10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 15
We’re now less than 365 days away from the next presidential election for the United States of America. Every day we creep further and further into the election news cycle feels like a smear-ad-and-media-exposé-fueled weight is pressing down on us. No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, I think we can all agree that the rhetoric and narratives of politics have become simplistic and ugly. It’s not hard to see why anyone could get burned out on politics these days.
I’m here to tell you that it’s not all bad, however. There are a few folks out there who actually do seem to have a positive vision for things going forward, people who we can have hope in.
Oh, I was done talking about politics. I’m onto fantasy football at this point.
Even if you’re tired of the Washington spin cycle at this point, there are some wide receivers looking to inspire us in the waning weeks of the 2015 fantasy season. We’ve seen major attrition over the course of this year, but if you’re one of the lucky few still going, you can take advantage of some excellent wide receiver-on-cornerback matchups.
Which fantasy wideouts can bring change to the football landscape in Week 15?
Six Lineup Locks
Brandon Marshall vs. Dallas Cowboys – Brandon Marshall has had himself yet another incredible year after being traded by the Chicago Bears for a handful of marbles in the 2015 offseason. The New York Jets aren’t complaining about the deal, however, as Marshall has 1,187 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns through Week 14. He, in fact, ranks seventh among all wide receivers in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) with 100.86.
In Week 15, Marshall and his high-flying Jets take on the Dallas Cowboys, who rank a very beatable 15th in numberFire’s defensive passing metrics through Week 14. Almost anywhere he lines up -- against Morris Claiborne or Byron Jones especially -- he should feast. Claiborne and Jones both rank among the 25 cornerbacks (out of 104) allowing the most receiving yards per snap over the last month, and both have a 69.2% catch rate allowed in that span, per Pro Football Focus.
Julio Jones vs. Davon House – The story of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015 has been one of development and growth. This is a nice way of saying that they’ve been very bad most of the time, while showing some flashes of brilliance at points. This roster as a whole is looking forward to 2016, and it shows in their play -- especially in the defensive secondary. Cornerback Davon House is one of those veterans who is part of the transition team in Jacksonville, and while he’s improved in recent days, he’s still allowing a middling 55th-most receiving yards per coverage snap to opposing wideouts over the last month (out of 104 qualifying cornerbacks).
Calvin Johnson vs. Brandon Browner – It’s been a year to forget for Calvin Johnson, but the aging superstar should get a lush matchup to take advantage of this week. The New Orleans Saints are allowing the most half-PPR fantasy points to wide receivers in the NFL, and Brandon Browner is one of the primary culprits of this. He’s gotten better since the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, but Browner still ranks 37th in most receiving yards allowed to opposing receivers. Despite playing 101 snaps over the last month, he’s being targeted the seventh-most on a per snap basis; expect the Detroit Lions to continue to test him this week.
Demaryius Thomas vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cornerback Antwon Blake of the Steelers was benched during Week 14 and demoted out of the starting lineup, thanks to his lackluster play. It’s entirely likely we won’t get to start our receivers against him for the last few weeks of the year. However, Ross Cockrell and Brandon Boykin (Blake’s replacement) both sit among the 20 cornerbacks allowing the most receiving yards per snap to opposing wide receivers, which means the Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas could see a big day waiting still if they move him around. William Gay -- as Thomas’s likely main coverage corner -- is just 65th out of the 104 qualifying corners in receiving yards per snap allowed.
Doug Baldwin vs. Tramon Williams – Tramon Williams is another defensive back who has greatly helped to keep the lights on in this column. He is routinely getting beat on short routes and downfield, and the latter is where Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin will shine. The running game in Seattle has become decimated, and Baldwin has been a top-tier fantasy wide receiver for the last few weeks. Williams and his 2.04 receiving yards per snap allowed (sixth-most out of 104 corners) will not stop Baldwin in Week 15. The Cleveland Browns as a whole rank 20th in numberFire’s Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
Danny Amendola vs. Coty Sensabaugh – This is my choice slot play of the week, as Danny Amendola runs 76.5% of his routes out of the slot, the 16th-most of any receiver over the last month. He will likely draw Tennessee Titans’ slot cornerback Coty Sensabaugh this week, then, and Sensabaugh is allowing the 18th-most receiving yards per snap of qualifying cornerbacks over the last month, as well as a 73.1% catch rate over that span. Amendola and the Patriots are still rolling hard into the playoffs, so he will see plenty of chances to beat his coverage.
Four Good Stocks
Malcom Floyd and Dontrelle Inman vs. Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins’ 2015 secondary has had as many gaffes as the ill-fated Bull Moose Progressive party in 1912. Jamar Taylor and Brent Grimes are allowing the second- and seventh-most receiving yards per snap among cornerbacks through Week 14, and Bobby McCain isn’t too far behind at 22nd. The Chargers have an anemic receiving corps, but even they can beat the Miami defensive backs.
Nate Washington vs. Greg Toler – Washington hasn’t been a titanic fantasy threat this season, but he has a great chance to turn that around against Indianapolis' 26th-ranked secondary by Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Greg Toler in particular should be on Washington, as Vontae Davis shadows Houston Texans top wideout DeAndre Hopkins. Toler is allowing 2.05 receiving yards per snap over the last month.
Cole Beasley vs. Buster Skrine – Skrine keeps getting obliterated in coverage (he ranks ninth in most receiving yards per snap allowed over the last month), and he could be slammed again here. The Cowboys’ passing attack isn’t strong under Matt Cassel, and he doesn’t target Beasley much, but with lockdown coverage on Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams by the outside Jets’ corners, Beasley could see a boost in value.
Marc Mariani vs. Captain Munnerlyn – This is my longest shot of them all in Week 15. Marc Mariani might not ever have been a fantasy-relevant wide receiver, even earlier in his career, but the Minnesota Vikings’ slot corner, Munnerlyn, is exploitable. He’s being targeted every 4.5 snaps he plays, is allowing the 11th-most receiving yards per snap, and is giving up a 75.0% catch rate. If Mariani plays heavy slot snaps in Week 15, he could get some value.