10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 7
In one of the iconic moments in the timeless musical The Sound of Music, Greatest Nanny of All Time (or G.N.A.T.) Fräulein Maria -- played by Julie Andrews -- helps the skittish Von Trapp children calm themselves during a thunderstorm by singing them a list of things that make her feel happy. These “raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens” help to distract the children from their fears of turmoil outside their window, and comfort them in the face of the impending German conscription of Austrians in World War II (hooray for metaphors).
Perhaps this same idea will work for calming yourself during the stressful times of the football bye weeks. No Dez Bryant got your wide receiver corps down? Pull a big, cuddly sweater out of your closet and make a pot of tea. Kelvin Benjamin's bye week leaving you lonely? Get yourself a present, wrap it up in brown paper and tie it up with string.
Or, you could do something much easier and read this column every week to see what wide receivers will make a dent in fantasy lineups thanks to great matchups with mediocre cornerbacks. Say “so long”, “farewell”, “auf wiedersehen”, and “goodbye” to fantasy fear, and embrace the cornerback matchups that will have you twirling around in fields of flowering football success.
Which Week 7 cornerback matchups are alive with the sound of success for your fantasy wide receivers?
Five Lineup Locks
Allen Robinson vs. Sean Smith -- Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith got off to a rocky start in 2016, getting torched by the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 on wide receiver Brandin Cooks’ highlight reel touchdown play. He hasn’t recovered since, getting burned weekly by opposing passing games as part of a fourth-worst Oakland secondary by schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, per numberFire. This week, his next charge will be “stopping” Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson, but Smith is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per target of Week 7 starting cornerbacks and has been targeted a steady 20 percent of his coverage snaps (per Pro Football Focus). The Jags’ offense has slipped, but this week should get them back on track.
Marvin Jones vs. Bashaud Breeland -- The Detroit Lions’ passing game is nothing like their heyday in the mid-00’s, with Calvin Johnson beating triple coverage all over the field. Despite that, they seem to have found their stride again, and a lot of it comes from the impact of a new number-one receiver in Marvin Jones. This week, especially, he should be the focal point of the passing attack against a Washington secondary ranking 10th-worst in the league in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland is forking over the 11th-most fantasy points per target this week, and has been targeted on 21 percent of his routes covered.
Odell Beckham vs. Troy Hill -- The New York Giants’ Odell Beckham is good; the Los Angeles Rams’ backup cornerback, Troy Hill, is not. Hill got toasted by both Marquise Goodwin and Golden Tate in the last two weeks -- small, fast receivers with run-after-the-catch ability like OBJ -- and is giving up the 15th-most fantasy points among Week 7 starters in relief of the injured Trumaine Johnson. It’s no fluke either; he’s been targeted on 29 percent of his coverage snaps, by far the most among cornerbacks with at least 100 routes covered. This will be another big day for Beckham.
Quincy Enunwa vs. Tavon Young -- The New York Jets have a new starting quarterback in Geno Smith, but he knows this offense well enough that they shouldn’t turtle into a run-only team in Week 7. He will need a reliable wideout, though, and that means Quincy Enunwa could earn some solid slot looks. He’ll be covered by Baltimore Ravens rookie Tavon Young, who is giving up the ninth-most fantasy points per target. He’s been targeted less than other cornerbacks so far this season (just 16 percent of his snaps), but he’s not a daunting cover man. Enunwa is a solid fantasy FLEX option this week.
DeSean Jackson vs. Darius Slay -- Lions’ top shadow corner Darius Slay was heralded by many (including myself) this offseason as one of the rising shutdown cornerbacks in the league. He was matching up with elite NFL receivers in 2015 and completely blanking them on a weekly basis. In 2016, however, he is giving up the 13th-most fantasy points per target on a 22 percent target rate. He should see a ton of DeSean Jackson in Week 7, too, and Jackson’s deep speed may be a bad matchup for Slay’s physical aggression.
Five Good Stocks
Breshad Perriman vs. Darrelle Revis -- Ravens’ receiver Breshad Perriman has been the epitome of upside since he entered the league, as an incredibly-fast deep threat with size and strength to boot. He’s also thoroughly disappointed to this point. Perhaps Week 7 of 2016 will be his breakout, as he gets to go against Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis is no longer a threat to the opposition, giving up the fourth-most fantasy points per target of Week 7 cornerbacks.
Kendall Wright vs. Patrick Robinson -- The Tennessee Titans needed a passing game breakthrough last week, and boy did they find one in Kendall Wright’s triumphant return. He monopolized targets and posted over 100 yards in his first game back from a knee injury. He has a good chance to go big again, with the Indianapolis Colts (31st in schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play) on the docket for this week. Patrick Robinson is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per target, making Wright well worth a bye week flier.
Marquise Goodwin vs. Tony Lippett -- For all of the hubbub in the offseason about how bad the Miami Dolphins’ secondary would be this year, they are 13th in the league in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Starting cornerback/wide receiver convert Tony Lippett has been a weak link, however, ranking 24th in fantasy points per target allowed among Week 7 starting cornerbacks. He’s been attacked a lot by opposing passing games, too, targeted on 26 percent of his coverage snaps. Goodwin is a boom-or-bust option, but with this kind of upside and few other Buffalo Bills’ receivers healthy, he’s worth a look.
Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Nolan Carroll II -- Talk about disappointments: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is starting to slowly piece together the task of being an NFL receiver after four years. Maybe he can be the Vikings’ main target against a tough Philadelphia Eagles secondary (1st in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play). Nolan Carroll II is their only weak link, giving up the 29th-most fantasy points per target among starting cornerbacks. Patterson is a DFS punt play or deep league flier.
Tyreek Hill vs. Sterling Moore -- One budding young player who could have a big week is Kansas City Chiefs slot receiver Tyreek Hill, who has seen an increase in target share nearly every week he’s played. Sure, he’s only run 37 routes, but he’s been targeted on a whopping 43 percent of them. He gets the easiest KC matchup this week, with New Orleans Saints’ Sterling Moore lining up across from him. Moore is allowing the 27th-most fantasy points per target this week. Hill is a sneaky play.
Two Smoking Craters
Michael Crabtree vs. Prince Amukamara -- Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara got worked a fair amount by the Chicago Bears receivers last week, but he’s still allowing just the fifth-lowest fantasy points per target to opposing wideouts in Week 7. The Raiders’ Michael Crabtree has been able to outmuscle defenders all year, but Amukamara has the size and production to keep him in check.
Jarvis Landry vs. Nickell Robey-Coleman -- The Dolphins’ passing game is in shambles, and slot receiver Jarvis Landry has been the only bright spot thus far. Buffalo cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, though, should cover that light with a bushel basket in Week 7, as he allows the 14th-least fantasy points per target to opposing wideouts. He also has been tested on just 16 percent of his snaps, and has a bundle of pass breakups this year. The Dolphins will avoid him, which downgrades Landry this week.