10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 16
Whether they’re video, board, trading card, or even pen-and-paper role-playing, I love to play and own games.
I’ve been massively expanding my game collection lately, from finding extra copies of the classic Othello in my parents’ basement, to purchasing copies of Diplomacy and Settlers of Catan. I’m even spreading the gaming love, getting my folks the expansion packs for Cards Against Humanity for Christmas. The beautiful part of gaming is that it allows you to challenge your intellect and express yourself, while still giving you a social component and competition against others.
One of the key pieces to finding a good game, though, is locating one that has a strong strategic component.
Fantasy football fills that need for many people. Players get a chance to compete against family, friends, or experts in a game that has enough surprising twists to keep casual folks interested, but requires skill and strategy to master. Your fantasy football research doesn’t even have to be as complex as Dungeons & Dragons, but if you want to excel, studying matchups is where you can often get an edge.
This column seeks to make wide receiver matchups in your fantasy championship week as simple as Pokémon’s combat system. Which cornerback matchups are “super effective” for fantasy in Week 16?
Six Lineup Locks
Antonio Brown vs. Lardarius Webb – It’s common knowledge that the Baltimore Ravens’ secondary is one of the most useless in the NFL in 2015, as they’ve been a near-lock to start fantasy quarterbacks and receivers against them on a weekly basis. Now, though, it’s up to us to quantify why it’s such a good matchup. A big reason is the weekly coverage adventure that is the aforementioned Webb, who is allowing 1.43 receiving yards per snap in coverage over the past month (27th-most among qualifying cornerbacks, per Pro Football Focus). He’s oddly only been targeted on 15.0% percent of his coverage snaps, one of the lowest marks, but is giving up an incredible 85.0% Catch Rate to opposing wide receivers.
Enter Antonio Brown. The incredible do-it-all weapon of the Pittsburgh Steelers will likely see Webb across from him, as Webb switches between the slot and the left cornerback (LCB) role. Brown has seen a league-high 50 targets over the past four weeks, 37 of them catchable. How many did he catch? All 37 of them. He’s averaged 111.3 receiving yards and a touchdown per game over that span, and Webb won’t stop him here.
Donte Moncrief vs. Brent Grimes – The Miami Dolphins have been one of our favorite teams to target in this column for months now, it seems. Grimes almost strictly adheres to the left-side of the defense, meaning he usually lines up against the offense’s second-best wide receiver. In Week 16, that means Donte Moncrief. In three of the last four weeks, Moncrief has gotten at least three catches for at least 50 yards receiving. In that same span, Grimes has relinquished 1.80 receiving yards per snap (12th-most) and a 78.7% catch rate to opposing wide receivers. Moncrief should have himself a day, no matter who which quarterback is throwing for the Indianapolis Colts.
T.Y. Hilton vs. Bobby McCain – Moncrief’s teammate might find the sledding a wee bit tougher, but not because of his matchup. The second half of the season has been very up-and-down for the speedy Colts receiver, as he’s alternated good weeks with bad since even Week 7. Fortunately for him, he gets to go up against one of the worst secondaries in the league in Week 16. Bobby McCain is allowing the fifth-most receiving yards per snap among 105 cornerbacks over the past month, as well as a 64.7% catch rate. He’s also getting targeted more than every fifth snap he plays, so Hilton should have his way with him if he can garner a connection with his signal-caller.
Jeremy Maclin vs. Cleveland Browns – It’s not hard to guess what we like here. Maclin has a whopping 40 targets over his last four games, averaging 93.25 receiving yards and a score in that span. Browns cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Charles Gaines both rank in the top-30 of most receiving yards per snap allowed over the last month of the season (eighth and 29th, respectively). Williams in particular is allowing a 76.5% catch rate in that time, which will make Maclin’s job in the fantasy championship week much easier.
Kamar Aiken vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – If the Dolphins are the “tic-tac-toe” of fantasy defenses to solve, the Steelers aren’t far behind as the “rock, paper, scissors” of the 2015 NFL season. We love to play our wide receivers against them, as Antwon Blake has allowed the highest receiving yards per snap among cornerbacks and a 71.4% catch rate over the past month, and Ross Cockrell (15th-most receiving yards per snap) isn’t far behind. Kamar Aiken is the undisputed top wideout option for the Ravens, and he should be able to exploit this secondary easily.
Sammy Watkins vs. Morris Claiborne – The Buffalo Bills’ second-year wide receiver will be one of my favorite plays this week, as his team takes on a playoffs-eliminated Dallas Cowboys team that has little to play for in 2015. Watkins himself has an average 114.75 receiving yards per game over the last month, and 1.5 touchdowns across that span. The Cowboys’ right cornerback (RCB) Claiborne isn’t atrociously bad, but has allowed the 16th-most receiving yards per snap among cornerbacks in the last four weeks, as well as a 69.2% catch rate. It should be Watkins’ fifth consecutive 15-point fantasy day in half-PPR formats.
Four Good Stocks
Nate Washington vs. Jude Adjei-Barimah – Washington calls haven’t panned out recently, but now is as good a time as any for it to work. Adjei-Barimah is allowing the third-most receiving yards per snap among cornerbacks over the last month, and a league-high 87.0% catch rate. Washington is a good Hail Mary call this week yet again.
Kenny Stills vs. Greg Toler – Toler plays almost exclusively on the outside left cornerback spot, so he’ll get Stills. Toler has allowed the second-most receiving yards per snap of any cornerback over the past month. If Toler sits with a knee injury, Stills will get the better, but still middling, Darius Butler (66th in this metric), who allowed four catches and 46 yards on six targets in Week 15.
Keshawn Martin vs. Buster Skrine – Martin will likely be the New England Patriots’ slot receiver this week, with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola both likely sitting. He’ll get to torch Buster Skrine, who is allowing the most receiving yards per snap of slot cornerbacks, and a 62.1% catch rate to opposing flankers.
Terrance Williams vs. Ronald Darby – The Bills’ rookie corner was nearly impenetrable early on in the year, but over the last month he’s lagged. In that time, he’s allowed the 10th-most receiving yards per snap among cornerbacks, as well as a 66.7% catch rate. With Dez Bryant still fairly hobbled, Williams could thrive as a fantasy dart throw.