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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 1

Courtland Sutton - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

The NFL season is finally here, and I'm excited to share the completely free WR/CB Matchup Chart for the third straight year.

During the past two seasons, I have tweaked my process to make the chart more user-friendly and predictive, but NFL teams are moving receivers around more than ever in today's game. 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.

Week 1 is always particularly interesting because of player movement and coaching changes. The PPGA (points per game against) column is blank, and the only metric to help describe matchups is my rating of each CB. That rating is derived from film study, player profiles, and advanced statistics.

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 one 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 on average this year (in Week 1 it is blank). Keep in mind that team scheme is a huge factor in points assigned to specific players. 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.


Cornerback Ratings and Matchups Chart - Week 1

Click image for full-screen view


WR/CB Matchups to Target

Fantasy managers are excited about Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, and Week 1 presents a smash matchup for A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Jeff Okudah was a high draft pick, but he's had a difficult and injury-plagued first two seasons. The Lions have been a team to target for the past two years.

Terry McLaurin is locked in as the Commanders' WR1 with new QB Carson Wentz. He gets a matchup with Tyson Campbell, who struggled mightily in his rookie year.

Tyreek Hill gets an easy matchup against Patriots RCB Jalen Mills in Week 1. Jaylen Waddle should also see plenty of snaps at LWR, so he gets an upgrade as well.

All three Cincinnati WRs have easy matchups against a relatively poor Steelers CB trio. Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd are likely to rotate spike weeks unless one of them gets hurt. Hopefully, the Bengals' pass rate increases this year.

Courtland Sutton should be the primary LWR for Russell Wilson in Denver. In Week 1, he'll see Mike Jackson, a former fifth-rounder who was cut by the Cowboys last year. Jackson has the length Pete Carroll likes in his corners, but his profile makes him a huge question mark. The Seahawks will start another fifth-rounder opposite Jackson in rookie Tariq Woolen from UTSA. Woolen beat out Artie Burns and Coby Bryant for the starting job, but he's also unproven. K.J. Hamler gets a bump and keep in mind that Jerry Jeudy should see plenty of snaps outside as well.

It will be very interesting to see how the Chiefs deploy their WRs this season. Whoever sees the most of Cardinals' LCB Marco Wilson will have an advantageous matchup. It could be Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman, or even JuJu Smith-Schuster depending on personnel and formation.

George Pickens was a star at Steelers camp and earned a starting spot opposite Diontae Johnson. Pickens will see the very burnable Eli Apple in his first game for Pittsburgh.

Drake London is another rookie with an easy matchup on paper. I'm not exactly sure who will get the most snaps at RWR for the Falcons, but if London does match up with Saints' second-year CB Paulson Adebo, he could have a big debut.

Another rookie could be in for a cake matchup in Treylon Burks. Whoever matches up with Giants RCB Aaron Robinson could have a huge day. I have Robert Woods penciled in for the most RWR snaps, meaning he would see more of the formidable Adoree Jackson. It will be interesting to see the alignment deployment of Burks, Woods, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

Slot WRs with plus matchups include Jarvis Landry against the Falcons, Russell Gage against the Cowboys, Keenan Allen against the Raiders, and Byron Pringle against the 49ers. Jakobi Meyers, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Allen Lazard (if healthy), and Christian Kirk also get a bump.


WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

The Falcons already had one of the best young CBs in the league in A.J. Terrell, but also added veteran Casey Hayward, who has been solid at limiting opposing WRs throughout his career. It's not an easy matchup for Michael Thomas or Chris Olave.

Diontae Johnson should see most of his snaps at LWR, and Bengals RCB Chidobie Awuzie is Cincy's best cover guy. It's not ideal for Johnson.

D.K. Metcalf actually produced well with Geno Smith last year, but it was obviously a very small sample. I wouldn't feel super confident in him against Patrick Surtain II, who had a brilliant rookie year.

Justin Jefferson is obviously a must-start every week, but he should see a heavy dose of Jaire Alexander, who is arguably the best cover corner in the entire NFL. Davante Adams also gets a matchup downgrade against the Chargers' talented CB group, but he's still a great play who should see a lot of targets.

Brandin Cooks plays all around the formation, but the Colts have two very formidable CBs in Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore in the slot. It's not a great matchup for Cooks.

Two young WRs with a chance to breakout will take on the top two rookie CBs in the league in Week 1. Michael Pittman Jr. will have his hands full with Derek Stingley Jr., while Rashod Bateman will have to deal with Jets' RCB Sauce Gardner. I expect those two rookies to be very tough matchups all year long.

Xavien Howard, Denzel Ward, and Darius Slay are three of the toughest matchups for RWRs. If you were for some reason considering playing Robbie Anderson, Kendrick Bourne, or Josh Reynolds, consider looking elsewhere.

The best slot corners will face off with unstartable WRs this week, but the chart will update easy and difficult slot matchups as the year goes on. The Bills were excellent at limiting opposing slot fantasy points, but it won't matter in Week 1. Cooper Kupp plays all around the formation and can't be stopped.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.

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