6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 16
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 16?
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: Cooper Kupp. Tyler Lockett was going to be the other “Lock” in this column last week, but he caught COVID-19 and was ruled out after publication, so we had to strike him from the rolls. D.K. Metcalf (11.2), the next man up, put up a startable fantasy score but did so on 12 targets; disappointing result but the correct process nonetheless. Kupp (34.7) obliterated his already lofty projection and even did so in a low-scoring game. He remains unblemished in 2021.
Good Stocks: Michael Pittman Jr., Tee Higgins, Jakobi Meyers, and DeVonta Smith. Pittman (1.7) saw five targets, catching only one of them before being ejected. Higgins (4.3) was fourth on the team in targets, taking a surprising backseat in the game plan. Meyers (11.3) should have had more out of his 12 targets, but he was startable in this week. Smith (7.0) lived right on the cusp of unstartable for Week 15, largely because the illness-ravaged opposition was down to third- and fourth-stringers in many places.
Smoking Craters: Chester Rogers and Marquez Callaway. Rogers (7.0) danced the startable line, shockingly catching all four of his targets, albeit for a mediocre 7.5 yards per catch. In the defensive performance of the year, Callaway (17.2) went off on his nine targets. We got this week all wrong on every level, but in our defense, it was a weird week.
Two Lineup Locks
Davante Adams vs. Greedy Williams – It’s never a bad week to start the Green Bay Packers’ Davante Adams, but Week 16 looks like it will be an even more choice experience for the star wideout as he goes toe-to-toe with the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland, on the whole, has been about league-average in allowing schedule-adjusted fantasy points to the wide receiver position, but cornerback Greedy Williams – Adams’ primary matchup in Week 16 – has been vulnerable.
Williams, mainly a boundary cornerback, gives up an 18% target per coverage snap rate (85th percentile among Week 16 starting cornerbacks), a 60% catch rate (32nd percentile), and 1.3 yards per coverage snap (70th percentile). When Adams moves to the slot, he should also draw attention from M.J. Stewart, who offers a very similar profile to Williams' but allows a 76% catch rate when targeted (87th percentile). Adams has been as dominant as ever this year, posting a 29% target per route run rate (98th percentile among Week 16 starting wide receivers), 72% catch rate (79th percentile), and 2.7 yards per route run (96th percentile). Adams is one of the best wideouts in the game and is going up against some exploitable cornerbacks. Lock him in.
D.K. Metcalf vs. Kindle Vildor – Despite middling production at the end of the day, Seattle Seahawks wideout D.K. Metcalf earned himself a ridiculous 12 targets in last week’s game. With Lockett potentially out again in Week 16, Metcalf will be the only show in town against a Chicago Bears defense that also has suffered losses to COVID-19. That may leave raw cornerback Kindle Vildor as the top cover man assigned to take on Metcalf this week in a matchup Metcalf is destined to win.
Metcalf has drawn a 24% target rate on his routes (86th percentile), converting those routes to 1.9 yards per route run (82nd percentile), with the only blemish on his resume this year coming in the form of a well-below average 61% catch rate (24th percentile). With how often Seattle has used Metcalf as their deep threat, however, we can forgive that and adjust for the difficulty of the targets offered. Vildor has actually done a great job at dissuading throws in 2021, forking over a target rate of just 13% (26th percentile), but he is allowing a 69% catch rate (65th percentile) and 1.4 yards per coverage snap (80th percentile). It won’t take long for Metcalf to crack open this egg and make a hearty fantasy breakfast out of it.
Four Good Stocks
Diontae Johnson vs. Mike Hughes – If not for the question marks surrounding his rapidly fading quarterback, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Diontae Johnson would have been in major consideration for the “Locks” section of this column. Johnson, who has a 96th-percentile target rate and 89th-percentile yards per route run, has two of the three best individual matchups projected in Week 16. He should most often see Kansas City's Mike Hughes, who allows a 94th-percentile target rate and 66th-percentile yards per cover snap, but Deandre Baker will also come into the mix. Baker gives up rates in the 80th percentile or higher across the board. This should be a fruitful week for Johnson.
D.J. Moore vs. Sean Murphy-Bunting – The peripherals are all still there for the Carolina Panthers’ D.J. Moore to be a fantasy success, but the Panthers just have to throw more for that to happen. Perhaps they’ll unlock the passing game a bit more in a negative game script, considering Moore has earned a 94th-percentile target rate and 86th-percentile yards per route run. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting won’t be able to stop him if they do throw, as he forks over a 94th-percentile target rate and 93rd-percentile yards per coverage snap.
Ja’Marr Chase vs. Kevon Seymour – Last week saw the Cincinnati Bengals create an odd target distribution, but hopefully they get rookie star Ja'Marr Chase back on track this week. Chase has earned a 68th-percentile target rate and 92nd-percentile yards per route run through his rookie season, showing his explosive upside -- but not consistency (yet). Matching up with him will be Baltimore Ravens cornerback Kevon Seymour, who allows a 61st-percentile target rate, 84th-percentile catch rate, and 95th-percentile yards per route run. The ball should head Chase’s way a lot this week.
DeVante Parker vs. Paulson Adebo – Two reeling teams, the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints, face off in Week 16. That will create a collision course for wide receiver DeVante Parker and cornerback Paulson Adebo -- one which I believe favors the receiver. Parker has earned a 76th-percentile target rate and 73rd-percentile yards per route run, while Adebo’s long frame has limited the target rate to just the 38th percentile. Still, the young corner has a 50th-percentile catch rate allowed and 70th-percentile yards per cover snap surrendered. This head-to-head is a lot closer but breaks in Parker’s favor.
Two Smoking Craters
Quez Watkins vs. Julian Love – Manning a speed slot role for the Philadelphia Eagles, Quez Watkins was a revelation in the preseason. In the season, however, Watkins has earned just a 16th-percentile target rate and 53rd-percentile yards per route run in Philly’s run-heavy attack. That makes his divisional matchup with New York Giants cornerback Julian Love all the more daunting. Love has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league to this point in the year, allowing just a 15th-percentile target rate and 19th-percentile yards per route run. Perhaps Watkins still earns enough points from catches against Love, but his ceiling is capped by both his offense and his Week 16 matchup.
Robby Anderson vs. Mike Edwards – This campaign has been the definition of “up-and-down” for Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson. After Anderson went off last season, Carolina moved him into the slot to get him more favorable matchups this year. The only problem is that the passing attack has been so low-volume and lackluster that even the slot cheat code hasn’t given Anderson more than one or two big weeks of fantasy production. That is clear from his 40th-percentile target rate, first-percentile catch rate, and 10th-percentile yards per route run. Now, against Tampa corner Mike Edwards, he might get blanked entirely. Edwards has allowed a first-percentile target rate and seventh-percentile yards per route run. With Anderson not earning volume of his own, Week 16 could get ugly fast for the Panthers’ veteran wideout.