​6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 9

It used to be thought that sleep was a commodity you couldn’t catch up on. Pull an all-nighter to cram for a test in college, or get up early to polish off one more project before work, and you could expect to be carrying the cognitive and physical effects of that sleep loss forever.

Now, however, the Sleep Foundation has seemed to indicate that it takes around nine days to eliminate sleep debt from one night. To recover from a prolonged pattern of not enough sleep, a Polish university suggests that it takes far, far longer than that. The upside: we know now that it’s possible, where just a few years ago it seemed like the consensus was that sleep was something you don’t get back.

We may be nine weeks into the regular season of the NFL, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start giving your fantasy matchups your all when researching them. If you haven’t been considering cornerback-wide receiver matchups, you may be running at a points debt in your fantasy season. Still, by resting your weary head on the research and data in this column, I hope you’ll find your lineups well-rested and in a better position to produce than if you didn’t pay attention to the matchups at all.

Which fantasy wide receivers have the best cornerback matchups in Week 9?

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: Tyreek Hill (31.5) and Cooper Kupp (22.9). Another week’s results prove that Hill is absolutely unstoppable and possibly the only true must-start fantasy superstar at wide receiver every week. Other receivers are must-start players, but Hill is the only one you can depend on to see 12 or more targets per game; he has six such showings this year, and Kupp is the only other above three. Speaking of Kupp, he turned in a 12-target, 10-touch performance. He’s still an incredibly high-end fantasy player despite his team’s general mediocrity.

Good Stocks: Drake London (7.1), DeAndre Hopkins (33.9), Wan'Dale Robinson (3.5), and Olamide Zaccheaus (1.4). Thank goodness London ended up startable; his offense just refuses to throw the ball right now, and that means a four-catch, 31-yard day is more the average than an aberration. Hopkins blew his opposition out of the water and is averaging 13.5 targets in his two games back from suspension. His chemistry with his quarterback is off the charts at the moment. I’m not sure why Wan’Dale Robinson was passed on the depth chart by both “Marcus Johnson” and “Tanner Hudson,” who are probably auto-generated video game characters, but he’s also stuck in a run-first attack at the moment. Veteran Damiere Byrd grabbed six targets, playing well ahead of Zaccheaus. Perhaps "Ola-MID-e" is no longer fantasy-worthy at all.

Smoking Craters: Shi Smith (0.0) and Devin Duvernay (16.4). Smith saw only on target in this game and is the third option -- at best -- in his team’s passing attack. Like I couldn’t take credit for Mecole Hardman's big rushing day two weeks ago, I don’t accept Duvernay’s two carries for 33 yards and a touchdown as meaningful until he does it more regularly. As a receiver only, Duvernay would’ve been just barely startable (four catches for 31 yards; 7.1 PPR points), and that’s without factoring in Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews suffering mid-game injuries; I’m considering this call a process success.

Two Lineup Locks

Jaylen Waddle vs. Kyler Gordon – We’ve seen a Miami Dolphins wide receiver in this space for two consecutive weeks, so I’ll give you a break on him (despite him having the top matchup of the week). Instead, let’s focus on another receiver: Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle.

I know, it’s almost cheating to do that, but it’s also not fair for the Dolphins to have played four different quarterbacks this season and yet still be able to sustain a passing game with two elite fantasy wide receivers in it. Waddle hasn’t been nearly as dominant as Hill has, but he’s still averaging 18.1 PPR points per game, has five touchdowns on the year, and averaged seven targets per contest over the last month as his team’s second receiver. That’s good.

His peripherals make this all the more impressive coming into Week 9. Waddle is earning a target on 23% of the routes he runs (81st percentile among Week 9 starting wide receivers) -- a mark that would be impressive for a team’s alpha wideout and is fantastic for a number-two. He admittedly gets dinged by a 69% catch rate (49th percentile), but he is getting used on downfield looks and high-value targets that are trickier to catch, so we can forgive this. Finally, the proof of the concept: Waddle has accrued 2.7 yards per route run (91st percentile), making the most of every opportunity.

In Week 9, Waddle won’t face Chicago Bears slot cornerback Kyler Gordon for more than 20 to 25 snaps. Still, Gordon has been such an easy mark for fantasy production that a third of his snaps might be all Waddle needs to blow up. Gordon has been bad at dissuading attention from his assignments, allowing a 20% target rate (90th percentile among Week 9 starting cornerbacks), though he’s been marginally better at defending the pass when it gets there; he allows “just” an 81% catch rate (86th percentile). What it all boils down to is Gordon’s 2.1 yards per coverage snap allowed, which comes in at the 93rd percentile. Expect most of the Miami production to come out of the slot, and expect a sizable amount to come from Waddle.

Mike Evans vs. Troy Hill Fantasy football can be an unforgiving pastime. That said, it’s nice to know that even if your offense is broken in a real football sense, you can still get your players a ton of fantasy points just by throwing the ball an absurd amount of times in catch-up mode. That’s the state of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are second in pass attempts per game (44.3) over their last three games. They are sort of the little brother to Miami’s passing attack in 2022, supporting an offense where two receivers have each seen 10-plus looks in three of their last five games.

Mike Evans is the Buc we want to target in fantasy this week, however, with the hope that his 21% target rate (71st percentile) remains steady through a contest with the also-flailing Los Angeles Rams. Evans has been his team’s reliable downfield target also, so a 68% catch rate (46th percentile) isn’t the worst in the world. What really sells me on Evans is the attention he gets from quarterback Tom Brady and the production he turns it into: 2.1 yards per route run (81st percentile). Over his last two games against bad secondaries, Evans has 219 receiving yards on 15 catches (26 targets); get ready to turn him loose.

Evans' opponent for a little under half the contest will likely be cornerback Troy Hill, who has shown signs of vulnerability in the Rams’ back-end defense. Hill allows a 16% target rate (60th percentile) and just a 70% catch rate (58th percentile), marks that are just above average among the rest of the league’s cornerbacks. However, Hill has gotten torched often enough this year to rack up a mark of 1.7 yards per cover snap (86th percentile). Covering Tampa’s primary big-play threat, Hill should end up exposed enough to afford Evans a strong fantasy day in Week 9.

Four Good Stocks

Curtis Samuel vs. Chandon Sullivan Even if there are safer, more reliable, or even just more-hyped names out there, you sometimes want to ignore the unsexy guy in the incomprehensible offense with the better matchup. I get that. However, if the Curtis Samuels of the world are the difference between winning or losing my fantasy week, I’m rolling them out in smash spots. The Washington Commanders’ slot weapon does most of his damage as a target hog (65th-percentile target rate) and a reliable check-down option (65th-percentile catch rate), and we love that in PPR formats. His primary cover man should be Minnesota Vikings punching bag/slot defender Chandon Sullivan, who allows an above-average 60th-percentile target rate, and elite 88th-percentile catch rate and 89th-percentile yards per cover snap rate. Samuel’s Week 9 floor is ugly but solid; his ceiling is really intriguing against Sullivan.

Garrett Wilson vs. Taron Johnson I’m no great believer in the New York Jets' offense, but rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson has been a phenomenon in his debut campaign. His workload and production had dipped over the last month prior to Week 8, but Wilson is still averaging five targets per game with Zach Wilson under center. That and his 73rd-percentile target rate should be more than enough to take advantage of his 70th-percentile yards per route run mark, especially against Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson. Johnson is allowing above-average clips in all categories, highlighted by a 72nd-percentile yards per cover snap. With the Jets likely playing from behind all game, Wilson should see enough volume to make a splash in fantasy.

JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Terrance Mitchell – Whether it’s the offense not getting him the ball or JuJu Smith-Schuster not getting open enough to earn the targets, his 85th-percentile catch rate and 79th-percentile yards per route run seem to dictate that the Kansas City slot receiver needs more volume in the passing game. That could come this week against Tennessee Titans cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who allows a 69th-percentile target rate. Even if Mitchell stonewalls JuJu more than expected, Mitchell’s 79th-percentile yards per cover snap indicates there’s some big-play potential here for Smith-Schuster.

Tre’Quan Smith vs. Damarion Williams Your deep dart throw of the week comes in the form of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith, who runs almost two-thirds of his routes from the slot. The only problems with his profile are that he is in the 21st percentile of routes run among starting Week 9 receivers, and he gets targeted at a mark in the 34th percentile when he gets on the field. He has a 71st percentile yards per route run clip, however, which is impressive considering how infrequently he’s given the ball. These downsides are baked into his value, however, considering he’ll face Baltimore Ravens corner Damarion Williams for much of Week 9. Williams offers the second-easiest cornerback matchup this week, affording his assignments a 90th-percentile target rate and 91st-percentile yards per cover snap – from the slot. If there’s any week Smith should blow up, it’s this one.

Two Smoking Craters

Quez Watkins vs. Desmond King II After showing out last year as a speed slot threat for his Philadelphia Eagles, Quez Watkins has been demoted to a little-used field-stretcher. He still nominally plays the slot, but he has been targeted on just six percent of his routes run (first percentile) and earns just 0.5 yards per route run (fifth percentile). He’ll be faced by the Houston Texans’ dominant slot defender Desmond King on Thursday Night Football. King allows just a 12% target rate (22nd percentile) and 0.9 yards per route run (26th percentile) to his coverage assignments. Keep not playing Watkins, please.

Kendrick Bourne vs. Isaiah Rodgers On the flip side, a receiver who has flashed some utility in recent days is New England Patriots speedster Kendrick Bourne. He’s still well below average, with a target rate in the 24th percentile and a 38th-percentile yards per route run rate, but he has a reliable 73% catch rate (67th percentile) at the very least. This week, though, he’ll see significant attention from Indianapolis Colts corner Isaiah Rodgers, who presents the toughest cornerback matchup of Week 9. Rodgers allows a six percent target rate (first percentile) and just 0.4 yards per coverage snap (third percentile). Bourne might get a few stray catches, but we shouldn’t expect him to do much with them against Rodgers.