Wide Receivers With the Best and Worst Cornerback Matchups in Week 12
Exploiting key matchups is one of the best ways to give your fantasy team an edge over your opponent. Poor cornerback play should be exploited whenever possible, as even subpar receivers can produce in positive situations, while elite receivers can hand in career games.
These mismatches can be found in every game on every team if you dig deep enough. Here’s a look at the wide receivers with the best and worst matchups in Week 12.
Matchups to Target
This has to be the Julio Jones boom week -- the 15-catch, 200-yard game.
It just has to be.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit at first in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play while ranking 22nd against the pass. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons rank eighth in Adjusted Passing NEP per play and have struggled to run the ball all season.
Jones gets either Carlton Davis or Sean Murphy-Bunting, who just gave up another monster game to Michael Thomas. He has also seen 43 percent of the team's air yards over the last two weeks, which is ninth in the NFL, and has averaged over nine targets per game on the season. The total of 51.5 points is the highest on the slate, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, so Matt Ryan will be airing it out in this matchup. Jam Julio in everywhere.
DeAndre Hopkins' average target depth of 10.3 yards ranks outside the top 50 receivers, but that shouldn't matter against the Indianapolis Colts. They generally deploy a soft zone and don't allow massive plays, as evidenced by their 13th-ranked pass defense in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
This lets receivers running short routes churn out yards after the catch. Last week, D.J. Chark went for 104 and two touchdowns on this D, and 55 of those yards came after the catch, which was the third-highest total on the week.
As soon as DJ Chark saw the Safety break towards him to help stop the deep seam route, he had to make sure the cut in this corner route was quick... and it was. He has been so good this year, what a route here.
This was DJ Chark's 8th TD this year. #Jaguars pic.twitter.com/BY2AdYrlb4
— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) November 20, 2019
Hopkins is a big-bodied, physical receiver who can break tackles after the catch. He'll be a problem for Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore on the outside, especially with Will Fuller possibly back to draw safety attention.
While being shadowed by superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Allen Robinson was only able to catch four balls for 15 yards. They were also coming from an injured Mitchell Trubisky, which turns out is far worse than even a healthy Mitchell Trubisky.
Things will get easier against a New York Giants secondary that has allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to opposing receivers on the season. Trubisky also practiced fully this week, meaning he should be past the hip injury that caused some of his Week 11 struggles.
Prior to last week, Robinson has seen 39 percent of the Chicago Bears' air yards, which was fourth in the league. Don't buy the high-target totals from Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller. Trust A-Rob to smash this matchup against a defense that ranks 26th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
After half a season of brutal matchups, Odell Beckham finally has one to take advantage of, drawing a Miami Dolphins team that ranks dead-last against in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Furthermore, Miami has been competitive in the past few weeks, allowing opposing offenses to keep their foot on the pedal. That game flow allowed John Brown to go for 137 yards and two touchdowns in Week 11.
Beckham is clearly a similar big-play threat with even more natural talent. Plus, he's ranked fifth in weighted opportunity rating over the last three weeks, per airyards.com, indicating that he's due for a massive week based on volume.
Baker Mayfield guns out a 43-yard strike to Odell Beckham Jr! pic.twitter.com/AJXufD6YUl
— Everything Cleveland (@EverythingCLE_) November 15, 2019
The Dolphins have had to shuffle their cornerbacks around with injuries, meaning Ken Crawley should spend quite a bit of time on OBJ. If you don't remember, Crawley was beat out by P.J. Williams in New Orleans, and Williams is the Saints' defensive back who every quarterback loves to pick on. Baker Mayfield will be feeding Beckham in this one.
Matchups to Avoid
Despite a 3-7 record, the Denver Broncos are a nightmare on defense. In Week 11, they jumped out to a 20-0 lead on the Minnesota Vikings by halftime, but ultimately squandered the victory to Kirk Cousins, who had to play outside of his mind. Josh Allen is not capable of doing that. He can also be very prone to turnovers, throwing seven picks and fumbling the ball 11 times this season.
Prior to blowing up last week, John Brown had primarily operated as a floor receiver, not topping 100 yards since Week 1. He sees massive volume with a 27.1 percent target share -- fifth among receivers -- but he'll be shadowed by Chris Harris in this matchup. Denver also matches up perfectly with Buffalo, as they excel at running the football while the Bills rank 29th at stopping the run.
Brown has the talent to rip off big plays, but with the Broncos ranking 12th in adjusted sack rate on Football Outsiders, the deep ball may be hard to come by in this matchup.
Courtland Sutton was listed as an avoid last week against Xavier Rhodes. Turns out, the roads were wide open, as Sutton made me eat my words with some monster contested catches and highlight plays.
In case you'd forgotten, Courtland Sutton is a monster. pic.twitter.com/bOjw64QZNf
— Mile High Saluter (@milehighsalutes) November 18, 2019
This could backfire, but the process is strong. The Buffalo Bills have used Tre White in shadow coverage over the last few weeks, and he has performed admirably. Sutton has Brandon Allen throwing him the football, and their offense should skew run-heavy in this matchup. He's seen 238 air yards and 28 percent of Allen's attempts in his two starts, but based on matchup and game flow, Sutton should be avoided where possible.
Terry McLaurin's rapport with his college quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, did not carry over last week. McLaurin only saw four targets against a beatable New York Jets secondary while Haskins had no time to connect with his top target.
"What do I have to do to help you?"
-Dwayne Haskins (@dh_simba7) pleading to the #Redskins O-line #HTTR pic.twitter.com/5UAouDHXYq
— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) November 17, 2019
While he did show his big-play ability by posting 69 nice yards on three catches, that volume isn't strong enough. McLaurin also draws Darius Slay in shadow coverage this week. He locked down Amari Cooper, limiting the stud receiver to just three receptions on eight targets. Though Cooper didn't play a full allotment of snaps, his 38 yards were his lowest out of any game he's started and finished this season.