10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 10
I know better than to doubt Odell Beckham at this point. I staunchly defended my rookie year prognosis of Beckham this offseason, predicting that he wouldn’t finish as a number-one wide receiver in fantasy football in 2015. Boy, was I wrong! He might actually still finish as the number one wide receiver in fantasy scoring.
Certain players like him you almost never want to bet against, but we can get skittish and overthink our defensive matchups at points. This is why we have to look at not just a defense as a whole but also which cornerback will be assigned to which receiver. By plotting out matchups in this way, we’ll find which bona fide studs are locks for the week, and which are fades.
Keep in mind as you read that we at numberFire have two advanced metrics that are important to use for wide receiver matchups: Target Net Expected Points (NEP) tells us the number of expected points a player adds for his team on all targets, while Reception NEP tells us the number of expected points a player adds on all catches. You can read more about NEP in our glossary. Fantasy points listed are in a 0.5 points per reception (PPR) format.
Which cornerback matchups should you target with your wide receivers in Week 10?
Antonio Brown vs. the Cleveland Browns – Brown against Browns in this matchup, and it’s an easy call. Even with Ben Roethlisberger ailing with a foot sprain and unlikely to play, backup quarterback Landry Jones should be able to get the ball to his best playmaker with ease. The Browns’ secondary has been torched all year, and ranks 22nd as a unit in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
The Pittsburgh Steelers like to move Brown around, so he may see coverage from any one of Joe Haden, Tramon Williams, or Pierre Desir this week. Haden in particular has been exploited this season, as he is allowing a 77.4% completion rate on his targets, according to Pro Football Focus. Desir -- typically playing in the slot -- has even allowed a 61.3% completion rate. Brown is still a full go in Week 10.
Julian Edelman vs. Trevin Wade and Trumaine McBride – The New York Giants’ slot cornerbacks have been particularly dreadful in 2015. McBride was so bad at the beginning of the season that Wade has essentially split the slot snaps in half with him as the year has gone on. On a combined 295 coverage snaps this year, they have been targeted 67 times and allowed 52 receptions (77.6% completion rate).
The Giants are allowing the 10th-most points to opposing wide receivers this season, and have had some particularly poor performances against slot receivers in recent days. Most notably, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead of the New Orleans Saints put up a combined 12 receptions on 16 targets for 158 yards and 4 touchdowns in Week 8. The unit as a whole ranks 21st in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play through Week 9.
Demaryius Thomas vs. Sean Smith – Smith missed this AFC West rivalry matchup once this season, due to serving a suspension, but he has been back and should play long enough to be torched by the Broncos’ franchise wide receiver. Last week alone, Smith allowed 76 yards on 9 targets, most of which were gobbled up by Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. Smith has adamantly stuck to the right cornerback spot since his return, and Thomas – primarily playing the left side of the field – should draw him for this matchup. The Kansas City Chiefs are allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers in the league by a wide margin.
Jarvis Landry vs. Byron Maxwell – For some unknown reason, the Philadelphia Eagles insist on using Maxwell in an island role. Yet, he has been repeatedly beaten in 2015, and his eight penalties allowed are tied for fourth in the league. Landry might not score a ton with Maxwell on him, as he nearly shut down Dez Bryant in Week 9, but Landry will move around and make things happen when not in Maxwell's zone.
Randall Cobb vs. Rashean Mathis and Josh Wilson – I should really just offer up all the Green Bay pass-catchers against this Lions’ defense, who are hemorrhaging points to wide receivers (they rank fifth as a unit in points allowed to wideouts). Cobb moves from the left wideout spot to the slot, so he might draw either of these players. Mathis, for his part, gave up 115 yards to Stefon Diggs in Week 7. Wilson has been one of the most beatable corners in the league this year as part of the 31st-ranked defense according to Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
Tavon Austin vs. the Chicago Bears – Austin has become the St. Louis Rams’ movable chess piece. He’ll line up wherever the team needs him to be, and they are finding myriad ways to involve him in the game, whether on a rushing attempt or a pass, a deep post or short hitch. It’s conceivable he could run into Kyle Fuller, who nearly shut down all of his assignments in Week 9 against the San Diego Chargers, but Tracy Porter has been much more giving, and the Chicago slot corners are allowing a 75% completion rate on their targets.
Four Deeper Stocks
Kamar Aiken vs. Dwayne Gratz – The newly-anointed Baltimore Ravens’ number one receiver gets to take on a Swiss-Cheese-esque secondary in Week 10. The Jacksonville Jaguars have the third-worst defense in the NFL in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, and the Ravens like to throw the ball (eighth-most pass heavy in the league). Aiken will either draw Gratz or Davon House on the outside, but he will likely face Gratz -- as House will probably be on deep threat Chris Givens.
Pierre Garcon vs. Brandon Browner – Browner hasn’t gotten torched for nearly as much yardage in recent days as his compatriot, Delvin Breaux Breaux, but he’s still been a major liability in coverage. No player has been penalized more, and Garçon gets a ton of targets. He should feast on Browner and the worst secondary in the league per Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
Jamison Crowder vs. Delvin Breaux – See above. Breaux has gotten beaten on big yardage plays by Beckham recently, and though he held his own against the enormous Dorial Green-Beckham and Justin Hunter, Crowder is fast and small. Breaux will have a doozy of a time keeping up with him in the slot.
Taylor Gabriel vs. Antwon Blake – The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't been as bad of a secondary as it seemed they would entering the year. They're 10th in our per-play metrics. However, Blake is always a target for opposing receivers. He’s been targeted 77 times (most among cornerbacks), allowing 53 catches (68.8% completion). Gabriel may not be totally reliable, but this week is as good a bet as any for a boom.