6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 6
The ancient druids believed that this time of year – which they called Samhain – was when the spirit world and material world came the closest, and the fabric separating magical realms and reality got its thinnest. We know this season as Halloween, which is characterized less by real magic and more by costumes and disguises.
The modern tradition compared to the old is kind of perfectly represented in the phrase “trick or treat”.
That’s a question we’re seeking to answer when we set our fantasy football and DFS lineups as well: trick or treat? Which of these players that you’re thinking about starting is going to be worthwhile, and which is the one who will bust? That’s what we seek to help you figure out on a weekly basis in this column, as we look at which wide receivers are excellent starts and rough ones based on their cornerback matchups.
So, here are six wide receivers with magical cornerback matchups in Week 6.
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 the previous one’s hits and misses.
I consider a PPR fantasy score of 14.0 (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 8.0 PPR fantasy points or fewer as a Smoking Crater is a hit as well.
Lineup Locks: Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Adam Thielen. Only Julio was a miss this week, which is a surprise since his Atlanta Falcons lost by 24 points in a perfect game script for throwing a lot. He still saw 9 targets, but only caught 5 and had just 12.4 yards per reception.
Good Stocks: Golden Tate, Quincy Enunwa, and Will Fuller. This was a complete whiff. Tate saw his lowest volume of targets on the season to date, Enunwa put up a perfect goose egg thanks to his New York Jets inexplicably targeting Robby Anderson on seemingly every throw, and Fuller’s work found its way primarily to Keke Coutee.
Smoking Craters: Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Pierre Garcon. The Green Bay Packers rotated MVS and the receiver group around the field, and he made the most of his time not covered by Darius Slay. Garcon was nearly a hit here but still saw 12 targets – nearly double his previous season-high.
Three Lineup Locks
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Phillip Gaines – It’s hard not to love Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has seen 10 or more targets in nine of his last 10 regular-season games (averaging 11.6), for fantasy football. It’s harder not to love him when he gets to take on the leaky Buffalo Bills' defense and even leakier starting right cornerback Phillip Gaines in Week 6, giving him a chance to avoid Tre'Davious White, unless the Bills have White shadow Hopkins.
Gaines was pressed back into starting duties last week after Vontae Davis replacement Ryan Lewis was targeted 12 times against the Packers in Week 4, giving up 6 catches for 106 yards receiving (per PlayerProfiler.com). Gaines was certainly better, targeted just twice and giving up just 34 yards receiving on 2 catches. Still, Gaines is allowing an average 62.5 percent catch rate and 16.2 yards per reception, the latter of which is the 25th-most among the 96 starting cornerbacks in the NFL. Though Hopkins isn’t a burner, Gaines is also allowing the 23rd-most average yards of separation per target, which should give Nuk plenty of room to do work here.
Robert Woods vs. Bradley Roby – The Denver Broncos’ secondary has not lived up to the lofty expectations of its previous iterations, and one key piece of that ineptitude is cornerback Bradley Roby. Roby will draw the unenviable task of sorting out his coverage woes in Week 6 while paying attention to Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods.
Roby has been crossed up hard this year, giving up 14.7 yards per reception (37th-most) and a Burn Rate – the percent of targets where defender was 5 or more yards away – of 2.9 percent (44th-most). He’s reliably allowing catches, too, forking over a 65.7 percent catch rate while being targeted on 25.5 percent of his routes. Even better for fantasy players, the high-volume slot receiver Cooper Kupp should be covered by slot corner Chris Harris, who teams are avoiding slightly more than Roby. Expect more volume put Woods’s – and therefore Roby’s – way this week.
Davante Adams vs. Ahkello Witherspoon – The Green Bay Packers’ offense is very good; we’ve known that for a while. It’s never a bad idea to try to get a piece of this high-powered attack into your starting lineup, but it’s especially exciting when receiver Davante Adams gets a choice matchup like this. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon is the primary bookend to Richard Sherman, who remains one of the top zone cornerbacks in the league. This means we should expect the Packers to move Adams (or whoever their playmaker on a given play is) over to Witherspoon’s side quite frequently.
That’s a good plan too, since Witherspoon is allowing 18.0 yards per reception and has given up 4 touchdowns this year on 26 targets (15.4 percent of those plays). He’s been nowhere near his man, either, with an average 2.0 yards of separation allowed (among the top third of cornerbacks) and a 7.7 percent Burn Rate – among the 20 highest rates this year. He’s not getting targeted a ton, and his 61.5 percent catch rate allowed isn’t the worst, but there is big-time big play potential working against Witherspoon here.
Three Good Stocks
Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley vs. M.J. Stewart and Brent Grimes – Even the supporting cast of the Atlanta Falcons’ receiving corps should get in on the fun this week while facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley will take on M.J. Stewart and Brent Grimes, respectively, in Week 6, and we fully expect the receivers to win out. Stewart and Grimes are both allowing reasonably-low yards per reception (10-12 yards per reception), but both have given up catch rates of 85 percent or more, as well as Burn Rates of 4.0 percent and 7.1 percent respectively. While getting targeted on 25 to 30 percent of their routes defended, there should be plenty of work for Sanu and Ridley. Consider them low-ceiling, high-floor options for Week 6.
Albert Wilson vs. Bryce Callahan – This is definitely my longest longshot of the week: with how good the Chicago Bears defense is in general, I might be a little bit crazy for recommending you start a Miami Dolphins offensive player this week. But oh well. There’s a reason behind me saying that Albert Wilson is worth a look. That reason is slot cornerback Bryce Callahan, who is giving up a whopping 14.3 yards per reception out of the slot (tough to do when the routes you tend to cover are near the line of scrimmage) and 86.7 percent catch rate. He also has the 22nd-most average yards of separation allowed per target, so “Bert Alert” could cook him here.
Christian Kirk vs. Mike Hughes – Rookie cornerbacks are a lot of fun to target, and it’s even more exciting when you target them with a rookie wide receiver. Arizona Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk, now rejuvenated in his rookie year by the presence of quarterback Josh Rosen, will get to go toe-to-toe with Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes. Hughes is allowing a whopping 17.9 yards per reception, as well as a 70.8 percent catch rate, while being targeted on more than 26 percent of his routes covered. Kirk should be able to beat Hughes with ease.
Two Smoking Craters
Antonio Callaway vs. Casey Hayward – Even with Cleveland Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway's target volume likely increasing due to injuries this week, he’s not a recommended receiver option. Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward will spend most of his day guarding Callaway, and he has allowed just a 59.3 percent catch rate, has been targeted on the 15th-lowest percent of his routes among cornerbacks, and is allowing the second-lowest average yards of separation to his assignments. Callaway should hit a brick wall here.
Allen Hurns vs. A.J. Bouye – I hope you haven’t been thinking of starting Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Allen Hurns at all, but if you have, then stop and reconsider your choices in Week 6. Here, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye takes him on, and Bouye allows the 13th-lowest yards per reception in the league, just 0.96 average yards of separation (top-third), and a catch rate barely above 60 percent. Hurns will be blanketed, and the Cowboys’ passing game will look elsewhere; so should you.
Week 6 Shadow Situations: A.J. Green (CIN) vs. Joe Haden (PIT); Alshon Jeffery (PHI) vs. Janoris Jenkins (NYG), Tyreek Hill (KC) vs. Jason McCourty (NE), Sammy Watkins (KC) vs. Stephon Gilmore (NE), Chris Conley (KC) vs. Jonathan Jones (NE).