6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 4
I had been worrying about this for months, and I take no joy in having that fear come to fruition. It’s important to me that, for us as fans, we remember this is just a game and a diversion and a hobby. It’s something we can lose ourselves in a few times a week.
For the players, this is work, physically taxing and dangerous even without the threat of a barely contained pandemic looming. It’s just important, I think, to remember that football is not a necessary function of society; it’s a luxury. For many of us in this industry, it is our livelihoods, but football is not vital to the progress of the world. That we have a sport to watch at all right now is a gift -- a risky one, and maybe one not fully thought out -- but a gift nonetheless.
All I’m entreating you to do is – one – enjoy football while we have it because you never know when it may have to be put on hold again, and – two – please wear a mask and protect those around you so we can continue to be happy, healthy, and have football.
Update: The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots game has been postponed and is expected to be played on Monday or Tuesday. Cam Newton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play this week.
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 17.5 PPR fantasy points (the weekly fantasy average of the WR24 over the last five years) a hit for Lineup Locks, and a score of 9.0 (the average WR48) a hit for Good Stocks. A player with 7.5 PPR fantasy points or fewer as a Smoking Crater is a hit as well.
Lineup Locks: Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Cooper Kupp. Cooper (17.6 points) just met the threshold. While the quality day that Lamb (11.6) had didn’t end up Locks-worthy, Cedrick Wilson (27.7) played some in the slot and got the Ugo Amadi experience we were expecting. Kupp (25.7) went off as expected, and that feels good.
Good Stocks: Julian Edelman, Jarvis Landry, Corey Davis, and Keelan Cole. Edelman (4.2) was the victim of a run-heavy game script. It looks like the run-centric approach of head coach Kevin Stefanski may not allow for Landry (7.6) to function as a second fantasy relevant receiver. Davis (11.9) made the mark. Cole (8.3) was close, but it was just not that offense’s day on Thursday.
Smoking Craters: Kenny Golladay and Michael Pittman Jr. Golladay (17.7) ended up being just fine in spite of the concerns of injury and coverage. Pittman (5.6) got injured in the game, but his team housed the opposition, too -- we’ll call it a wash.
Two Lineup Locks
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Donte Jackson – Stopping the Arizona Cardinals’ turbo-charged passing attack is a difficult task for any team in 2020. It should be even harder for Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson to personally have to stop top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins when the Panthers’ defense has seemed to employ a “sieve” approach to wide receivers.
Nuk Hopkins comes in as our top receiver among Week 4 starting options, with a 96th percentile target rate and yards per route run (per Pro Football Focus, or PFF). He has gotten a look from Murray on almost 30% of his routes and converts those routes to an average of 2.8 yards. His catch rate for the year remains phenomenal at 86%, making Hopkins the total package and a total nightmare to cover.
Jackson, the former second-round pick, hasn’t performed totally abhorrently in 2020. His 1.2 yards per route covered is fairly average, but he’s still seeing a top-third target rate of 16% on his coverage snaps and allowing a top-third catch rate of 70%. This game should end up a shootout, and this is the matchup to target in it for fantasy players.
Tyler Boyd vs. D.J. Hayden – Jacksonville Jaguars slot corner D.J. Hayden was someone I was much more concerned about having to avoid this year, but it appears that he has returned to pumpkin status after a few seasons as a princess-worthy carriage. Tyler Boyd, on the other hand, looks like he has been the beneficiary of some magic thanks to his Cincinnati Bengals fixing their quarterback situation.
Hayden in 2020 has gotten shell-shocked as the Jags’ primary slot corner. Perhaps his most robust skill displayed this year has been his dissuasion, as he’s seeing just an 18% target rates on coverage snaps. That’s a top-quarter mark among Week 4 starting cornerbacks, though. He’s also giving up the second-highest catch rate (92%) and a top-five mark in yards per route covered (2.2). Remember, too, that he’s giving up that much yardage from the slot -- a position that traditionally is designed for short, quick routes. Hayden is a weak spot.
That’s very good news for Boyd, who has been solid and steady but nothing resembling a star. He’s drawing targets at a below-average 18% clip, has caught 84% of throws his way, and has turned those looks into a solidly mediocre 1.6 yards per route run. Boyd is also one of just three receivers to have run 140 routes or more through three weeks, so the volume of opportunity is there for him to have a strong weekly floor; Hayden presents an increase in the ceiling.
Four Good Stocks
Cooper Kupp vs. Darnay Holmes – We’re running it back to the Cooper Kupp well, and he gets the juiciest cornerback matchup this week. New York Giants slot cornerback Darnay Holmes has been targeted at a 23% rate on his coverage snaps and gives up 2.1 yards per route covered. The only reason this matchup didn’t make the Locks was the possibility of a blowout game script, allowing the Los Angeles Rams to just run the clock out and deprive Kupp of targets.
Hunter Renfrow vs. Taron Johnson – ANYONE COVERED BY TARON JOHNSON IN A GPP, he screamed. The Buffalo Bills’ slot corner, Taron Johnson, remains one of our best friends going into Week 4: he’s giving up top 15th percentile rates in each of target rate, catch rate, and yards per route covered. The Las Vegas Raiders are dealing with a situation where both rookie outside starting receivers are injured, which should mean a heavy dose of Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller this week.
Jerry Jeudy vs. Brian Poole – Things look bleak for the Denver Broncos, with starting quarterback Drew Lock injured, backup Jeff Driskel flaming out, and third-stringer Brett Rypien still getting the nod despite last week’s rough performance. Who’s his backup? Blake Bortles, of course. I mention all of this to say that wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has a low floor in this contest, especially as it’s on a short week for Thursday night. His ceiling is decent against the New York Jets and slot cornerback Brian Poole, however. Poole has been targeted on 21% of his snaps and gives up a top-third catch rate and yards per route covered.
DeVante Parker vs. Shaquill Griffin – This is a game script which should heavily favor passing for the Miami Dolphins, and the Seattle Seahawks' secondary is lagging well behind the rest of the league in production prevention. That’s a perfect scenario for DeVante Parker, whose 20% target rate, 82% catch rate, and 2.01 yards per route run pace his position group. Opposing cornerback Shaquill Griffin has been more than obliging this year and ranks in the top 10th percentile in yards per route covered, as well as being vulnerable in all other areas, too.
Two Smoking Craters
Mike Williams vs. Carlton Davis – Don’t let the switch to Justin Herbert under center fool you: things still look rough for Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams saw just one target among Herbert’s 49 Week 3 attempts (a 2% target share) and has earned just 1.12 yards per route run so far. He matches up against a shockingly steady Carlton Davis of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who is giving up only a 10% target rate on his snaps, a 58% catch rate, and 0.8 yards per route covered. The ball is continuing to go elsewhere in Week 4 for the Chargers.
Las Vegas outside receivers vs. Tre'Davious White – To continue the Las Vegas-Buffalo analysis from before, not only are Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards banged up and unlikely to play, but Buffalo has top cover cornerback Tre'Davious White roaming the boundaries of their defense. White has allowed a tiny 9% target rate, just a 60% catch rate, and a paltry 0.7 yards per route covered. He doesn’t play the slot, so Renfrow is safe from his wrath, but whoever draws the start on the right side for LV is in trouble. As of now, it looks like Zay Jones is the Week 4 sacrificial lamb.