Wide Receivers With the Best and Worst Cornerback Matchups in Week 5
Exploiting key matchups is one of the best ways to give your fantasy team an edge over your opponent. Poor cornerback play should be exploited whenever possible, as even subpar receivers can produce in positive situations.
These mismatches can be found in every game on every team if you dig deep enough. Here’s a look at the wide receivers with the best and worst matchups in Week 5.
Matchups to Target
With Christian Kirk suffering an ankle injury in Week 4, Larry Fitzgerald becomes the only bonafide slot option for Kyler Murray. Fitzgerald now has 36 targets through four games, a number that should see a nice boost based on his low average target distance of 9.5 yards, and Murray's 7.4 air yards per throw, per PlayerProfiler.
Most catches in NFL History:
1. Jerry Rice: 1,549
2. Larry Fitzgerald: 1,326
3. Tony Gonzalez: 1,325
4. Jason Witten: 1,162
5. Marvin Harrison: 1,102
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 29, 2019
Even better than a target bump is a matchup with the Bengals' defense. They rank 31st in passing defense, allowing -0.39 Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play through four weeks. The Bengals have primarily played B.W. Webb in the slot, meaning the Hall of Fame-bound Fitzgerald will be matched up with a guy who has been with eight different teams in seven career seasons.
The Atlanta Falcons invested copious assets into their offensive line, and it has not paid off. They rank 25th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders, and Matt Ryan has taken 10 sacks in four games. The one bright spot has been Julio Jones, as his 0.95 Reception NEP per target ranks fourth-best among receivers with at least 20 catches.
Calvin Ridley is also in a good bounce-back spot after turning in a poor outing coming off of a hip injury against a tough Tennessee Titans D. They did a good job limiting explosive plays, letting Mohamed Sanu rack up 12 targets underneath. The positive was that Ridley was targeted deep with 92 air yards and a 15.3 average depth of target, per airyards.com.
That deep usage bodes well for his outlook against a Houston Texans defense that has struggled against speedy receivers in the past. Assuming Ridley's hip is better, look for him to post similar stats to what Ted Ginn Jr. and D.J. Chark accomplished against this Houston defense.
It seems like every week Will Fuller and Deshaun Watson just barely miss a long play. This is evident, as Fuller ranks 12th in intended air yards while ranking 50th in targets, per airyards.com. It's only a matter of time before these two connect for a massive fantasy week, and that day might be sooner rather than later.
#Texans WR Will Fuller is Top 15 in the NFL in Air Yards but isn’t even Top 50 in receiving yards.
Deshaun Watson just missed him on a would-be 75-yard TD in Sunday’s loss to #Panthers.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) September 30, 2019
With Desmond Trufant likely chasing DeAndre Hopkins around the field, Fuller should see plenty of Isaiah Oliver on Sunday. Oliver runs a 4.50 40-yard dash to Fuller's 4.33. He also ranks outside the top-50 cornerbacks in passer rating allowed, fantasy points allowed per target, and fantasy points allowed per game, according to PlayerProfiler. The Atlanta Falcons rank 27th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, and Fuller is due for a breakout game regardless of his cornerback matchup.
The Cincinnati Bengals are next in line for a "tune-up game" against the Arizona Cardinals, and Tyler Boyd is one of their only options left. With A.J. Green still rehabbing and John Ross landing on Injured Reserve, Boyd is likely due for a massive target share. Arizona continues to rank first in pace per offensive play, meaning we should see a lot of snaps for both teams in this game. Joe Mixon is also averaging a meager 3.2 yards per carry, so a Seattle-esque run-heavy approach is likely out of the picture. Expect a heavy dose of Boyd against the rookie, Byron Murphy.
Matchups to Avoid
"Scary Terry" missed a golden matchup with the New York Giants last week due to a late-week hamstring injury. Without the rookie phenom, Washington only managed three points against a team that allowed at least 28 in each of the first three weeks. McLaurin returned to practice Wednesday, indicating he's a good bet for Sunday's tilt with the New England Patriots. This is not ideal, as the Patriots boast the second-best Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
Today the Patriots defense gave up its first touchdown since the AFC Championship game last season.
That was 252 days ago. pic.twitter.com/WYNHEiYwmW
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 29, 2019
The Redskins' quarterback situation is also a mess. Colt McCoy is likely getting the starting nod after Dwayne Haskins underperformed while being thrown to the wolves last week. McLaurin has been a beast thus far, but he is coming off of a hamstring injury, will have a new passer, and will be shadowed by Stephon Gilmore.
In Week 4, Amari Cooper was up against Marshon Lattimore, who had allowed the most receiving yards in the NFL and whose defense ranked 23rd in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, and Cooper was completely shut down. Now he is matched up with Jaire Alexander and the Green Bay Packers, who rank first in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Alexander has consistently taken out the other team's top weapon and ranks in the top 10 of nearly every coverage metric on PlayerProfiler. With how badly Cooper struggled against Lattimore, he might not catch a pass on Alexander.
The Carolina Panthers have been incredible against the pass. They rank first in the NFL with 18 sacks and are allowing a fourth-ranked -0.06 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. James Bradberry has been a huge part of this, as he has locked up big names in Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins. Bradberry will likely track D.J. Chark around the formation, making him an easy fade as Gardner Minshew will likely look to check the ball down against this fierce pass rush.