6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 9
I know this is going to be a bit meta, but I don’t have a clever intro for you this week. I recently concluded my first-ever 66-hour workweek at my day job, so my bones, muscles, nerves, and creative juices are all fairly lagging right now – but thank goodness for overtime pay!
It’s this point in the NFL season when you also might start feeling like you’re dragging, too. We’re in the thick of the bye weeks, picking apart waiver-wire options in season-long and budget picks in DFS to make the most of this part of the calendar’s weirdness.
Even if you’re unsure, you shouldn’t give up hope, though; that’s why this column is here to help you. When you’ve gone over the same list of wide receivers for the 30th time this week, we’ll help you highlight the premier options. When you’ve benched and un-benched and re-benched and de-benched the same wideout over and over since Tuesday, we’ll be there for you. Week in and week out, we’ll support you through your daily grind.
So, which wide receivers’ fantasy outlooks in Week 9 will be supported by their cornerback matchups?
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: Odell Beckham, Adam Thielen, and Davante Adams. All of these guys hit, averaging 20.9 fantasy points last week. Each of these receivers saw at least 7 targets, and all of them went over 100 yards receiving.
Good Stocks: Tyler Boyd, Tyler Lockett, and Stefon Diggs. Per usual, our Stocks beat our Locks last week, as all three hit and averaged 23.1 points last week. That said, Boyd and Diggs were the true stars, seeing at least 10 targets each, catching at least 9 each, going over 130 yards receiving, and each scoring.
Smoking Craters: Michael Floyd and Pierre Garcon. Garcon ended up missing this past week due to injury, but we’ll still take the victory. If you used the same logic to avoid Marquise Goodwin, you still did well. Floyd played, but saw 0 targets.
Three Lineup Locks
Antonio Brown vs. Jimmy Smith – A good rivalry game always heats up the fantasy fun, and boy do we have a steamy dish a-brewing here. Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown will go toe-to-toe with the Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, but AB84 should have this duel locked down.
Smith returned from an injury in Week 5 and was slowly worked back into the lineup until last week, when he played more than 80 percent of the Ravens' defensive snaps for the first time this season. Upon doing so, he allowed 7 catches for 77 yards on 8 targets, and he also gave up 8 catches for 105 and a score on 10 targets in Week 7 while playing just over 40 percent of the team’s snaps (per PlayerProfiler.com). For the year, Smith is giving up a not-horrendous 51st-fewest 12.8 yards per reception but is allowing his receivers to catch the ball a whopping 75 percent of the time while being targeted on 33.8 percent of his routes defended. Even better (for us), he has an 8.3 percent Burn Rate, the 91st-lowest rate. Brown is gonna go ham here.
Robert Woods vs. Eli Apple – Wait, you mean to tell me we’re recommending a receiver in the game with the highest over/under (by PaddyPower.com’s odds) this week? One that has averaged 8.1 targets per game this season? Yeah, that seems to make sense. It’s time for Los Angeles Rams wideout Robert Woods to be fired up against New Orleans Saints cornerback Eli Apple this week in what should be a defense-less scorefest.
Apple featured as one of our recommended targets last week, and he didn’t disappoint. This year, the former top-10 pick has surrendered 14.0 yards per reception – which is the 65th-fewest among qualifying cornerbacks – while also allowing a 71.4 percent catch rate (75th-lowest). He also has the 82nd-lowest Burn Rate (the percent of targets where he was five or more yards from his receiver), so even a primarily possession-based receiver like Woods has some big-play upside.
Julio Jones vs. Greg Stroman – I will never understand the scoreless enigma that is Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. While he hasn’t caught a regular-season touchdown since last November 26th, he has averaged 6.3 catches for 101.4 receiving yards on 10.7 targets per game since then. He could put together a monster game in Week 9, too, against Washington cornerback Greg Stroman.
Stroman is allowing a fine-but-not-stellar 63.2 percent catch rate to his assignments, but the eye-popping number here is the yards per reception he is forking over: 18.4. If Stroman qualified by playing enough snaps so far this year, that would be the most lenient number among cornerbacks in the league. The reason he’s so forgiving to receivers is a monumental 1.63 average yards of separation and a 5.3 percent Burn Rate. Add to this that he’s giving up a 10.5 percent touchdown rate on targets, and Jones is Big PPR Energy this week.
Three Good Stocks
Adam Thielen vs. Nevin Lawson – This is the third week in a row you’ve recommended Minnesota Vikings slot receiver Adam Thielen, Joe, you might say. Are you just phoning it in now? No, voice in my head, I am not; I did the research, and it’s not my fault that defenses like the Detroit Lions keep giving Thielen cornerbacks like Nevin Lawson to feast on. Is it my fault that I’m recommending Thielen against a cornerback who is playing the 23rd-highest rate of snaps out of the slot but still allows 16.0 yards per reception (84th-least among cornerbacks)? I don’t think I can be blamed for an average target separation that Lawson allows of 1.05 yards. That 10.8 percent touchdown rate is all on him. The only reason Thielen isn’t a Lock is Lawson’s 56.8 percent catch rate allowed, but some big plays should make up for that.
Cooper Kupp vs. P.J. Williams – Rams receiver Cooper Kupp had a terrifying knee injury just a few weeks ago, but instead of being out for the season, he is back after just two weeks out. And what a time for him to return, facing the leaky Saints’ defense and P.J. Williams in the slot! Even if Kupp is limited, Williams allows 14.0 yards per reception from the slot (66th-lowest), with a 66.7 percent catch rate given up (60th-lowest) and a 13.9 percent touchdown rate. He gave up 9 catches for 117 yards on 9 targets last week and should give up a bunch more here.
Tre’Quan Smith vs. Troy Hill – And here is the third receiver from this high-flying affair that we can feel good targets, with Saints rookie deep threat Tre'Quan Smith lining up across from Rams cornerback Troy Hill. Hill’s season-long numbers aren’t awful – he’s giving up a mediocre 65.2 percent catch rate and just 0.54 average yards of separation – but he’s also allowed 16.7 yards per reception, with a 4.3 percent Burn Rate. That kind of big-play forgiveness is exactly what Smith needs in a defender. Consistency isn’t a likely option, but big gains could be.
Two Smoking Craters
Kelvin Benjamin vs. Prince Amukamara – It should be obvious that any part of the Buffalo Bills’ passing attack must be avoided at all costs in 2018, but even in a tight bye week, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is not your answer while facing Chicago Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara. Amukamara has been targeted on just 18.9 percent of his routes defended (20th-lowest), while allowing a middling 13.6 yards per reception (59th-fewest) and a strong 58.1 percent catch rate (29th-lowest). Don’t forget, too, Nathan Peterman is likely starting for the Bills this week; it’s gonna get ugly.
Geronimo Allison vs. Jason McCourty – Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison has come on strong this season as the Pack’s third wideout, but he’ll run into defensive brick wall in Jason McCourty, New England Patriots cornerback, this week. McCourty is allowing 10.0 yards per reception (9th-fewest), a 60.4 percent catch rate (38th-lowest), and the 13th-lowest average yards of separation. He’s also given up a grand total of zero touchdowns. With Stephon Gilmore likely shadowing Davante Adams, don’t expect Allison to get away from McCourty much; this is a tight spot.
Week 9 Shadow Situations: Allen Robinson (CHI) vs. Tre’Davious White (BUF); Marvin Jones (DET) vs. Xavier Rhodes (MIN); Davante Adams (GB) vs. Stephon Gilmore (NE); Tyreek Hill (KC) vs. Denzel Ward (CLE); Stefon Diggs (MIN) vs. Darius Slay (DET); Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. Jimmy Smith (BAL); Mike Evans (TB) vs. James Bradberry (CAR).