5 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 15
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 the next week.
Don’t flip your lineups upside-down in frustration; which wide receivers have beneficial cornerback matchups in Week 15?
(UPDATE: Since the publication of this piece, Sunday's games between the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Football Team have been postponed. Those players will no longer be included on the main slate.)
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: D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin. Metcalf (8.3) saw eight targets, more than enough workload to justify our love of him this past week. He hauled in just half of those, however, and couldn’t top 60 yards receiving for the sixth straight game. McLaurin (0.0) saw four targets and was on pace for perhaps six or seven, but an injury to quarterback Taylor Heinicke and a brain injury forcing out McLaurin himself in the third quarter obviously derailed the day. Hard to predict those flops, but hopefully you weren’t sunk by either of these guys.
Good Stocks: Hunter Renfrow, Cole Beasley, Tyler Lockett, and Christian Kirk. It seems like our “Stocks” really carried the load for our “Locks” this week, with Renfrow (28.7), Beasley (15.4), and Lockett (27.2) all rising into premium starter territory in Week 14. Kirk (11.6) was merely mortally good, but that’s more than enough to be worthy of the spot here.
Smoking Craters: Jamison Crowder and Michael Gallup. Crowder (4.9) was somehow passed by someone named " D.J. Montgomery" this week, seeing an equal number of targets but with his yardage capped by a horrifically low average depth of target. Gallup (11.0) was a perfectly feasible starter thanks to a laughably-bad Washington defensive showing -- and Gallup scored the third-most among Dallas wide receivers to boot.
One Lineup Lock
Cooper Kupp vs. Ugo Amadi – We all know the drill with Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp by now: the man is the entirety of the L.A. offense, hauling in basically every red-zone target and a whole mess of the other ones, as well. I know, I’m not breaking any ground here by saying, “Folks, did you know about this guy? He looks -- well, I’ll just say it -- really good.”
In Week 15, however, he and his Rams have an elite-level matchup to go with an elite-level baseline of production. That matchup comes against Seattle Seahawks slot cornerback Ugo Amadi. Amadi has been run ragged for a couple of seasons now by opposing wideouts and playing mostly in the slot hasn’t fixed things for him. He allows an 18% target rate (79th percentile among starting cornerbacks in Week 15), an 80% catch rate (93rd percentile), and 1.3 yards per coverage snap (73rd percentile). Each of those qualities, along with a relatively small frame and slower speed metrics, makes Amadi a great target for streaming receivers against.
We don’t need to stream anything here, though, because Kupp is the premier wide receiver in fantasy right now. The absurdly productive wideout runs two-thirds of his routes from Amadi’s position, so they should clash plenty in Week 15. Kupp has also earned a 31% target rate (99th percentile among Week 15 starting wide receivers), has a 75% catch rate (84th percentile), and creates 3.1 yards per route run (99th percentile). Even at his costly salaries in DFS, Kupp is worth it most weeks -- this week, especially so.
Four Good Stocks
Michael Pittman Jr. vs. J.C. Jackson – It has been a great year for Michael Pittman Jr. of the Indianapolis Colts. For the first time in his young career, he is a top-20 wide receiver and averaging 14.6 fantasy points per game. You might think this week’s matchup with the New England Patriots looks like a tough one for the newly broken-out Pittman, but his individual matchup with cornerback J.C. Jackson should be much more conducive to fantasy success. Pittman himself has produced a 67th percentile target rate, a 75th percentile catch rate, and 80th percentile yards per route run. Jackson is allowing a 79th percentile target rate and 64th percentile yards per coverage snap, which means Pittman managers can expect both plenty of target volume and per-target efficiency this week.
Tee Higgins vs. Patrick Surtain II – Similarly to the above, Patrick Surtain II and the Denver Broncos' defense look like an unnerving matchup on paper. Ranking 15th-lowest in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers, they’ve been an average matchup at best. The rookie Surtain, however, is allowing an 82nd percentile target rate and 44th percentile yards per coverage snap. This certainly won’t be a cakewalk, but Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins has more than enough ability to exploit Surtain. Higgins so far has an 84th percentile target rate and a 93rd percentile yards per route run. Even if it’s a volume-based upside only, expect Higgins to see plenty of PPR value here.
Jakobi Meyers vs. Kenny Moore II – Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers holds the NFL career record for most receiving yards without scoring a touchdown, though he finally got his first career score in early November and ended the streak. He should have a pretty decent chance to add to both those yards and scores tallies this week when he matches up with Colts corner Kenny Moore. Meyers enters the week with a 77th percentile target rate and 61st percentile catch rate – not overwhelming by any means. Moore, though, allows an 89th percentile target rate, 75th percentile catch rate, and 72nd percentile yards per coverage snap. It’s as good a chance as any to pad the stat sheet for Meyers.
DeVonta Smith vs. Kendall Fuller – This matchup is the only one I’m shakier on. It’s not that Washington Football Team cornerback Kendall Fuller has been bad this year; he’s actually been just-about-average all season long. Fuller’s one particularly weak spot is in allowing a 72nd percentile target rate to his coverage assignments, though he has allowed a 59th percentile catch rate and 50th percentile yards per coverage snap, too. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith has also had a somewhat mediocre rookie season by the advanced metrics but is above-average in target rate (59th percentile) and yards per route run (61st percentile). It’s a slight edge but an edge for Smith nonetheless. The data suggests he should do well enough to start in fantasy against Fuller and the WFT.
Two Smoking Craters
Chester Rogers vs. Arthur Maulet – You know already that Chester Rogers has been a player we are fading this season. Even with a bevy of injuries to the Tennessee Titans’ receiving corps, Rogers hasn’t been able to earn higher than a 10th percentile target rate (12%). Despite spending almost 80% of his snaps in the slot, Rogers has attained just a 48th percentile catch rate (66%). All of that has led up to a disappointing 13th percentile yards per route run. Making his life tougher in Week 15 will be Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Arthur Maulet, who has held opponents to an 11% target rate (fourth percentile), a 65% catch rate (50th percentile), and just 0.9 yards per cover snap (25th percentile). Rogers typically has a tough time producing fantasy points, but the presence of Maulet overshadowing him makes Rogers’ Week 15 potential even bleaker.
Marquez Callaway vs. Jamel Dean – Hopefully you haven’t had to roll out New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway for most of the 2021 NFL season, as he has scored double-digit fantasy points just four times this year. Callaway hasn’t seen fewer than four targets in a game since Week 4 despite the Saints’ high rushing volume offense, so he has a passable 32nd percentile target rate and 34th percentile yards per route run. The problem is that he hasn’t been able to catch hardly anything that has come his way, with a miserable fourth percentile catch rate. Now he enters into a divisional matchup with defensive juggernauts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and cornerback Jamel Dean. Dean is one of the toughest cover men starting this week, allowing an 18th percentile target rate, a ninth percentile catch rate, and a sixth percentile yards per coverage snap. Callaway might see the ball come his way in Week 15, but it’s not likely that Dean will let him catch it often or do much with it when he does.