6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 8

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 the next week

Don’t flip your lineups upside-down in frustration; which wide receivers have beneficial cornerback matchups in Week 8?

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 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: Davante Adams and DeAndre Hopkins. Adams (19.6), as always, was one of the focal points of the passing attack. He needed just seven targets to turn in 76 yards and a score and could have had more receiving volume if the score was closer. Hopkins (18.3) saw a solid nine targets, but he needed a touchdown to salvage a low-yardage, middling fantasy day.

Good Stocks: Terry McLaurin, Jaylen Waddle, Jamison Crowder, and Rashod Bateman. McLaurin (25.2) was the channel that Washington hoped to manufacture through. It ultimately didn’t lead them to a win, but it led to 12 targets (17.4 yards per reception) and a score for McLaurin. Waddle (15.3) continued to see strong target volume and continued to rack up yards after catch. Crowder (7.4) saw six short-depth targets in this game but caught just four for 34 yards. Backup quarterback play certainly didn’t help Crowder’s Week 7 performance. Bateman (11.0) saw just six targets and didn’t score last week, but his three receptions averaged 26.7 receiving yards apiece.

Smoking Craters: DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins. Smith (11.1) still saw nine targets, but he caught just five for 61 yards and was held without a score. He was a very startable receiver, but he was held in check compared to expectations. Watkins (5.7), on the other hand, saw just four targets in this game in spite of significant negative script.

Two Lineup Locks

Ja’Marr Chase vs. Brandin Echols – It’s hard to believe that just back in training camp, many of us were concerned about reports of Cincinnati Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase having issues with drops. Fast-forward two months: Chase is currently on pace to annihilate Houston Oilers wide receiver Bill Groman's 1960 record for most receiving yards in a rookie season (1,473) and is within striking distance of Randy Moss's 1998 rookie touchdown record (17). For fantasy managers, that means Chase so far has been the overall WR4 in PPR formats. It’s this every-week dominance, not to mention a date with the New York JetsBrandin Echols, that makes Chase a fantastic option in Week 8.

Chase is currently earning a target on 22% of his routes (a 70th-percentile rate among Week 8 starting wide receivers, catching 70% of his targets (59th percentile), and producing a whopping 3.4 yards per route run (99th percentile). His likely cover man, Echols, is one of the most vulnerable corners active right now. Echols has allowed a target on 18% of his coverage snaps (77th percentile among Week 8 starting cornerbacks), gives up a catch on 70% of his targets (65th percentile), and allows 1.6 yards per coverage snap (83rd percentile). Expect another huge game for Chase and the roaring Bengals.

Terry McLaurin vs. Ronald Darby – I don’t like to recommend the same guy in back-to-back weeks when I can avoid it, but Terry McLaurin of the Washington Football Team is just in a run of good matchups. He also gets a “promotion” this week to the Locks category, after Week 7 saw his third 25-point PPR performance of the season while dealing with a minor hamstring injury. “Scary Terry” lines up this week opposite Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby – a once-intimidating coverage man but now the weak link in a strong defense.

Darby comes into Week 8 allowing a 19% target rate on his coverage snaps (86th percentile), giving up a 70% catch rate when targeted (65th percentile), and allowing 2.0 yards per coverage snap (97th percentile). Thanks to all of this, Darby comes in as our second-easiest matchup for a wide receiver this week.

McLaurin presents a stiff challenge for the veteran cornerback, having earned a 25% target rate (84th percentile) and 2.1 yards per route run (76th percentile). His catch rate -- 59% (20th percentile) -- is significantly below-average, but much of this is a function of the Team constantly playing from behind, having to throw deep, and McLaurin’s own ability to be used as that rare combination of deep-threat and offensive focal point. Even if he sees slightly less receiving volume than we’d hope, McLaurin is in a great position to be a fantasy star again in Week 8.

Four Good Stocks

Courtland Sutton vs. Kendall Fuller – Even though he wasn’t expected to carry the full Broncos’ receiving corps on his own, Courtland Sutton has done an admirable job to this point in 2021. Now he gets teammate Jerry Jeudy back to help take some pressure off, and he also gets a cushy matchup with a lagging Washington defense and cornerback Kendall Fuller. Sutton is solid-to-strong across the board, with a 70th-percentile target rate, 51st-percentile catch rate, and 83rd-percentile of yards per route run. Fuller, while not an abject mess, still forks over a 77th-percentile target rate, 65th-percentile catch rate, and 63rd-percentile yards per coverage snap. Sutton’s receiving volume might take a hit with Jeudy back, but he should still be efficient thanks to this matchup.

Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Janoris Jenkins – Speaking of receivers unexpectedly breaking out, Michael Pittman Jr. is taking a bit of a star turn for the Indianapolis Colts. Through seven weeks, Pittman has a 23.3% team target share, which leads the Colts and is a top-30 mark among all pass-catchers. He takes that, his 56th-percentile target rate, 76th-percentile catch rate, and 82nd-percentile yards per route run into a contest with the Tennessee Titans. Janoris Jenkins will be tasked with stopping Pittman, in spite of his 70th-percentile catch rate and 65th-percentile yards per coverage snap allowed. I’d bet on Jenkins to win this showdown.

Marvin Jones vs. Sidney Jones – Sidney Jones has bounced around the league as a depth defensive back since getting drafted in the second round by the Eagles just four years ago. He now gets to take on his old team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, as our most targetable cornerback this week, allowing a 69th percentile target rate and a 99th percentile yards per coverage snap to his assignments. Marvin Jones will be his assignment in Week 8, and while the wide receiver has no standout analytical features this year (56th-percentile target rate, 51st-percentile yards per route run), Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jones should be forgiving enough to help him be a startable fantasy option.

Van Jefferson vs. Desmond King – Despite a very up-and-down season, Los Angeles Rams wideout Van Jefferson still has the talent to blow the lid off a defense on any given play. His overall metrics are mediocre, but he gets a date with Houston Texans defensive back Desmond King in Week 8. King is giving up a 59th-percentile target rate, 96th-percentile catch rate, and 89th-percentile yards per coverage snap. If there’s any week to pencil in the volatile Jefferson for a “boom” performance, it would be this one.

Two Smoking Craters

Jakobi Meyers vs. Chris Harris Jr. – Look, I’m rooting for New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers to break his touchdown-less skid as much as the next person, but Week 8 probably won’t be the week he does it. The Pats get a dangerous matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers secondary, and slot cornerback Chris Harris Jr. presents one of the toughest individual matchups on the slate. Harris allows an 11% target rate on his coverage snaps (seventh percentile) and just 0.5 yards per coverage snap (sixth percentile). Meyers, while a reliable target for the Pats’ passing game, still has a mediocre 1.5 yards per route run (48th percentile). Meyers may still see decent volume this week, but Harris seems certain to shut down any upside for the New England slot man.

Marquez Callaway vs. Jamel Dean – One of the most profound disappointments of the 2021 fantasy season has to be New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway. Expected to take on a massive workload following the injury to Michael Thomas, Callaway instead has just a 19.9% team target share -- a mark outside the top-50 among pass-catchers -- which is even more disappointing considering that the Saints are the only team this year with a pass-to-run play calling ratio of less than 1.0. Now, New Orleans' de-facto WR1 will have to face off with Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean, who is allowing an 11th-percentile target rate, a 2nd-percentile catch rate when targeted, and a paltry 4th-percentile yards per coverage snap. Callaway is in for a world of (continued) fantasy hurt in Week 8