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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 17

DeVonta Smith - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Welcome to Week 17 of the WR/CB Matchup chart. If you're reading this article, there's a good chance you've made it to the fantasy championship. Hopefully, this article has helped you throughout the year. The chart typically becomes more predictive as the season goes on, and many of the predictions made in this article the past three 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. Weather is also important, which is reflected in lower Vegas totals in late-season games. 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 17

Click the image for a full-screen view

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

The Titans have nothing to play for, so Thursday Night's Dallas-Tennessee matchup may turn into a blowout with starters resting. However, if the Cowboys do get out to a big lead, it's probable that CeeDee Lamb will have had something to do with it. The Titans have been one of the easiest matchups in the league for opposing WRs and will be missing several defensive starters. Michael Gallup also gets a bump.

The Bears-Lions matchup might be one of the shootouts of the week, as both defenses have been exploitable over the course of the year. Bears WRs are thin plays, but their matchups are great. In large-field DFS tournaments or very deep leagues, I'd consider Chase Claypool, Dante Pettis, Byron Pringle, or Equanimeous St. Brown.

Mike Evans has been a massive disappointment for most of the season. However, he gets one of the easiest matchups in the league for WR1s against the Panthers in Week 17. Carolina could also be without Jaycee Horn, its best cover man.

The Vikings have also been terrible against opposing WRs all year. Christian Watson is dealing with an injury but would be a great play if active. If not, Allen Lazard and Romeo Doubs get a boost.

Mike Williams had to deal with Stephon Gilmore last week, and this week will take on Jalen Ramsey and the Rams. However, Ramsey moves all around the formation and it's very possible the Rams use him more against Keenan Allen than Williams. The season-long data shows that the Rams have been bad against opposing WR1s, so Williams gets an upgrade.

The Bengals have been dominant against WR1s but horrible against WR2s all season. Gabe Davis gets a bump in arguably the most important regular season game of the year in the entire NFL.

The Colts have been dominated by opposing slot WRs since Kenny Moore went down. If Moore is out again, Richie James will get an upgrade as Daniel Jones' primary slot target.

Finally, Marshon Lattimore hasn't played since Week 11, but the Saints keep listing him as questionable. Both A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith have been terrific this season and a Lattimore-less Saints secondary is an easy matchup. My prediction is that Smith has a huge game in the fantasy championship - 8 catches, 142 yards, and 2 TDs.

 

WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins produced well in an easy matchup against the Vikings last week, but this week will see the Colts, who have funneled production to opposing slots and RBs all year. Both get downgrades.

Stefon Diggs is obviously a must-start and will probably be peppered with targets after an off-game last week. However, the Bengals have been incredibly stingy against opposing WR1s all year, giving up the fewest FPPG to them this season.

Carson Wentz is back at the helm for the Commanders, but the Browns' defense has been solid against opposing WRs all year. Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel all get modest downgrades.

D.K. Metcalf has a tough matchup but is obviously not an advisable sit as Seattle's WR1 with no other options around him. However, he will be dealing with Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed, who have been dominant against opposing WR groups all year.

Davante Adams is coming off two duds and will have a new QB throwing him the ball this week. He'll also have to deal with arguably the best defense in the NFL in San Francisco. Don't bench Adams unless you have great options, but it wouldn't be shocking to see another lackluster game.

The Jaguars are favored against the Texans this week, but Zay Jones and Christian Kirk don't have good matchups. Houston has been a run-funnel defense all year.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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