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.
Adam Thielen (Minnesota Vikings) – I know, both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have been super disappointing so far this season, so I get the risk. But I figure things have to straighten up at some point, right? If there’s ever a week for it to happen, it’s this week against the New York Giants. Thielen will likely match up against DeAndre Baker, who has been total garbage in coverage so far this year, allowing a 155.8 passer rating and a 77.8% catch rate, not to mention two touchdowns, one on a 62-yard catch and one on a 51-yard catch. He’s beatable, and Thielen is still one of the more skilled receivers in football. If he gets the targets, he’ll have an advantageous matchup.
D.J. Moore (Carolina Panthers) – This week, Moore will likely be matching up against Tre Herndon, who has been pretty bad in coverage in the two weeks he’s played so far (Week 2 and Week 4). Last week, he allowed six catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos. And that’s with Joe Flacco throwing the ball, so I think Kyle Allen could be alright. Moore seems to be liked by Allen a bit more than Curtis Samuel, so Moore could have a nice game.
Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia Eagles) – Jeffery’s return from an ankle injury was solid last week, thanks to a touchdown. This week, he gets to go up against Darryl Roberts, who has been very inconsistent this year. In Week 2, against the Browns, he played some good coverage, but otherwise, he’s not been great, allowing a 95.5 passer rating and a 64.3% catch rate, as well as two touchdowns. In Week 3 (the most recent game he played), he allowed eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He’s very beatable, and Jeffery is someone who could easily take advantage of that.
Julian Edelman (New England Patriots) – It’s always great if your offense is playing the Washington Redskins this year, right? Well, it certainly is for Edelman, who will be matching up against Fabian Moreau in the slot, most likely. Moreau hasn’t played a ton this year, but when he has played, he’s been rough, allowing a 112 passer rating and an 88.9% catch rate. Last week, he allowed six catches for 84 yards. Edelman is almost definitely the most talented receiver Moreau has had to face, and Tom Brady is definitely the best quarterback he’s had to face too, which could spell trouble for Moreau and fantasy production for Edelman.
Anthony Miller (Chicago Bears) – The Oakland Raiders’ defense isn’t great (they’ve allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers), and Lamarcus Joyner has been especially bad, allowing a 109.8 passer rating against, an 82.6% catch rate, and a touchdown. Luckily for Anthony Miller, that’s likely who he’ll match up against this week.
Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys) – Let me start by saying you should start Amari Cooper this week. He’s too talented not to. But, there’s definitely reason to be concerned about his potential this week, as he’ll likely be shadowed by Jaire Alexander, who has allowed just a 67.7 passer rating against and a 40.7% catch rate. Alexander doesn’t always play shadow coverage, but the last time he did this year was in Week 3 when he shadowed Emmanuel Sanders. The results? Alexander didn’t allow a single catch on three targets.
Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos) – Sutton was probably only on your radar in deeper leagues, but you can basically take him off your radar this week. Against the Chargers this week, he’s likely to be shadowed by Casey Hayward Jr., and that’s bad news for Sutton, as Hayward is a very good corner. Hayward often operates in shadow coverage (though not always), and he’s been effective. In Week 3, he shadowed DeAndre Hopkins for much of the game and didn’t allow a catch while he did. On the year so far, he’s allowed just a 56.3% catch rate and a 76.8 passer rating against. Sutton isn’t good enough to overcome Hayward’s abilities as a corner, so I’d avoid him unless you absolutely have to start him.
Terry McLaurin (Washington Redskins) – I love me some Terry McLaurin, and I wish he had been healthy enough to play last week in what was a great matchup, but this week he’ll be facing the Patriots and will likely be shadowed by Jason McCourty. McCourty has been pretty fantastic this year, allowing a 46.2% catch rate and a 59.8 passer rating against. He doesn’t shadow as much as Stephon Gilmore does, but he has this year a bit and has been good. Now, he’s shadowed Donte Moncrief and Devante Parker, so not the most challenging of covers, but he should still prove to be a pretty tough challenge for McLaurin.
Odell Beckham Jr. (Cleveland Browns) – I’m going to start this with the same thing I started the Amari Cooper entry with: you’re starting Odell this week almost definitely. However, it’s worth noting that he’s got a tough matchup ahead. He’s likely going to be covered by Richard Sherman for the most part, and Sherman has looked really solid this year, allowing just eight catches for 49 yards total for the year and a 62.7 passer rating against. Now, Beckham is arguably the most talented receiver in football, so if anyone can overcome a tough matchup, he can. But he’s been disappointing so far this year, and got shut down last week by Marlon Humphrey, so it’s possible for a good corner to take him out of the game. I think you’ve still gotta start Beckham, but if he has another underwhelming week, don’t be shocked.
Josh Gordon (New England Patriots) – Playing the Redskins is good for your offense, right? For the most part, it is, so why am I saying Josh Gordon has a tough matchup this week? Because he’s likely going to be covered by Quinton Dunbar, who has been very good so far this year. Now, Dunbar only played in Week 1 and Week 4 so far this year, but he’s been excellent when he’s been out there, allowing just a 50% catch rate and a 29.9 passer rating against. It’s a small sample size for sure, but if he keeps it up this week, I could see Brady looking a lot more towards Julian Edelman given his favorable matchup, or even Phillip Dorsett, who’s likely going to see the ghost of Josh Norman in coverage. If Edelman and Dorsett are more open than Gordon is, I could see them getting more work.