6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 15
Audiobooks save my life this time of year. I love to read, but I never feel like I have the time to sit down with a book while the world whirls about all willy-nilly. Both at work and at home these days, my hands are occupied with projects. An audiobook borrowed from your local library can turn pages in your imagination, however, saving you all that time and effort while still weaving a beautiful story.
In a way, I hope to accomplish a similar goal with this column every week. Maybe you don’t have the time to study individual wide receiver matchups, but you have a crucial fantasy playoff matchup or a do-or-die DFS week ahead of you. This article tries to make each startable receiver’s weekly chapter a “hands-free” experience for you, saving you the time and effort of poking through the data manually.
Best of all, there’s never a late fee if you forget to bring this article back in a timely manner. Which fantasy wide receivers have the best cornerback matchups in Week 15?
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: Amon-Ra St. Brown (13.4) and Chris Godwin (10.4). Neither of our “Locks” lived up to the billing last week, though they were both comfortably startable options. St. Brown’s middle-of-the-field role was diminished by the Vikings’ secondary funneling targets to the outside receivers. Godwin tied for the target lead, but the Buccaneers were blown out by four scores, and their only touchdown went to Russell Gage.
Good Stocks: Laviska Shenault (7.8), Jerry Jeudy (33.3), Richie James (19.1), and Jauan Jennings (1.5). Shenault ended up startable, which is honestly a major victory for him; his four targets led the Panthers’ abysmally run-heavy attack. Jeudy ended up with a career day, thanks to a supremely negative game script and being the only above-replacement-level receiver active. James also went ballistic in a negative game script, leading his team in targets. Jennings got his number called only twice, but the 49ers also threw just 22 aimed passes in their summary dismantling of the Buccaneers.
Smoking Craters: Courtland Sutton (DNP) and Devin Duvernay (0.0). Sutton was ruled out for this week with an injury, and his replacement Kendall Hinton (8.8) was just startable enough. Eight targets while your team chases points will get you to a startable fantasy day, so we're calling this one a miss. Duvernay was blanked, as the Baltimore Ravens attempted just 17 passes.
Two Lineup Locks
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Damarri Mathis – If you think of the end of the fantasy season as sort of a controlled skid into the playoffs, examining star receivers like DeAndre Hopkins becomes less daunting in spite of his Arizona Cardinals’ dire offensive injury situation. It’s not a good thing for any fantasy wideout when his star quarterback suffers an ACL tear three snaps into Week 14. Still, that unfortunate circumstance has led to veteran Colt McCoy getting the nod under center for the foreseeable future in the desert.
While there’s clearly an upside downgrade from Kyler Murray to McCoy, Hopkins has a 33.3% team target share in games McCoy has played this year. His role will remain high-volume, making Hopkins a fully locked-in fantasy option in Week 15. His season-long rate stats bear out his value, as well, as he has earned a target on 27% of his routes run (92nd percentile target rate among Week 15 starting receivers) and has caught 76% of his targets (84th percentile). On top of that, Hopkins has turned those catches into 2.4 yards per route run (87th percentile) while still playing a ton.
A matchup with the Denver Broncos’ secondary might seem daunting on paper, but cornerback Damarri Mathis should see Hopkins for about half of his day in Week 15 -- and he can be beaten. Mathis has allowed a 17% target rate (69th percentile among Week 15 starting corners) along with a 73% catch rate (73rd percentile) to his assignments. His only above-average rate in 2022 is his yardage prevention; Mathis has held his receivers to just 1.1 yards per coverage snap (47th percentile).
Hopkins’ biggest selling point this week is volume, and Mathis facilitates that in droves. Don’t shy away from Hop.
Garrett Wilson vs. Mike Hughes – Our second “Lock” of the week is another receiver playing with a backup passer, though in his case things have improved significantly. New York Jets rookie Garrett Wilson is blowing the league up now that quarterback Mike White is hucking the ball to him. Wilson has seen a target on 22% of his routes this year (72nd percentile) and has caught 66% of them (42nd percentile). We can forgive the below-average catch rate due to the value of those downfield targets, however, as Wilson has accrued 2.0 yards per route run (74th percentile) and looks likely to keep decimating secondaries deep this week.
He’ll be faced by Detroit Lions cornerback Mike Hughes in what is shaping up to be a slap-happy shootout game script. Hughes has gotten rocked all season and comes into the week allowing a target rate of 18% (81st percentile) and a catch rate of 73% (73rd percentile). He also gets regularly burned for big gains, allowing 1.8 yards per coverage snap (95th percentile), which is yet another delightfully perfect fit for our receiver option.
Four Good Stocks
CeeDee Lamb vs. Tre Herndon and Darious Williams – Normally, CeeDee Lamb would be so far above this category that to put him here would be laughable. The Dallas Cowboys, however, have seen fit to funnel their offense through their backfield in recent weeks, so the upside Lamb has is a little lower than we would like. That said, he’s still an incredibly talented receiver and has earned a 92nd percentile target rate and 86th percentile yards per route run. The Jacksonville Jaguars might not put up much of a fight on defense this week, so at least Lamb’s matchups with corners Tre Herndon and Darious Williams could boost him. Herndon, the outside corner, is most vulnerable to big plays (92nd percentile yards per cover snap allowed), while primary slot defender Williams is about league-average in both target rate and yards per cover snap allowed. This should provide a nice mix of quality and quantity for Lamb in Week 15.
Jerry Jeudy vs. Antonio Hamilton – Maybe it’s foolish to think lightning can strike the same spot twice, but I have a good feeling about Broncos wideout Jerry Jeudy riding that lightning here. Backup passer Brett Rypien is getting Jeudy the ball, and Jeudy still boasts a 72nd percentile target rate and 70th percentile yards per route run. Cardinals cornerback Antonio Hamilton will likely see the most of Jeudy here, and he is allowing 63rd to 67th percentile marks across the board. Volume plus value makes this a good spot to double down on Jeudy’s big day.
Nelson Agholor vs. Sam Webb – Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Sam Webb has remained a stellar target for wide receivers’ fantasy production. Webb still allows a 95th percentile target rate on his coverage snaps, as well as an 89th percentile yards per cover snap. The chance for both big plays and a big number of targets could line up really well for de facto New England Patriots top receiver Nelson Agholor. Agholor is about league-average in all categories, so a matchup like Webb’s could really elevate him from a floor play to one with sneaky upside.
Quez Watkins vs. Kyler Gordon – I’ve pooh-poohed Quez Watkins at numerous points this year, but the Philadelphia Eagles’ slot receiver continues to impress with very little volume. His rates still look pretty awful (outside of a 91st percentile catch rate), but the main reason you should look at him in Week 15 is a matchup with cornerback Kyler Gordon of the Chicago Bears. Gordon is also awful, allowing 92nd percentile marks or higher in every category. The same logic as Agholor vs. Webb applies: unsexy players in great matchups can sometimes surprise.
Two Smoking Craters
Chris Moore vs. Trent McDuffie – As the sole remaining Houston Texans wide receiver with all limbs healthy, Chris Moore has dazzled for a few weeks in a row now. In Week 15, however, the bottom might drop out for him thanks to both Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins getting healthier. In addition, a matchup with Kansas City cornerback Trent McDuffie spells big risk if you plan to start Moore in your fantasy leagues. McDuffie allows a 16th percentile target rate, along with 4th percentile marks in both catch rate and yards per coverage snap. Those blow Moore’s production -- with an 84th percentile catch rate being his only average or better mark -- out of the water.
George Pickens vs. Jaycee Horn – One backup quarterback situation that could really damage his receiver's production is the one the Pittsburgh Steelers face. Mitchell Trubisky is back under center, and wide receiver George Pickens will be relying on him (yet again) for success. Pickens has made some highlight reel plays in his rookie campaign, but the aggregate of his production has underwhelmed: 30th percentile marks or worse coming into Week 15 across the board.
Making matters tougher for Pickens in this game will be Carolina Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn, who is allowing eighth percentile marks or worse in all rate categories. Many people will have to use Pickens if they have rostered him, but you should consider starting any other reasonable option if at all possible.