​6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 9

Sometimes, when you’re looking at the same information for the hundredth time and it’s not clicking, you just need a different perspective on the situation. I’ve heard from friends that when they’re writing and get stumped, it helps them to stand up, do a lap of the house, and let their fingers rest while their minds puzzle through the writer’s block. I myself have learned that if I sit upside-down on a couch or chair, that helps me literally get a different angle on what I’m doing. Something about it – blood flow, spinal comfort, maybe laughing at myself – helps me shake things out of stasis and get back on track.

These are physical ways to get different perspectives on something. My goal, however, is to help you find a different perspective on fantasy football. Each week, I hope to offer you information and rationale that confirm your hunches – or stress test them and force you to reconsider your assumptions about certain wide receiver matchups with cornerbacks. My hope is that this zoomed-in angle at least gets you thinking about the minutiae and individual components of what makes a good wide receiver play as we head into Week 6.

Don’t flip your lineups upside-down in frustration; which wide receivers have beneficial cornerback matchups in Week 9?

Last Week

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 15.0 PPR fantasy points (the weekly fantasy average of the WR24 over the last six years) a hit for Lineup Locks, and a score of 9.0 (the average WR48) a hit for Good Stocks. A player with 7.0 PPR fantasy points (the average WR60) or fewer as a Smoking Crater is a hit as well.

Lineup Locks: Ja'Marr Chase and Terry McLaurin. Let’s just be honest right up front: it was a bad week for our matchups. We technically had just three hits, and we were pretty lucky to escape with those in such a sloggy slate of matchups. Chase (13.1) took a backseat to his teammates in the fantasy dimension, though he still led all Bengals with nine targets on the day; close, but no cigar. Denver was a tougher matchup than expected for McLaurin (6.5), who saw seven targets but caught just three of them for 23 yards. His fantasy day would’ve been even worse if not for a 12-yard scamper.

Good Stocks: Courtland Sutton, Michael Pittman Jr., Marvin Jones, and Van Jefferson. The other side of Denver-Washington was no easier, as Sutton (6.0) was largely shut down in the 17-10 grind-fest. Pittman (30.6) went off for two first-quarter touchdowns, and everything after that was frosting on top of a great day. Jones (8.5) came close to matching our mark and was tied for the third-most targets on the team, but he was not the recipient of the Jags’ sole touchdown toss. I mentioned that Jefferson would be risky, and sure enough: Van (11.8) earned his points with three catches for 88 yards on six targets. Are those great peripherals? No. Did we call this one right? You bet.

Smoking Craters: Jakobi Meyers and Marquez Callaway. I feel a little cheated on the Meyers (9.6) loss, since three of his points came on a two-point conversion, and I was told he never gets goal-line usage. Alas, the process. Callaway (6.0) was targeted the third-most on the Saints this week, and his day was emblematic of the struggles this offense will have without quarterback Jameis Winston.

Two Lineup Locks

Marquise Brown vs. Bashaud Breeland – There are a few rules in this column, and one of the most important ones is: “Start your wide receivers against Bashaud Breeland." The Minnesota Vikings’ big offseason secondary signing has been a wholly squarish peg jammed repeatedly into a rounded hole. At one point already this year, Breeland was benched just a few snaps into the game for poor play, but the Vikings somehow performed even worse against the pass that day and brought him back into the fold. The “top” Minnesota cornerback will receive a tall task in Week 9, as he’ll be asked to stop Baltimore Ravens wide receiver/Speed Force wielder Marquise Brown.

Brown is lagging a bit in terms of his catch rate, which currently sits at 65% (38th percentile among Week 9 starting wide receivers), but that is largely due to his 15.9-yard average depth of target (aDOT; seventh-highest among 94 receivers to average five or more targets per game). If you’re getting high-value deep looks like Brown is, which are tougher to catch, your consistency will be a little lower play-to-play. His profile is enticing elsewhere, though, as he holds a 23% rate of targets per route run (77th percentile) and 2.3 yards per route run (86th percentile). Breeland, on the other hand, is about league average in catch rate allowed at 67% (48th percentile among Week 9 starting cornerbacks) and very vulnerable elsewhere. Breeland is allowing a 20% target rate (88th percentile) and 2.0 yards per coverage snap (95th percentile). Brown’s upside, combined with Breeland’s vulnerabilities, make this matchup one to take advantage of.

CeeDee Lamb vs. Ronald Darby – I never would have guessed that, in only his second season in the NFL, we were talking about CeeDee Lamb the way we are now. The Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver is a tremendous player, of course, but he’s in an offense with a supremely gifted route runner (Amari Cooper) and a high-volume power runner (Ezekiel Elliott), and he spent most of his rookie season with a backup quarterback. Despite all of that, Lamb has dominated defenses -- and is playing better than ever. Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby, on the other hand, is on his third team in three years and has been a defensive weak spot in 2021. These two will face off in Dallas in Week 9.

Darby hasn’t been so horrendous as to draw a huge target rate (16%; 59th percentile) or allow a major catch rate (68%; 57th percentile), but he has been vulnerable to the big play. His 1.6 yards per coverage snap allowed (86th percentile) is among the highest this week and should benefit Lamb’s per-target efficiency. Lamb has a 22% target rate on his routes (68th percentile) and a 71% catch rate (61st percentile), and his 2.4 yards per route run (90th percentile) indicates that he has the ability to exploit Darby’s weakness.

Four Good Stocks

Cole Beasley vs. Tre Herndon – For a supposedly reliable slot receiver, the Buffalo Bills' Cole Beasley has been pretty up and down in 2021. He has four weeks with nine or more targets, scoring 14.0 PPR points or more in each of those games; on the flip side, he has three games with four or fewer targets, scoring 7.6 PPR points or fewer in each of them. Beasley is above-average in target rate and yards per route run, but his biggest strength is a 93rd-percentile catch rate. When defenses shift to double Stefon Diggs, Beasley is there underneath to benefit. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars and slot corner Tre Herndon, there should be plenty of room to work. Herndon allows a 99th-percentile target rate and 98th-percentile marks in both catch rate and yards per route run. Beasley is a big-time PPR option in Week 9.

D.J. Moore vs. J.C. Jackson – You’re going to have to suspend disbelief a little and ignore how atrocious the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback situation has gotten to be in on D.J. Moore here, but trust me: it’s worth it. Despite the travails of Panthers under center, Moore has a fantastic 86th-percentile target rate on his routes run and a great 78th-percentile yards per route run. J.C. Jackson of the New England Patriots, who will be assigned to guard Moore in Week 9, is allowing an 88th-percentile mark in both of these categories. Moore may be a bit inconsistent on a play-to-play basis due to the struggles of his passers, but he should come out on top in the end.

Courtland Sutton vs. Trevon Diggs – Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs is getting Defensive Player of the Year buzz, as he has seven interceptions through the first seven games of the season. He has actually been fairly vulnerable when he allows a catch, however, which is why teams keep throwing his way. Diggs’ target rate allowed is in the 89th percentile, and his yards per coverage snap allowed is in the 94th percentile. That’s a good sign for Denver wideout Courtland Sutton, who Diggs figures to cover the most. Sutton is seeing an aDOT of 16.2 and is one of just two receivers with an aDOT north of 15.0 and a team target share of more than 20%. He’s just above-average in target rate, but Sutton has a 76th-percentile yards per route run. This should be a solid matchup for the Broncos’ top wideout.

Adam Thielen vs. Anthony Averett – I wasn’t a big Adam Thielen fan this year. While the Vikings’ touchdown magnet hasn’t fallen off in the red zone, he has the lowest aDOT of his career since 2018, and his yards-after-catch ability seems to have slid off, as well. That said, he is getting peppered with targets, and his shorter-area usage is allowing him a higher catch rate than each of the last three years. Thielen is about average in yards per route run, but his 88th-percentile catch rate is his boon. Against Baltimore slot defender Anthony Averett, that will be needed, as Averett defends the catch well (29th-percentile catch rate allowed) but gives up a 93rd-percentile target rate and 89th-percentile yards per coverage snap. Thielen has a high floor in 2021 and a raised ceiling in Week 9.

Two Smoking Craters

Allen Robinson vs. Arthur Maulet – Allen Robinson has been a mess regardless of his matchup this year. The offense that his Chicago Bears are running out doesn’t feature him -- the guy who is easily their most talented pass-catcher -- and rookie quarterback Justin Fields is still getting his feet under him in the NFL. That’s a horrific combination for fantasy success, and it means that Robinson has assembled a subpar 43rd-percentile target rate, an atrocious 14th-percentile catch rate, and an ugly 24th-percentile yards per route run. Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Arthur Maulet, on the other hand, is having a tremendous season. Maulet is allowing a sixth-percentile target rate, a first-percentile catch rate, and a fifth-percentile yards per route run. If you haven’t dropped Robinson in redraft already, consider doing so this week.

Jaylen Waddle vs. Tavierre Thomas – I like how the Miami Dolphins have gotten first-round rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle up to speed in the NFL, by allowing him mainly to operate from the slot and use his quickness and burst to exploit mismatches as he gains more experience. That patience is benefiting Waddle, but it has led to a capped ceiling of fantasy points; he has just a 30th-percentile yards per route mark run due to the short-area nature of his role, and his other peripherals are just okay so far. Houston Texans cornerback Tavierre Thomas should see a lot of Waddle in Week 9, and Thomas has been a rare bright spot for the Houston defense; he’s allowing a second-percentile target rate, a 33rd-percentile catch rate, and a first-percentile yards per route run. There are wide-open places on the Texans’ defense to target in fantasy for Week 9, so don’t try to drive through a pinhole with Waddle against Thomas.