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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Super Bowl LVI

Cooper Kupp - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, Draft Targets

We made it to the Super Bowl.  Congratulations to Bengals and Rams fans for reaching the big game. In today's fantasy sports and betting world Super Bowl week is not that different from every other NFL week in that it's an opportunity to make money and win contests. The purpose of this week's article is to help you in playoff fantasy leagues or DFS contests. It's been a fun season bringing fantasy players a fully free WR/CB Matchup chart each week. If this series has helped you at all, please shout us out on Twitter @draft32teams.

Creating the weekly matchup chart has been more challenging than usual this year due to the fact that most teams are moving their WRs around more than they ever have. It is difficult to pinpoint which CB each WR will be matched up against. The chart is designed to give a 1-vs-1 matchup for each player, but the reality is that most NFL WRs will see a mix of all the DBs they face each week. The chart is best used to understand how teams are defending outside versus inside receivers if teams are shadowing, and how much emphasis they put on slowing down the opposing WR1.

While matchups do matter and every piece of information can give you an edge, it is important to understand that WR skill level and target share are more predictive than matchup in many cases. Blindly following the chart is not recommended, but it can be useful in making tough lineup decisions between two WRs close in skill level. The chart is best used to understand the context of matchups overall, not predict outcomes.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


WR vs. CB Chart Details

The CB Matchup Chart below is a snapshot of each team's cornerback group as it relates to allowing fantasy points. There are inherent flaws within the data compilation of cornerback play. The first is the fact that quantifying a 1-on-1 matchup in an NFL game is unfair because of zone coverages, mental errors, certain passing concepts, and a million other things. Assigning fantasy points against a cornerback isn't a perfect science.

The purpose of this chart is to give more of a general sense of how defenses are handling opposing WR groups rather than identifying exactly where, when, and how every single encounter happened. Another factor to consider is that players are listed based on where they line up the majority of the time. Most receivers do not line up on the right side on every single snap, so they won't be matched up with the same CB on every snap.

The "Rtng" column is the rating of each cornerback based on film study and analytics. The lower a player is graded, the easier the matchup for the WR, so low ratings are green and high ratings are red. The "PPGA" is the number of fantasy points per game that the player has given up. A name in blue means the corner could possibly shadow the WR1. A name in red means that the player is dealing with an injury. WRs highlighted in bright green have an easy matchup. The chart is a useful tool, but should not be used as a start/sit cheatsheet.


Cornerback Ratings and Matchups Chart - Super Bowl LVI


Click image for full-screen view


WR/CB Matchups to Target

Cooper Kupp seems like a good player to start with. The triple-crown winner is having one of the greatest WR seasons of all time and I'm not sure there's a slot corner in the history of the league who would be able to slow him down. Mike Hilton has been terrific for the Bengals, but there's simply no reason to downgrade Kupp at this point. I wonder if any fantasy analysts saw a big Kupp season coming...

Ja'Marr Chase is amazing, but Jalen Ramsey is arguably the best CB in the NFL. If Ramsey shadows Chase, that should downgrade his projection a bit. However, keep in mind that Ramsey shadowing does not mean Chase can't have a big game. Look no further than Mike Evans just a few weeks back. Also, for as good as Ramsey is, the Rams were well below average in terms of giving up production to opposing WR1s. So whatever downgrade Ramsey's skill requires is mitigated some by the numbers. The Rams gave up the fifth-most FPPG to opposing WR1s during the regular season. On a one-game slate, Chase's target share and skill make him a fine play regardless of Ramsey.

Odell Beckham Jr. has played more LWR for the Rams in recent weeks, which gives him a matchup with the better of Cincinnati's outside corners, Chidobie Awuzie. Meanwhile, Van Jefferson should see more of Eli Apple, who we all know is easily torched. The season-long data backs up the accepted idea that Apple is frequently toasted. Keep in mind that all three Rams WRs move around the formation a lot, so each of Beckham, Jefferson, and Kupp will see some of Apple's coverage.

Tyler Boyd hasn't done much in the playoffs, but is an underrated talent due to being third in the pecking order behind two of the best young wideouts in the league. Boyd will see a lot of David Long Jr., who is the weakest of the Rams top three corners. The Rams were about league average in terms of giving up fantasy points to opposing slot receivers. It would not shock me to see Boyd have a big game as LA focuses more attention on Chase and Higgins.


WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

This has flown under the radar a bit due to the amazing second-half performances from Joe Burrow and the Bengals defense, but Tee Higgins was incredibly clutch in the AFC Championship. Higgins is a fantastic player who has curiously been undervalued since before the NFL draft:

If Jalen Ramsey does indeed shadow Ja'Marr Chase – which I expect – then Tee Higgins will draw the coverage of Darious Williams on most snaps. Williams hasn't graded out that well according to some advanced metrics, and teams have obviously preferred to target him more instead of Jalen Ramsey. However, being true to the data and how the Rams have schemed against WRs over the past two years, Williams has been above average at limiting opposing fantasy points. It's a matchup downgrade for Higgins.

Chidobe Awuzie has been solid as the primary RCB for the Bengals all year. Odell Beckham Jr. has played more LWR than Van Jefferson recently, so he gets the slight matchup downgrade. Obviously in a one game slate, anything can happen, and Beckham has been terrific in recent weeks.


Game Prediction

Even with tremendous WRs on both sides, I think the game will be relatively low-scoring with some big defensive plays. Jalen Ramsey will intercept Joe Burrow, Aaron Donald will take advantage of the troublesome Bengals RG spot, and Logan Wilson will return an interception to the house. Tyler Boyd will be the leading receiver for the Bengals, but the Rams will get a late touchdown run from Sony Michel that puts them in front for good.

Rams win 23-20. Aaron Donald Super Bowl MVP.

That does it for the 2021 NFL season, I hope you enjoyed this series. For me, the real fun begins now. Stay tuned for a ton of NFL Draft coverage. I'll be putting out mock drafts, big boards, position rankings, and in-depth prospect profiles with film clips in the coming weeks. Here's an example of Ja'Marr Chase's Prospect Profile from last year. The predictive analysis is looking very good so far.

Thanks for reading and good luck on Sunday.

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