6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 7
Sometimes, when you’re looking at the same information for the hundredth time and it’s not clicking, you just need a different perspective on the situation. I’ve heard from friends that when they’re writing and get stumped, it helps them to stand up, do a lap of the house, and let their fingers rest while their minds puzzle through the writer’s block. I myself have learned that if I sit upside-down on a couch or chair, that helps me literally get a different angle on what I’m doing. Something about it – blood flow, spinal comfort, maybe laughing at myself – helps me shake things out of stasis and get back on track.
These are physical ways to get different perspectives on something. My goal, however, is to help you find a different perspective on fantasy football. Each week, I hope to offer you information and rationale that confirm your hunches – or stress test them and force you to reconsider your assumptions about certain wide receiver matchups with cornerbacks. My hope is that this zoomed-in angle at least gets you thinking about the minutiae and individual components of what makes a good wide receiver play as we head into Week 6.
Don’t flip your lineups upside-down in frustration; which wide receivers have beneficial cornerback matchups in Week 7?
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 15.0 PPR fantasy points (the weekly fantasy average of the WR24 over the last six years) a hit for Lineup Locks, and a score of 9.0 (the average WR48) a hit for Good Stocks. A player with 7.0 PPR fantasy points (the average WR60) or fewer as a Smoking Crater is a hit as well.
Lineup Locks: D.J. Moore and D.K. Metcalf. We still had really good process with Moore (10.9), in spite of his results. The Panthers’ top wideout earned himself 13 targets in Week 6 but was only able to haul in five of them, impressively turning those into 73 receiving yards. This is a bad beat of epic proportions considering Moore’s peripherals here. Metcalf (11.8) was limited by the play of backup quarterback Geno Smith, who acquitted himself admirably but is still no Russell Wilson.
Good Stocks: Courtland Sutton, Michael Pittman Jr., Jaylen Waddle, and Van Jefferson. Sutton (23.4) nearly added a second touchdown in this game, but Teddy Bridgewater missed him with the pass. Sutton has gone from “startable” to “must-start” with his performances through the first month and a half. Pittman (5.8) was hampered by game script that saw his Colts throw just 20 times in an utter disassembling of the Texans. For what it’s worth, he saw the second-most targets on the team. The Dolphins have a good thing going with the Tua Tagovailoa to Waddle (29.0) connection. Waddle led the team with 13 targets, operating once more as a short-yardage, catch-and-run receiver; the two touchdowns were just icing on the cake. With Cooper Kupp soaking up every available target and the Rams putting a walloping on the Giants, Jefferson (4.9) was limited to just four targets, and nothing downfield like his usual diet.
Smoking Craters: Zach Pascal and Terrace Marshall Jr. Pascal (0.0) was also a victim of the horrendous positive game script, though we were banking on that from him. Marshall (1.9) suffered a concussion midway through the second quarter, but still would have been on pace to stay under our threshold had he finished the game healthy.
Two Lineup Locks
Davante Adams vs. Benjamin St-Juste – It almost feels like cheating to be able to put Davante Adams in here. The Green Bay Packers star wide receiver is a top-five fantasy wide receiver in points per game yet again, and just seems nigh-unstoppable every time he steps onto a field. Adams holds a 99th percentile target rate (34% targets per route run) among Week 7 starting wide receivers as the unquestioned top wideout for his team, has a 98th percentile yards per route run (3.5) rate, and is still above-average in catch rate with a 54th percentile mark (70%) in that category to boot.
In Week 7, the Washington Football Team will visit Lambeau Field and Benjamin St-Juste will have the unfortunate duty of defending Adams. BSJ isn’t a complete mess in coverage, but as a rookie having to cover arguably the best receiver in the league, this is a tall order. St-Juste allows a 17% target rate (64th percentile among Week 7 starting cornerbacks), just a 58% catch rate (26th percentile), and a “forgiving” 1.5 yards per coverage snap (72nd percentile). With the volume of looks coming Adams’ way every game, BSJ’s target rate isn’t coming down any time soon. His weaknesses perfectly align with Adams’ strengths, meaning another big fantasy day for the Green Bay wideout should be expected.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Desmond King II – Even though his fantasy ceiling has been lower than we’ve expected in 2021, Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins is still demanding a significant number of looks and producing solid results with those targets. As part of the Cards’ high-flying passing attack, Hopkins’ lowered team target share is being boosted by an overall volume of team targets, and that’s a very good thing. The quality of his production may increase also, however, with a matchup against the Houston Texans’ Desmond King II.
King is a hybrid cornerback/safety but has been forced back to the former full-time due to the dearth of talent in Houston’s locker room – and it shows. King is allowing a 17% target per coverage snap rate (64th percentile), an 83% catch rate (89th percentile), and a prolific 1.8 yards per coverage snap (88th percentile). Hopkins is perfectly poised to exploit that assignment. Again, his target rate is a somewhat lacking 16% (36th percentile), but he holds a 74% catch rate (72nd percentile) and earns 1.7 yards per route run (58th percentile). Hopkins has a lot of work to do to repair fantasy managers’ trust in him, but this is a good week to start that rebuilding.
Four Good Stocks
Terry McLaurin vs. Isaac Yiadom – The Packers/WFT game may end up a pretty slap-happy passing affair, with both teams employing mediocre or injured secondaries and both quarterbacks pretty proficient at the “YOLO-ball” maneuver. That makes Washington wideout Terry McLaurin an interesting matchup this week as well, considering his 83rd percentile target rate and 68th percentile yards per route run. He’ll square off for most of the day with Green Bay cornerback Isaac Yiadom – a relatively new face in town, forced into action by injuries to top guys and ineffective play by others. Yiadom allows an 83rd percentile catch rate when targeted and a whopping 95th percentile yards per coverage snap. Expect a bevy of big plays from McLaurin this week.
Jaylen Waddle vs. Richie Grant – We keep going back to the well with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, but Miami genuinely keeps drawing favorable matchups for him. This week, it’s a date with Atlanta Falcons rookie safety Richie Grant. Grant is allowing a 99th percentile target rate, a 73rd percentile catch rate, and a 99th percentile yards per coverage snap. Waddle has done well on his own – 62nd percentile target rate and 83rd percentile catch rate – but matchups like this elevate his ceiling immensely. The short-area slot receiver should win this rookie-on-rookie matchup handily.
Jamison Crowder vs. Jonathan Jones – We’re turning now to a bit more of an iffy offense in the New York Jets. This team is still trying to find its footing offensively after drafting a quarterback second overall this year and making a few high-priced signings this offseason. Slot receiver Jamison Crowder, however, is the epitome of reliability in the midst of mayhem; he is the eye of the hurricane. Crowder has a 95th percentile target rate, seeing a pass fome his way on 29% of his routes run. He also remains above-average in catch rate (68th percentile) and yards per route run (51st percentile). This week’s matchup with New England Patriots slot corner Jonathan Jones will also benefit him, as Jones is allowing 80th percentile marks in both target rate and yards per route run. If you need a floor play to fill out your lineup, Crowder is your man.
Rashod Bateman vs. Chidobe Awuzie – The “all upside and no floor” recommendation of the week is Baltimore Ravens first-round rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman, as he takes on Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Bateman hasn’t yet proven much in his NFL career in terms of results but did see a 29% target rate in his first game back from injury – a 90th percentile rate, which bodes well for the young wideout’s ability to get open and boost those other metrics. Fortunately for him, Awuzie allows a 95th percentile target rate to his assignments, a 22% target rate on his coverage snaps. Perhaps this is all the smoke you’ll get before Bateman’s NFL career really fires up.
Two Smoking Craters
DeVonta Smith vs. Casey Hayward Jr. – I never thought I would say this about this construction of the Las Vegas Raiders, but the defense in 2021 has been incredible. Despite a bundle of wasted early round draft picks, the veterans and role players they have signed have turned this unit into one worth fearing – so much so that my numbers show two Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers as impending fantasy busts in Week 7. One of those impeccable veteran pieces has been cornerback Casey Hayward, and he’s likely covering first-round rookie wideout, DeVonta Smith, this week. Hayward is allowing a minuscule 9% target rate (1st percentile), a 43% catch rate when targeted at all (3rd percentile), and 0.4 yards per coverage snap (3rd percentile). Smith is doing fine in his first campaign, but none of his metrics rise above the 50th percentile, so he’s an avoid for me this week in what should be a tough passing day for Philly.
Quez Watkins vs. Nate Hobbs – As mentioned above, the Eagles are in a tough spot against the Raiders in Week 7. Heyward should blanket Smith on the outside, and it’s likely that Nate Hobbs will give Quez Watkins fits in the slot. Watkins is seeing just a 23rd percentile target rate to this point in the year, though he’s above average in catch rate and yards per route run as a speed-oriented short-area receiver. Hobbs has been a nightmare though, allowing an 11th percentile target rate and 11th percentile yards per route run. He may allow a fair number of catches if Watkins gets targeted, but his presence should dissuade many throws and it’s likely Watkins’ catch-and-run speed won’t be much of a factor either.