6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 13
I don’t know if I believe in the concept of “guilty pleasures” anymore.
The guilty pleasure suggests that you feel some sort of shame for enjoying the thing, but now that I’m in my 30s, I don’t really invest much effort anymore into knowing what’s cool for me to like or not. Once I left college (and even more so once I got married), I realized I didn’t have anyone to try to impress by claiming to have read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (it sounded like it sucks) or by hiding that I have always really enjoyed tabletop roleplaying games like D&D (I acknowledge that running the games is even dorkier).
The same goes for music. Sure, I still actually really like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Doomtree, and a number of “cool” artists, but I’ve really come around on Ariana Grande, a whole bunch of J-Pop, and even a country artist or two who I used to categorically ignore, like Merle Haggard.
I explain all of this to exhort you to not let others’ perceptions get in the way of your start decisions for fantasy wide receivers this week. This time of year, as we rapidly barrel toward the fantasy football playoffs, a lot of opinions about “must-start” and “avoid” fly around with even more fervor than before.
Even my own opinions that you’re about to read are just that, though: opinions.
You ultimately have to make the final call on which fantasy players in which matchups are the right fits for you this week, and there should be no guilt in sneaking in a hopeful Richie James in Week 13 despite him having a tough matchup this week. You do you, boo.
Wear your wideouts like a badge of honor -- not a sign of shame -- this week: which fantasy wide receivers have the best cornerback matchups in Week 13?
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: Amon-Ra St. Brown (27.9) and DeAndre Hopkins (18.7). Check and check. St. Brown fooled around and found himself as the WR3 this week. ARSB soaked up 10 targets, catching 9 for 122 yards and a touchdown. No other Lions wide receiver crossed into double digits for fantasy points, and the next-highest target total among them was just over half of St. Brown’s opportunities. Hopkins only saw six targets himself but still went off for four catches, 87 yards, and a score in spite of that. We got a bit lucky that he ended up scoring, considering that he was an unexpected second on the team in targets last week.
Good Stocks: Garrett Wilson (26.4), D.K. Metcalf (20.0), Jakobi Meyers (9.2), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (6.8). Wilson’s primary cover man, Kyler Gordon, ended up missing Week 12 with an injury, but that just meant an even less experienced slot corner took his spot. That led to Wilson ripping the Bears open for a 5-95-2 line on eight targets. Metcalf’s profile was basically the opposite of Hopkins' and Wilson’s low-target but efficient results. He drew 15 looks in a barnburner, reeling in 11 of them for 90 yards as Seattle’s security blanket. Meyers ended up just startable, but his mere fourth position in the pecking order belied a bigger upside that other New England receivers did hit. Smith-Schuster finally cooled off, seeing just three targets in a 16-point blowout win. That was a possibility I should’ve drawn more attention to, but he at least caught all three for 38 yards.
Smoking Craters: A.J. Green (1.5) and Shi Smith (0.0). Green ended up with two targets, but he caught just one, and it only went for eight yards. Smith is firmly in the team WR4 slot for Carolina at best, having been targeted one or fewer times in four of his last six games.
Two Lineup Locks
Tyreek Hill vs. Jimmie Ward – It’s hard to be upset with the production that Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill has posted in the 2022 season. Currently sitting third in PPR scoring coming into Week 13, Hill is poised for another massive fantasy day. Through 12 games, Hill has earned a target on 32% of his routes run (98th percentile among Week 13 starting wide receivers) while catching 76% of his targets (82nd percentile). Even more impressively, he’s turning those catches into a whopping 3.5 yards per route run (99th percentile) -- he cannot be stopped.
You might be looking at his previous few box scores and wondering if he’s hit a wall, though. Hill has drawn a mere 6.5 targets and just 64.5 receiving yards per game in the two games since a 143-yard Week 9 blowup. The thing to remember, however, is that his Dolphins outscored their opposition 69 to 32 over those past two weeks; with such an insanely positive game script, there’s no need to put one of your top players in harm’s way by overfeeding him.
This week, there should be no such concerns about a blowout getting Hill rested against the similarly potent San Francisco 49ers. That’s also ideal considering his primary matchup is hybrid defensive back Jimmie Ward, who has gotten rocked this year.
Ward is playing 91% of his snaps in the slot, a place where Hill is extremely dangerous and successful. Ward’s luck there in 2022 hasn’t been as favorable. While his coverage hasn’t been Swiss cheese-like, Ward is allowing a 17% target rate to his assignments (68th percentile among Week 13 starting cornerbacks) and letting them catch 96% of those targets (98th percentile). Hill’s explosive upside is definitely in play here, as well, with Ward letting up 1.5 yards per coverage snap (80th percentile).
Just as he has been all season, Tyreek Hill will be the keystone to the Dolphins’ success in Week 13. You can also make him a comfortable foundation of your fantasy lineups in an easier-than-it-seems matchup.
Chris Olave vs. Carlton Davis – I’d argue that in perhaps the most talented rookie wide receiver group since 2014’s legendary class, one young gun has stood above the rest for 2022. The New Orleans Saints were derided for paying out the nose to move up to draft Chris Olave this past April, but he has already paid massive dividends for the team. The brand-new pass-catcher has just two games without double-digit PPR fantasy points in his maiden campaign: his first career game in Week 1 and then Week 10. Outside of those two performances, he is averaging over 14 PPR points on more than nine targets per contest.
His underlying numbers look phenomenal for a newbie, too. Olave has drawn a target on 26% of his routes (93rd percentile), and we can forgive his below-average 64% catch rate (37th percentile) due to the high value nature of the targets he’s getting. In fact, they are such valuable downfield looks and chances for yards after the catch that Olave is churning out 2.5 yards per route run (91st percentile).
Week 13 offers the rookie a divisional matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, typically a tough opponent. His individual matchup, however, will likely be cornerback Carlton Davis. Davis, who got absolutely bullied by the Cleveland Browns’ Amari Cooper in overtime last week, is no longer the stalwart defender he once looked like. He is getting targeted on 21% of his coverage snaps (91st percentile), though he’s allowing just a 60% catch rate (26th percentile). His missteps in coverage this year have earned his assignments 1.6 yards per cover snap (87th percentile), too, so Olave’s big-play upside intersects with Davis’ flaw nicely.
Trust the rookie this week; Olave is in a great spot here.
Four Good Stocks
Christian Kirk vs. Will Harris – The Jacksonville Jaguars paid wide receiver Christian Kirk a boatload of money this offseason, and many of us were surprised. What has been even more surprising is seeing Kirk rack up the 10th-most PPR points among wide receivers through 12 weeks of the season. The savvy speed merchant takes that top-10 ranking into a matchup with the Detroit Lions this week, where he’ll be attended to by slot defender Will Harris. Harris doesn’t have the chops to cop this one, though. He’s allowing a 63rd percentile target rate, 88th percentile catch rate, and 81st percentile yards per coverage snap. Though Kirk’s peripherals aren’t stunning, he’s still solidly above average across the board, with a 65th percentile target rate and 69th percentile yards per route run as his top production metrics.
Mike Williams vs. Sam Webb – Should he return from his injury this week, this would be quite a soft landing for Los Angeles Chargers receiver Mike Williams. His own peripherals are middling at the moment (all between the 47th and 59th percentiles), but cornerback Sam Webb of the Las Vegas Raiders has been the weak link of their secondary for a while now. The undrafted rookie is coughing up a 98th percentile target rate, 86th percentile catch rate, and 98th percentile yards per coverage snap. Even if DeAndre Carter draws another start, whichever Chargers receiver gets to take on Webb should have a good fantasy day.
Parris Campbell vs. DaRon Bland – The return of veteran quarterback Matt Ryan to the starting lineup has heralded more positive passing gains for the Indianapolis Colts in general, though his early-season connection with receiver Parris Campbell seems to have dropped off a little. Week 13 could be a great bounce-back spot for an aging, inaccurate passer and his sure-handed, 90th percentile catch rate receiver, however. Dallas Cowboys slot corner DaRon Bland will be on Campbell a lot here, and Bland is allowing marks in the 91st percentile or higher across the board. Campbell will likely get funneled a lot of looks against such an exploitable defender.
Olamide Zaccheaus vs. Arthur Maulet – More looks should be coming the way of Atlanta Falcons slot receiver Olamide Zaccheaus before we even consider his matchup due to tight end Kyle Pitts’ season-ending injury. Zaccheaus has done well with limited volume, ranking in the 87th percentile in catch rate and 77th percentile in yards per route run. Fortunately, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Arthur Maulet also forks over a 73rd percentile catch rate and 85th percentile yards per route run. This is a sneaky spot to dip into the Falcons’ elusive passing value.
Two Smoking Craters
Quez Watkins vs. Elijah Molden – Two games with back-to-back 30-yard and one-score performances do not a fantasy starter make. Philadelphia Eagles slot man Quez Watkins is still well off the startable radar, with a 1st percentile target rate and 11th percentile yards per route run. Even worse, he’ll have to work against Tennessee Titans slot defender Elijah Molden, who allows eighth percentile marks or worse across the board. Look elsewhere to capture passing game value for the Eagles in Week 13.
David Bell vs. Tavierre Thomas – Similarly, we shouldn’t expect too much from Browns slot receiver David Bell in this contest. Bell has been reliable when called upon (96th percentile catch rate), but he hasn’t been called upon much (8th percentile target rate) and hasn’t done much with the few catches he has (5th percentile yards per route run). Against Houston Texans slot corner Tavierre Thomas, that should be even tougher in Week 13. Thomas has quietly been a brick wall inside for the Texans, allowing first percentile marks across the board as our toughest corner matchup on the slate: 7% target rate, 40% catch rate, and 0.2 yards per cover snap. Bell is not the receiver you’re looking for.