6 Wide Receivers with Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 4
It’s funny, as I looked back over my recommendations for cornerback matchups to exploit over just the first three weeks of this season, I realized that I have tended to recommend attacking a lot of slot cornerbacks so far. It’s not that I’m trying to single out these guys, it’s just that there have been some really good matchups for the inside receivers against teams’ third corners.
Still, what can I say? When you name your position after one of the most laughably-bad bands of all time, you can’t expect I (and NFL offensive coordinators) won’t pick on you.
This week, like every week in this column, we’re hoping to help you make much more than a nickel back on your fantasy football and DFS investments by helping you target the top wide receiver-on-cornerback matchups for your fantasy lineups. Which players will boom against a bad defender, and which will bust thanks to lockdown perimeter play?
These might be just my two cents, but the research shows that these six receivers have lucrative cornerback matchups in Week 4.
One of the things I try to do is reflect on my process and focus on the successes and fix the failures, so that I can give you all the best fantasy football advice possible. Each week, we’ll look at our hits and misses.
I consider a PPR fantasy score of 15.0 (the average points of fantasy’s WR12 last season) a hit for my Lineup Locks, and a score of 10.0 (the average points of fantasy’s WR48 last season) a hit for my Good Stocks. A player with 6.0 PPR fantasy points or fewer as a Smoking Crater is a hit as well.
Lineup Locks: Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Evans, and Jamison Crowder. Crowder was our sole miss here, and he just narrowly missed the mark, with only 14.5 PPR points. The process still worked in this spot, he just didn’t absolutely blow up.
Smoking Craters: Mike Williams and Kenny Stills. This one was absolutely wrong. Stills ended up outrunning Rashaan Melvin and torching him for a 34-yard score, in addition to a 21-yard catch-and-run. Williams also bullied his coverage men, posting two touchdown catches from 42 and 20 yards out. I’ll call it a bit fluky, but sometimes these things happen, especially when Aqib Talib gets injured enough to need surgery.
2018 Hit Rates –
Locks: 5-of-9 (55.6%)
Stocks: 6-of-9 (66.7%)
Smoking Craters: 3-of-6 (50.0%)
Three Lineup Locks
Michael Thomas vs. Janoris Jenkins – Maybe the New York Giants should’ve considered the sad state of affairs on defense before they made their top-two pick in this past NFL Draft. Seeing as they didn’t, though, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas should have an excellent Week 4 matchup against veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Jenkins has been one of the most sought-after cornerbacks by offensive game-callers in 2018, being targeted on 28 percent of his routes (25th-most among 96 starting cornerbacks per PlayerProfiler.com). On those targets, he’s allowed a 74 percent catch rate and a loaded 2.20 fantasy points per target (37th-most). Receivers have burned him for 16.3 yards per reception and Jenkins is allowing five yards or more of separation to his receivers the 36th-most frequently. Thomas is in line to keep wrecking secondaries here.
Jarvis Landry vs. Leon Hall – We haven’t had much luck targeting the Oakland Raiders yet, but there’s a good chance that the plucky Cleveland Browns and their fiery lead receiver, Jarvis Landry, can do some damage against slot cornerback Leon Hall in Week 4.
Hall hasn’t been targeted a ton (24th-lowest among starters) and is only allowing a 58 percent catch rate, but when receivers do catch the ball against him, they’re gone. Hall is allowing 15.3 yards per reception and a strong 2.00 fantasy points per target (42nd-most). That should be more than enough leeway for Landry – who is 12th in the league in yards per pass route run – to do some serious damage after the catch.
JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Tavon Young – I know, I know; we did Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Smith-Schuster in this column last week, but you need to understand that he is an every-week locked-in starter now. The man is absolutely on fire in his second year in the league, which is only helped out by yet another cake matchup: this time with Baltimore Ravens slot cornerback Tavon Young, another repeat guest here.
To-date, slot receivers going against the Baltimore Ravens have averaged 7.7 targets, 4.7 catches, 51.7 receiving yards, and 0.3 touchdowns. Against Young specifically, receivers have caught just 57 percent of their passes, but are accruing the 37th-most yards per reception and 42nd-most fantasy points per target among starting NFL cornerbacks. Young isn’t the worst cover corner out there, but he gets targeted a fair amount and can be taken advantage of when he is. JJSS should have no issues continuing his sophomore romp in Week 4.
Three Good Stocks
Michael Crabtree vs. Coty Sensabaugh – We get two sides of the Steelers-Ravens coin here in Week 4, as Baltimore wideout Michael Crabtree also has a favorable matchup against Pittsburgh corner Coty Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh has given up a whopping 83 percent catch rate and 2.40 fantasy points per target – both well above-average marks for a cornerback matchup this season. With Pittsburgh likely focusing on limiting the explosive potential of deep threat John Brown, Crabtree could rack up a ton of catches here.
Sterling Shepard vs. P.J. Williams – The Giants are not often an offense to target, but Sterling Shepard’s matchup with Saints cornerback P.J. Williams makes them one in this instance. Williams has been targeted on well over a third of the routes he’s covered so far this year, and is allowing a ridiculous 3.70 fantasy points per target. That’s due to the 21.8 yards per reception allowed, which is also a factor of his 10 percent rate of allowing five or more yards of separation to his assignments. Shepard is in for a big day.
Kenny Golladay vs. Chidobe Awuzie – Affectionately known as “Babytron”, Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay gets a showdown with Dallas Cowboys corner Chidobe Awuzie as two young guns look to make a mark in the NFL. We believe in Babytron this week, though, since Awuzie is giving up a 71 percent catch rate and 2.20 fantasy points per target.
Two Smoking Craters
Jordan Matthews vs. Adoree’ Jackson – This isn’t the week to give your faith back to Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles fans. Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson is shutting down receivers like wild: despite getting targeted on 26 percent of his routes, Jackson is allowing a sub-60 percent catch rate and the 11th-fewest fantasy points per target (1.10). Matthews is in for a hard welcome back to the NFL.
Tyreek Hill vs. Chris Harris – I know Kansas City Chiefs slot receiver Tyreek Hill is supposed to be very good, but he busted last week and this week faces one of the best cornerbacks in the league in the Denver Broncos’ Chris Harris. Harris is allowing just a 19 percent target rate to receivers, the 18th-lowest average yards of separation for a cornerback this year, and just 14.9 yards per reception. This may end up being a bunk pick, but Hill’s ceiling is definitely lowered in Week 4.
Week 4 Shadow Situations: DeVante Parker (MIA) vs. Stephon Gilmore (NE); Kenny Stills (MIA) vs. Jason McCourty (NE); Danny Amendola (MIA) vs. Jonathan Jones (NE); Odell Beckham (NYG) vs. Marshon Lattimore (NO); Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. Brandon Carr (BAL).