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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 15

Mike Williams - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News

Welcome to Week 15 of the WR/CB Matchup chart. The chart typically becomes more predictive as the season goes on, and many of the predictions made in this article the past two weeks turned out to be correct. Keep in mind that late season trends can impact matchups as non-contending teams look toward player evaluation and draft slot. Another huge factor in WR/CB Matchups is health, as injured CB groups can be taken advantage of.

As a reminder, the process for assigning points to a specific matchup has to do with how the entire defense defends the player who lines up at one of the three spots (LWR, RWR, slot) the most. For example, in Week 1, Jahan Dotson scored a TD from the LWR spot and the right slot, but all of his points were assigned to Shaquil Griffin because Griffin played primarily LCB and Dotson was the Washington receiver with the most snaps at RWR.

Keep in mind that 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. For example, in Week 1, A.J. Brown played 27 snaps in the slot and 21 snaps at LWR. However, Quez Watkins played more snaps in the slot and no Eagles' WR played more snaps at LWR than Brown, which explains the chart.

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.


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. 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 15

Click the image for a full-screen view


WR/CB Matchups to Target

Mike Williams looked good back from injury against the Dolphins, and this week get the Titans, who have been a pass funnel defense all year. Tennessee was torched by Trevor Lawrence, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram last week, and has been one of the easiest matchups in the league for opposing outside WRs. Williams and Josh Palmer get upgrades.

Dak Prescott had a disappointing offensive showing against the Texans last week, but this week he has one of the easiest on-paper matchups in the league against the Jaguars. Michael Gallup has been underwhelming, but this is an easy spot. Darious Williams played LCB last week, but it's possible he shifts back inside to match up with CeeDee Lamb. If Williams stays outside and Lamb sees more Tre Herndon, that's an easier matchup for Lamb.

Much has been made about the Lions' recent struggles in defending opposing slot receivers. Elijah Moore has reclaimed his role as a primary slot, so he gets an upgrade and is viable in certain formats. However, keep in mind that Garrett Wilson has played inside for 21 snaps in each of the past two games. In addition, Wilson's outside matchup is also favorable. It wouldn't be shocking to see Wilson and/or Moore achieve a ceiling this week.

Jalen Ramsey has regressed this season, and the Rams' pass defense has been torn apart in most games this year. It's a good matchup for Christian Watson and Allen Lazard.

The Vikings' secondary has been a huge liability all season, as they have been gashed by outside receivers all year. Alec Pierce and Michael Pittman Jr. get upgrades.

D.J. Moore is banged up, but if he does play he has an easy matchup against the Steelers. Terrace Marshall Jr. also gets a modest bump.

Marshon Lattimore has been injured for most of the year, so the Saints have been victimized by opposing WR1s. No one knows what to expect from Desmond Ridder in his first NFL start, but Drake London does have a good on-paper matchup.


WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

Mike Evans and Tom Brady have not been on the same page all year, and this week Evans gets the toughest on-paper matchup in the league for WR1s. The Bengals have shut out opposing WR1s all season.

DeAndre Hopkins is good enough to produce no matter the situation, but this week he'll have a lot working against him with a backup QB throwing him the ball. The Broncos are one of the toughest matchups in the league for opposing passing attacks.

D.J. Chark has been terrific as a second option for the Lions over the past few weeks. The Jets are just not a good matchup, especially away from the dome.

Tee Higgins ghosted fantasy managers last week, so he's tough to trust unless a report comes out that he'll play a full complement of snaps. Even then, he's a risk for re-injury. Based on the data, he also has a tough matchup against Tampa. I wouldn't advise anyone to bench Higgins, but there are things working against him.

JuJu Smith-Schuster is trending in the right direction for the fantasy playoffs, but this week will have to deal with Desmond King, who has been stout against opposing slots all year. Keep in mind that JuJu does play all around the formation for the Chiefs.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.

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