6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 8
Have you ever wondered why it’s socially acceptable to have breakfast for dinner, but not to have dinner for breakfast? It’s bizarre, right? It’s basically the exact same idea, just turned around the other way. It’s one of those norms that we’ve just decided is okay to flout – but only in one particular direction.
That brings me to the purpose of this column, which encourages fantasy managers to consider wide receiver/cornerback matchups when setting their lineups. I consider that factor important, but it would be silly if I thought the be-all, end-all of a fantasy receiver’s startability came from the value of the defender lining up across from them. There may be other things in play that culminate in you saying, “I’m gonna start this player, matchup be damned,” and that’s perfectly acceptable! Just like I fully support you having roast beef and mashed potatoes with your morning coffee, I fully support you ignoring the matchups when it makes sense to you.
That said, matchups do impact a player’s weekly fantasy potential quite a bit. So which wide receivers have the most satiating cornerback matchups in Week 8?
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 17.5 PPR fantasy points (the weekly fantasy average of the WR24 over the last five years) a hit for Lineup Locks, and a score of 9.0 (the average WR48) a hit for Good Stocks. A player with 7.5 PPR fantasy points or fewer as a Smoking Crater is a hit as well.
Lineup Locks: Calvin Ridley and Kenny Golladay. Ridley (19.9 fantasy points) remains a weekly must-start and a focal point of Atlanta’s high-octane offense. Golladay (17.4) was basically at the threshold this week on the flip side of that matchup, so we’ll count him as a win.
Good Stocks: CeeDee Lamb, Dontrelle Inman, Hunter Renfrow, and Keenan Allen. I didn’t think the Dallas offense would crater this hard, but Lamb (0.1) was an absolute trainwreck, and Inman (0.0) was useless on the other side because Washington got up by so much so early. Renfrow (8.2) was solid and near enough to the mark for us, and Allen (22.5) went ballistic as rookie passer Justin Herbert continues to dazzle.
Smoking Craters: Michael Gallup, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. Gallup (0.0) remains fourth in line, at best, for a completely devastated passing attack. Samuel (17.5) and Aiyuk (12.2) obliterated their opposition in a game script I never saw coming.
Two Lineup Locks
Davante Adams vs. Cameron Dantzler – The Green Bay Packers have come out roaring on offense to start the 2020 season, and wide receiver Davante Adams – when healthy – has been leading the charge. Twice now this season, Adams has caught 13 or more passes for 150-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns. In Week 8, he gets the chance to continue romping with a matchup against the Minnesota Vikings and vulnerable cornerback Cameron Dantzler.
Dantzler, per Pro Football Focus (PFF), is seeing a target on 23% of his snaps in coverage – the third-highest mark among Week 8 starting cornerbacks. He’s also allowing a catch on 73% of his targets (a top-third mark) and giving up 2.0 yards per coverage snap (top-five). He’s played just four games this season, allowing 7 or more catches and 80-plus yards in three of them, and a touchdown in each.
Good luck to him in trying to stop Adams, who is tops among Week 8 starting receivers in targets per route run (33%) and yards per route run (3.3), and top-six in catch rate when targeted (82%). With the Pack surging and the Vikes putting things into coast mode, this should be a walk in the park for Adams.
Tyler Lockett vs. Jamar Taylor – It’ll be hard for Tyler Lockett and the Seattle Seahawks to outdo this past week’s glorious 15-catch, 200-yard, 3-score receiving line, but I promise that we’re not just chasing points here. The Hawks get to face the San Francisco 49ers in an intra-divisional duel this week, and Lockett will put cornerback Jamar Taylor en garde.
Lockett is in the top quarter of this week’s starters in all production metrics, including a 23% target per route run rate, a 78% catch rate, and 2.2 yards per route run. He has been one of the top fantasy receivers this season, with three 90-plus yard performances and seven touchdowns, despite seeing just 10.3% of his targets on deep throws. He’s earning the yardage the hard way, which gives his production some stability.
Taylor is the perfect target for us, too, as he ranks in the top quarter of starting cornerbacks in both targets allowed per coverage snap (17%) and yards allowed per coverage snap (1.8). The only area where he’s more average than exploitable is in catch rate when targeted, where he’s giving up a middle-of-the-pack 67%. Lockett can take him to task.
Four Good Stocks
D.J. Moore vs. Kendall Sheffield – While the Carolina Panthers worried a lot of people with Robby Anderson's ascension to top of the receiving depth chart, I still believed in D.J. Moore, and he has begun to come around. This week, he faces Kendall Sheffield from the Atlanta Falcons -- a favorite of this column. Sheffield is giving up the highest target per snap rate (25%) and by far the most yards per coverage snap (2.6), as well as a top-quarter catch rate. Moore sees a target on 21% of his routes run (top-half) and is incredibly efficient in yards per route run (2.3; top-10).
Travis Fulgham vs. Trevon Diggs – The de facto number-one receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles has received a stay on his depth chart demotion, as veteran DeSean Jackson returned last week only to suffer a serious injury, Alshon Jeffery still isn’t practicing, and rookie Jalen Reagor only recently returned to practice. Travis Fulgham is making the most of the opportunity, ranking in the top-six of this week’s starters in target rate (25%) and yards per route run (2.5). Dallas Cowboys rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs comes in among the 15 most vulnerable starting corners in both of those production metrics and has allowed an average of 3.8 receptions for 62.8 yards and 0.6 touchdowns over the last five weeks (13.7 PPR fantasy points). Fulgham should be fine.
Jarvis Landry vs. Lamarcus Joyner – I wrote off the Cleveland Browns’ Jarvis Landry as the distant second fiddle while ago this season, but now -- with Odell Beckham out with an ACL tear -- he looks likely to be the team’s top target once again. Landry has a top-25 catch rate (76%) but is also top-30 in yards per route run (2.0). This week, he takes on Lamarcus Joyner of the Las Vegas Raiders, who is top-third in all production metrics allowed. Volume and reliability give Landry a high floor this week, and the matchup boosts the potential ceiling.
A.J. Green vs. Malcolm Butler – Another friend who I wrote off earlier is A.J. Green, who had slipped to the second or third receiving option himself for the Cincinnati Bengals. The real issue for him hasn’t been seeing targets -- he has a top-25 target per snap rate (23%) -- but doing anything with his targets once he gets them. Green’s catch rate and yards per route run are abysmally low, but Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler offers a chance to boost those numbers. Butler is allowing a target on 20% of his coverage snaps (top-10) and giving up 1.6 yards per coverage snap (top-20).
Two Smoking Craters
Breshad Perriman vs. Bashaud Breeland – The New York Jets are bad; we all know that. Still, Breshad Perriman was a sneaky wide receiver option both last week and this week for volume purposes with Jamison Crowder banged-up. This week he has to tangle with Kansas City cornerback Bashaud Breeland, however. Perriman has a bottom-15 target rate and a bottom-eight yards per route run rate, while Breeland is this week’s best cover corner in both of those categories. Look elsewhere to get the volume arbitrage this week.
Jerry Jeudy vs. Desmond King II – The Los Angeles Chargers' secondary hasn’t played up to its potential this season, but slot back Desmond King remains sneaky-good. King is allowing the fifth-lowest target rate per coverage snap (9%) and the third-fewest yards per coverage snap (0.4) among Week 8 starters. Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has been good, but I wouldn’t expect him to beat King with the rookie's horrendous bottom-eight catch rate and below-average yards per route run mark.
Week 8 Potential Shadow Situations: Amari Cooper (DAL) vs. Darius Slay (PHI), Stefon Diggs (BUF) vs. Stephon Gilmore (NE), Adam Thielen (MIN) vs. Jaire Alexander (GB), Mike Evans (TB) vs. James Bradberry (NYG).