Wide Receivers With the Best and Worst Cornerback Matchups in Week 16
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 16.
Matchups to Target
Amari Cooper has obviously been a disappointment over the last few weeks, but he should get a pass. Not only has he been injured, but he's seen coverage from Darius Slay, Stephon Gilmore, Tre'Davious White, and Jalen Ramsey. Oh, and he actually put together a nice game against the Chicago Bears, a defense that ranks fourth in Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. Michael Gallup has feasted on the secondary corners all season, as Cooper generally sees the alphas from week to week.
Here is every 20+ yard reception by #Cowboys WR Michael Gallup this season: pic.twitter.com/vEkJI4fWHD
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) December 12, 2019
Thankfully, they'll both eat this week, as the Philadelphia Eagles' cornerbacks have all played equally poorly this season. Their defense ranks 23rd in schedule-adjusted pass defense, and their secondary has allowed the seventh-most yards and third-most touchdowns to receivers on the season. The only risk here is the health of Dak Prescott, as he's been limited in practice with an injury to his throwing shoulder.
Luckily, sharp bettors don't seem to mind. According to oddsFire, 84 percent of the money is on the Dallas Cowboys to cover the 1.5-point spread and 58 percent is on this game going over the total of 47.5 points. That indicates the market believes this game will be a shootout and the Cowboys will perform well on offense, which is a recipe for success for this passing game. Look for Cooper and Gallup to bounce back in this dream spot.
The Titans' secondary has been ailing for weeks now. After losing Malcolm Butler early in the season, the team has also been without Adoree' Jackson for two weeks. They got back LeShaun Sims last week, and DeAndre Hopkins hung 98 of his 119 receiving yards on Sims, according to PlayerProfiler. With Jackson trending down again, Sims will likely be seeing a lot of Michael Thomas.
In case you would ever doubt his talents, Thomas is leading the league in targets, receptions, yards, contested catch rate, and red zone receptions.
The Titans have also shown the ability to put up points with Ryan Tannehill throwing the ball, which could turn this game into a shootout. This matchup is one of two this weekend that has a total topping 50 points, so a shootout seems to be well within the range of outcomes.
Thomas is also just 10 receptions away from the NFL record of 143, which is currently held by the great Marvin Harrison. This is purely anecdotal, but when Brees was close the all-time yardage record last season and the all-time touchdown record last week, it sure seemed like Sean Peyton went all out trying to get Brees there. Look for Thomas to rewrite the record books this week.
Keenan Allen is still Philip Rivers' favorite target, but Mike Williams has quietly been out-producing him for a while now. Over the last five weeks, Williams has 327 receiving yards to Allen's 321 and they both have two touchdowns. The only difference is Allen has caught more high-percentage dink-and-dunk passes, as he has 28 grabs compared to Williams' 13 over that span.
Over their past eight games:
- Mike Williams: 25-609-2 receiving on 43 targets
- Keenan Allen: 50-543-2 receiving on 70 targets
Are you sure Keenan Allen is better than Mike Williams?
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 18, 2019
While he isn't as consistent, Williams is clearly the big-play threat in this offense. Over those five weeks, he's doubled Allen's air yards and also leads the team in weighted opportunity rating, per airyards.com. That will come in handy this week, as the Los Angeles Chargers draw a matchup with the Oakland Raiders.
Not only does Oakland rank 31st in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, but they also allowed the most explosive pass plays (15-plus yards) in the NFL this season, according to Sharp Football. That weakness meshes perfectly with Williams' strengths, meaning a massive week could be in store. Look for Williams to make some plays downfield against rookie cornerback Trayvon Mullen.
The Vikings finally realized that Xavier Rhodes is a shell of his former self, as he's played less than 40 percent of snaps in back-to-back weeks without an injury. Even in his limited role last week, he still allowed four catches on four targets for 74 yards in his coverage.
Trae Waynes also rode the pine for a majority of the game, as he played only 34 percent of the snaps while Mike Hughes and Mackensie Alexander were in ahead of the veterans. This secondary is just a total mess, as they've allowed the fourth-most receptions, ninth-most yards, and fifth-most touchdowns to receivers this season regardless of the starting lineup.
If anyone tells you Davante Adams isn't a top 5 route runner in the NFL you can safely ignore them pic.twitter.com/DnrPvbfcOp
— Joe Kipp (@JuhKipp) December 17, 2019
Davante Adams has seen double-digit targets in five of his last six games, so he'll see a steady load throughout this game. No matter who Minnesota trots out there to cover him, Adams should be able to take advantage of this matchup.
Matchups to Avoid
With Marvin Jones out for the season, Kenny Golladay did not get the extra attention we were hoping for in Week 15. Despite a dream matchup in a shootout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, "Babytron" saw only seven targets and turned in 44 scoreless yards. The lack of a dynamic asset opposite him only hurt his ability to get open, and a brutal performance from David Blough also didn't help.
How does Kenny Golladay have 0 receptions midway thru the 2Q against Tampa with Marvin Jones out?
— Tyler Loechner (@LoechnerNFL) December 15, 2019
Up next is shadow coverage from Chris Harris, who has shut down everyone not named DeAndre Hopkins or Tyreek Hill. The Denver Broncos rank 11th in schedule-adjusted total defense, so the entire Detroit Lions' offense could sputter again in this game. Don't expect a massive game from Golladay this week.
After a Week 11 explosion against the Miami Dolphins, John Brown has just been a smoldering heap of blah. In the four games since then, he has just 15 catches and 190 yards.
He likely won't turn that around this week, as he draws the New England Patriots' top-ranked defense in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. He'll also see shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore, who held him to a 69 yards and a 45 percent catch rate in Week 4. Gilmore has canceled out some of the best receivers in the league all season. This is definitely a matchup to avoid.
While Julian Edelman has been "questionable" on nearly every injury report this season with a shoulder issue, he has never been in danger of missing a game. That could change soon, though, as a new knee injury seems to be serious. Either the Patriots didn't get enough film or his knee issue contributed to his dud of a game against Cincinnati Bengals, as he caught just two balls for nine yards on 55 percent of snaps.
Since he had only two catches against the Bengals, a real defense could actually give him a donut, and the Buffalo Bills are absolutely a real defense.
Tre White has shadowed top receivers all season and has also gone into the slot on occasion. He's the centerpiece to the Bills' sixth-ranked schedule-adjusted pass defense, so Edelman should see plenty of the shutdown corner. Given this matchup and his potentially serious knee issue, Edelman may disappoint this week.
While the Los Angeles Rams were blown out by the Cowboys, their pass defense was actually decent. Dak Prescott was held to just 212 yards, and Amari Cooper had one catch for 19 yards with Jalen Ramsey draped all over him.
Still processing the fact that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup combined for 2/25 in a game the Cowboys won 44-21
— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) December 17, 2019
This could spell trouble for Emmanuel Sanders, who saw just four targets against the Atlanta Falcons despite playing nearly every snap. Kyle Shanahan will likely come up with a run-heavy game plan after watching Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard both run for more than 100 yards against this Rams defense, so Sanders could see limited opportunities yet again. He should be avoided in this tough matchup.