6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 7
Just before the start of the NFL season, I purchased a brand-new video game system. My shiny new toy to myself has become quite a fascination, as I keep finding more and more games that I want to play but definitely don’t have the time for. I’ve limited myself to not buying a new game until I finish one I have, giving myself an arbitrary guardrail to bump up against so I can be responsible. It’s honestly one of the first times that an outside force (read: parents or money) hasn’t been the limiting factor on my gaming experience, and so I’ve needed to set those boundaries myself.
Out of limitations, creativity thrives, however. The imposition of restrictions can lead you to look at a situation differently or give you the clarity on things you didn’t have before.
That’s why I am so fascinated by breaking down wide receiver and cornerback matchups for fantasy football each week: not only am I given the restrictions imposed by the schedule (opponents, bye weeks, etc.), I also now have to identify which receivers will be given attention by which exploitable cornerbacks. Do I need to pivot away from a player with one good individual matchup but two other bad ones that he might see more often? These are fun decisions that help us drill down on the essence of a wide receiver’s profile in a week.
Thanks to these guardrails, we’ll find you the most compelling fantasy matchups for your wideouts in this receiver-depressed second bye week. Which fantasy wide receivers have the best cornerback matchups in Week 7?
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: Tyreek Hill (29.7) and D.K. Metcalf (5.4). With one of his top-two quarterbacks back under center, Hill mustered a tremendous day thanks to season-highs in catches and targets. This put him as the WR3 for Week 6. Metcalf, on the other hand, got completely washed out by shadow coverage from Byron Murphy. Game script also might not have helped, given Seattle’s lead and focus on running the ball, but Metcalf still lagged more than expected.
Good Stocks: Curtis Samuel (2.6), Randall Cobb (1.8), George Pickens (5.8), and Jauan Jennings (3.8). Thursday Night Football in Week 6 was a defensive standoff and field-goal competition, and Samuel was barely a beneficiary of the focus on the short game; his five targets led the team but resulted in just two catches for six yards. Cobb got injured early in his game, so I’m taking a pass on him. Pittsburgh’s quarterback suffered a head injury midway through their Week 6 contest, which meant that any potential focus on Pickens evaporated immediately. We nailed the call that San Francisco would need to focus more on the pass versus the Atlanta Falcons, but unfortunately, the target tree for non-Brandon Aiyuk/George Kittle/Deebo Samuel players is quite narrow.
Two Lineup Locks
Chris Godwin vs. Myles Hartsfield – For all their woes, the Carolina Panthers' defense is not particularly fruitful for individual receiver-cornerback matchups. Outside corners Donte Jackson and Jaycee Horn often lock down the boundaries, and Carolina’s offense hasn’t been able to keep pace enough to force opponents to throw at a volume to compensate for that diminished upside. In the slot, however, the Panthers are vulnerable.
Defensive back Myles Hartsfield has been featured in this column before, and he’s back as a marquee target for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ receivers in Week 7. Both Chris Godwin and Russell Gage figure to get some run inside for Tampa in this one, but Godwin should be the primary concern of Hartsfield.
Godwin got a late start to the season but has made up for lost time with his peripherals. He has earned a target on 25% of his routes run (an 84th-percentile mark among Week 7 starting receivers), catching 73% of those (72nd percentile), and converting those catches into 2.1 yards per route run (81st percentile). He’s not a big play machine, but with Godwin, you get steady production in PPR formats.
His matchup against Hartsfield is choice, too. Hartsfield has allowed a target rate of 17% (62nd percentile among Week 7 starting corners) and is giving up a catch 75% of his targets (75th percentile), which has turned into 1.3 yards per coverage snap (63rd percentile). Expect Tampa to attack this secondary through the middle, taking advantage of this sweet matchup.
Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. Jourdan Lewis – We’re playing the slots this week, as Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown also makes for a stellar play against Dallas Cowboys inside cornerback Jourdan Lewis. St. Brown is now almost a month removed from the injury that caused him to miss Week 4 and dampened his Week 5 workload. Coming off the bye week, St. Brown should be full-go for what figures to be a high-octane passing day for Detroit.
St. Brown has an elite target rate, drawing a look on 33% of his routes (98th percentile) and catching 69% of those targets (59th percentile). Even better for us, his 2.3 yards per route run (92nd percentile) while operating out of the slot for two-thirds of his snaps is astronomical. The routes coming out of the slot area are typically designed shorter, so the fact that St. Brown is producing so many yards on a per-route basis is a huge testament to his ability.
Lewis has also been a punching bag of ours before, and there’s only a little reason to be concerned about him now. Remember, it’s a bit of a dry week for matchups; Lewis does blanket his assignments fairly well, allowing just a 14% target rate (32nd percentile) and 1.1 yards per cover snap (45th percentile). That said, the Lions are likely to force the ball to St. Brown, and Lewis doesn’t do well when his men are targeted: Lewis allows an 84% catch rate (92nd percentile).
If there’s a chance to get ARSB the ball, the Lions will do it – and they’ll likely be rewarded for it.
Four Good Stocks
Jakobi Meyers vs. Kyler Gordon – Maybe I should be higher on New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, but I have some reservations about the Bailey Zappe/injured Mac Jones question mark leading into Week 7. That said, it’s inarguable that Meyers is performing well: he has marks in the 86th percentile or higher across the board despite the quarterback issues New England has waded through so far. Even better, he gets our best cornerback matchup of the season in Chicago Bears slot defender Kyler Gordon. Gordon is allowing rates in the 90th percentile or higher; start Meyers everywhere.
Romeo Doubs vs. Kendall Fuller – Something is broken with the Green Bay Packers, but they can still put up numbers for fantasy football. Rookie wideout Romeo Doubs seems to have become one of the top two receivers for the Cheeseheads, though his 65th-percentile target rate and 57th-percentile catch rate are merely interesting, not compelling. What’s really compelling here is the big-play potential Doubs has against Washington Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller, who allows an 86th-percentile yards per coverage snap. Doubs might have some issues with a floor this week, but he has the speed and size to dunk on Fuller with a couple of deep bombs or high-point balls.
Alec Pierce vs. Terrance Mitchell – Indianapolis Colts rookie receiver Alec Pierce has become the team's deep-ball artist in very short order, producing a middling 54th-percentile target rate and below-average 40th-percentile catch rate but a strong 73rd-percentile yards per route run. He should find himself open and with room to run against Tennessee Titans cornerback Terrance Mitchell in Week 7; Mitchell allows a 72nd-percentile target rate and 82nd-percentile yards per cover snap rate. This week is another potential boom for Pierce.
Mecole Hardman vs. Deommodore Lenoir – If we’re talking about slot receivers and ones with high upside and a low floor, let’s combine both and get Kansas City wide receiver Mecole Hardman in here. Hardman has had a mediocre year, pulling in a 65th-percentile catch rate and 45th-percentile yards per route run. That said, this matchup with San Francisco 49ers corner Deommodore Lenoir could be what gets him on track; Lenoir allows 92nd-percentile or higher marks across the board. Hardman is a sneaky upside play in Week 7.
Two Smoking Craters
Amari Rodgers vs. Rachad Wildgoose – As I mentioned above, the Packers’ offense is pretty broken right now. That is literally true in the case of injured starting slot receiver Randall Cobb, who will miss this contest and cede his snaps to return specialist Amari Rodgers. Rodgers has made a series of lowlight reels over his first years in the league for muffed punts and kicks, as well as poor decisions in clutch moments on special teams. Now he’ll likely draw the start in the slot for Green Bay despite a 1st-percentile target rate and 12th-percentile yards per route run. Washington is not to be trifled with in this area thanks to strong coverage linebackers and Rachad Wildgoose -- who allows a 1st-percentile target rate and 3rd-percentile yards per coverage snap. This is not the Amari Rodgers breakout you’re looking for.
Terrace Marshall Jr. vs. Antoine Winfield Jr. – Another potential draft bust on a broken offense, Terrace Marshall Jr. has repeatedly lost playing time to free-agent acquisitions and late-round and undrafted rookies. Despite potentially starting now that Robbie Anderson has been traded, he’s still a member of a passing game that has serious flaws -- himself included. Marshall this year has just a 22nd-percentile target rate and 13th-percentile yards per route run. Bucs slot defender Antoine Winfield Jr. will make sure Marshall’s welcome to the lineup is a difficult one; Winfield allows a 7th-percentile target rate and 14th-percentile yards per cover snap. Let Marshall dip his toes in and get used to the new job before you roll him out there in fantasy football for Week 7.