One of Week 10’s biggest games takes place in Los Angeles, where the Rams will host the Seattle Seahawks in a battle for first place in the NFC West. Of the games within that game, the most-talked about matchup features one of the games great cornerbacks takes on the NFL’s hottest wide receivers.
The showdown between Jalen Ramsey of the Rams and DK Metcalf of the Seahawks should be all kinds of fun to watch. But there’s another matchup that could offer even more potential intrigue for IDP managers in leagues that require the cornerback position.
In his sixth NFL season, Rams corner Troy Hill has been tasked more with playing the slot than in previous seasons. According to Stu Jackson of the team’s website, defensive coordinator Brandon Staley indicated that’s because the 29-yearold’s skill set matches up well with what the Rams want in a nickel corner.
“Troy has a lot of the qualities that we specifically value at the nickel position,” Staley said. “I think what we value at nickel is a little bit different than most. We want a guy that can cover man-to-man, and I think his ability outside at corner really expresses itself inside his style of play. It does happen quicker inside, and he has a lot of short-space quickness to compete with these slot wide-outs.”
Hill has been easily the most-targeted cornerback in L.A.—49 in eight games. He’s made the most of those targets, too—halfway through the season he’s third on the team in tackles and on pace to top 90 stops for the season, numbers that rank Hill 12th among all corners in fantasy points per game. However, with Hill having cooled off a bit in the games preceding the Rams’ Week 9 bye, he’s available in more than a few IDP leagues.
If Ramsey (as expected) spends most of the day on Metcalf, then that means Hill is going to see a lot of Tyler Lockett at SoFi stadium Sunday. As great as Metcalf has been this season, Russell Wilson isn’t going to force the action. He’s more than willing to attack the weakest link in coverage.
That would appear to be Hill, who has been targeted over 15 more times than Ramsey or Darious Williams. Seattle is going to throw at Hill with regularity—and every one of those targets is an opportunity for fantasy production.
Tre Flowers, Seattle Seahawks (at Los Angeles Rams)
It’s been a rocky 2020 for Flowers—the third-year pro lost his starting job and struggled in coverage when he was on the field. However, after injuries in the secondary forced Flowers into a full-time role again, his level of play improved considerably—and improvement that impressed head coach Pete Carroll according to Ben Arthur of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
“A couple weeks back, it started and you could just see it clicking. Technique-wise, he’s playing really solid,” Carroll said. “You could see the confidence in everything that he’s doing. I’m looking forward to seeing him come out again against good receivers as we go and put together another good game.”
The Seattle pass defense has been historically bad this season, allowing the most passing yards over the first eight games of the season in NFL history. The Los Angeles Rams aren’t going to be even a little hesitant about attacking this defense, and the Rams were already a plus matchup for the cornerback position—fourth in fantasy points per game surrendered.
Jeff Gladney, Minnesota Vikings (at Chicago Bears)
The first professional season for an NFL cornerback is more often than not a roller coaster. Jeff Gladney‘s inaugural campaign has been one—there have been bright spots, but for the season the former TCU standout has allowed almost 70 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed and has a passer rating against over 125. However, as Chris Tomasson reported for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, fellow Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson said he has seen steady improvement from his teammate.
“He’s getting better every game,” Jefferson said. “It’s still early in the season, and we are still learning and we are still picking up on different things. I think the more we play, the more we see, and he’s been doing a great job just picking up on different stuff. I’m excited to see what he has down the road.”
Gladney has been the embodiment of the “rookie corner rule” in 2020—he has been a top-20 fantasy option at his position largely because opposing cornerbacks haven’t been at all shy about throwing at him. Gladney is on pace to be targeted over 100 times over his first season, and with a coverage assignment coming up against Allen Robinson of the Bears, that pace isn’t going to slow down.
Terrance Mitchell, Cleveland Browns (vs. Houston Texans)
The Cleveland Browns open the second half of their season at home against the two-win Texans, who feature one of the NFL’s hottest wide receivers in Will Fuller V, who has scored a touchdown in each of the past six games. As Mike Tagliere pointed out at Fantasy Pros, that sets up a matchup between Fuller and seventh-year veteran Terrance Mitchell.
“Fuller plays most of his snaps at LWR,” Tagliere said, “so he’ll see a lot of Terrance Mitchell, who’s actually been the Browns best cornerback this year, allowing just a 53.1 percent catch-rate, 13.7 yards per reception, and a touchdown every 24.5 targets in coverage.”
Mitchell hasn’t been especially IDP-relevant this season, ranking outside the top-25 fantasy cornerbacks so far this season. But as the 28-year-old showed with a 12-tackle effort in Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys, he’s capable of blowing up if the matchup is right. With David Johnson (concussion) out this week, the Texans could easily use a pass-heavy game script against Cleveland’s 24th-ranked pass defense.
Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Buffalo Bills)
There’s another big game involving an NFC West team taking place in Phoenix, where the 5-5 Arizona Cardinals will host the 7-2 Buffalo Bills. It’s a game that could have major postseason implications, but as Alex Weiner wrote for All Cardinals, as far as veteran cornerback Patrick Paterson is concerned, the playoffs have already started.
“These next eight games, we have got to play balls-to-the-wall,” Peterson said. “Can’t hold anything back. This is the part of the season where you start to separate the contenders from the pretenders. The schedule get harder in the back half of it. So, every game is a playoff game. For us, every game is very, very important.”
For most of his pro career, Peterson was essentially too good—he was so formidable in coverage that opposing quarterbacks avoided him. But not only is the 30-year-old not the player he once was, but this week Peterson will be tasked with shadowing Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs. Nine games in, Diggs led the NFL in targets (91), receptions (63) and receiving yards (813).