6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 9

The landscape inside my head has not been extremely kind this past week. There’s a lot going on in the world to make someone tense, and then adding in work picking up and the pressure of the holiday season fast-approaching certainly doesn’t salve the stress. It has not been exactly pleasant, to say the least.

Still, one refuge of gratifying enjoyment for me amidst the chaos of extraordinary societal situations and the delicate balance of day-to-day life is fantasy football. Fantasy football, as chaotic as it can get on game day, has a rhythm and pattern and logic. You meticulously make your waiver claims every Tuesday or Wednesday night, set your initial lineups on Thursday afternoon, check injury news Sunday morning with your coffee and make any last-minute subtle tweaks, then let the entertaining madness ensue.

Here’s the thing, though: when it comes to making those lineup decisions, we want you to know about the good and decent matchups your players will face. That level of rigorous detail about your wide receivers and their cornerback opponents is what you come to this column for, for that minute edge you can get on opponents in your season-long and DFS lineups (whichever you find most amusing).

Six wide receivers in this article have the most marvelous, delightful cornerback matchups in Week 9; who are they?

Last Week

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: Davante Adams and Tyler Lockett. Adams (30.3) saw another 12 targets, and though he posted only seven catches for 53 yards, he romped for three touchdowns to keep hitting his ceiling. Lockett (7.3) was the one Seattle receiver to not thrive in this blowout, as D.K. Metcalf soaked up basically every look.

Good Stocks: D.J. Moore, Travis Fulgham, Jarvis Landry, and A.J. Green. Moore (7.5) was stifled by an Atlanta secondary that showed up for the first time all season. Fulgham (19.8) continued his incredible breakout campaign with six grabs, 78 yards and a score. Landry (9.2) saw 11 targets and could have had a much bigger day if he caught more than four of them. Green (3.9) fell back to fourth both in targets and fantasy scoring among Cincinnati wideouts in Week 8.

Smoking Craters: Breshad Perriman (ruled out), Denzel Mims (replacement), and Jerry Jeudy. Perriman was declared out before kickoff, so Mims (6.2) was our de facto replacement option. He caught two long balls but saw only three targets in stifling coverage from Kansas City. Jeudy (11.3) was held to three catches for 30 yards until the fourth quarter gave him a long catch-and-run. He was inefficient on his 10 targets but did get you something if you started him.

Two Lineup Locks

Tyler Lockett vs. Taron Johnson – We’re heading back to the Tyler Lockett well in this one, friends! The Seattle Seahawks’ slot receiver didn’t do as much damage as we’d hoped last week thanks to D.K. Metcalf's utter onslaught. This week, however, Lockett has another choice matchup with Buffalo Bills slot corner – and unofficial friend of this column – Taron Johnson.

Despite not being featured in Week 8, Lockett still holds a 22% target per snap rate, catches 77% of his targets, and creates 2.0 yards per route run (per Pro Football Focus; PFF). These are all top-10 marks among Week 9 starting wide receivers, and Lockett’s dynamic skill set allows him to be used all over the formation, running all kinds of routes that should keep him away from top cover cornerback Tre'Davious White.

Taron Johnson will be Lockett’s primary cover man out of the slot (which Lockett inhabits 58% of the time), and he has been one of our favorite fantasy punching bags in 2020. Johnson has been targeted on 20% of his coverage snaps, allowed a catch on 81% of his targets, and given up 1.8 yards per coverage snap. Those are all top-10 marks among Week 9 starting cornerbacks, giving Lockett a cushy situation to exploit with his top-tier talent.

Keenan Allen vs. Lamarcus Joyner – Thanks to quarterback Justin Herbert, the 2020 renaissance is on for Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen. The volume of the Bolts’ passing attack dropped way off with Tyrod Taylor under center, but now they are clicking through the air in time to take on the Las Vegas Raiders and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner.

Joyner has been fairly mediocre this year in coverage, as his long range at safety doesn’t come into play as much at the quick, agility-demanding slot corner position. He is allowing a target on 17% of his coverage snaps (top-third), a 70% catch rate when targeted (top-third), and 1.3 yards per coverage snap (above-average, though that’s on the high end for the slot).

Allen’s 30% target rate is second to only Davante Adams, his 67% catch rate is a fine mark and still in the top-third of Week 9 receivers, and he is earning 2.3 yards per route run (top-15 this week). In a game that should be fairly high scoring, Allen should be in line to eat.

Four Good Stocks

Cole Beasley vs. D.J. Reed Jr. – The third slot receiver of the week, the Bills’ Cole Beasley has a great matchup brewing with D.J. Reed of the Seahawks. Reed is an injury replacement for Tre Flowers -- and he won’t be the only backup Seattle runs out in the secondary for Week 9. Beasley has a high catch rate at 84%, but he’s solid across the board with sneaky top-quarter rankings in every production category. Reed, in addition, allows the second most targets per snap (28%) and yards per snap (3.6). This is a huge spot to target the Seahawks’ defense.

Diontae Johnson vs. Trevon Diggs – Since returning from injury, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson has looked exactly like we’d hoped in draft season 2020, when he drew so much breakout hype. His main draw is the volume: when on the field, he’s getting targeted on 26% of his routes run, meaning he’s getting open plenty. He should run rampant over Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs, who allows the sixth-most targets per coverage snap (20%) and yards per coverage snap (1.9).

Hunter Renfrow vs. Tevaughn Campbell – On the other side of the “Battle of Los and Las,” Chargers cornerback Tevaughn Campbell will attempt to stymie Raiders slot receiver Hunter Renfrow -- and likely will fail. Campbell is allowing the third-most yards per coverage snap (2.1), a top-quarter target per snap rate, and has allowed a catch on every target he’s seen. Renfrow is sort of similar to Beasley in that he has a high floor, but with such a vulnerable matchup, his ceiling could hit, too. He’s seeing a 20% target rate and earning 2.0 yards per route run. Good enough for me in a deep week for slot receivers.

Danny Amendola vs. Jeff Gladney – Finally, slot receiver five out of five: the Detroit Lions lost Kenny Golladay to another injury, which should see Danny Amendola step into a larger role in Week 9. He’s already seeing an average 18% target rate (which should jump) but earning 1.9 yards per route run, a top-third mark. Against the Minnesota VikingsJeff Gladney, who is allowing top-quarter production across the board (including 2.0 yards per route run, the fourth-most), Amendola is a nice sleeper play this week.

Two Smoking Craters

Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Jimmy Smith – Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. just returned from injury and got his feet back under him last week, though that resulted in just one target (which he caught for six yards) on 45 snaps. This week may also need to be chalked up to “getting back up to speed,” as he faces Baltimore Ravens veteran Jimmy Smith, who is allowing a minuscule 9% target rate, 52% catch rate, and just 0.3 yards per coverage snap. These are all top-10 marks, and the former and latter are second lowest among Week 9 cornerbacks. Avoid Pittman here.

Darius Slayton vs. Kendall Fuller – Darius Slayton of the New York Giants has been a revelation for the team as they look to find a foothold in a winnable NFC East. That said, he and the G-Men will contend with a surprisingly not terrible Washington Football Team defense in Week 9 that features star cornerback Kendall Fuller. Fuller is allowing a bottom-quarter target rate of 13% as well as the worst catch rate when targeted (35%) and a bottom-10 mark in yards per coverage snap (0.5).

Week 9 Potential Shadow Situations: Allen Robinson (CHI) vs. Malcolm Butler (TEN), Davante Adams (GB) vs. Jason Verrett (SF), D.J. Chark (JAX) vs. Bradley Roby (HOU), Laviska Shenault (JAX) vs. Vernon Hargreaves III (HOU), D.K. Metcalf (SEA) vs. Tre’Davious White (BUF), Terry McLaurin (WAS) vs. James Bradberry (NYG)