Much of fantasy football is about exploiting matchups. Sure, there are your guys you start automatically without even thinking, regardless of what defense they’re going up against, but sometimes weeks are won and lost by exploiting good matchups and avoiding tough ones.
In this article, I’ll take a look at some wide receiver/cornerback matchups that could be useful for your fantasy team, and some matchups that could hurt it.
It’s important to note that every team is different, these are just suggestions. Use your best judgment for your team.
Marquise Brown (Baltimore Ravens) – Hollywood has had an amazing start to his career, logging 12 catches, 233 yards, and two touchdowns in his first two games so far. But he’s gotta slow down, right? I think he will, but not this week. Hollywood generally lines up on the right side, which means he’s likely to match up against Charvarius Ward, who has not been particularly good so far this season, giving up 12 catches for 170 yards so far this year, including 92 yards after the catch, which is what Hollywood does best. Sometimes Brown lines up in the slot, generally that’s Willie Snead‘s area, but if/when he does, that matchup against Kendall Fuller could prove a little trickier, but I like Brown’s chances this week, especially in a game that I expect to be high-scoring.
Devin Smith (Dallas Cowboys) – If you’re in a deep league, Devin Smith is pretty interesting to me. The loss of Michael Gallup likely means both Smith and Randall Cobb will be seeing increases in workload, and this week, both Smith and Cobb will have pretty solid matchups against a bad Miami secondary. Amari Cooper will likely draw shadow coverage from Xavien Howard, which means Smith will likely see Eric Rowe, who’s given up nine catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. I do think Cobb could be useful as a flex play in PPR leagues, but the reason I’m highlighting Smith is 1. he’s more available and 2. he’s a deep ball threat, and could be in for a bigger game. Last week, Smith had a nice game, with three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Now, I don’t think you can trust Smith this week in anything but the deepest leagues, but keep an eye on him, I wouldn’t be shocked if he has a nice game this week and ends up in our waiver wire column.
Tyler Lockett (Seattle Seahawks) – You’re likely already starting Tyler Lockett this week, but I think he could be in for a pretty solid week. Lining up in the slot, he’ll likely match up against P.J. Williams, who is slower than Lockett and has been fairly mediocre in pass coverage so far this year, giving up a 66% catch rate, 72 yards, and a touchdown against the Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams. I know D.K. Metcalf has seen more yards-per-catch than Lockett, but I think this could be Lockett’s coming out party. Against Cooper Kupp (who plays in the slot like Lockett), the Saints gave up five catches for 120 yards. I could definitely see Lockett as a WR2 this week.
Adam Thielen (Minnesota Vikings) – This is another guy who you’re obviously starting, but Thielen hasn’t really lit up a game yet. He’s had two solid games, roughly 13 fantasy points each in PPR scoring, but that’s thanks to a touchdown that bailed him out of a weak game in Week 1, and a solid but unspectacular five catches for 75 yards in Week 2 (though he got eight targets, which I like). But this week, I like Thielen as a low-end WR1, because he’s likely going to match up against Daryl Worley, who has not been good at all this year. Last week against the Chiefs, Worley allowed four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown, including a long 44-yard touchdown to Demarcus Robinson.
I’m going to take a quick video interlude, take a look at just how ridiculously open Robinson was on that touchdown:
Worley is number 20, who comes jogging up behind Robinson well after the touchdown is caught. If that’s the kind of defense Thielen is going to see this week, I’m all for him.
Phillip Dorsett (New England Patriots) – Now that Antonio Brown is gone (thank god), we will almost definitely see more of Phillip Dorsett in the Patriots offense. Now, he’s obviously the third receiver behind Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman, but without Brown in Week 1, Dorsett saw an 84.3% snap share. He also caught four balls for 95 yards and two touchdowns, but that’s not going to happen again. Still, this week, Dorsett will likely get to see the worst cornerback on the New York Jets, Nate Hairston. Last week, Hairston allowed three catches on four targets for 83 yards to the Cleveland Browns and did not look particularly good. It’s also worth noting that Dorsett ran a 4.33 40-yard dash back on his combine day, while Hairston ran a 4.52. Is that an exact measurement of their current speed? No, but the point is, Dorsett is fast, faster than Hairston, and could easily beat him. Similar to Smith, I don’t think you can trust Dorsett this week except in deep leagues, but keep an eye on his involvement in the Patriots’ offense this week.
Brandin Cooks (Los Angeles Rams) – So far this year, Cooks has had one bad game and one good game. He’s got massive big-play potential, we all know that, so I want you to know off the bat that I’m not saying you should bench him. What I am saying, though, is that if he has a mediocre game this week, don’t be overly shocked. Why? Because he’s likely drawing Greedy Williams in coverage, who has give up literally one catch so far this season (and it was for 16 yards). The second-round rookie has looked pretty solid in pass coverage, but he’ll also be facing his toughest matchup yet in Cooks, as he’s only faced the Titans and Jets so far. Again, I’m not saying bench Cooks, but I think he turns in more mid-tier WR2 numbers than low-end WR1 numbers this week.
Jarvis Landry (Cleveland Browns) – Landry has been pretty disappointing this year, to be honest. He’s a guy that needs a high volume of catches to succeed, and he hasn’t really been getting that so far, with just seven catches on the year. He’s had 14 targets though, so he’s seeing work, he’s just not catching the ball. This week, lining up the slot, Landry will likely see coverage from Nickell Robey-Coleman, who’s a pretty solid corner. So far this year, Robey-Coleman has given up just four catches for 27 yards and just two yards after the catch. So basically, when someone catches the ball, Robey-Coleman takes them down almost immediately. I could see this being a pretty high-scoring game, but Landry worries me this week. To me, he’s a flex play at best.
Robby Anderson (New York Jets) – If you were considering Robby Anderson for your flex spot this week, I’d consider looking elsewhere. He’s likely going to be shadowed by Stephon Gilmore, and that’s bad news as Gilmore is arguably one of the best corners in the league. Gilmore has been somewhat beatable, as he gave up five catches for 51 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Anderson isn’t quite the receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is.
Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys) – Similar to Cooks, I’m not suggesting you bench Cooper, but as I mentioned earlier, he’s going to likely draw shadow coverage from Xavien Howard, and while the Dolphins are generally a pretty bad team, Howard is pretty solid. Last week, shadowing Josh Gordon, Howard allowed just two catches for 19 yards. Is Cooper better than Gordon? I think you could make that argument, but I don’t think it’s night and day. Dak Prescott is playing like a madman, so you can’t bench Cooper, but I’m thinking he’s more a WR2 than a WR1.
Nelson Agholor (Philadelphia Eagles) – With Alshon Jeffery likely out, and DeSean Jackson probably out, Agholor looks slated to see a big increase in work this week. Given his increase in volume, I think Agholor is a somewhat interesting flex play this week, but I do worry about his matchup. If he lines up in the slot, which he often does, he’ll likely match up against Justin Coleman, who’s been pretty solid this year, giving up eight catches for just 45 yards (though a touchdown as well). But if Agholor lines up on the right side, he’ll probably see Darius Slay, who is a very good corner. Or, if he lines up on the left, he’ll see Rashaan Melvin, who’s not particularly good. Is all that confusing? I know, it’s all kind of uncertain, but two out of the three potential matchups for Agholor don’t look great. Still, like I said, the likely volume he’ll see warrants him as a WR3, but I could see this being a tough game for him.
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