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.
Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys) – We could probably rename this column “Who’s playing the Giants?” because often whatever receiver is matching up against the New York Giants is in for a good matchup. This week, it’s Amari Cooper, who’s likely to match up against DeAndre Baker, who has allowed a 153.6 passer rating against this year, the third-highest in the NFL. He’s also allowed a 71.8% catch rate, 510 yards (the second-most in the NFL), and five touchdowns, tied for the second-most in the NFL. Needless to say, Baker has been playing like garbage and Cooper, who caught five passes for 106 yards last week, could definitely take advantage of that.
D.J. Chark (Jacksonville Jaguars) – Chark was featured in last week’s column and turned in a solid, six-catch, 79-yard, one-touchdown performance, and I think he could be in for yet another good week this week. He’ll likely match up against Gareon Conley, who has allowed a 126.9 passer rating against (17th-worst in the NFL), and five touchdowns (which, as you know, is tied for second-worst in the NFL). Chark was targeted 12 times last week and has generally been getting the lions’ share of targets each week. I think this week will be no different.
Demaryius Thomas (New York Jets) – Thomas hasn’t been awesome this year, but he’s also been serviceable as a flex play, turning in a solid five-catch, 63-yard performance last week against the Jaguars. Lucky for him, he’ll be up against the Miami Dolphins this week and will likely match up against Ryan Lewis, who has allowed a 126.2 passer rating against (19th-worst in the NFL). I’m not saying Thomas will all of a sudden become a WR2 or something this week, but if you’re looking for a flex play, especially in a PPR league, you could do worse than Thomas.
Tyler Lockett (Seattle Seahawks) – Another guy who was in the column last week, Lockett has turned in double-digit performances every week this year except one (Week 4) in PPR leagues and I could see another good game for him this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’ll likely see Vernon Hargreaves III in coverage this week, and so far this year, Hargreaves has allowed 477 yards (fifth-most in the NFL), as well as a 72.7% catch rate and a 113.5 passer rating against.
John Brown (Buffalo Bills) – Generally speaking, Brown has been the guy in the Bills’ passing offense, putting up double-digit points every week this year except one (Week 3, where he came very close to double-digit points). This week, he gets to face the godawful Washington Redskins and will likely draw Josh Norman in coverage. So far this year, Norman has not been good at all, allowing a 140.7 passer rating against (eighth-worst in the NFL), 416 yards (ninth-worst in the NFL), and five touchdowns (again, tied for second-worst in the NFL). Brown’s going to get the targets, and he’s got the speed to break off big plays with a quarterback who loves to throw it deep. Sign me up for John Brown this week.
Marquise Brown (Baltimore Ravens) – I should preface this by saying that Brown is currently listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with an ankle/thigh injury. John Harbaugh said he expects Brown to play, but honestly, even if he does, I’m probably avoiding him if I have better options. The Ravens will get to play the New England Patriots and their absurd secondary this week. Brown will likely be shadowed by Jason McCourty, who has allowed a measly 61.4 passer rating against and a 57.1% catch rate. But honestly, it wouldn’t really matter which cornerback was shadowing Brown, because just about all of the cornerbacks on the Patriots are scary matchups. Obviously Brown has crazy big-play potential, but the risk is too high here for me, especially if he’s not 100%.
Mohamed Sanu (New England Patriots) – Speaking of the Patriots, the Ravens are no slouches in the secondary either, especially with the addition of Marcus Peters, who will likely be matching up against Sanu this week. So far this year, Peters has allowed just a 77.9 passer rating against and a 55% catch rate. If anything, I could see this being a Julian Edelman-heavy game.
Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers) – This is one of those things where you’re going to start Adams this week if he’s starting because of his potential. However, he’s coming into the game listed as questionable with a toe injury, so we’ll see if he’s playing. Either way, he’s likely to be shadowed by Casey Hayward Jr., who is an excellent corner and has allowed just a 59.2 passer rating against and a 53.3% catch rate. You’re starting Adams if he’s active, but temper your expectations.
Mike Williams (Los Angeles Chargers) – And speaking of the Chargers, I’ll keep the pattern going by mentioning that the Packers’ secondary isn’t bad either. Williams especially is in for a tough matchup against Jaire Alexander, who has allowed just a 50.9% catch rate and an 87 passer rating against so far this year. He also leads the league in pass breakups with 10.
Corey Davis (Tennessee Titans) – I like the targets Davis has been getting lately, and I’ve always been a believer in his talent, but this week, he’s likely going to match up against James Bradberry and I do not like that at all. So far this year, Bradberry has allowed just a 46.2 passer rating against, a 53.7% catch rate, and has six pass breakups, good for sixth-most in the NFL. Even with the increased volume lately, Davis is too risky for me if I’ve got better options.
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