6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 11
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 11?
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.
This will look back to Week 9 as this piece didn't run in Week 10.
Lineup Locks: Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb. Brown (20.6) went ballistic back in Week 9, putting up numbers for exactly the reasons we’d hoped: remember, always start your wide receivers against the Minnesota Vikings' secondary. Lamb (4.3), on the other hand, was dampened by the presence of a strong Denver Broncos pass rush that kept his quarterback on his heels all day.
Good Stocks: Cole Beasley, D.J. Moore, Courtland Sutton, and Adam Thielen. Beasley (11.3) was a volume-based success, with eight catches for 33 yards. Still, that’s sort of what we were expecting, so we’ll take it. Everyone else -- Moore (7.6), Sutton (3.9), and Thielen (8.6) -- missed the mark. Thielen nearly salvaged his day with a touchdown, but he caught just two passes for six yards in the game despite seeing seven targets. Sutton has been demoted to the WR3 ranks in fantasy with the return of Jerry Jeudy to the lineup. Finally, Moore is just a victim of continued bad quarterback play in Carolina. Maybe that turns around with Cam Newton now at the helm?
Smoking Craters: Allen Robinson and Jaylen Waddle. Perhaps the Chicago offense will get Robinson (10.8) more on track now that he and his quarterback are showing some chemistry, but he’s now more floating in fantasy limbo than being a guy we can start each week. Waddle (16.3) saw a major workload promotion with DeVante Parker hitting injured reserve, so it’s hard to have seen this one coming otherwise.
Two Lineup Locks
Ja’Marr Chase vs. Brandon Facyson – It’s hard to overstate just how impressive rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase has been for his Cincinnati Bengals. Chase is on pace to eclipse oodles of rookie receiving records that have stood for decades -- all while having taken the 2020 season off for his health, getting quarterback Joe Burrow back up to speed after a heinous leg injury last season, and after a preseason that saw some of the smartest football analysts in the world become concerned about his readiness for the NFL. He’s showing us, in a big way. The rookie’s romp should continue this week as Chase and the Bengals take on the Las Vegas Raiders and cornerback Brandon Facyson.
Going into Week 11, Chase has drawn a target on 23% of his routes (76th percentile among starting wide receivers in Week 11), has caught 63% of his targets (40th percentile), and has compiled an absurd 2.7 yards per route run (96th percentile). Chase’s profile is that of a true fantasy WR1, and some of his catching woes can be forgiven simply on the back of the high-value (and therefore higher-difficulty) targets he is earning.
Vegas cornerback Brandon Facyson is on the other end of the spectrum. Unfortunately for him, he should see Chase around 30 times in coverage this week, and he is allowing an 18% target rate (82nd percentile among Week 11 starting corners), 61% catch rate when targeted (29th percentile), and 1.5 yards per coverage snap (87th percentile). When strength aligns with weakness, that is an opportunity for us to pounce on. Chase is going off here.
Stefon Diggs vs. Xavier Rhodes – I love the narrative of a revenge game, and what could be more of a vengeance narrative than two former teammates who had to beat each other in practice all the time with the Minnesota Vikings facing off for two new teams? That’s what we get with Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Indianapolis Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Diggs hasn’t been everything he was last year, but he’s still posting impressive peripherals: he’s drawing a 25% target rate (88th percentile), a 67% catch rate (56th percentile), and generating 2.2 yards per route run (89th percentile).
Against a pass-funnel Colts defense, Diggs should see a lot of action against Rhodes. Unfortunately for Rhodes, he allows a 16% target rate on his coverage snaps (55th percentile), gives up a 70% catch rate when targeted (63rd percentile), and allows 1.7 yards per coverage snap (94th percentile). Rhodes is a disaster waiting to happen, and Diggs is the kind of talent who can break him wide open in Week 11.
Four Good Stocks
DK Metcalf vs. Marco Wilson – If not for quarterback Russell Wilson's ongoing battle with a finger injury, Seattle Seahawks wideout D.K. Metcalf might be in the “Locks” category. Instead, I’m downgrading him a shade but am still confident in his potential against Arizona Cardinals rookie cornerback Marco Wilson. Wilson allows just a 55th-percentile target rate, but when the ball comes his way, he self-combusts -- Wilson gives up an 82nd-percentile catch rate and 72nd-percentile yards per coverage snap. Metcalf, as you know already, is good. DKM is earning an 84th-percentile target rate and a 92nd-percentile yards per route run.
Diontae Johnson vs. Tevaughn Campbell/Asante Samuel Jr. – Diontae Johnson has filled in for JuJu Smith-Schuster as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ short-area slot possession man pretty well this season, and a seemingly daunting matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers shouldn’t stop his roll here. Johnson’s target rate earned is in the 96th percentile, and he converts that to yards per route run at a rate in the 84th percentile. Whether he’s in the slot or outside will determine who between Tevaughn Campbell or rookie Asante Samuel Jr. covers him. Samuel has been better at dissuading targets, but both allow 69th-percentile catch rates, and Campbell has been torched in yards per coverage snap (81st percentile). The slot is where Johnson will thrive in this matchup, but he should be fine no matter where he lines up.
Christian Kirk vs. Ugo Amadi – One of the more pleasant surprises of the 2021 season has been the emergence of Arizona wideout Christian Kirk as the team’s speed slot receiver. Kirk is earning an above-average 65th-percentile target rate, but he goes particularly HAM when the ball comes to him -- his catch rate is 98th percentile and his yards per route run is in the 87th percentile. Seattle slot corner Ugo Amadi remains exploitable, allowing an 89th-percentile target rate, a 97th-percentile catch rate, and 68th-percentile yards per route run. Fire up Kirk for this division-rival barnburner.
Brandin Cooks vs. Jackrabbit Jenkins/Chris Jackson – The lone bright spot in the Houston Texans' offense, wide receiver Brandin Cooks is still plugging along and doing impressive things despite having little to no support from the rest of the team. Cooks is drawing a 92nd-percentile target rate, has a 68th-percentile catch rate, and is earning an 81st-percentile yards per route run. That makes Cooks a compelling target this week, especially because he matches up with the Tennessee Titans’ Janoris Jenkins and Chris Jackson. Jackson will be making his first NFL appearance in Week 11, but Jenkins is especially vulnerable due to a 60th-percentile catch rate allowed, which could be all one needs to thrive in negative game script like the Texans continually are.
Two Smoking Craters
Zach Pascal vs. Taron Johnson – Usually I’ve found my data telling me to pick on Bills cornerback Taron Johnson, but he has turned on the boosters in 2021 and become one of the toughest matchups for slot receivers in the NFL. Coming into Week 11, Johnson is allowing a 30th-percentile target rate and just a sixth-percentile catch rate (50%) and sixth-percentile yards per coverage snap (0.6). That’s bad news for Indianapolis slot man Zach Pascal, who is already muddling his way through a season with an 18th-percentile target rate, 44th-percentile catch rate, and 14th-percentile yards per route run. The ball is funneling outside or to the ground game for Indianapolis this week, not to Pascal.
Chester Rogers vs. Tavierre Thomas – Similar to the aforementioned Johnson, Houston slot man Tavierre Thomas remains a brick wall inside. Teams throw his way on only 10% of his cover snaps (second percentile), while he allows a 34th-percentile catch rate and third-percentile yards per coverage snap (0.4). Benching Chester Rogers in your fantasy leagues is the move. Rogers is drawing a target at a rate in the ninth percentile already, with a below-average catch rate and a minuscule 17th-percentile yards per route run. Don’t tempt fate with the Titans’ slot guy. It's better to stick with other pass-catchers.