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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 3

Justin Jefferson - Fantasy Football Rankings, DFS Lineup Picks, NFL Injury News

Welcome to Week 3 of the WR/CB Matchup chart. As the year goes on, the PPGA metric will become more and more predictive. Results from a small sample like one or two weeks usually tell more about how talented a CB's opponent was rather than the difficulty of the matchup going forward. It is not advised to use this chart as a start/sit cheatsheet, especially this early in the season.

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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 (in Week 1 it is blank). 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 3

 

Click image for full-screen view

 

WR/CB Matchups to Target

Darius Slay had one of the greatest primetime CB performances ever last week against Justin Jefferson. This week Jefferson gets Will Harris and the Lions, who have given up a ton of fantasy points to opposing WRs through two weeks. Jefferson should get revenge and then some.

The Rams have been dominated by Gabriel Davis, Stefon Diggs, and Drake London so far. The problem for them is that they only have one Jalen Ramsey. Whoever avoids Ramsey on any given snap will have a big matchup advantage. That could be Marquise Brown or the corpse formally known as A.J. Green. Troy Hill is out also, so whoever plays the slot for Arizona (Greg Dortch or Rondale Moore) also gets an upgrade.

Derek Stingley Jr. is extremely talented, but has given up a ton of production in his first two weeks. I expect the Bears to try to get the ball to Darnell Mooney early and often on Sunday. There's no guarantee he smashes, but he should see more targets at the very least.

Mike Williams is fresh off a dominant performance on Thursday night against the Chiefs. He should see plenty of Tyson Campbell, who has been burnable thus far in his career.

Rashod Bateman has made two explosive plays in his first two games as the Ravens' WR1. This week he gets Jalen Mills, who is one of the worst RCBs in football. Bateman gets an upgrade.

Amari Cooper produced well against a solid Jets secondary last week, and this week takes on a Steelers CB group that has been exposed so far. He should thrive as the WR1 for Jacoby Brisset on Thursday night.

Davante Adams failed in an easy matchup last week, but the Titans are a great bounce-back matchup. If Kristian Fulton is out, Adams' toughest competition will be rookie Roger McCreary, who he has a big size advantage against.

Brandin Cooks has been underwhelming so far, but the Bears LCB Kindle Vildor is exploitable. I expect Cooks to put up his best stat line of the year in Week 3.

Corey Davis has the easiest on-paper matchup for the Jets up against Eli Apple this week. However, I think the Jets will make it a priority to get Elijah Moore more looks against Apple. Moore actually played more snaps at RWR than Davis in Week 2 and had no issue getting open. Garrett Wilson is all the rage, but I expect he and Moore to start trading explosive weeks as teams start focusing on Wilson.

The Steelers and Commanders have been two of the easiest slot matchups so far this year. That bodes well for David Bell and Quez Watkins. Keep in mind that A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith also get slot snaps for the Eagles.

Finally, Cooper Kupp exists. The Cardinals' mediocre-to-bad CB group likely won't be the first team to stop him in two years.

 

WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

Michael Thomas scored two TDs in Week 1, but Jameis Winston looks bad and this week Thomas will have to deal with Jaycee Horn. I don't necessarily recommend benching him as he's still the WR1 with a solid projected target share, but he's a downgrade.

The Chiefs WRs were shut down last week by the solid Chargers secondary. It doesn't get any easier this week when they take on the Colts. Stephon Gilmore is bad news for JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marques Valdez-Scantling, and Mecole Hardman. All Chiefs receivers rotate around the formation. Skyy Moore might be the most physically talented WR in Kansas City so I would expect him to start seeing more snaps if the starting group continues to underwhelm.

Treylon Burks has been impressive on limited snaps. If he starts running more routes, he should get see an uptick in fantasy value as the Titans' most talented receiver. Unfortunately this week he'll see a lot of Nate Hobbs who is one of the better CBs in the NFL at limiting opposing WR fantasy points.

D.J Chark put up a goose egg last week and it won't get any easier this week against Cameron Dantzler and the Vikings. Amon-Ra St. Brown is the clear alpha in Detroit.

The Panthers' offense is a mess and D.J. Moore has been extremely underwhelming when playing in bad situations for basically his entire career. This week he'll have to see Marshon Lattimore, who is one of the best cover guys in the league and known for getting under receivers' skin.

Tyler Lockett had a good Week 2, but this week will have to see the Falcons outside CBs. Atlanta has given up the sixth-least fantasy PPG to opposing RWRs.

The 49ers have their old starter back at QB, but Denver's secondary presents a tough matchup for Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. Keep an eye on the injury report, because if Patrick Surtain II doesn't play, the matchup becomes a lot easier.

Noah Brown had a big Week 2 with Cooper Rush, but should see plenty of Adoree Jackson on Monday Night. Jackson has been one of the toughest matchups for opposing outside WRs since he signed with the Giants.

Jahan Dotson has been very impressive through two weeks, but this week will see Darius Slay, who is fresh off shutting down Justin Jefferson. It's a downgrade.

Christian Kirk has been dominant and plays all over the formation, scoring a TD from the backfield last week. From a matchup standpoint, the Chargers' corners are a tough opponent. Zay Jones also gets a downgrade.

The Packers offense looked better at home last week against the Bears, but this week have to take on a solid Bucs secondary. Tampa is a tough matchup for Sammy Watkins, Romeo Doubs, and Allen Lazard.

Finally, the Packers, Jets, and 49ers have been the three toughest slot matchups thus far this year. Russell Gage, Tyler Boyd, and Jerry Jeudy are all viable due to skill and target share, but all three get matchup downgrades.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.



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