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Week 9 WR/CB Matchups: Who to target and avoid in DFS lineups

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Identifying the best and worst DFS plays at the WR position based on CB matchups for Week 9.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

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 9 slate of games.

Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Target

Keenan Allen (LAC) vs. Lamarcus Joyner (LV)

While Allen is not expected to face shadow coverage from Joyner this weekend, the last time it happened (Week 7; C.J. Henderson) Allen absolutely demolished his man to the tune of an 11 target/8 reception/109 yard receiving line and 18.9 PPR points. That was against a shadow cover, and Allen’s “no-shadow” results have been equally great or better this season.

Keenan Allen has been the biggest beneficiary from rookie QB Justin Herbert snatching the starting role. Not counting his 12-snap outing in Week 5, Allen has scored at least 14 PPR points in all but one game, while being targeted 10+ times in all of those matches. He’s averaging 7+ receptions per game, has topped 60 receiving yards in five of his seven games, and comes from two of his three-best games this year (13/10/125/0 and 11/9/67/1).

On the other end, Lamarcus Joyner has not been bad this season, but he’s been ways away from performing at elite-corner levels. Playing the slot, he is always going to face tough matchups, and he’s both seeing tons of volume and allowing a lot of fantasy goodies to his covered men so far this year.

Joyner has been targeted in 30% of the routes he’s run, which ranks fourth among CBs with at least 100 routes. Quarterbacks are not afraid of him, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. He’s allowing a 53% completion rate (not the worst) but has just three passes broken, is surrendering 11.7 yards per reception, and his 0.36 PPR/Route allowed to WRs are below the 30th percentile through Week 8.

It is true that Joyner is not the worst corner around, but top-tier receivers can kill him. Enter Keenan Allen—and enjoy the matchup.

Stefon Diggs (BUF) vs. Quinton Dunbar (SEA)

Pretty much as Allen, Stefon Diggs is a stud in and on himself, and he’s almost matchup-proof. In fact, Diggs has posted very similar numbers to those of Keenan this season: Diggs only has one game below 14 PPR points and is averaging 17.7 PPG.

Diggs has caught at least six passes in all of his last five games, and he’s been targeted 8+ times in the last four. Diggs has only one touchdown in the past five weeks, but he’s posted three 92+ yards games.

Seattle is not expected to drop any shadow-cover this weekend on Buffalo, but even if they do Diggs wouldn’t be anyone new to it. He faced Noah Igbinoghene for the whole Week 2 affair against Miami, and he cooked the corner having his best game of the season (29.3 PPR points) including eight receptions on 13 targets for 153 yards and a score—all of that with a season-low snap rate mark at just 77%.

Quinton Dunbar is gifting 17.4 PPR points per game to wideouts this season, which is pretty much Diggs average on the year. Dunbar has allowed a 61% completion rate (30-for-45) while allowing three scores against just one interception.

With Seattle facing tons of snaps this season, Dunbar is doomed to concede big-time fantasy points weekly. You might not believe it, but Dunbar has allowed fewer than 15 PPR points just once in his five games played this year. Julio Jones, Damiere Byrd, DeAndre Hopkins, and Kendrick Bourne all scored 15+ with a Hopkins’ explosion for 33. And it is not like Diggs is far from those players in talent, if not above almost all of them.

Jakobi Meyers (NE) vs. Pierre Desir (NYJ)

I love this matchup as Meyers will probably fly under the radar a bit in this MFP showdown between crappy teams. The Pats aren’t welcoming any of Julian Edelman nor N’Keal Harry back yet, and Isaiah Ford isn’t playing this week either.

Meyers broke out last week posting a 10/6/58/0 line that wasn’t mind-blowing but still helped him get his best fantasy score (13.8 PPR) of the season. It’s been two weeks in a row in which Meyers has been targeted at least six times by Cam Newton, which in a pass-depressed thin offense isn’t that bad.

Now, to his current upside, you should add the fact that New England is facing a pretty putrid team in the Jets. Pierre Desir is playing everything at the corner position. He’s been targeted 48 times in his 240 routes defended (18.3%), but offenses should all be making that number rise asap.

The reason why is because Desir can’t stop receptions at all. He’s allowed 33 in 48 passes for a massive completion rate against of 64%, and he’s also allowed four touchdowns to his covered men. Desir’s 499 yards surrendered rank tied-fourth among CBs with 100+ routes defended.

Meyers is not going to put on a great, WR1 performance most probably, but Desir definitely bumps up his chances at finishing with his highest score of the season.

Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Avoid

DJ Chark Jr. (JAX) vs. Bradley Roby (HOU)

When it comes to dealing with individual matchups, most of the time we have to make wild assumptions as there is not enough historic data available. Not for this battle between Chark and Roby. They already faced each other on shadow coverage back in Week 5, and I’m not entirely sure Chark slept any good that night.

While Chark was able to catch three of the four passes he was thrown, he could only reach a measly 16 yards mark on the day against Bradley Roby and the Texans secondary. That meant Chark finished with a rather disappointing 4.6 PPR points. Chark has not played his best football this year, but that marked the worst game to date for him after averaging 17.8 PPG leading up to that match.

Not only is Chark entering the chamber of torture for the second time this season, but he’s also been on the wrong side of things lately. After that 4.6-point game, he scored 11.5 facing Detroit but he went for another dud in Week 7 when he finished with a season-low 3.6 points (7/1/26/0) against the Chargers. Oh, and Minshew won’t be on the field this weekend (whether you take that as a pro or a con is up to you).

Roby has not been overwhelming for receivers facing him this season (298 yards and four touchdowns allowed) but he is not targeted that much for the routes he defends (just 17.2% of the time) and he ranks in the top-half of corners in PPR points surrendered per target.

After getting injured in Week 7 but resting in Houston’s bye last weekend, Roby should be good to go at full strength on this one. Roby has finished half of his games (including his first one against Chark) without allowing a touchdown and allowing receivers to five receptions or fewer in all of them. Only Adam Thielen got more than 76 yards against Roby, but he needed all of nine targets and seven receptions to beat that mark.

DK Metcalf (SEA) vs. Tre’Davious White (BUF)

It’s perfectly understandable to play Metcalf this weekend. Just in case you are not aware: Metcalf is the WR3 in 2020, is averaging 20.6 PPG, has racked up 680 yards (4th), has seven touchdowns (tied-1st), and is posting 20.2 Y/R (2nd among WRs with 20+ targets). As I always say, let matchups temper your expectations, but never fade studs just because of them.

Now, that being said, this is one projects as a helluva tough game for Metcalf—and for Tre’Davious White too, don’t get it wrong. If Metcalf has been good, White has been great himself too this season. He’s played every game for the Bills, and he’s allowed just below 60 PPR points to wide receivers in those seven matches (8.5 PPG).

Of the 75 corners to appear in at least seven games and defend 100+ routes, White ranks 20th in fantasy points allowed. Only Jalen Ramsey (56.6), though, has allowed fewer points than him on a similar route-defended dose (276 for Ramsey, 257 for White).

The beauty of White’s game, though, comes from the absolutely huge fear he instills in opposing quarterbacks: White has been targeted just 25 times in his 257 routes for a measly 9.7% rate. That is, he’s targeted once every 13 routes defended. No cornerback has defended 100+ routes while sustaining a target-rate below 11.5%, and among corners with 250+ routes the second one would be Darious Williams at 14.6% already. Insane.

More than about Metcalf’s abilities for beating a top-corner (he definitely has them), or White’s abilities for stopping studs (he also has them), this will come down to how many opportunities Metcalf sees and how much does Russell Wilson test White.

No matter what, expect an extenuating, high-stakes shadow-coverage battle between these two.

Denzel Mims (NYJ) vs. J.C. Jackson (NE)

Back to Monday Night Football! Yay! Totally opposite to Jakobi Meyers’ situation in New England (expect big numbers from him; read above), the rookie Denzel Mims is in for a tough one this week. Not only has Jackson been great so far this season—New England’s best corner other than Stephon Gilmore—but he is also projected to go shadowing Mims on this one.

Jackson already shadowed Sammy Watkins back in Week 4 and oh boy, did he cut the wideout’s upside short. He allowed a completion in the lone target he saw, sure, but that one went for eight yards and that was all Watkins did against J.C.’s coverage. Cold world.

Mims is one of the very few bright lights in the Jets path forward, and although the rookie hasn’t posted huge numbers in any of his two games this season there is reason to believe in his abilities developing into something of interest. The problem for Mims, though, is that teams know this too. That is why Buffalo put no less than Tre’Davious White on him on shadow coverage in Week 7 (he dried him shut), and his own QB Sam Darnold straight didn’t look for him in the last half of last week’s game.

If New England truly deploys Jackson on shadow over Mims, it’s most probably going to be game over for the rook next Monday. While Stefon Diggs had a field day with Jackson as his prime assignment in Week 8 (J.C. surrendered 22.3 PPR points combined to Diggs and the rest of Bills), no other wide receiver group has performed above 12 PPR against Jackson this season.

Jackson has allowed more than 43 receiving yards in a single game just twice this season in seven matches, has one interception in four of those seven games, and has also 1+ broken pass in five of seven. J.C. is one of just six corners with 4+ interceptions this season, and is tied for third in passes broken with eight. He’s the only CB along with Carlton Davis (Tampa Bay) with 4+ interceptions and 8+ passes broken on the year—only Davis has defended 272 routes to Jackson’s 148, making J.C.’s numbers look much, much better.