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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 16

Ja'Marr Chase fantasy football rankings NFL DFS lineup picks

Welcome to Week 16 of the WR/CB Matchup chart. Congratulations to everyone who advanced in the fantasy playoffs. It's been a crazy few weeks in terms of news, so keep in mind that your biggest edge will always be making roster moves based on what's happening. Usually that means using roster spots on speculative starting RBs, but playoff heroes can also be WRs, so stay active. Another underrated factor in making lineup decisions is weather. Studies show that cold and windy weather do negatively impact passing production. Keep that in mind when making decisions.

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 16

Click image for full-screen view

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

We start on Thursday night when the 49ers travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans. Julio Jones' status is in question, but this would be a good spot if he does play. It might be hard to trust him, but Ambry Thomas has been targeted early and often and the 49ers have struggled against WR1s as well.

On the other side, I expect Brandon Aiyuk to see plenty of Kristian Fulton, which is a tough matchup. Deebo Samuel, however, should see more of Buster Skrine. Samuel is a smash play regardless due to his insane efficiency and floor/somehow ceiling as a rusher. Jauan Jennings also has a plus matchup against Elijah Molden in the slot.

Baltimore has been one of the worst teams in the league against WRs the past three weeks, understandable given how banged up their CB group is. Ja'Marr Chase was shut down by rookie standout Patrick Surtain II this week, but this is a great bounce-back opportunity. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd also get upgrades.

The Cardinals have also been an easy matchup the past few weeks for WRs. It's good news for Michael Pittman Jr., who is coming off an (undeserved) ejection and has been in a slump. I expect a bounce-back performance.

Russell Gage has been terrific as the Falcons' top target, and this week gets an easy matchup against the Lions. Gage plays all around the formation, but the most exploitable alignment is in the slot. I know this is a WR article, but Kyle Pitts is a big slot, so he is in a good spot too. Pitts has been a disappointment, but it would not shock me to see his breakout game this week.

Tyreek Hill's status is up the air for this week's matchup against the Steelers. If he does play, he should have no issue torching the Steelers CBs.

Tyler Lockett didn't play against the Rams, but if he's cleared this week, he has an easy matchup against the Bears.

Marquise Brown caught a lot of short targets with Tyler Huntley at QB, and is a good option regardless of who's at QB this week against Eli Apple and the Bengals.

A.J. Green isn't the most inspiring option, but his matchup is good against the Colts. The Cardinals' offense has been sputtering, but Green should see enough targets to be viable.

Marvin Jones Jr. has been a disappointment during Trevor Lawrence's tough rookie season. This week is another opportunity to get on track against the Jets, who funnel production to LWRs.

All three of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb have easy matchups based on the chart, but keep in mind that the Washington Football Team defense has been better against WRs in the second half of the season. Dak Prescott hasn't been himself lately, so I don't expect fireworks from everyone. A ceiling game from one Cowboy receiver is a possibility, but the matchup data doesn't heavily favor one over the others.

Amon-Ra St. Brown is coming off a breakout performance against the Cardinals, and this week gets the Falcons, who have been below average against slots all year. I have mentioned how rookie WRs typically produce better in the second half of the season multiple times in this series, but I didn't expect St. Brown to be the one to break out. Josh Reynolds has a plus matchup as well.

Fringe options with easy matchups include Donovan Peoples-Jones, Keelan Cole, Braxton Berrios, Jamison Crowder, Marquez Callaway, and Van Jefferson. They all deserve consideration in deep leagues and DFS.

Finally, Cooper Kupp has a plus matchup. Good luck if he's on your opponent's roster.

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

 

WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

Terry McLaurin will presumably have at least his backup QB back, but this week takes on Trevon Diggs and the Cowboys. Diggs has ten interceptions and despite a lot of people calling him overrated, has spearheaded a Dallas unit that has given up the fourth-fewest FPPG to opposing WR1s.

Bryan Edwards reached the end zone last week but this week will take on Patrick Surtain II and the Broncos, who have stymied LWRs all season. Surtain would be the DROY front-runner if it weren't for the historic season Micah Parsons is having.

Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton weren't exactly tearing it up with Mike Glennon, but this week have an exceptionally tough matchup against the Eagles. Darius Slay is very good.

DeVante Parker scored a TD last week without Jaylen Waddle in the lineup, but the rookie sensation should be back, decreasing Parker's target expectation. Parker will also have to deal with Marshon Lattimore.

Stefon Diggs should see a ton of J.C. Jackson, which gives him a downgrade for this week. Gabriel Davis is trending up, but the Pats have generally limited outside production all year. Both are still recommended plays, but I wouldn't be surprised with a dud from either.

Tim Patrick will see more of Casey Hayward than any other Broncos WR this week. It's a tough spot. Jerry Jeudy will see the tough coverage of Nate Hobbs in the slot, so he gets a downgrade also.

Chase Claypool didn't do much in an easy matchup last week and this week will take on Rashad Fenton, who's having an excellent year. Positive TD regression will likely come at some point (maybe not until next year), but this isn't an easy spot.

Kenny Moore is one of the best nickel corners in the league, which is bad news for whoever plays the most slot for the Cardinals. It's likely to be Christian Kirk based on recent trends.

Finally, Jakobi Meyers has a tough matchup against Buffalo. I would expect the Patriots to pass more than three times this week, but Meyers will have to overcome Taron Johnson and the Bills safeties to produce for fantasy managers.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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