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.
Justin Jefferson – Jefferson has been kind of up-and-down so far this season, with three games that were basically total duds and two very good games. He’s a bit of a risky play, but I kind of like him this week for two reasons: 1. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Vikings decide to throw the ball more with Dalvin Cook out, and 2. he’s matching up against Isaiah Oliver, who so far this year has given up 374 receiving yards (second-most in the NFL), a 74.3% catch rate, and a 146.6 passer rating against. Basically, I’ve mentioned Oliver nearly every week because he’s been really bad and it’s often worked out. I think Jefferson could be a very interesting flex play this week.
Kenny Golladay – You’re likely starting Golladay regardless, but I’m especially a fan of him this week. He’s had two good games since coming back, scoring in both games and getting seven and eight targets in each game, respectively. This week, Golladay is likely to see Chris Claybrooks in coverage, who so far this year has allowed a 76.9% catch rate and a 157.9 passer rating against. Golladay should be a solid low-end WR1/high-end WR2 this week.
DeVante Parker – Last week was weird for Parker. He saw just three targets a week after seeing 12 targets and ended up with just two catches. Fortunately, one of those catches was for a touchdown, which bailed you out a bit. This week though, as long as he gets targets (which I think he will), I like Parker’s potential. He’ll likely see Pierre Desir in coverage, who so far on the season has allowed a 115.6 passer rating against and an 80% catch rate. As a result, I think Parker is a solid flex play or low-end WR2 in deeper leagues.
Jamison Crowder – Yea, I know, the Jets are a mess and we’re going to see Joe Flacco out there throwing again, but Crowder is the Jets best option on offense, especially now that Le’Veon Bell is gone, and it’s not particularly close. When Crowder’s been out there, he’s been super productive, logging at least 100 yards and at least 10 targets in all three games he’s plated and a touchdown in two out of three of those games. This week, he’ll likely see Nik Needham in coverage, who so far this year has allowed a 101.0 passer rating against and a 66.7% catch rate. I think Crowder’s going to continue to be heavily involved in the offense this week and I think he’s got a pretty beatable matchup.
Christian Kirk – This is more of a deep league play, because I don’t necessarily think Kirk is going to go off here to warrant him as a WR1 or WR2 start, or even a flex spot in shallow leagues. But, Kirk has been looking good the past couple weeks and even saw seven targets last week, which is super encouraging. This week, he’ll likely see Trevon Diggs in coverage, who’s given up 312 receiving yards (third-worst in the NFL) and a 110.0 passer rating against so far this year. Kirk has the talent to go off, we’ve seen it in years past. Obviously I’m not expecting that this week because it’s a very different Cardinals offense than in other years, but I think Kirk represents an interesting deep league play this week.
Mike Evans – You’re likely starting Mike Evans no matter what, since I doubt you have much better options, but he’s got a tough matchup this week, as he’ll likely be shadowed by Jaire Alexander. So far on the year, Alexander has allowed just a 71.2 passer rating against and just 95 yards. Fortunately, Evans gets enough targets (especially red zone targets) that I think he should be fine, but I’d temper my expectations this week.
Terry McLaurin – It’s the second week in a row McLaurin’s in the bad matchups section! Last week was rough, as he had just three catches for 26 yards on seven targets, and I worry this week will be rough as well. Not only because Dwayne Haskins is out as the quarterback, and Haskins clearly loved throwing to McLaurin, but because McLaurin is likely to be shadowed by James Bradberry, who so far this year has allowed just a 53.6% catch rate and an 82.4 passer rating against. Given the new quarterback situation and matchup, I’d be a bit worried about McLaurin this week.
Darius Slayton – Speaking of the New York/Washington game, I’m a bit worried about Slayton this week too. He went off last week in a very favorable matchup, but this week is likely to see Kendall Fuller in coverage, who so far this year has been pretty excellent, allowing just a 16.2 passer rating against and a 33.3% catch rate. Now, Fuller hasn’t been out there for a ton of snaps, so those numbers are a bit skewed, but he’s been out there for a sizable number of snaps and has shown to be a pretty solid defender. I still think Slayton a decent flex play, but don’t expect what happened last week to happen again.
A.J. Green – Green had just one target last week before leaving with a hamstring injury, but it looks like he should be good to go this week. Still, he’s been really bad all year, despite seeing a pretty sizable target share, and this week he’ll likely match up against Xavier Rhodes, who so far has allowed just a 45.2 passer rating against and a 42.9% catch rate. Even if Green’s starting, I wouldn’t put him in my lineup.
Deebo Samuel – I was hoping Samuel would have a nice week in a favorable matchup last week, but it wasn’t meant to be, as he caught just two of his eight targets for 19 yards. I’m encouraged by the target increase, but this week, Samuel is likely to match up against Jalen Ramsey, who has allowed just a 56.5% catch rate on the year so far. I love Samuel’s talent, but this week isn’t it.
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