When it comes to season-long leagues, your lineup will always feature your top wideouts. You just have to go with your best players no matter what. In DFS contests, though, you better keep an eye on some of the upcoming WR/CB matchups if you want to really identify the best and worst plays of the upcoming slate of games.
With wide receivers being the second-highest scoring position only behind quarterbacks, it’s critical to pick the best possible players at the position if you want to rack up big-time points every week. One important point to consider that most people forget about: different wideouts face different cornerbacks, and different cornerbacks have wildly varying defensive levels.
I’m here to highlight three of the best WR/CB matchups to target, and three of the worst WR/CB matchups to avoid for the Week 10 slate of games.
Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Target
Terry McLaurin (WAS) vs. Desmond Trufant (DET)
Trufant’s season hasn’t been the most productive this 2020 due to multiple injuries through the first half of it. He has only featured in three of Detroit’s games, and just defended 52 routes in those matches. He has been targeted all of 16 times in the time he’s been on the field. That low volume, though, hasn’t stopped quarterbacks and wide receivers to pick on him.
The only time Trufant didn’t allow any fantasy points to his men came last weekend against Minnesota when he was targeted three times and allowed no receptions. Other than that, it’s been rather bad for him. In the W1 and W4 games, Trufant combined for 13 targets and 11 receptions allowed in those (8-for-8 against New Orleans...) for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
All of this leaves Trufant as the sixth-worst corner in PPR/Route allowed (0.74) entering Week 10 among corners with 50+ routes defended. McLaurin, on the other hand, is scoring 0.46 PPR points per route run and 1.79 per target. The best of all about this matchup, also, is that it projects to become a shadow coverage between these two.
Terry McLaurin has been shadowed four times this season, and he’s scored 6.1, 8.6, 16.4, and 15.2 PPR points against his shadow corner exclusively. He was targeted exactly five times in each of those games, always caught 3+ passes, and reached 30+ and 60+ yards two times apiece. Scary Terry also scored a couple of touchdowns in those four games combined, against Arizona and Dallas.
If there is a game where F1 can thrive, this is the one, and that’d make it three straight for T-Mac scoring 20+ PPR points.
DeAndre Hopkins (ARI) vs. Tre’Davious White (BUF)
Hopkins started the season with a serious bang, scoring 29.1, 20.8, and 23.7 PPR points to kick the year off. That was insane, but it also must be said that those performances came on a 12+ targets-per-game basis that was going to be a little hard to sustain over time. That has been indeed the case, as Hopkins has only seen 10+ targets once since Week 3 compared to the two times he did so in the first three games of the year.
Nuk has dropped below 10 PPR points just twice in his eight games, and in five of the other six he has finished with 20+ fantasy points. Nobody has dared to shadow Hopkins through Week 9, although we expect White to do so this weekend. Talk about a matchup to exploit.
While Hopkins is averaging 0.52 and 1.97 PPR points per route run and target respectively, Tre’Davious White is surrendering 0.26 and 2.24. That difference is staggering, but it answers to White’s “usage”, or rather how opposing quarterbacks have mostly avoided him through the season. White has defended 293 routes while being targeted just 31 times (10.5%). That has slowly but surely changed, though.
Since Week 4 (included), White’s targets/route mark has gone up from 3.0 to 4.4. In terms of rate, he was getting targeted below 8% of the time while now QBs are throwing balls his way in more than 14% of the routes he’s defending. The problem for White, of course, is that while his per-route numbers are great, his per-target ones are putrid.
In seven games with 2+ targets, White has allowed a 73% catch rate (22-of-30 receptions), surrendered 356 yards (16.1 Y/R), and 4 TDs. Those are very bad numbers, and just this past weekend DK Metcalf cooked White with a 4-3-65-0 line good for almost 10 PPR points against him in shadow coverage. On the whole day, White gave up a total of 22.0 PPR points in which amounted to be his worst game of the season (6-4-120-1).
Jarvis Landry (CLE) vs. Eric Murray (HOU)
There are no doubts about who is Cleveland’s No. 1 receiver with Odell Beckham Jr. out. Landry’s targets have gone from 5.5 in Weeks 1-6 to 8.5 in the Browns’ last two games (on a bye last weekend). Landry also has the benefit of playing in the slot, where not so many great cornerbacks abound. Enter one of those below-average corners: Eric Murray.
There is a chance Bradley Roby (if he plays) shadows Landry this weekend, but I’m not counting on it here putting the more suitable (because he mans the slot) Murray vs. Landry for this Sunday’s matchup. Landry has been rather underwhelming this season averaging just 10.4 PPG through Week 8, but that might change after this game. Absolute get-right match for Landry this one, for sure.
Murray has been one of the worst corners so far this season, no matter how you look at it. He’s allowing 0.59 PPR/Route and 2.34 PPR/Target. Only five other corners are putting up worse numbers in both categories at the same time. Oh, and quarterbacks are well aware of this. Murray is getting targeted in 25.2% of the routes he defends: he’s seen 38 targets and allowed 29 receptions (82%) for a monster 373 yards and three touchdowns.
To put everything in a single number, Murray is allowing QBs to reach a 141.5 passer rating so far this season. In case you’re wondering, that’s the third-worst mark among secondary defenders (safeties and corners) targeted 30+ this season.
Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Avoid
Robby Anderson (CAR) vs. Carlton Davis (TB)
Carlton Davis has shadowed four receivers so far this season, but Robby Anderson (Week 2 matchup) is not one of them. Every time he’s gone after a wideout this season, Davis has been terrific and limited their chances quite a lot. Only Allen Robinson was able to exploit Davis, and he needed all of 11 targets to do so (11-8-62-0 line). Even with that (14.2 PPR points), Robinson still scored -2.0 points below his PPG season average. The other three receivers (Michael Thomas x2 and Davante Adams couldn’t get past 6.3 PPR points).
Even on a rather big share of targets (23.1% of the routes he defends, 66 targets on the season), Davis has limited receivers to just 42 receptions (68%) for 394 yards. That averages to 10.1 Y/R, but he has only given up two touchdowns on the year, and none since Week 4 included.
The last time Davis faced Carolina (W2), he finished with just 9.9 PPR points allowed (his prime WR was Anderson) giving up a 6-4-59 line, intercepting a pass, and breaking up two more himself. Also, Robby Anderson was averaging 18.3 PPG through Week 5 but he’s down to 12.6 PPG in the last four games.
In the eight games Davis has been targeted 4+ times, he’s given up 1.69 PPR/Target OR 0.55 PPR/Route at most, and those two matches were against Michael Thomas and Allen Robinson respectively. Just to show how impressive Davis has been even if his worst games, those two marks wouldn’t even rank last on a season-average leaderboard, which should be the case for any “normal” player.
Adam Thielen (MIN) vs. Kyle Fuller (CHI)
There is something funny about cornerbacks, and it is how their contributions (or rather what they allow wide receivers to achieve) can be taken completely wrong if not looking at the proper numbers. Fuller, on the season, has surrendered the sixth-most PPR points to wideouts. The problem is that he has defended 313 routes, that is, the fifth-most through Week 9.
On a per-route basis, a much more realistic way of looking at CB production, Fuller is giving up just 0.3 PPR/Route, and he’s also at just 1.42 PPR/Target. Fuller is one of only seven CBs sustaining those numbers this season, and the only one to do so while playing 9+ games and defending 300+ routes already.
Fuller has been targeted 67 times, allowing 36 receptions (59%) and 490 yards with a touchdown in his nine games. In eight matches, Thielen is 58-37-480-7 and his per-game average line is higher than the one Fuller is giving up. Although this doesn’t project as a shadow-coverage matchup, Thielen has been shadowed four times this season and he’s suffered a lot in his last two, scoring just 4.5 and 1.8 PPR points against his shadow-corner.
Facing much lesser competition during the past two weeks (Josh Jackson and Desmond Trufant primarily), Thielen couldn’t even reach 6 PPR points in Minnesota’s run-happy offense, catching just five passes for 65 yards and no scores. As if Kirk Cousins didn’t have enough reasons to keep feeding Dalvin Cook the rock, this matchup should also help him keep avoiding targeting Thielen this weekend once more.
Damiere Byrd (NE) vs. Jimmy Smith (BAL)
Look, I know Damiere Byrd is far from what you consider a WR1, or a must-play receiver, or anything of substance. But this type of matchup, involving lower-tier wideouts, is the one you should target whether it is in favor or against corners and the one you should actually pay attention to when it comes to playing/fading fantasy players. And in this case, you better be passing on Byrd 100% of the time.
Byrd has not been horrific (9.4 PPG average in his six games with 3+ targets), even less considering how the Pats offense operates under Cam Newton. That being said, though, the Ravens are not the Jets (Byrd finished 9-5-65-0), and Jimmy Smith is definitely not cornerback Bless Austin, who Byrd faced on most routes last Monday...
In fact, Jimmy Smith is one of the (if not the) best corners of the year. Even though Smith has played in eight games, and defended 200+ routes already, he’s allowed just 30.9 PPR points combined and 149 yards on the season. That is, simply put, unheard of. Every corner with at least 200 routes defended and 39+ targets has allowed at least 51.8 total PPR points, or an average of 7.0 PPG per game. Smith, on the other hand, is giving up just 3.9 PPG on a per-game basis.
Smith has allowed a paltry 34% completion rate (16-of-39) and no touchdowns on his coverage, breaking up to passes. He leads all corners in PPR/Route (0.16) and PPR/Target (0.66) allowed this season, and it is not even close. Denzel Ward is second with 0.18 and 1.77 respectively. Even lowering the routes-defended threshold to just 100+ over the year, Smith would still be first in PPR/Target and second (Bashaud Breeland’s 0.09) in PPR/Route.
The Ravens have not shadowed any receiver this season, and odds are they don’t this weekend either. But Smith (RCB) and Byrd (LWR) should find themselves in front of each other for most of their game due to the side of the field they get usually deployed at. Pray for Byrd—and fade it in your fantasy leagues and contests.