6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 10
I always think of this stretch of the fantasy football calendar as “trap season.” We have just enough data under our belts to assume that what has happened for two-plus months will continue to go exactly the same way, and many of us have a firmer idea of our place in the pecking order of our leagues. It’s easy to presume a lot at this point in the year, and when we begin to do that, we can get lazy about researching and keeping on top of changes to depth charts, changes in scheme, responses to injuries, and so many other moving parts.
I want to help you keep your edge for the stretch run and squeeze out every wide receiver fantasy point I can this season, and that means we have to keep our edge through the “trap” portion of the year. There’s no better way to do that, in my opinion, than focusing on the individual matchups wide receivers will face against specific cornerbacks. Know the building blocks of your fantasy matchups, and you will prosper; ignore them, and you might watch your team fall down a hole instead.
Which fantasy wide receivers have the best cornerback matchups in Week 10?
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: Jaylen Waddle (19.5) and Mike Evans (9.0). Due to a thick bye week and just strange scoring environments around the league, only 15 wide receivers ended up with Lock-qualified weeks of at least 15.0 PPR points. Waddle still made himself a top-eight option regardless of this quirky week, and Evans’ five catches for 40 yards fell short of the top-24 at the position. That said, Evans saw 11 targets in the game, so it’s not like we had a bad process in this; the results just weren’t there for one of our Locks.
Good Stocks: Curtis Samuel (17.1), Garrett Wilson (17.9), JuJu Smith-Schuster (18.8), and Tre'Quan Smith (5.9). This is by far the best week we’ve had in Stocks, again with the caveat that it was a weird week for the entire makeup of wide receiver scoring. That said, three of our guys were top-14 and two were clear fantasy WR1’s, so it’s hard to be upset about the results. Samuel was the only hit that the process didn’t hold up for, considering he saw just four targets; he cashed in with 65 yards and a score on three catches, though. Wilson earned nine looks, converting eight into grabs for 92 yards, and Smith-Schuster racked up a whopping 12 targets. Smith was the only miss, although he did tie for the team lead in targets -- yikes.
Smoking Craters: Quez Watkins (4.5) and Kendrick Bourne (4.2). These guys were shockingly not far from startable due to the dearth of warm bodies in Week 9, but they did end up well below our threshold. Watkins secured both of his targets, but the speedster was held to just 25 yards despite playing 35 snaps. Bourne saw four targets and caught three, but those provided the bulk of his fantasy points; he accrued just 11 yards receiving.
Two Lineup Locks
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Derion Kendrick – Every word coming out about the Arizona Cardinals’ offense lately has to do with the rumored dissatisfaction between quarterback Kyler Murray and someone else; usually, it’s head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but replay scouts believe there was friction in Week 9 between Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, as well. I’m here to tell you that I don’t believe the gestures and animated words were anything but two players trying to get on the same page and work problems out professionally. That’s why I think Hopkins is poised to rebound in a big way in Week 10.
Week 9 saw Hopkins earn just five targets a week ago, which is a season-low for him. Despite that, he was tied for third in the pecking order in the game, with a slot receiver, tight end, and running back tying or outpacing him in looks. That’s a clear indication that Hop’s Week 9 outside cover man (rookie sensation Tariq Woolen) forced Arizona to throw between the hash marks and short -- areas that Nuk Hopkins tends not to be.
Even with last week’s “flop” (he still scored 13.6 PPR points), Hopkins has raked in more than a 30% target share since he returned from suspension. His 26% target per route run rate (88th percentile among Week 10 starting receivers) is still one of the highest in the league overall. The Cards also depend on Hopkins’ sure hands to consistently move the chains, as his 81% catch rate (94th percentile) indicates, and his somewhat limited day did little to dampen his impressive 2.4 yards per route run (89th percentile). One moderate day against an up-and-coming defensive star shouldn’t cause us to bury Hopkins in fantasy football, especially with his Week 10 matchup.
The Los Angeles Rams will ask Derion Kendrick to face Hopkins on potentially three-quarters of his snaps in the upcoming divisional showdown. Kendrick has the requisite size to hold his own, standing 6-foot and weighing in at near 200 pounds, but he’s been bodied so far this season. His main strength is an ability to challenge at the catch point; as a collegiate receiver himself, it makes a lot of sense that he holds assignments to just a 64% catch rate (47th percentile among Week 10 starting cornerbacks). Everything else has been a disaster, though: Kendrick gets targeted on 21% of his coverage snaps (88th percentile) and allows 1.9 yards per cover snap too (92nd percentile).
If Kendrick gets assigned to shadow Hopkins as we expect, any chemistry concerns between Murray and Nuk will be in the rearview mirror by this time next week.
Cooper Kupp vs. Byron Murphy Jr. – Cooper Kupp is a Lineup Lock yet again; we good? Just kidding, I have to put another few thousand words in here or else my editors will get worried that I came down with a terminal case of “brevity."
Kupp is borderline unbelievable this season. Maybe he’s not on pace to smash the records he set last year in a near-MVP campaign, but he’s doing things like posting eight catches (nine targets) for 127 yards and a touchdown in a 13-16 loss. That should tell you everything you need to know about how the Rams' offense works: it’s either Kupp or nothing. He’s seeing a target on 29% of the routes he runs (97th percentile), catching 80% of the targets he gets (92nd percentile), and turning those catches into 2.6 yards per route run (92nd percentile).
There’s really not more to say; even with the possibility that quarterback Matthew Stafford misses Week 10, who else would backups John Wolford and Bryce Perkins throw to? Kupp might end up with 30 yards, but he’ll have done it on 15 catches, so will you be that upset?
Even the defender assigned to cover him doesn’t strike much fear into our hearts. Arizona cornerback Byron Murphy has turned around his career from just running routes while receivers dunk on him to actually playing the position, but the 16% target rate he allows nowadays is still roughly league-average (57th percentile). You’d love for him to allow a little more than 1.0 yards per cover snap (34th percentile), but the 64% catch rate allowed (47th percentile) gives Kupp exactly the right hole to exploit in a cornerback’s profile.
Some deep-threat receivers work best against a cornerback they can rack up big yards per route run on, but that’s never been Kupp’s strong suit. Murphy is beatable by a possession receiver, and Kupp thrives with a high volume of looks. Even if Kupp's ceiling gets lowered by a quarterback injury, expect him to remain a high-floor starter in Week 10.
Four Good Stocks
Chris Olave vs. William Jackson III – No one should be wildly excited about this matchup: New Orleans Saints passer Andy Dalton doesn’t inspire a ton of passion, except when he’s throwing to rookie wide receiver Chris Olave, who has swallowed 29.4% of the Saints’ targets since Dalton was made the starting passer in Week 4. Since then, Olave has averaged 14.6 PPR points per game while building up his target rate and yards per route run both to 88th-percentile marks. Cornerback William Jackson III, on the other hand, was discarded by a bottoming-out franchise before landing with the also-lowly Pittsburgh Steelers. He must be thinking “Why me?” going into his assignment against Olave, as Jackson allows a 92nd-percentile catch rate and 91st-percentile yards per cover snap. Olave is going off again in Week 10, and he’s the only one who should be pumped for this game.
Chris Godwin vs. Coby Bryant – Willkommen in Deutschland, Fußball-Piraten! Here’s hoping Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin doesn’t overload on the Kugel or Schnitzel in Week 10’s game in Munich, because he’s poised to dominate his matchup. Running 75% of his routes from the slot, it’s not surprising that his yards per route run rate is in the 48th percentile. Where he shines is his 74th-percentile target rate and 65th-percentile catch rate, both of which should buoy him against rookie cornerback Coby Bryant. The Seattle Seahawks have had great success with one rookie corner (the aforementioned Woolen), but it’s taking the fourth-round compatriot some time to get adjusted to the speed of the pros in the slot. Bryant is allowing a 75th-percentile target rate, 65th-percentile catch rate, and above-average 69th-percentile yards per coverage snap despite playing 90% of his snaps inside. Godwin should turn Bryant into a Bretzel here.
Christian Kirk vs. L’Jarius Sneed – A lot of us in the fantasy community scratched our heads at the whopping free-agent contract the Jacksonville Jaguars handed to Christian Kirk this offseason. Nine weeks into the season, however, Kirk sits at the WR10 spot in PPR production, and many questions have been erased. Kirk still has merely above-average peripherals (68th-percentile target rate, 73rd-percentile yards per route run), but with a team that has attempted the 11th-most passes over their last three games, those marks get buoyed quite a bit into fantasy success. Week 10 sees him face competition that could stymie his upside in Kansas City cornerback L'Jarius Sneed, who allows just a 38th-percentile yards per coverage snap. Despite that, Kirk could dazzle with PPR value due to Sneed’s 67th- and 62nd-percentile rankings in target rate and catch rate allowed, respectively.
George Pickens vs. Paulson Adebo – There’s certainly less to be enthused about on the flip side of the aforementioned Steelers-Saints contest, but Pittsburgh wide receiver George Pickens piques interest nonetheless. The second-round rookie should get a lot more downfield usage now that Chase Claypool was traded away, which will likely buoy his 25th- to 29th-percentile marks across the board. The big sell for Pickens this week -- in addition to an expanded role -- is the presence of New Orleans corner Paulson Adebo across from him. Adebo is one of the most beatable starting corners in Week 10, allowing an 88th-percentile target rate, 80th-percentile catch rate, and 99th-percentile yards per coverage snap to his assignments.
Two Smoking Craters
Drake London vs. Jaycee Horn – You’ve likely avoided starting Atlanta Falcons first-round rookie Drake London so far this year unless you’ve absolutely had to. I’m exhorting you to consider avoiding him in Week 10, when the Falcons face the Carolina Panthers and cornerback star Jaycee Horn. Aside from the completely bottom-of-the-barrel passing volume from the “Dirty Birds,” London’s got a major hole in his peripherals in the form of a 28th-percentile catch rate. Whether that’s from needing to do more at the catch point or poor pass quality, five targets a game that might not be caught make London a dicey play in a vacuum. Now add Horn, who is by far the toughest cornerback matchup on the week, and you have a nightmare brewing. Horn allows a fifth-percentile target rate (10%), a fifth-percentile catch rate (50%), and first-percentile yards per cover snap (0.3). London’s losing this battle; don’t follow him into the breach.
Cody Hollister vs. Patrick Surtain II – Most of you probably aren’t starting Tennessee Titans' third receiver Cody Hollister, even with the possible return of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. For those of you looking for a sneaky DFS play, however, he’s one of the worst you could go for in Week 10. Hollister isn’t earning any looks with an 8th-percentile target rate, is barely bringing in what he’s given with a 28th-percentile catch rate, and has done little with what he does catch (31st percentile in yards per route run). Denver Broncos star cornerback Patrick Surtain II, though, is thriving: he has a 21st-percentile target rate allowed, a 15th-percentile catch rate, and a 5th-percentile yards per cover snap allowed. Look elsewhere for your bargain-bin lineup filler, especially in a matchup that is showing a lowly 36.5-point total, per FanDuel Sportsbook.