Best, worst wide receiver matchups for Week 6 in fantasy football

Mike Clay
ESPN PLUS


By using our play-by-play data, we're now able to identify where each wide receiver and cornerback lines up on each play. By tracking matchups between the two positions, including potential shadow situations, we can offer the best projections, rankings and fantasy advice each week


Down below are the receivers with the best and worst Week 6 matchups, as well as the corresponding fantasy impact.


To view the primary defenders the top three wide receivers for each team will see this weekend, be sure to check out our weekly WR vs. CB cheat sheet.


Advantageous matchups


Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Eagles' Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby


The Eagles' perimeter corners were smoked by yet another offense last week and will face one of the best in the game in Beckham on Thursday. Philadelphia has allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers and the second most to perimeter receivers.


Beckham is getting more slot run this season, but he still aligns outside on 71 percent of his routes. That means he'll primarily see Mills and Darby. Receivers aligned against Darby have caught 32 passes (most at the position) for 323 yards (13th) on 50 targets (second). Those against Mills have caught 30 balls (second most) for a league-high 492 yards on 43 targets (third). Both are top eight in fantasy points allowed.


Sterling Shepard is also a solid play with Eagles' slot man Sidney Jones on tap.


Falcons' Mohamed Sanu vs. Buccaneers' M.J. Stewart


The Buccaneers have been torched for the second-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season. Stewart has been the biggest culprit, with players aligned against him targeted on a massive 29 percent of their routes and averaging 0.79 fantasy points per route. Sanu has lined up in the slot on 75 percent of his routes this season, which is where Stewart has been on 89 percent of his coverage snaps.


Tampa Bay's perimeter corner play hasn't been much better, though the unit has kept left perimeter receivers in check. That's notable because that is Julio Jones' assignment on 49 percent of his routes. Nonetheless, all three Falcons wide receivers (Calvin Ridley being the third) should be upgraded, with Sanu getting the biggest bump.


Ravens' Michael Crabtree vs. Titans' Malcolm Butler


I suppose you can say Butler got back on track last week, though it hasn't been particularly hard to slow Kelvin Benjamin or the Bills' offense this season. The Titans are still allowing the second-most fantasy points to left perimeter receivers on the season, which is where Butler has been on 81 percent of his coverage snaps and where Crabtree has aligned on just over half of his routes. Receivers aligned across from Butler have posted a league-high 94 fantasy points. It's been a rough start to Crabtree's time in Baltimore, but a 21 percent target share and this matchup keeps him in the WR3 discussion.


Packers' Davante Adams vs. 49ers' Jimmie Ward or Ahkello Witherspoon


Ward missed Week 5 with an injury and his prospects for the trip to Green Bay are dicey. Witherspoon began the 2018 season as a starter, but he struggled and was benched before filling in for Ward last week. Regardless of who is in the lineup this week, it's a situation to exploit. The two corners have combined to help opposing left perimeter receivers produce the seventh-most fantasy points this season. Adams has primarily aligned wide to the left on 56 percent of his routes this season. He should be significantly upgraded.


With Richard Sherman on the other side of the field and K'Waun Williams in the slot, San Francisco hasn't been nearly as generous to primary slot and right perimeter receivers, which means we don't need to move the needle much on Randall Cobb or Geronimo Allison (or, if that duo remains out, Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Equanimeous St. Brown).


Raiders' Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson vs. Seahawks' Tre Flowersand Shaquill Griffin


Oakland's wide receiver production has fallen somewhere between inconsistent and dreadful this season, but Week 6 offers an opportunity for Cooper and Nelson to get back on track. Griffin and Flowers have both struggled, with receivers aligned against Griffin producing 298 receiving yards (16th most) and 64 fantasy points (15th). Flowers and Griffin are ranked 88th and 100th, respectively, out of 111 qualified corners by Pro Football Focus.


The two primarily operate on the perimeter, which is where Cooper has been on 69 percent of his routes and Nelson on 57 percent of his (though Nelson's rate has been higher when Seth Roberts is working ahead of Martavis Bryant, which was the case in Week 5).


Other notables:


Colts' Chester Rogers vs. Jets' Parry Nickerson
Jets' Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse vs. Colts' CBs
Redskins' Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson vs. Panthers' James Bradberryand Donte Jackson


Tough matchups

Bengals' A.J. Green vs. Steelers' Joe Haden (Shadow)


Pittsburgh has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, but a change in defensive philosophy could mean a down week for Green this week. After shadowing only once all of last season and not at all during Weeks 1-4, Haden shadowed Julio Jones in Week 5. Is it possible that was a one-time deal and Haden will return to playing his side this week? Yes, but consider that (a) Pittsburgh has issues opposite Haden with Artie Burns and Coty Sensabaugh struggling, and (b) The Bengals are similarly top-heavy with Green on one side and John Ross or Alex Erickson on the other (Tyler Boyd is the slot). That said, it makes sense that Haden would travel with Green this week.


Haden has been solid this season, so we should downgrade Green a bit, but Cincinnati's top wideout does travel to the slot on one-third of his routes, which should help him get free at least occasionally. Over the past six seasons, Green has aligned across from Haden on 142 routes, posting 16 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 36 targets.


Boyd should be upgraded significantly against Mike Hilton and the defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to the slot.


Texans' DeAndre Hopkins vs. Bills' Tre'Davious White (Shadow)


The Bills' offense may be struggling badly, but second-year corner White has picked up where he left off as a rookie as one of the game's top corners. White has shown well despite tough shadow assignments against Keenan Allen (eight targets, six receptions, 67 yards, zero touchdowns in that game) Stefon Diggs(10-4-17-0), Davante Adams (13-8-81-0) and Corey Davis (6-4-49-0). Despite those matchups, receivers lined up against him have been targeted on only 16 percent of their routes and are producing a terrible 0.16 fantasy points per route.


Expect White to be glued to Hopkins (80 percent perimeter) on most of his Week 6 routes. Hopkins should be downgraded, and look for Will Fuller V (vs. Phillip Gaines) and Keke Coutee (vs. Taron Johnson) to pick up the slack.


Titans' Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor vs. Ravens' Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith


Baltimore's secondary is so loaded that Smith -- one of the league's top corners -- returned from suspension in Week 5 and was in coverage on only 16 pass plays. His role figures to grow, but that won't matter much to opposing perimeter receivers, who will see him, Carr and Humphrey on nearly all of their routes. In Week 6, that will mean trouble for Davis (71 percent perimeter) and Taylor (81 percent).


These teams met last season and Baltimore predictably did not shadow. Davis ran 26 routes in the game and 24 were against Humphrey, Carr or Smith. He was limited to two catches for 28 yards on four targets. Taylor ran only six routes in a reserve role, though Titans wide receivers as a whole totaled 115 yards (and a pair of scores, for what it's worth) on 16 targets in the game.


Bears' Allen Robinson vs. Dolphins' Xavien Howard (Shadow)


Miami has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Howard has been solid despite handling shadow assignments against Amari Cooper and A.J. Green during two of his five games. Howard rarely travels to the slot (4 percent this season), so Robinson (35 percent) will see Minkah Fitzpatrick on roughly one-third of his routes in the game. These two have never faced off in their young careers. Robinson doesn't have to be downgraded much, especially after Mitchell Trubisky broke out for six touchdowns in his previous outing.


Eagles' Alshon Jeffery vs. Giants' Janoris Jenkins (Shadow)


Jenkins certainly hasn't lit it up this season and, in fact, receivers aligned against him have scored 69 fantasy points (11th most). Tough assignments have been part of the issue, as he's shadowed both DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas during two of his five outings. At worst, Jenkins is a decent cover corner and was terrific in 2016 -- his last full, healthy season. The two players have faced off 51 times during their careers, with Jeffery producing six catches for 60 yards and zero scores on 12 targets. Jeffery should be downgraded slightly.


Other notables:



Cowboys' Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson and Michael Gallup vs. Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye
Dolphins' Danny Amendola vs. Bears' Bryce Callahan