6 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 3
Frustration is a tough thing to have to confront in an activity that should make you happy. I should know: my frustration with a video game sometimes causes me to turn off the console and walk away. Sometimes things are just frustrating. Sometimes you have to escort Natalya through a hail of goon bullets, sometimes you are stuck in a horrific Hyrulean temple filled with water, and your extraterrestrial protagonist will
sometimes always fall down a gravity well.
In the game of fantasy football, too, things happen that put me on the fast train to Tiltington Station, in the center of Saltsville.
The challenge I put to myself in those moments, and the challenge I put to you in those moments, is not to dwell on the poor outcome. Instead, think about the process that led to that outcome. Was it sound decision-making? Without knowing how things turned out in hindsight, would you still have played that player? If the answer is yes, you did fine.
While the last two weeks have been frustrating for prognostication, we are going to look forward and continue to improve our process. There’s still a lot of game left, and we’re not out of it yet. So, pick up that controller, press start, and let’s ride!
One of the things I try to do is reflect on my process and focus on the successes and fix the failures so that I can give you all the best fantasy football advice possible. Each week, we’ll look at the previous one’s hits and misses.
I consider 17.5 PPR fantasy points (the weekly fantasy average of the WR24 over the last five years) a hit for lineup locks, and a score of 9.0 (the average WR48) a hit for good stocks. A player with 7.5 PPR fantasy points or fewer as a smoking crater is a hit as well.
Lineup Locks: Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Jones (4.4 PPR fantasy points) played through a hamstring injury and saw mostly Chidobe Awuzie, who I warned you about as a possible pitfall. Teammate Calvin Ridley did go off in the matchup I highlighted, however. Cooper (16.0) did fine and nearly met the mark.
Good Stocks: Jerry Jeudy, Anthony Miller, Scotty Miller, and Robby Anderson. Jeudy (10.2) could have had even more, but Noah Fant was not sharing. Miller (0.0) was bad, and while I'll bet none of us had the Darnell Mooney bingo square, I will trust Mitchell Trubisky offenses less. Miller (3.2) with Chris Godwin out was still an A+ process call that I stand by. Anderson (17.9)? Oh, he good.
Smoking Craters: John Brown and Tyreek Hill. Brown (18.2) was supposed to be shadowed by Byron Jones, who played just four snaps before exiting with an injury; the backups were not up to snuff. Hill (21.8) caught just 5-of-11 targets but made one of those a late 54-yard touchdown. It happens.
Two Lineup Locks
Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb vs. Shaquill Griffin and Ugo Amadi – This game should be a shootout, and the pass-catchers on the other side of it are well-positioned for that reason as well. I really want to highlight the matchups Dallas Cowboys' receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb have against Seattle Seahawks' cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Ugo Amadi, though.
Seattle plays a fairly strict zone coverage scheme, with Griffin exclusively manning the right side of the field (from the offense’s perspective) and Quinton Dunbar on the left, leaving the slot to Amadi. That just means offenses know exactly which side of the field is vulnerable. Griffin has allowed a below-average target rate (14%), but when the ball does come his way, receivers torch him for a 79% catch rate (24th percentile) and 1.7 yards per route covered (20th percentile). Amadi is probably worse relative to his position, allowing a lower yardage rate of 0.9 in the slot, but getting targeted on 18% of coverage snaps and allowing an 83% catch rate.
Both Cooper and Lamb have 73% catch rates and nearly identical yards per route run (2.0) to this point in the season. Cooper draws a few more targets, however, getting the ball on 24% of his routes, while Lamb trails only by a bit at 19%. Both players have high enough fantasy floors based on their roles, and these cornerbacks should allow huge fantasy ceilings to boot.
Cooper Kupp vs. Taron Johnson – The Los Angeles Rams have not returned to the potent passing attack they had a few years ago, but they are still extremely creative and efficient, making full use of slot receiver Cooper Kupp as one of their primary targets. He should prove quite adept this week against Buffalo Bills' cornerback Taron Johnson, one of the players I identified in the preseason as eventual targets for this column.
Kupp, as I mentioned, is a featured part of this offense. He has seen an 18% target rate on his routes this year, catching 90% of his passes for a shocking 2.2 yards per route run out of the slot. The latter two marks prove his reliability and efficiency, and both sit in the top-20 of Week 3 starting receivers. The target rate is a bit below average but bear in mind that the Rams have the league’s lowest pass-to-run ratio on the season; Kupp is still a top target.
Johnson, on the other hand, is not one of the stoutest cornerbacks in the league. While not abhorrent, each of his production metrics rank in the 38th percentile or lower among Week 3 starting corners. Most egregiously, he has allowed a 20% target rate and a 73% catch rate. Kupp should see plenty of efficiency against him and – if Buffalo keeps pace with L.A. – enough neutral or negative game script to boost his target rate.
Four Good Stocks
Julian Edelman vs. Lamarcus Joyner – Julian Edelman almost certainly won’t repeat his numbers from Week 2, but he can still make a dent in Lamarcus Joyner's coverage. Edelman has the highest yards per route run of Week 3 starting receivers (4.1) despite only catching 76% of his targets (65th percentile). Joyner is forgiving in coverage, allowing a bottom-10 target rate of 23% to opponents.
Jarvis Landry vs. Jimmy Moreland – If floor is what you’re looking for, Jarvis Landry has been your man for years. His ceiling raises a bit in Week 3, though, with Jimmy Moreland allowing a target rate of 22% and 1.7 yards per route run from the slot (11th and 18th percentile marks, respectively). If the Cleveland Browns come under fire from the Washington Football Team's stellar front-four, Landry could be favored as the checkdown target.
Corey Davis vs. Jeff Gladney – So Corey Davis is a thing now, huh? With A.J. Brown questionable for another week (and likely limited even if he can make it back), Davis will draw first-round rookie Jeff Gladney for most of the day. Gladney has had a rough entry to the league, getting targeted on 28% of his snaps this year, despite the extremely positive game script he was faced with in Week 2. He’s also forking over 2.6 yards per route run (fourth percentile). A target rate of 20% and 2.1 yards per route run for the newly resurgent Davis fit with Gladney’s weak points quite well.
Keelan Cole vs. Nik Needham – There are a few good matchups to target in this game on Thursday Night Football, but Keelan Cole against Nik Needham in the slot is the one I’m most certain of given that the Miami Dolphins flipped their outside cornerbacks fairly evenly in Week 2. Cole has seen a solid 20% target rate on his routes, while catching 92% of his passes. Needham’s 18% target rate allowed is his best production metric, and that ranks in the bottom-third of the league. Cole has surprising upside in a sneaky shootout in the making.
Two Smoking Craters
Kenny Golladay vs. Patrick Peterson – Kenny Golladay looks like he'll play Week 3 coming off a hamstring injury, and is likely to draw the attention of top Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson. P2 has allowed a teensy 12% target rate, a spotless 44% catch rate when targeted, and a limited 0.9 yards per route covered. To make matters worse, Peterson is capable of shadow coverage, which he should be in against the top Detroit Lions receiving threat. Temper expectations in Babytron's first game back.
Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Blessuan Austin – Bless Austin, the New York Jets’ sixth-round pick last year, has begun to blossom into a truly impressive coverage player. He has allowed a paltry 11% targets-per-routes covered rate, and nearly 0.7 yards per route covered. I believe he can limit projected Week 3 starter and second-round rookie Michael Pittman Jr., especially since the Indianapolis Colts should be in a largely positive game script for the second week in a row.
Week 3 Potential Shadow Situations: Stefon Diggs (BUF) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR); A.J. Green (CIN) vs. Darius Slay (PHI); Kenny Golladay** (DET) vs. Patrick Peterson (ARZ); Davante Adams** (GB) vs. Marshon Lattimore (NO).
** – on injury report but projected to play as of publication