6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 5
I find that many people take things that should be fun way too seriously, be they fantasy football, video games, sci-fi fandoms, or whatever.
For those who follow me on Twitter, you know that my timeline of late has been a dire place largely; I’m worried about a lot of things, and the content I post and retweet reflects that. The other day, however, I realized that I just needed to log off of the internet, stop the “doom scrolling,” and put on my favorite movie, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. I chilled on my couch, stopped agonizing over society and spreadsheets for a few hours, and enjoyed my time.
You have to give yourself permission to take a break sometimes. The fight will be there afterward (unfortunately), but that means that if you need to watch a Star War to recharge, play a game of Madden on easy mode, or just read a book with your cat on your lap, you are allowed to. The process of progress is a long haul; you’ll need your energy and your optimism for it.
That’s what I want to give you permission to do this week, where no fewer than three games may be canceled or rescheduled due to COVID-19, two teams are on a bye, and a plethora of stars are injured. If my recommendations don’t feel right to you, make yourself happy and play someone you can root for. One week of fun won’t hurt. As the bard Sheryl Crow once sang, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.” Wise words.
Which receivers will make you happy thanks to their cornerback matchups in Week 5?
One of the things I do is reflect on my process, analyzing the successes and fixing 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: DeAndre Hopkins and Tyler Boyd. Hopkins (11.1) saw nine targets, catching seven; on a normal day that’s a huge performance, but he posted just 41 scoreless yards on them. Boyd (16.4) was very close to our mark and inside the top-24.
Good Stocks: Cooper Kupp, Hunter Renfrow, Jerry Jeudy, and DeVante Parker. Kupp (17.7) had another huge day. Renfrow (10.7) did enough with his eight targets but remains a low-ceiling option. Jeudy (14.1) seems destined to explode when he gets quality quarterback play again. Parker (21.0) is the indisputable top receiver for Miami now.
Smoking Craters: Mike Williams (ruled out), Justin Watson (replacement), and Zay Jones. Williams (0.0) was ruled out before Sunday, so I replaced him -- on Twitter -- with Watson (8.0). Watson performed better than expected but only barely. Jones (7.2) was a mediocre option, as well, though you did fine if you started Nelson Agholor (14.4).
Two Lineup Locks
Cooper Kupp vs. Jimmy Moreland – Are we running it back with the Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp in Week 5? You bet your sweet smile we are. In a matchup this go-around with the Washington Football Team's Jimmy Moreland, things look even better than usual for Kupp, as he has our top cornerback matchup going into the second quarter of the season.
Kupp’s average depth of target (aDOT) is down to a career-low 6.1 yards in 2020, but that has actually helped quarterback Jared Goff’s accuracy and efficiency and hasn’t stopped Kupp from racking up yards. He ranks ninth among qualifying receivers in yards after the catch per reception. For our purposes this week, he has a top-15 ranking in catch rate and yards per route run -- per Pro Football Focus (PFF) -- among Week 5 starting receivers.
Kupp’s prowess as a possession outlet puts him in a good position to exploit Moreland’s weaknesses in the slot. Over the last two weeks, Moreland has covered 20 pass routes, seeing 5 targets, allowing 5 catches for 52 yards. On the season, he has allowed a target on 22% of his coverage snaps and 1.9 yards per route covered -- both bottom-10 marks among cornerbacks. Moreland is projected to play this week only because of Greg Stroman's injury, but Stroman himself hasn’t played more than a few snaps since 2018. Kupp remains a Lock.
Justin Jefferson vs. Tre Flowers – I’ll be honest, I am one of the warier people in fantasy when it comes to relying on rookies. Putting Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings here makes me nervous, but he’s done nothing but ball out since starting. In Week 5, he faces a cornerback who -- in theory -- should be better than others he’s faced this year. In practicality, the Seattle Seahawks’ Tre Flowers has gotten torched.
Flowers has gotten progressively more exposed every year since entering the NFL. In 2018, he was targeted on 12.5% of his coverage snaps and allowed a 61% catch rate; in 2019, he was targeted on 13.4% of his snaps and allowed a 66% catch rate. This year, he has been targeted on 14% of his snaps and allowed an 83% catch rate. He is giving up 1.5 yards per route covered, too, a bottom-third mark among Week 5 starters at cornerback. Over the last two weeks, Flowers has completely collapsed, allowing 17 targets to turn into 15 receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown.
Enter Justin Jefferson. Not only does he have the physical profile to bang with a big corner like Flowers, Jefferson is seeing a 21% target rate on his routes, earning an 80% catch rate, and racking up 3.7 yards per route run. These are all top-third marks, and the latter is the second highest among starters this week. In a game that looks to shoot out, with a quarterback throwing the highest percentage of deep attempts, Jefferson is poised to make the most of it.
Four Good Stocks
Greg Ward vs. Mike Hilton – The only vaguely reliable receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020, Greg Ward squares off with cross-state rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers and cornerback Mike Hilton in Week 5. Hilton’s 24% target rate allowed is the third highest among starting corners this week, as is his 2.3 yards per route covered. With the daunting Steeler pass rush coming against a decimated Eagles O-line, quarterback Carson Wentz should look Ward’s way early and often for quick hits. Ward’s 25% target rate is a good indicator of that workload.
David Moore vs. Cameron Dantzler – The time-tested battle of good deep passing offenses and terrible cover cornerbacks: every Minnesota and Seattle receiver has a truly above-average matchup this week, but I’m highlighting Seahawks third receiver David Moore on the flip side of the contest. Why? Despite Moore seeing a paltry 15% target rate on routes, he has an absurd 90th percentile or better mark in catch rate and yards per route run. Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler has given up a whopping 83% catch rate and 1.7 yards per route covered, as well. All Moore needs is one or two looks to pay dividends here.
D.J. Moore vs. Isaiah Oliver – D.J. Moore truthers have to be disappointed in the Carolina Panthers phenom's start to the year. He’s running even fewer routes than guys like Michael Gallup or Chris Hogan, despite still totaling over 140 of them. That said, he’s run the most routes of any Carolina receiver, still has a solid 23% target rate on them, and owns a 70th percentile clip in yards per route run, as well. He’s sneaky-fine. This could be the week he blows up with the Atlanta Falcons’ league-worst secondary on the docket. Slated to guard him is Isaiah Oliver, who has allowed above-average target and catch rates and is bottom-quarter among cornerbacks in yards per route covered.
CeeDee Lamb vs. Darnay Holmes – Start your Dallas Cowboys; rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb is in until further notice. Still, this is mainly a highlight for the matchup with New York Giants slot cornerback Darnay Holmes, who has gotten bullied for 149 yards on 13 catches this season. His 20% target rate on coverage snaps, 76% catch rate allowed, and 1.8 yards per route covered are all bottom-quarter marks for cornerbacks this week.
Two Smoking Craters
Preston Williams vs. Jason Verrett – Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams has been usurped in the pecking order by both DeVante Parker and Isaiah Ford, and Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers is not where he regains his groove. He’ll have to face Jason Verrett, who is top five among starting cornerbacks in each of our production metrics: 10% target rate allowed, 50% catch rate allowed, and 0.3 yards per route covered. Williams is bottom-10 in all metrics himself. Avoid him this week.
Darnell Mooney vs. Carlton Davis – A player who has snuck into fantasy relevance in surprising fashion of late, Darnell Mooney has to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Carlton Davis in Week 5. Davis has averaged 2.3 catches allowed per game this year and has allowed more than 14 yards receiving just once this season. He has been targeted at just a 10% rate on his coverage snaps, allowing a 56% catch rate and 0.7 yards per route run. Keep Mooney on the bench for now.
Week 5 Potential Shadow Situations: Laviska Shenault (JAX) vs. Vernon Hargreaves III (HOU); D.J. Chark (JAX) vs. Bradley Roby (HOU); Amari Cooper (DAL) vs. James Bradberry (NYG); Diontae Johnson (PIT) vs. Darius Slay (PHI).