NFL

10 Wide Receivers with Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 13

The life of a cat seems super easy, rewarding, and not at all a burden.

If someone were to ask you, “What’s your greatest worry in life?” many would respond that money, health, friends, dating, or any number of serious things. Now put yourself in the shoes (paws? boots?) of a cat: those biggest worries become finding time to sleep on electronics of the humans when they’re warm from use and not getting caught for scratching the couch.

Sounds pretty swell to me.

This week finds us on the cusp of the fantasy football playoffs, when so many sweat over waiver claims and lineups, banging our heads on keyboards over potential postseason scenarios for our fantasy franchises. Why not take a lesson from the furry beasts who frolic about in our homes?

Rest easy knowing that columns like this one will help you zero in on the best wide receiver matchups to help you claw your way into the playoffs.

Which cornerback matchups will be pure catnip for your fantasy wide receivers in Week 13?

Five Lineup Locks

Doug Baldwin vs. Leonard Johnson -- The Seattle Seahawks have transitioned from a run-heavy juggernaut to a balanced offense, which normally would mean their passing efficiency should plummet; statistically, larger sample sizes mean a regression to the average.

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin is still dazzling on a per-target basis, however, earning the fifth-most fantasy points per target among Week 13 starters with at least 50 targets, while earning a look on 19 percent of routes (per Pro Football Focus).

He’ll line up across from Carolina Panthers cornerback Leonard Johnson, who is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per target despite being targeted on just 13 percent of his coverage snaps. Baldwin will have plenty of chances to dust him, though; he runs 76 percent of his routes out of the slot, where Johnson lines up 99 percent of the time.

Willie Snead vs. Quandre Diggs -- New Orleans Saints slot receiver Willie Snead has produced over 2.00 fantasy points per target while being targeted at a 20 percent rate. He and Michael Thomas have taken over the lion’s share of targets in the Big Easy, but only Snead has an easy matchup this week.

Detroit Lions slot corner Quandre Diggs has improved his production slightly over the past few weeks, but is still allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per target. With the Lions as a whole ranking 30th in numberFire’s Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play analytic, Snead is in a great position to succeed.

Randall Cobb vs. Kareem Jackson -- The Green Bay Packers’ passing game is finally back on track, but what complicates wide receiver Randall Cobb's fantasy outlook is the Houston Texans ranking as the sixth-best secondary by Defensive Passing NEP per play.

However, he faces cornerback Kareem Jackson in this matchup, who is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per target among Week 13 starting cornerbacks while being targeted on 18 percent of his coverage snaps. Thanks to the value of the Green Bay offense and his cover man’s flaws, Cobb is worth starting even in an odd-looking matchup.

Larry Fitzgerald vs. Kendall Fuller -- There are only a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and the Arizona Cardinals feeding Larry Fitzgerald a ton of targets every week. Fitz’s 21 percent target rate gives him a solid weekly floor for production and good matchups -- like Week 13’s against Washington's Kendall Fuller -- provide big-time upside.

Fuller has been targeted on 18 percent of his snaps and is giving up the 10th-most fantasy points among cornerbacks. Over the last two weeks, slot receivers have averaged four catches for 70 yards against Washington. Fitz can do that and more.

DeAndre Hopkins vs. Ladarius Gunter -- It’s been a rough year for the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins, who has dealt with the trials and tribulations of quarterback Brock Osweiler, who ranks near the bottom of the league in Passing NEP per drop back.

Still, Hopkins has been targeted on 24 percent of his routes run and gets to face Packers cornerback Ladarius Gunter, who is giving up the 14th-most fantasy points per target. The Packers’ secondary as a whole ranks 27th in Defensive Passing NEP per play, and while they have gotten Damarious Randall healthy again, he won’t likely jumpstart this defense enough to slow Hopkins in Week 13.

Five Good Stocks

Tyler Boyd vs. Malcolm Jenkins -- The Philadelphia Eagles’ defense has been a revelation this year under coordinator Jim Schwartz, having stayed in the top-three in Defensive Passing NEP per play most of the season. Still, safety/slot cornerback Malcolm Jenkins has been a coverage liability and is giving up the most fantasy points per target among Week 13 starters.

Cincinnati Bengals rookie Tyler Boyd will run out of the slot against Jenkins, and -- with a solid target load -- could be a sneaky fantasy play.

Will Fuller vs. Micah Hyde -- Remember how the Packers’ defense ranks barely above the bottom-five teams in Defensive Passing NEP per play? Texans rookie deep threat Will Fuller also gets to take a crack at them, and he has the speed to roast slot corner Micah Hyde, who's allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per target among starting cornerbacks and has been targeted on 19 percent of his coverage snaps.

Cecil Shorts vs. Craig Mager -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have found a second wide receiver to stabilize them in Cecil Shorts. Shorts hasn’t been particularly prolific overall -- just 1.00 fantasy point per target -- but he gets a strong matchup against the San Diego ChargersCraig Mager, who is allowing the 18th-most fantasy points per target.

San Diego has had a surprisingly strong pass defense, ranking fourth in Defensive Passing NEP per play, so Shorts is a pure desperation play, but one with interest.

Quincy Enunwa vs. Darius Butler -- New York Jets wideout Quincy Enunwa has made a name for himself, drawing nearly a 20 percent target rate and 1.74 fantasy points per target. Indianapolis Colts cornerback Darius Butler has been poor per usual, which benefits Enunwa.

Butler is allowing the 20th-most fantasy points per target and has been thrown at on 18 percent of his coverage snaps. Indy as a whole is third-worst with regard to numberFire's Defensive Passing NEP per play.

Malcolm Mitchell vs. E.J. Gaines -- New England Patriots rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell is positively on a roll right now, having turned in 140 yards and three touchdowns over his last two contests. He should continue that momentum against the Los Angeles Rams and E.J. Gaines.

He's allowing 1.80 fantasy points per target (22nd-most among Week 13 starters) despite being targeted a whopping 23 percent of the time he’s in coverage.

Two Smoking Craters

Marqise Lee vs. Aqib Talib -- Don’t overthink things with Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee. The Jaguars will trail early, and they will need to throw a ton to play catch-up to the Denver Broncos, but Lee is earning just 1.67 fantasy points per target and will be covered by Aqib Talib, who has allowed just 51 fantasy points on 57 targets (third-lowest this week).

Tyrell Williams vs. Alterraun Verner -- The Buccaneers’ Alterraun Verner has been eminently burnable in recent months, but he’s starting to turn things around. He’s allowed just 0.05 more fantasy points per target than Xavier Rhodes and 0.11 more than the aforementioned Talib.

Chargers wideout Tyrell Williams may not play due to injury anyway, but Verner will put a damper on whoever lines up left for San Diego this week -- even Travis Benjamin.