10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 11
The developing brain of a child is a fascinating construct.
My roommate’s two-year-old son has really started to embrace the word “no” in recent weeks. Whether it’s a question of bedtime, bath time, dinnertime, or even something as simple as putting shoes on, the little one’s perpetual response is “no”, “no”, “TA-DA”, and “no”. Watching him put the world together in his mind (and sweepingly reject it all with those two letters) is fascinating to observe. It also means that getting out the door in the morning is met with tiny daily filibusters.
Perhaps just as tedious as dealing with a human “no” factory is figuring out the cornerback matchups for your fantasy wide receivers in any given week (I kid, major props to all the parents out there). Still, we need that tiny, insistent voice reminding us “no” when we consider starting a fantasy wide receiver in a bad matchup. In this column, we try to help you piece together your wide receiver worldview and wisdom, and point out which fantasy matchups to reject.
Which cornerback matchups can you comfortably say “yes” to for your fantasy wide receivers in Week 11?
Five Lineup Locks
Doug Baldwin vs. Malcolm Jenkins -- Philadelphia Eagles slot corner/safety Malcolm Jenkins was also our top defender target in Week 10, getting burned for 3.43 fantasy points per target (per Pro Football Focus). That rate increased even a bit more going into Week 11, as Jenkins now is giving up 3.46 fantasy points per target, despite a poor 13 percent target rate. That should change in this matchup, however, as Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin gets thrown to on 19 percent of his routes. Jenkins is the best the Eagles have right now, but that won’t be good enough to shut down Seattle’s top receiver.
T.Y. Hilton vs. Brice McCain -- Another week, another recommendation to start a team’s slot receiver against Tennessee Titans cornerback Brice McCain. The Titans’ secondary as a whole ranks 26th in the league by our schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play analytic. McCain himself is giving up the seventh-most fantasy points per target among Week 11 starting cover men. T.Y. Hilton and the Indianapolis Colts should gash this pass defense easily.
Steve Smith vs. Orlando Scandrick -- Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith always has adventures on the football field, but he’s drawn six targets in six of the seven games he’s played this year, averaging just under eight targets per game, for a target rate of 26 percent. Dallas Cowboys slot receiver Orlando Scandrick has been gashed for the 13th-most fantasy points per target on 19 percent of his coverage snaps. The Cowboys as a whole rank 22nd in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, so no matter where the Ravens move Smith, he has potential in Week 11.
Randall Cobb vs. Kendall Fuller -- The Green Bay Packers’ passing game has hit a horrid hitch this season, but slot receiver Randall Cobb is still getting plenty of work in this offense, drawing a 21 percent target rate. He’ll get to go against Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller this week, who got beat up last week by Stefon Diggs, a similarly quick slot receiver. Fuller is allowing the 16th-most fantasy points per target, and that should continue in a likely shootout matchup.
A.J. Green vs. Ronald Darby -- Here we have a rare matchup of an elite target hog wide receiver (Cincinnati Bengals’ A.J. Green) and a target magnet cornerback (Buffalo Bills’ Ronald Darby) to exploit. Darby was benched in Week 10 for giving up too many easy plays, but he should be back on the field for at least part of the time in Week 11. When he is, expect Green to line up across the cornerback giving up the 19th-most fantasy points per target. Buffalo as a whole has slumped to just the 21st defense by adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, but even if Kevon Seymour subs in for the slumping Darby, he won’t be able to lockdown Green.
Five Good Stocks
Allen Hurns vs. Quandre Diggs -- Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns is a touchdown-or-bust sort of fantasy option, but that shouldn’t be an issue this week against a league-worst Detroit Lions’ defense by adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Detroit nickel corner Quandre Diggs has only been targeted on 15 percent of his coverage snaps, but is giving up the fifth-most fantasy points per target. Hurns just needs a few big plays to make his impact.
Eli Rogers vs. Tramon Williams -- Over the last two weeks, Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Eli Rogers has seen 15 targets for 145 yards and a touchdown. This week, he faces Cleveland Browns slot cornerback Tramon Williams, who is giving up the ninth-most fantasy points per target. This is no fluke; the Browns as a whole have the 31st-ranked defense by adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
Pierre Garcon vs. Ladarius Gunter -- The Packers’ secondary has been one of the team’s main issues all season, and they rank 24th in adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. With teammate DeSean Jackson ailing, Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon should see a strong target load against Ladarius Gunter, who also ranks 17th in fantasy points allowed per target.
Davante Adams vs. Bashaud Breeland -- Like I said, Washington vs. Green Bay is shaping up to be an ugly shootout, and Packers’ target hog Davante Adams is in line for a big workload and a big payoff. Adams has averaged just under 12 targets per game over the last month, and cornerback Bashaud Breeland is allowing the 21st-most fantasy points per target at an 18 percent target rate.
Corey Coleman vs. Artie Burns -- This is definitely more of a situational long shot, but if you’re desperate for wide receiver help this week, the Cleveland Browns’ Corey Coleman could be your guy. Cleveland should go down early and throw a lot, and Steelers’ cornerback Artie Burns is giving up the 22nd-most fantasy points per target among Week 11 starters.
Two Smoking Craters
Michael Floyd vs. Terence Newman -- The Minnesota Vikings’ defense has lagged in recent games, but that doesn’t make a matchup on cornerback Terence Newman any less daunting. Newman is one of just four cornerbacks starting Week 11 giving up less than 1.00 fantasy point per target, and top cornerback Xavier Rhodes could be out with a concussion. The Arizona Cardinals are likely to avoid Floyd this week for a number of reasons.
Stefon Diggs vs. Patrick Peterson -- In the same game, but on the other side, don’t ever underestimate how good Arizona Cardinals’ shadow cornerback Patrick Peterson is. While he is allowing just the 18th-fewest fantasy points per target among Week 11 starters, he has been targeted at a paltry 14 percent rate, the fourth-lowest rate among cornerbacks to cover on at least 200 snaps this year. He’ll blanket Stefon Diggs in Week 11.