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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 15

rashod bateman fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

Welcome to Week 15 of the WR/CB Matchup chart. Congratulations to everyone who made the playoffs. It's only Thursday, but it's already been a busy news week. Following the latest news about injuries and absences will definitely give you opportunities to get an edge. Any WRs who miss Week 15 would open up targets for teammates who do play, while any CB absences also influence WR matchups in a big way. Staying on top of the news is one of the keys to winning fantasy leagues. It's one way to make sure you end the season like Logan Roy and not one of his kids.

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. The chart is a useful tool, but should not be used as a start/sit cheatsheet.

 

Cornerback Ratings and Matchups Chart - Week 15

Click image for full-screen view

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

Davante Adams is decent at football and this week gets the most banged-up secondary in the NFL in Baltimore. He's a smash play with a sky-high ceiling.

Brandon Aiyuk has re-emerged as a legitimate playmaking X receiver in Kyle Shanahan's offense. This week he gets the Atlanta pass defense which has given up the fourth-most FPPG to opposing LWRs. In that same game, Jauan Jennings gets the revolving door of slot corners the Falcons have trotted out there and also gets an upgrade. Obviously, Deebo Samuel is always in play as a  dynamic hybrid WR/RB. His efficiency has been astounding.

One piece of general fantasy advice that has treated me well over the years is to pay close attention to rookie WRs in the second half of the season and down the stretch. Rashod Bateman appeared to be relegated to a part-time player prior to last week's 100-yard breakout party in Cleveland. Bateman is extremely talented and this week gets a Green Bay defense that has given up the most FPPG to opposing LWRs this year. Jaire Alexander may be back from injury, but I would expect him to shadow Marquise Brown. Obviously Bateman's viability hinges on the status of Lamar Jackson.

Speaking of rookie WRs, DeVonta Smith is due for some positive regression in the target department. The Eagles want to run the ball a lot but this week face Washington's top-five rush defense. Smith has a good matchup as an ascending rookie who is the WR1 on his team.

Mac Jones and the Patriots are coming off an absolute aerial assault of the Bills, and this week get the Colts who have given up the second-most FPPG to opposing RWRs this season. Kendrick Bourne is in a good spot and is surely aware of my many best ball shares.

Chase Claypool is currently challenging Urban Meyer for most-criticized man in the NFL. Claypool made a couple of critical errors in last week's loss to Minnesota, but this week gets the Titans, who funnel production away from opposing WR1s. Even with the mistakes, Claypool still went for over 90 yards last week. Redemption is possible. Just keep in mind that he appears to be in an every-other-series timeshare with James Washington.

Jaylon Johnson was on the wrong side of a brilliant Davante Adams goal line slant last week, but has been well above average overall this season. The Bears slot CB situation has not been good, however, which means K.J. Osborn gets a bump this week. Johnson's reward for battling Adams last Sunday? A date with Justin Jefferson, one of the best WRs in the NFL.

The Lions were just gashed by Denver's two-headed rushing attack, but their underwhelming defense can be attacked through the air as well. Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore have the best matchups as the primary inside receivers.

Darnell Mooney appears to be Justin Fields' favorite target, and this week gets a Vikings secondary that has given up the second-most FPPG to opposing receivers this season. Allen Robinson simply isn't a priority and Mooney plays all around the formation, so he gets the highlight.

CeeDee Lamb is another second-year WR who gets an upgrade this week. The Giants' new slot corner Jarren Williams will likely be overmatched. Williams is a second-year player from the Alabama of party schools – SUNY Albany.

Finally, Cooper Kupp doesn't have a particularly easy or difficult matchup based on the numbers. He moves all around the formation and should see coverage from all the DBs in the Jamal Adams-less Seahawks secondary. D.J. Reed and Ugo Amadi have generally been pretty good (I'm not quite sure why PFF has Amadi graded so low – based on my evaluation he's been solid, especially at limiting opposing slot production), while Sidney Jones is someone teams can exploit. Matchups simply don't matter for Kupp, but I just wanted to recognize his historic pace...

...and take a quick victory lap.

Follow me on Twitter @draft32teams for NFL Draft and fantasy sports analysis.

WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

Stefon Diggs hasn't lived up to expectations this year, and the Bills have struggled as a team in recent weeks. Stephon Gilmore has been terrific as the Panthers' new CB1. Diggs can obviously bounce-back, but this isn't the easiest matchup.

Ja'Marr Chase is coming off a monster performance and is enjoying one of the best rookie WR seasons of all time. This week he faces off with fellow stud rookie Patrick Surtain II. This marquee matchup is must-see TV, but Surtain is clearly a tougher matchup than most other corners.

The Colts have one of the more drastic LWR/RWR splits in the league. It's not good news for Nelson Agholor, who has been passed by both Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers in the Pats target pecking order.

Terry McLaurin is in concussion protocol, so his status is unknown at this time. If he does play against the Eagles, he'll see the toughest matchup of any outside receiver in the league against Steven Nelson and Darius Slay. The Eagles funnel production to slots.

This week is another chapter of Mike Evans vs. Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore has generally limited Evans' production, but obviously he's still a strong play because his QB is somewhat decent.

Tyler Lockett has been hot, but this week he'll see a lot of Darious Williams, one of the most underrated CBs in the league. However, there's no reason to sit Lockett unless you have multiple elite alternatives.

Michael Pittman Jr. has cooled off a bit after a hot start, but remains the unquestioned WR1 in Indy. However, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Patriots shadow Pittman with J.C. Jackson, who is having an All-Pro season.

On the other side of that game, another underrated CB having a huge year is Kenny Moore of the Colts. Moore presents a tough matchup for Patriots slot man Jakobi Meyers.

Finally, Russell Gage is playing more outside WR than slot in recent weeks, which puts Tajae Sharpe as the slot on the chart. Keep in mind that Kyle Pitts also plays a ton of slot snaps. It's a downgrade for whoever plays inside the most against K'Wuan Williams and the 49ers.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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