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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 14

CeeDee Lamb - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Targets, NFL Injury News

Welcome to Week 14 of the WR/CB Matchup chart. The Week 13 article was spot-on in sorting out the Seattle WR matchups, another reminder that it's important to look at recent trends when evaluating matchups. The biggest CB news of last week was the injury to one of the best in the league in Baltimore's Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens were already somewhat susceptible to WRs even with Humphrey in the lineup but now look like a juicy matchup going forward. It might not matter this week with the Browns' underwhelming passing attack slated to face the division-leading Ravens.

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.

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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. WRs highlighted in light red have a tough matchup. The chart is a useful tool, but should not be used as a start/sit cheatsheet.

 

Cornerback Ratings and Matchups Chart - Week 14

Click image for full-screen view

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

We start on Thursday night when the Vikings take on the Steelers. Diontae Johnson has been a solid WR1 and this week gets a secondary that has given up the third-most FPPG to opposing WR1s this year. Patrick Peterson will probably be back, but Johnson has target share, red zone share, and route-running quickness in his favor.

On the other side of that game, Justin Jefferson should keep the good times rolling against Cameron Sutton and the Joe Haden-less Steelers secondary. Jefferson is in the conversation for best WR in the league and the Vikes likely won't have Adam Thielen for this game. Ten-plus targets is possible, if not likely in this spot.

K.J. Osborn is also in a good spot as the second receiving option without Thielen. The Steelers give up the ninth-most FPPG to opposing slots.

The Panthers will be two weeks removed from an embarrassing offensive showing against the Dolphins when they take on the Falcons this week. Even with Cam Newton getting benched against Miami, D.J. Moore still pulled down a deep shot. He has a plus matchup this week.

Tyreek Hill didn't do much against a stout Broncos secondary, but this week things should open up against the Raiders. Brandon Facyson might be the easiest matchup in the league.

Ja'Marr Chase broke some hearts when he dropped a long would-be touchdown in last week's loss to the Chargers. He's in a bit of a slump but has an enticing matchup against Josh Norman and the 49ers this week. Emmanuel Moseley is out, so both Chase and Tee Higgins are in advantageous spots on the outside.

The Bears have been the fifth-easiest matchup for opposing WR2s this week, which puts Marquez Valdes-Scantling in a good spot. He's obviously a boom-or-bust option, but he could get more work than usual with Davante Adams drawing the tough coverage of Jaylon Johnson.

Deebo Samuel's status for this week is a question mark. If he does play, he'll see the Bengals outside CB group, which may be without Chidobe Awuzie. Eli Apple is one of the most burnable corners in football regardless. The other factor with Samuel is that with so many injuries in the Niners' backfield, Deebo will see a lot of rushing work if he plays. It's a great matchup on top of a smash spot.

Jerry Jeudy showed some life late in last week's loss to the Chiefs, and this week gets a Lions secondary that has given up the second-most FPPG to opposing slots this year. It's a good spot for potentially his first big game of the year.

Keenan Allen is on the Covid list so his status is unknown for this week's matchup against the Giants. If he plays, it's a smash spot against one of the easier slot matchups in the league.

The Washington Football Team is trending in the right direction defensively, especially against the pass. The full-season data shows good matchups for both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup but recent trends suggest CeeDee Lamb's slot snap share might give him the best outlook. Lamb has been the most productive Dallas WR all year so he gets the highlight on the chart.

Laviska Shenault Jr. has the easiest slot matchup in the league against the Titans. However, it probably won't matter because the Jaguars are inept on offense and Shenault isn't nearly as good as we thought.

Finally, Adam Humphries has a decent matchup against Jourdan Lewis. Humphries hasn't had a spike week yet, but I'm going to try to will it into existence because I have too much of him in best ball.

WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

Terry McLaurin didn't do much in a cake matchup last week, and this week gets a Dallas secondary that has been stout against WR1s all year. Scary Terry has the potential to boom in any game, but this isn't an easy spot.

Josh Reynolds also underwhelmed in an easy matchup last week and this week will have to deal with Patrick Surtain II. The Surtain-Micah Parsons Defensive Rookie of the Year battle is fun one. Parsons deserves to be the favorite, but Surtain is balling out as a legit shutdown corner as a rookie.

Mike Williams could be in line for a monster target share if Keenan Allen (Covid list) is ruled out against the Giants. However, keep an eye on the status of Adoree Jackson, who has been sensational as Big Blue's top corner. If Jackson is out, I expect the G-Men to shadow Williams with James Bradberry. Play Big Mike, but don't be shocked if he underwhelms.

UPDATE: Williams is also on the Covid list as a close contact as of 12/9/21. Jaylen Guyton, Josh Palmer, and even Donald Parham Jr. become intriguing options due to opportunity if both Williams and Allen are out. This is a situation to monitor.

The Falcons did a terrible job of scheming ways to cover Chris Godwin and Mike Evans last week, too frequently allowing A.J. Terrell to be used elsewhere. The Panthers will probably be fine with Atlanta putting Terrell on their primary RWR Robby Anderson, which would allow D.J. Moore to have the easier matchups.

Speaking of the Bucs WRs, they get the Bills tough pass defense this week. Even without Tre'Davious White, the Bills are difficult to pass on, which isn't great news for Mike Evans or Chris Godwin. I'm going to guess that Tom Brady throws the ball more than three times this week, but I would be surprised if he repeated the fireworks of his latest gem against Atlanta. You should still play Evans and Godwin obviously.

On the other side of that game, Emmanuel Sanders and Gabriel Davis will see a lot of Carlton Davis, one of the more underrated cover men in the NFL. I would advise looking elsewhere for fringe WR plays.

Darious Williams has been a tough matchup for two years now and this week will see a lot of Christian Kirk. Kirk has big-play ability and moves around the formation but this isn't the best spot.

Bryce Hall is another underrated corner who has been tough to produce against since last season. Deonte Harris saved his fantasy day with a long TD late in last week's loss to Dallas, but he's not an advisable start against the Jets.

The Chiefs defense is trending in the right direction, as Daniel Sorenson is no longer being asked to cover deep down the field. Rashad Fenton and L'Jarius Sneed have been solid this year, which gives downgrades to the matchups for DeSean Jackson and Hunter Renfrow.

Finally, Darnell Mooney is in an interesting spot depending on what happens with Allen Robinson this week. If Mooney plays a lot of slot, he'll be seeing the toughest slot matchup in the entire NFL in Green Bay. If he's playing more outside, he could be shadowed by Jaire Alexander, should he return from injury. The best scenario for Mooney is that both Robinson and Alexander don't play. If at least one of them is in, he gets a downgrade.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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