6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 8
Would you rather pay $2,000 to $3,000 one time ever or spend about two to three hours on a house project per year? In a recent conversation with a coworker, we both expressed dismay that “gutter guards” were so costly, considering how little time and effort it takes to just clean rain gutters yourself.
To me, that math is a no-brainer: I’m more than willing to get on a ladder each spring and fall and clean out my gunky gutters myself. Due to this, the savings of a work week of time is not a fair exchange for two weeks’ pay over the course of a decade. Sure, there will likely come a point where I can’t climb a ladder anymore, but then the calculus will change wholly to consider those new factors. Life is all about balancing the pros and cons; there is no right or wrong decision, only ones that you can live with and prefer not to deal with.
Fantasy football is the same way. We have a ton of factors to consider each week when we set our lineups, from quarterback play to travel and rest, from weather to peripheral metrics. This column seeks to help you nail down at least one of those: the matchup between your wide receivers and their cornerbacks.
Take just a second to climb up my ladder of information and you’ll save yourself plenty of time, effort, and maybe even heartache when you lock in your lineups. Which fantasy wide receivers have the best 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 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: Chris Godwin (11.5) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (1.4). Neither of our recommendations passed the threshold for this section, though there is fair justification for their performances, nonetheless. Godwin earned 13 targets as his team was surprisingly playing from behind, though they were such low-value targets that he could catch just over 50% of them and accrued a paltry 6.1 yards per reception. On his team’s second possession of the game, St. Brown took a high hit and was immediately ruled out with a concussion. In his stead, former return specialist Kalif Raymond saw six targets and two rushing attempts, so we can assume the workload would have been there for a healthy St. Brown.
Good Stocks: Jakobi Meyers (11.4), Romeo Doubs (0.0), Alec Pierce (6.7), and Mecole Hardman (28.0). Due to his team playing a game of “whack-a-QB” under center, Meyers saw just two targets; he turned them into 34 yards and a score, so the product was fine even if the process was shaky. Doubs saw four targets and failed to reel in a single one, with his offense crumbling more and more each week. Pierce did earn four targets, but he is well behind the two veterans atop his depth chart in the pecking order; with a quarterback change on the horizon, it may be the end of the road for recommending him for now. Finally, I would like the smallest amount of credit for not victory-lapping Hardman’s three-touchdown week online, though I recognize the somewhat fluky nature of two rushing touchdowns coming from a wide receiver (and I also forgot on Sunday that I had recommended him *shrug*).
Smoking Craters: Amari Rodgers (1.4) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (5.1). Rodgers remains firmly in the doghouse on a faltering offense, and Marshall -- in spite of a massive uptick in snaps -- still didn’t do enough to earn more than three looks in a game where his team was ahead. Marshall will likely end up startable at some point, however.
Two Lineup Locks
Tyreek Hill vs. A.J. Parker – Any week with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa back in the fold and healthy is a good week for the Miami Dolphins' receiving group, but this week in particular should be choice. That’s because Miami also draws a juicy matchup with the shambling husk referred to in football media as the "Detroit Lions' secondary,” whatever that is. He likely split his time between Jaylen Waddle and our recommended receiver, but cornerback AJ Parker should be quite the exploitable cover man for Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill.
You already know Hill is quite good at football, but you might not realize just how dominant he has been this season. Hill is the only Week 8 starting wide receiver to have run more than 30 routes and earned more than 3.0 yards per route run, and he’s one of just two starting receivers with that much playing time to earn a target-per-route-run rate over 30%. In fact, Hill’s target rate of 34% ranks in the 98th percentile among his peers on this slate, the same as his 3.4 yards per route run. If a catch rate of “only” 73% (77th percentile) is his weak spot, you know he’s the kind of fantasy option to bang the drum on no matter who he’s lined up against.
It's that “who”, though, that elevates Hill from an obvious Week 8 start to a clear top-tier option on the week. Parker is a former undrafted free agent out of Kansas State and has spent his career to-date bouncing off and on the Lions’ practice squad. He seems to be getting the starting nod now, but that’s damning with faint praise considering the Lions are giving up a top-third rate of fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts.
Parker himself is the projected weak link in Week 8, albeit based on a small sample size: he has allowed a middling target rate of 16% (58th percentile among Week 8 starting corners), but an absurd 100% catch rate so far (99th percentile) and a whopping 2.3 yards per coverage snap (98th percentile).
Hill and Waddle are both full systems go, potentially hampered by only a blowout game script if Miami beats up on Detroit early.
Cooper Kupp vs. Jimmie Ward – Don’t look at me like that: I know there are only two teams on bye this week, but the matchups hate us for some reason. Due to this weird schedule, we’re going to rely on a familiar security blanket for our second “Lock” -- and we’re actually just borrowing the Los Angeles Rams’ security blanket, Cooper Kupp.
Kupp’s dominance has just become expected at this point, but it’s worth noting that his 28% target rate (94th percentile), 80% catch rate (92nd percentile), and 2.5 yards per route run (89th percentile) give him arguably the best all-around profile for a receiver through almost two months of the season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford looks for Kupp early and often, and we should, too, in our DFS lineups, especially in this spot.
That’s because Kupp will draw most of his snaps against San Francisco 49ers veteran slot defender Jimmie Ward this week. Ward is coming off a broken bone in his hand recently, one that forced him to wear a club cast in practices, and clearly his many years in the pros have sharpened his smarts but worn down his body. Ward isn’t shabby as a defender by any means, but his 35 cover snaps so far this year have resulted in a 17% target rate (71st percentile), 100% catch rate (99th percentile), and albeit a much better 1.2 yards per cover snap (52nd percentile).
Ward won’t be a pushover in terms of a ceiling matchup for Kupp, but he should still end up the punching bag for Kupp’s PPR machine tendencies in Week 8’s divisional showdown. Don’t fear the veteran wiles of Ward; keep on with Kupp.
Four Good Stocks
Drake London vs. Donte Jackson – Do the Atlanta Falcons know it’s 2022? Far be it from me to judge an offense introducing wrinkles into their game, but Atlanta’s run-run-run game plan seems less a modern innovation than just hearkening back to when Paul Hornung was but a triple-option glint in Vince Lombardi’s eye. If those ancient references mean nothing to you, the translation is: wide receiver Drake London has been inconsistent in fantasy due to the Falcons running the ball a lot.
Still, this is a week to look at starting London again thanks to a compelling divisional matchup with Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson. London has a sneakily dominant target rate (94th percentile) on-par with Kupp's and an above-average yards per route run (74th percentile). Jackson, on the other hand, allows 69th percentile marks or higher across the board, particularly a 79th-percentile target rate. London could be an underutilized PPR darling this week.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Cameron Dantzler – He’s back! DeAndre Hopkins, the man who makes the Arizona Cardinals' offense go, is already firing on all cylinders: on just his first 29 routes of the season, “Nuk” has generated 99th-percentile marks in both target rate and yards per route run. He’ll surely regress with more routes under his belt, but this is a heartening sign for the veteran possession maven in a pass-first offense. He also gets one of our favorite corners in Week 8, Cameron Dantzler of the Minnesota Vikings. Dantzler has been a favored friend of this column, affording his assignments a 74th-percentile catch rate and 65th-percentile yards per route run. I don’t worry about Dantzler’s ability to dissuade targets in this matchup; Hopkins will get attention and therefore will exploit the easy matchup.
Wan’Dale Robinson vs. Coby Bryant – If you’ve been sitting on Wan'Dale Robinson in your fantasy league this long, then the last two weeks have made it feel well worth your wait. The New York Giants' rookie receiver has missed about a month of action with an injury, but he returned in Weeks 6 and 7 to post nine catches on 12 targets for 87 yards and a score. This week, Robinson -- who holds a 91st-percentile target rate, 97th-percentile catch rate, and 77th-percentile yards per route run (albeit on just 44 routes) - will get a cushy matchup with Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Coby Bryant. Bryant isn’t a disaster, but he is the picture of a league-average corner who Robinson should be able to tee off on, especially now that another threat to his target share has been traded away.
Olamide Zaccheaus vs. Myles Hartsfield – Myles Hartsfield is the 2022 hero of this column, and Week 8 should continue his tour of pain. Hartsfield, a combo safety/cornerback, is allowing a 71st-percentile target rate and 68th-percentile catch rate from the slot, where he is the Panthers’ primary defender. This week, it’s Olamide Zaccheaus who will be the beneficiary of Hartsfield’s coverage, and the underrated Zaccheaus has solid peripherals to back his case up: a 48th-percentile target rate is about league average, and he is 92nd-percentile or higher in both catch rate and yards per route run.
Two Smoking Craters
Shi Smith vs. Isaiah Oliver – Carolina and Atlanta are all over the piece in Week 8, but Panthers wideout Shi Smith features for the wrong reasons. Last week, Terrace Marshall Jr. passed Smith on the depth chart, clearly, and the former second-rounder out of LSU’s chemistry with his quarterbacks will likely only continue to improve. Smith, on the other hand, is staring down 6th-percentile or lower marks across the board for his peripherals. Across from him for much of this game will be Atlanta corner Isaiah Oliver, who is fresh off his 2022 debut. He has some working back into form to do himself, but Oliver allows a 5th-percentile target rate and 32nd-percentile yards per coverage snap. Smith’s floor and ceiling are both too low to make him a punt play this week; look elsewhere for that.
Devin Duvernay vs. Dee Delaney – Speaking of ceilings, Baltimore Ravens speedster Devin Duvernay typically has one that is only ever limited by the roof. On any given play, Duvernay could easily break off a massive gain that makes this projection of a “Crater” week look silly. That said, Baltimore could easily get ahead early versus the flailing Tampa Bay Buccaneers and run the ball to control the game. If that’s the case, Duvernay’s 36th-percentile target rate will be an even further impediment to his fantasy success -- especially against Bucs cornerback Dee Delaney, who allows 1st-percentile marks in both target rate and yards per coverage snap. Duvernay should be considered only the deepest of desperation options in Week 8.