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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 4

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

Welcome to Week 4 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.

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 4

Click image for full-screen view


WR/CB Matchups to Target

The Ravens have talented CBs, but for two years they've been among the worst teams in the league at limiting opposing WR fantasy points. Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis are in good spots.

Similarly, despite having the best CB in the NFL in their secondary, the Rams have been an easy matchup for opposing WRs dating back to last year. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk have a chance to smash, though it's unlikely they both have ceiling performances in the same game.

Mike Williams has had two disappointing performances through three weeks. Week 4 represents a get-right matchup against the Texans.

Elijah Moore leads the NFL in routes run, but simply hasn't produced yet. The Steelers are one of the easiest matchups in the league at all three CB spots, so Moore, Corey Davis, and Garrett Wilson are all in good spots.

The Commanders are fresh off giving up a career day to DeVonta Smith. CeeDee Lamb has an easy matchup as the Cowboys' WR1 who also plays a lot of slot.

Speaking of DeVonta Smith, he should have no issues getting open against Jaguars LCB Tre Herndon. A.J. Brown also gets a boost as Jalen Hurts' top target.

On the other side of that game, Christian Kirk has the easiest matchup as the primary slot for the Jaguars. He should be busy against Avonte Maddox, the Eagles' worst starting CB.

Ja'Marr Chase has been quiet the past two weeks, and an eruption is very possible. If Xavien Howard is ruled out on Thursday Night, Chase or Tee Higgins could have a monster game. However, primary slot Tyler Boyd has the best on-paper matchup.

The Raiders CB group is dealing with a bunch of injuries, so Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy could potentially have easy matchups. Keep in mind that Las Vegas has been more susceptible to slot production, which is where Jeudy gets most of his snaps. Always check injury reports before making decisions.


WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

Jeff Okudah was the star of Week 3, holding Justin Jefferson to just three catches for 13 yards. His career got off to a tough start, but he's been excellent thus far this year and the Lions appear to be using him as a shadow corner. I expect him to keep D.K. Metcalf in check this week.

Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill didn't do much against a tough Bills defense, and this week get a Cincinnati secondary that has limited three solid receiving trios so far this season. Eli Apple is burnable and Waddle and Hill play all across the formation, so I definitely don't advise sitting either of them. However, they both get slight downgrades.

The Broncos project to be one of the toughest matchups for WRs this year, with Patrick Surtain II being a huge part of that. Davante Adams, Mack Hollins, and Hunter Renfrow (if he plays) get downgrades.

The Bills have been stout against the pass since Sean McDermott took over. While Buffalo is dealing with plenty of injuries at the CB position, their ability to get pressure with four pass rushers is a huge factor in limiting opposing WRs. Rashod Bateman might not have his best week in a tough matchup.

I expect the Vikings to make it a point to get more opportunities for Justin Jefferson this week. He's always a threat for an explosive performance, but the Saints do present a tough matchup.

Allen Lazard is always startable as a dependable target for Aaron Rodgers, but this week will have to deal with Patriots LCB Jonathan Jones, who has been a tough matchup so far.

The Chiefs' ancillary receivers have been underwhelming so far, and both Marques Valdez-Scantling and Mecole Hardman have tough matchups this week against the Bucs.

Jaycee Horn has been terrific so far this season, and this week will look to make things tough for Marquise Brown. Brown should still see plenty of targets, but it's not an easy matchup.

Marvin Jones Jr. caught a late touchdown in Week 3, but this week will have to take on All-Pro CB Darius Slay. I do not anticipate Slay shadowing Christian Kirk in the slot, so it could be a long day for Jones.

Keenan Allen should be back this week but will take on Desmond King, who has been a tough matchup for years at slot corner. He's given up the third fewest FPPG to opposing slots so far this season.

If Chris Godwin is out, Russell Gage will have the valuable role of Tom Brady's slot receiver. Unfortunately, L'Jarius Sneed is a solid inside cover corner and the Chiefs have been stout against slots all year.

Finally, the 49ers' defense has been tremendous so far this season, and the pass defense has limited opposing WR groups across all positions. They have been particularly dominant against slots so far. Cooper Kupp will obviously be their biggest test. Will this be the week Kupp finally puts up a dud? Probably not.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.

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