10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 7
Looking back on last week, the studs looked good, with Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham, Emmanuel Sanders and even Larry Fitzgerald playing well. We did get to see Julian Edelman's sweet hair cut, but it was to show his dislocated finger. And that injury allowed Danny Amendola to torch the Colts from the slot instead. Allen Hurns, Willie Snead, and Stefon Diggs all had solid outings, but Mohamed Sanu and Ted Ginn Jr., two longshots, didn't meet expectation.
It wasn't a bad Week 6.
Keep in mind as you read through this column: numberFire has two advanced metrics for wide receivers that are important to use for wide receiver matchups. Target Net Expected Points (NEP) tells us the number of expected points a player is adding for his team on all targets, while Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) tells us the number of expected points a player is adding on all catches. You can read more about NEP in our glossary.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Jamar Taylor: I don't need to tell you how good Hopkins has been, sitting atop numberFire's Reception NEP chart with a total of 71.44 (13 points ahead of Julio Jones). What I can tell you, though, is that the Dolphins' secondary has not been particularly good. The passing defense is ranked 19th by numberFire's metrics, allowing 30.43 points above expectation this season.
Taylor primarily plays right cornerback and should see more of Nuk than Brent Grimes. Taylor isn't a special talent and stands at 5'10'', 195 pounds, so he'll be dwarfed by Hopkins. The Dolphins could shadow Hopkins with Grimes, but he hasn't been effective -- he shadowed Brandon Marshall in Week 3, allowing 2 catches on 2 targets for 67 yards before exiting with an injury. Marshall ended the day with 7 catches for 128 yards. If you're playing on FanDuel, Hopkins should be in your lineup.
John Brown vs. Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright: Baltimore is allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks (21.98) weekly and the second most to wide receivers (31.63). They're bad overall, but they have been especially susceptible to outside deep threats. If Lardarius Webb sits again, Larry Fitzgerald would also be in a great spot. Over the last four weeks, primary outside receivers, A.J. Green, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Travis Benjamin and Torrey Smith, have combined for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns on 23 catches, averaging 19 yards per reception. In his Week 6 breakout against a Pittsburgh secondary that also gives up big plays, Brown caught 10 passes for 196 yards. Widely thought of as a situational deep threat, Brown has been very efficient this year, catching 33 of his 45 targets and ranking 16th in Target NEP.
Jarvis Landry vs. Kareem Jackson: Fresh off of allowing Andre Johnson to catch 6 passes for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns, Jackson allowed Allen Hurns to finish the day with a touchdown. While the stats may not show it, Jackson struggled last week -- he had a pass interference call against Hurns, for instance, that negated a Blake Bortles interception. Jackson will see plenty of Landry on Sunday since he's covering the slot on more than half of his snaps. Landry has quietly scored 10-plus fantasy points (0.5 PPR) in every matchup outside of the Jets, and while those aren't crazy numbers, he's been a reliable anchor for fantasy teams. This is his best matchup yet, and I have a strong feeling that he will finally get into the end zone.
Keenan Allen vs. Raiders' Secondary: I'm not sure who will be healthy for the Oakland secondary this week, but I can tell you that it won't matter. Oakland is the 31st ranked pass defense by numberFire metrics, and Allen is currently a top-five fantasy wide receiver in most formats, on pace to catch 141 passes this year. On top of his huge volume, Allen has been incredibly effective, ranking seventh overall in Target NEP on the season. If Allen is able to suit up this week, we should see another game of 10-15 targets against an abysmal secondary. Plus, he's absolutely killing it in the beard game.
Antonio Brown vs. Marcus Peters and Sean Smith: The Steelers move Brown around the formation, so he should see both of these corners, and some of Ron Parker in the slot. The Chiefs are currently giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers at 34.37 points per game, and the wide receivers with success against the Chiefs include: Nate Washington, both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas (even with Peyton Manning throwing the ball), James Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Marquess Wilson and Stefon Diggs. Wilson and Diggs finished with Reception NEP totals of 8.55 and 11.79 the last two weeks -- both ranked in the top 10 at wide receiver for the week.
Brown hasn't been very productive with Michael Vick at quarterback, but when Landry Jones took over, the passing game seemed to open up on Sunday. Brown only finished with 3 catches for 24 yards, but had 8 targets. A matchup against the Chiefs is exactly what the doctor ordered. He should have a big bounce back week against this secondary, while everyone else is chasing Martavis Bryant's huge week. I love Brown as a FanDuel tournament play, and he shouldn't be on any fantasy benches.
Donte Moncrief vs. Brandon Browner: Moncrief has been night and day this season, scoring a touchdown in every game with Andrew Luck and none in two games with Matt Hasselbeck. In Week 2, when the Colts got smoked by the Jets, Moncrief still ended the day with a 9.77 Reception NEP against numberFire's fourth-ranked pass defense. This week he'll face off against the worst starting cornerback on the slate (Byron Maxwell has a bye). While shadowing Larry Fitzgerald in Week 1, Browner allowed 6 catches on 8 targets for 87 yards; Palmer only threw 32 passes in the blowout. Now that Keenan Lewis is back, the Saints have mostly been playing sides, which would lead to Moncrief in Browner's coverage as the left wide receiver.
Stefon Diggs vs. Rashean Mathis and Josh Wilson (Available in 92% of Yahoo Leagues): Diggs is looking like the real deal for the Vikings this year, leading the team with 19 targets over the last two weeks -- hopefully you read this column last week and fired up Diggs when Charles Johnson was inactive.
Diggs has been the best wide receiver on this team this year, and it's not particularly close. He has a team high Reception NEP total of 9.17 per game -- neither Johnson or Mike Wallace have weekly averages over 5.00. Mathis, who is old, slow, and struggles with the quick wide receivers, should be covering Diggs. Keenan Allen made Mathis look his age in Week 1, finishing with 15 catches and 166 yards. He's going to be a hot waiver wire commodity this week and for good reason -- he looks great. His weekly Reception NEP average extrapolated over five games would be the 10th best total behind Antonio Brown.
Willie Snead vs. Darius Butler and Greg Toler (Available in 30% of Yahoo Leagues): The Colts' secondary has two very good players in Vontae Davis and Mike Adams. Adams may not play this week, and Snead should mostly avoid Davis. Snead has not only looked better than Cooks, but according to the numberFire metrics, he has also been way more efficient on a per target basis. Even though they both lineup all over the field, Snead runs slightly more routes from the slot than Cooks, which would give him plenty of looks against Butler. After going four weeks with five or fewer targets and 40 or fewer yards, Danny Amendola caught 7 passes for 105 yards against Butler...on only 41 snaps. Snead is pushing his way into every week fantasy starter conversation and is definitely worth starting this week.
Torrey Smith vs. Cary Williams (Available in 47% of Yahoo Leagues): I missed on Ted Ginn Jr. last week with Cam throwing the majority of his passes to his tight ends. On the other hand, everything I said last week about Williams is still true. Torrey Smith is running more than half of his routes from Williams' side of the field, and should avoid Richard Sherman for most of the night.
Last week, Smith finally showed San Francisco what they had been waiting for when he got behind Wright for a 74-yard touchdown reception. I will say that this is a risky play, because the safeties behind Williams are very talented and their pass rush is pretty good. All that being said, Smith has a good chance to get behind Williams at least once on the night -- the question is whether or not Colin Kaepernick can get the job done when he does.
Jermaine Kearse vs. Tramaine Brock and Kenneth Acker (Available in 90% of Yahoo Leagues): Tyler Lockett seems doubtul for Thursday, which leaves Kearse as their primary deep threat. Outside of Teddy Bridgewater's horrendous Week 1 outing, quarterbacks have been averaging 8.53 yards per attempt against this defense, which would rank fifth best in the NFL this season. Translation: They get beat deep, which is Kearse's role in this offense. That being said, Kearse is a deep flier who has a great opportunity to get behind a bad secondary a few times, but his usage is the concern.