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We're officially halfway through the NFL season, with several teams already having their bye weeks behind them. Nevertheless, injuries have begun to rack up. We saw this firsthand on Thursday night as Houston trotted reserve defensive backs out into full-time roles. Picking on the backups that precede starting defensive backs is a common strategy among DFS players, simply because it's a solid process. Fortunately, we have plenty of data to break down those matchups and pick the best ones to target for the coming week.

Nothing is more important than matchup analyzation when it comes to fantasy football. Playing your teams’ best players on a regular basis is important, but picking apart the top matchups on a week to week basis can win you a championship, or even better, some cold hard cash in DFS. Matchups for the wide receiver position aren’t always as black and white as they can be for other positions. Receivers need to be broken down even deeper by analyzing the potential cornerback matchup they’re going to draw. This is especially true in potential shadow coverage cases such as any time an X receiver plays against Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals. Some analytical data used here such as fantasy points allowed per route covered, and percentage of routes run on the left side, right side, and in the slot is courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Now, here are the top WR vs CB matchups for Week 9. Use these to set season-long lineups, as well as gain a competitive edge in the Daily Fantasy realm.

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WR/CB Matchups to Target

LAR WR Robert Woods Versus NO CB Eli Apple

Everybody will be looking Cooper Kupp's way in this matchup, and for a good reason. But let's not forget how likely it is that Robert Woods smashes in this contest as well. Woods leads the team with 25-percent of its total target volume, and he sits behind just Brandin Cooks in air-yards distribution with a 33-percent share. Woods hasn't failed to catch at least five passes since Week 1, making him both cash and tournament viable in this matchup.

Eli Apple was genuinely victimized in his first start as a Saint last Sunday night, surrendering a perfect catch rate on eight balls thrown his way. Apple is allowing nearly two full yards per route in coverage this season, which has him among the worst in the league in that category.

This game will take place in the SuperDome and has an implied total of 60 at the moment. I'm taking the over, and I'm overloading on this game in DFS.

Pivot: Cooper Kupp

Kupp will see P.J. Williams, who's allowed 10 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns over the last three weeks. He's in an absolute smash-spot at just $6,000, but he'll be one of the highest owned players on the slate.

 

NO WR Tre'Quan Smith Versus LAR CB Troy Hill

Another receiver I love in this offensive juggernaut of a contest is Tre'Quan Smith, who has a tremendous matchup against Troy Hill. Hill has been abysmal over the last three games, allowing 14 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns in coverage. In a game that will see a lot of scoring, Smith won't even need gross usage to be productive.

With that in mind, Smith has still earned himself a target share just outside 20-percent over the last three weeks. He also owns the second-largest piece of NOs air-yards pie, drawing 28 percent of it over that same span. Smith is just $4,200 on DK, and he's most certainly playable in tournaments. I think you could do much worse in cash as well, as I expect more people to avoid him in that format due to his volatility.

 

CAR WR D.J. Moore Versus TB CB M.J. Stewart

Your weekly reminder to roster whatever WR is running against M.J. Stewart is here.

Just last week, Stewart got manhandled by Tyler Boyd to the tune of nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. Stewart has allowed the third-most catches and the 11th-most receiving yards, to go along with five touchdowns. He has not recorded an interception yet this season.

On top of all of this, the D.J. Moore breakout finally happened with Torrey Smith out of the lineup. Moore led the team with a 20-percent target share and saw over 30-percent of the team's air-yards distribution. Devin Funchess and Curtis Samuel were afterthoughts, with Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen being Moore's only real competition for usage. Smith is out again, making Moore a great option in both cash and tournaments.

Pivot: Christian McCaffrey

There's a scenario where I'm okay stacking Moore with McCaffrey, and just running it back with Cam Newton. It's probably not in cash games, though. In a tournament, fire them all up in a matchup that's expected to score somewhere near 55 points.

 

Denver WR Emmanuel Sanders Versus HOU Safety Tyrann Mathieu

Tyrann Mathieu has been forced to play the nickel full-time over the last two weeks with Houston's secondary being severely banged up. He's been pretty good, but he's faced weak competition in the Dolphins and Jaguars. He'll have to guard Emmanuel Sanders this week, who's been one of the most productive WRs in the entire NFL. Sanders is on pace for over 100 catches and 1,300 receiving yards this year.

What makes Sanders even more interesting is the departure of Demaryius Thomas, who will be on the opposing sideline with the Texans. Sanders is way too cheap at $6,400 given the weekly floor and ceiling he brings. Both are even higher after the Thomas trade, making him a cash game lock with plenty of intrigue left for tournaments.

Pivot: Courtland Sutton

A lot of players are going to look Courtland Sutton's way, and why shouldn't they? The Thomas trade essentially means Denver is ready to go forward with Sutton as their top dog on the outside. He also just set a career high in receiving yards last week and has 533 total air-yards on the season. His piece of the AY distribution is no smaller than both Sanders' or Thomas's was before the trade. At $3,900, he can be played literally anywhere.

Contrarian: Tim Patrick

Tim Patrick is a name you probably don't recognize (I hardly recognize it to be completely honest), but it wouldn't shock me if you knew exactly who he was by this time next week. Patrick caught his first career touchdown last week against the Chiefs on a 24-yard strike from Case Keenum, and it's looking like he'll step in as the team's third WR for the time-being. He's minimum-priced and should play most of the game.

 

WAS WR Josh Doctson Versus ATL CB Robert Alford

I haven't rostered Josh Doctson all season, and I was beginning to think I was never going to. However, he's led the Washington Redskins in air-yards percentage, and he sits behind just Jordan Reed in the target share department at 18-percent. There's risk here, but I think Doctson is too cheap to ignore in tournaments based on where his price is at.

Doctson will also draw coverage from Robert Alford, who has been one of the league's most ineffective defensive backs this season. Since the start of Week 6, nobody has allowed more yards in coverage, and he's also allowed the ninth-most receptions.

Doctson is only $4,200 on DK, and he's more than due for his first touchdown of the season.

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