Wide Receivers With the Best and Worst Cornerback Matchups in Week 15
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 15.
Matchups to Target
#Lions WR Kenny Golladay first player in the #NFL this season to reach double digit touchdown receptions. #OnePride pic.twitter.com/RvyjyseSIm
— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) December 8, 2019
That number should also spike for the rest of the season, as Marvin Jones is officially done for the year. With Danny Amendola operating out of the slot on shorter routes, Golladay should absorb a majority of the 26 percent of the Detroit Lions' air yards that Jones was seeing this season.
As if the volume wasn't enough, Golladay also has a matchup with Carlton Davis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. They have been the most generous team to opposing receivers, allowing the most yards on the season. Davis is the clear weak link, as he's allowed 100 yards and/or a touchdown in his coverage in six of his last seven games, according to PlayerProfiler.
Even with Blough throwing the ball, Golladay is in a position to exploit this matchup.
With how efficient Ryan Tannehill has been playing, teams have been forced to air the ball out to keep up with the Tennessee Titans. That is a sentence most people would laugh at just a few months ago, but here we are.
Quarterbacks are averaging 40.7 pass attempts per game against the Titans over the last seven weeks, and Deshaun Watson has been known to air the ball out from time to time. DeAndre Hopkins is already seeing a 31 percent target share on the season. With Will Fuller battling a hamstring injury, we can reasonably project Hopkins to hit double-digit targets, meaning he'll see massive volume through the air in this matchup.
Adoree' Jackson missed Week 14, and Tennessee is already down Malcolm Butler and LeShaun Sims, meaning Hopkins could be facing Tye Smith and Logan Ryan this week. Not many cornerbacks can hang with Hopkins, and their names certainly aren't Tye Smith and Logan Ryan.
Speaking of Tannehill's success, A.J. Brown has benefited the most over the last three weeks, reeling in 333 yards and 3 scores over that span. What's more impressive is that he's doing it on minimal volume, as he's caught at least five balls in a game just twice this season.
His efficiency is unmatched, as he ranks first in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target among receivers with at least 30 catches. Brown is also top-five in yards per target, yards per pass route, and passer rating when targeted.
Ryan Tannehill finds rookie AJ Brown for a 91-yard TD
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 8, 2019
Brown will also be up against the Houston Texans, who rank 25th against the pass when adjusted for schedule. The Texans secondary was abused by rookie Drew Lock in Week 14, and the coaches were forced to rotate their cornerbacks due to their ineffectiveness. Brown and Tannehill will likely cause them more headaches.
The New York Giants may have found their next Odell Beckham. Darius Slayton has been quietly good all season, ranking eighth in Reception NEP per target among receivers with at least 30 receptions. He also put on a show in primetime against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, hauling in 154 yards and 2 scores for all to see. He now leads his team in targets, receptions, and yards this season.
Slayton should be able to keep it going against a Miami Dolphins defense that ranks last in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Miami has also been prone to allowing big plays, as they rank 30th in explosive pass rate, per Sharp Football. Seeing as how Slayton is leading his team in percentage of air yards, he should be able to drop an explosive play or two on this secondary when given the opportunity.
Matchups to Avoid
While Darius Slay has been more "name brand" than "performance" in recent weeks, it's still never fun to get shadowed by a Pro Bowl cornerback. With Mike Evans is out and Chris Godwin debatably already the alpha in Tampa Bay, Slay should travel with him this Sunday.
While Evans being out likely boosts Godwin's target floor, his ceiling is capped by the matchup. More importantly, Jameis Winston has a thumb injury and has yet to grip a football in practice. With Ryan Griffin taking the first-team reps thus far, Winston is far from a sure thing for this game.
Griffin would likely lean on his best receiver, but it's tough to trust Godwin, given these circumstances.
Tyrell Williams is unplayable now. While he rode a hot touchdown streak to start the season, he hasn't seen more than seven targets in a game all season. He's also been held to under 50 yards in eight of his 11 starts this season. While he has great speed at his size -- 81st-percentile speed score according PlayerProfiler -- Derek Carr simply doesn't push the ball downfield enough, ranking 27th in pass attempt distance.
So we finally see what Ateman was jumping around pointing downfield we have a wide open Tyrell Williams uncovered another missed opportunity left on the field #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/OkXj1S2ltJ
— Phil Jones (@PhilJonesNFL) December 10, 2019
Amari Cooper is almost certainly not 100 percent. Nearly every time he's made a play or caught a ball over the last few weeks, he's been held out on the sideline the next play wincing in pain.
His quarterback has also underperformed. Over the last three weeks, Dak Prescott is averaging a brutal 0.03 Passing NEP per drop back, which is way down from his season average of 0.28.
If that wasn't enough, he has a matchup with Jalen Ramsey and the Los Angeles Rams defense that ranks fourth in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. Over the last three weeks, they've gotten 13 sacks and have allowed -0.02 Passing NEP per drop back. This Dallas passing attack should not be trusted.