Philadelphia ranks first in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, Leodis McKelvin has returned from his injury, and even Ron Brooks has given up just the third-fewest fantasy points per target.