10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 6
I’ve always wondered how bumper stickers came to be.
They’re a highly illogical invention, honestly: in one of the highest-stress situations I can expect to be involved in on a day-to-day basis (hurtling down a concrete thoroughfare in a two-ton steel box at 60 miles per hour), do I really want people to have to wrestle with my political convictions/sports fan loyalties? I’m sure someone along the line said, “This vehicle that helps me commute quickly and efficiently is great and all, but why won’t it announce to everyone how great my honor student/running ability/dog is?”
In the same way a “If you’re close enough to read this, back off” bumper sticker encourages us to avoid the car it’s on, there are shutdown cornerbacks who wear the goose-eggs they tack onto wide receivers like badges. Checking these symbols allows us to pivot away from (or at least downgrade) receivers in bad matchups and isolate cornerbacks we know will allow us to burn by them in the passing lane. We may not have high-occupancy vehicle lanes, but we do have high-volume opportunity to take advantage of.
Which Week 6 cornerback matchups have a big red target on them for your fantasy wide receivers?
Five Lineup Locks
Tavon Austin vs. Quandre Diggs -- Detroit Lions slot cornerback Quandre Diggs has become a heavily picked-on target this season by both opposing passing games and this column, and we’re going back to the well in Week 6. The Detroit Lions are the worst in the league by schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, and Diggs is one of the contributing factors there. Diggs has been targeted on 19 percent of his coverage snaps (per Pro Football Focus) and is giving up the fourth-most fantasy points per target. The Los Angeles Rams’ passing offense isn’t great, but Tavon Austin’s volume (28 percent target rate) will make up for that here.
Randall Cobb vs. Orlando Scandrick -- The Green Bay Packers finally seem to be hitting some passing rhythm, and Randall Cobb was part of that in Week 5. Cobb saw 11 targets and converted those into 108 yards receiving. Against a Dallas Cowboys’ secondary that is 26th in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, there’s little reason to assume he’ll regress in this matchup. Orlando Scandrick in specific is his likely cover man in the slot, and Scandrick is allowing a whopping 2.93 fantasy points per target -- second-most among Week 6 starting cornerbacks. Look for the Packers to highlight Cobb in this matchup.
Will Fuller vs. Patrick Robinson -- The Houston Texans as a whole had a horrid week last outing, and Will Fuller got shut down like we expected. But this week should have plenty of fodder for a bounceback. In a divisional slugfest, the Indianapolis Colts still have a horribly banged-up secondary that ranks 30th in the league in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. With shutdown corner Vontae Davis shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller draws Patrick Robinson, who is allowing the 13th-most fantasy points per target among starters this week. Robinson has already been targeted a fair amount (19 percent), and we can expect that to continue this week.
A.J. Green vs. Logan Ryan -- The New England Patriots are hardly predictable, but the one thing they’ve consistently done this season is employ cornerback Logan Ryan in a shadow role, covering the opposition’s top receiver. There’s little reason to expect Ryan to not shadow Cincinnati Bengals top threat A.J. Green in Week 6, though that’s actually a good thing for Green. Ryan’s 1.54 fantasy points per target allowed aren’t massive (that rate ranks just 44th among the 91 starting cornerbacks this week), but he’s being targeted at a 24 percent rate on his coverage snaps. Ryan’s last two assignments -- the very mortal Terrelle Pryor and Robert Woods -- combined for 12 catches on 16 targets, going for 137 yards receiving. There’s no reason to assume he’ll shut down Green here.
Kelvin Benjamin vs. Ken Crawley -- Yet another baffling use of the shadow corner role, the New Orleans Saints have been employing undrafted rookie Ken Crawley as a shadow defender in most of their matchups this season, despite his giving up the 20th-most fantasy points per target on a 22 percent target rate. The Carolina Panthers' Kelvin Benjamin should be able to beast this matchup, as his 2.20 fantasy points per target is fourth-best among starting receivers with at least 30 targets. The Saints rank 27th in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
Five Good Stocks
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Jets -- Wide receivers Michael Floyd and John Brown have been fantasy disappointments this season, but there is no better remedy for that than the New York Jets’ secondary, which ranks 31st in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. They will be covered by Darrelle Revis and Marcus Williams, who are giving up the third and 12th-most fantasy points per target, respectively. The only matchup to avoid here is Larry Fitzgerald against Buster Skrine -- 15th-lowest fantasy points per target and 10 percent target rate.
Terrance Williams vs. Damarious Randall -- Terrance Williams’ ability to actually catch the ball is inconsistent on his best days, but this is a promising matchup for him if he can capitalize on it. Damarious Randall is giving up the seventh-most fantasy points per target, and his 22 percent target rate suggests this may be a matchup the Cowboys pick on.
Golden Tate vs. Troy Hill -- If there’s any matchup in which Golden Tate can get back on track, it’s this one. Trumaine Johnson -- the Rams’ top shutdown corner -- is out, leaving Hill to pick up the slack. E.J. Gaines will draw Marvin Jones most of the time, and a 27 percent target rate and 20th-most fantasy points per target for Hill could encourage the Lions to look his way more frequently.
Cameron Meredith vs. Davon House -- Jalen Ramsey has been the Jacksonville Jaguars’ primary slot cornerback this year, and (despite his size) I don’t expect them to use him outside as a shadow cornerback; they’ve only shadowed one receiver this season so far. That means Prince Amukamara and Davon House will remain outside, and Chicago Bears wideout Cameron Meredith should draw the latter. House is allowing the 16th-most fantasy points per target, and Meredith has been targeted on a whopping 30 percent of his routes this season. He’s a full-go in Week 6.
Kamar Aiken vs. Leon Hall -- The Baltimore Ravens’ Steve Smith is out for the game, so Kamar Aiken will step into his spot in the slot. The New York Giants have an average secondary overall, but Leon Hall is allowing the 28th-most fantasy points per target. With the other Baltimore receivers ailing too, Aiken could benefit from added attention this week.
Two Smoking Craters
Alshon Jeffery vs. Prince Amukamara -- As I mentioned before, if there’s a shadow situation on in Jacksonville, it will be Prince Amukamara on Alshon Jeffery. Amukamara has limited opposing receivers to just 0.56 fantasy points per target -- the second-lowest amount among Week 6 starters. Alshon Jeffery is banged-up (again) and should be an afterthought in fantasy this week.
Brandon Marshall vs. Patrick Peterson -- Patrick Peterson hasn’t been nearly the total obliteration cornerback he usually is, where in most seasons he allows his opponents no ground. He’s still a great shadow corner, though, and Brandon Marshall should be wary in Week 6. Among cornerbacks who’ve covered at least 100 routes this season, Peterson is giving up the 13th-lowest fantasy points per target. The Jets have to look Marshall’s way with Eric Decker on injured reserve, but it could get ugly.