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WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 5

Stefon Diggs - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Welcome to Week 5 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 usually tell more about how talented a CB's opponents have been 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 5

Click image for full-screen view


WR/CB Matchups to Target

The Ravens secondary did a good job limiting Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis last week, although bad weather conditions were probably a factor as well. This week, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd all get upgrades against a group that has been lit up multiple times the past two seasons. Last year in this matchup, Chase went bonkers. I expect at least one Bengals receiver to exceed 100 yards, with an eruption within the range of outcomes for all three.

Jeff Okudah famously shut down Justin Jefferson two weeks ago, but last week gave up some production to D.K. Metcalf. I doubt he shadows DeVante Parker, which means he'll see more of Will Harris, the far inferior Lions CB. Parker could have his best game of the season but I wouldn't blame anyone for sitting him as a middling player in an underwhelming offense.

The Chiefs just gave up a huge game to Mike Evans, and the data so far has them as the easiest matchup possible for opposing WR1s. Davante Adams should eat.

The Rams have been rotating slot corners, with Jalen Ramsey playing all around the formation. Derion Kendrick has been a pleasant surprise, but overall the LA defense simply hasn't been good at containing opposing WRs. CeeDee Lamb should lead the Cowboys in targets and has a big-time ceiling. If Ramsey focuses on him, Michael Gallup and Noah Brown get a boost.

The best spot of the week is in Buffalo, where Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, and whoever plays the slot for the Bills will take on a banged up Steelers' secondary. Even when healthy, the Steelers have given up a ton of fantasy points to opposing WRs all year. Cameron Sutton, Levi Wallace, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick are all dealing with injuries, which opens up a boom opportunity for Diggs and Davis. If Isaiah McKenzie doesn't play, I expect rookie Khalil Shakir to get plenty of snaps as the third receiver. Shakir was one of my favorite prospects and could be a sleeper in DFS tournaments or as a second-half breakout in season-long leagues.

There are two solid veteran WR2s with easy matchups this week. Robert Woods is in a great spot against a porous Washington secondary, while Tyler Lockett could have his best game of the season against Bradley Roby. Geno Smith being an MVP candidate through three weeks is truly bizarre, but if he keeps playing this well it's only a matter of time before Lockett explodes.

The Falcons have struggled against slots, which is good news for Chris Godwin. Additionally, even though A.J. Terrell has been awesome, they have also struggled against WR1s at times, opening up Mike Evans for another productive game.

Garrett Wilson has been relatively quiet after his Week 2 eruption. This week he gets the Dolphins slot coverage, which has been among the worst in the league so far. Wilson has a plus matchup.


WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

We start on Thursday night, where the CB matchups are all pretty tough across the board, and both offenses have struggled so far. The game also has a 42-point total so I don't expect a shootout. Michael Pittman Jr. should see plenty of Patrick Surtain II, which gives him a downgrade. All other Colts receivers are also in bad spots, especially when they play the slot. On the flip side, the only Broncos receiver without a negative matchup is Jerry Jeudy. The Colts have given up the fewest FPPG to opposing LWRs this season.

Jaycee Horn has been terrific for the Panthers so far this year. It's not good news for Brandon Aiyuk.

Jaylon Johnson and the Bears have been a tough matchup for opposing WRs all year, but the data is skewed because they've faced the Giants horrible receiving group and played a game in a bad weather conditions. The data doesn't love the matchup for Justin Jefferson, but he's obviously a must-start.

Rashod Bateman is banged up and slated to face Chidobie Awuzie, who has been a tough matchup for two years now. Bateman is talented, but if he plays I wouldn't have that much confidence in a ceiling performance.

Trevon Diggs has given up a lot of yardage according to some sources, but Dallas simply hasn't given up many fantasy points to opposing LWRs since last year. It's a downgrade for Allen Robinson, who is borderline uplayable at this point.

Cameron Dantzler has been solid this year, and the Bears passing attack has been putrid. Darnell Mooney showed some signs of life last week, but this is not an easy spot.

The 49ers defense looks like one of the best units in the league, and Emmanuel Moseley has been a huge part of that at RCB. D.J. Moore's get-right game might not come this week.

Kenny Pickett's first start for the Steelers should be exciting, but I would temper expectations for his receivers. The Bills have been one of the toughest matchups for opposing WRs for the past three years.

Romeo Doubs has a chance to excel as Aaron Rodgers' favorite young target, but Adoree Jackson has been excellent since he signed in New York. It's not the best matchup for the rookie.

Rondale Moore played a full complement of snaps in his first game back from injury, but he actually played far more RWR than slot. Darius Slay has been the toughest matchup in the league for opposing RWRs this year. If he shadows Marquise Brown, James Bradberry is also a formidable cover guy, so it won't be easy for the Cardinals WRs regardless.

The Texans have given up a lot to opposing WR1s, and Christian Kirk is always a threat for a large target share and big plays. However, Houston has been stout against opposing slots, where Kirk lines up the most.

If Hunter Renfrow returns from injury, he'll have to deal with L'Jarius Sneed, who has been terrific at slot corner for the Chiefs. It's a matchup downgrade for whoever plays slot for the Raiders.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.

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