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 14 slate of games.
Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Target
Allen Robinson (CHI) vs. Vernon Hargreaves (HOU)
Robinson hasn’t been shadowed since Week 9, and he has seen shadow coverage four times this season. While this is not expected to be the fifth SC on A-Rob, Hargreaves should be on Robinson for most of the game given their usual alignments.
Robinson has been one of the best receivers against shadow coverage, with two performances above 14 PPR points in two of those four games. Now imagine him going against a corner that is clearly underperforming this season... Hargreaves has the 114th grade in PFF CB ranks, out of 125 qualified corners. That’s horrid.
Even with that stupidly low grade, Hargreaves has played all 12 games this season defended 346 routes, and allowed 160 total PPR points to wideouts in his coverages. That averages to 13.3 PPR points surrendered per game, which translates from a stat line against of 58/80-760-4. Math 101 taught me that dividing those numbers by the number of games we can arrive at Hargreaves’ per-game average: 5/7-63 with high chances of allowing a score.
That average-against isn’t terrible, but the truth is that VH3 has allowed 8+ targets and 6+ receptions in five games, more than 70 receiving yards in four, and a ridiculous 71 percent completion rate. Chicago doesn’t have a quarterback worth betting on, but facing a corner like Hargreaves will make it easy for whoever throws the rock.
David Moore (SEA) vs. Bryce Hall (NYJ)
Bryce Hall has only played from Week 9 on (included) and while that first game wasn’t that bad—2/2-40 covering mostly Jakobi Meyers—it is also true that the last three games (W11-to-W13) have been as bad as they can get for the cornerback. Hall has finished those games with lines of 5/9-32, 6/10-68, and 6/9-104-1. Yes, it has been bad, and it is getting worse.
Moore is not Seattle’s No. 1 option, nor Seattle’s No. 2 WR. With Lockett and Metcalf in tow, Moore is nothing more than the WR3 of the team. Not that that will affect his outcome this weekend, though. Moore has been limited to an average of just three targets per game, topping at six back in Week 9 and reaching four or more in that game and just another one. He has finished below 10 PPR points four weeks in a row now. That should change against the Jets.
Hall has been targeted more than thrice the times Moore is averaging in the last three weeks. Not only that, but he’s also allowed 71 percent of passes to end in completions with an average 13.8 Y/R allowed to his covered wide receiver. Among corners with at least 150 routes defended, Hall is allowing the 19th-most PPR/Target at 1.92, compared to Moore’s 2.65 average on the year. That combination could make for a winning week if Moore gets looked at by Russ this weekend.
Removing all filters from the 2020 season cornerback data, Hall still ranks ninth in routes covered per game (38.5) and he’s been targeted on 18.8 percent of those routes, a relatively high percentage... in which he’s getting cooked. Hall is one of only eight corners with 150+ routes defended to have no interceptions and only one broken pass in his targets.
Tee Higgins (CIN) vs. Rashard Robinson (DAL)
I’m assuming Higgins is available to play this weekend after he injured his hamstring a few days ago. He has said he’s going to be out there, so I’m confident he’ll be part of Cincy’s offense come game time. Higgins has been absolutely ridiculous this season. Since Week 3 (included), Higgins has only dropped below 10 PPR points once while topping 14 PPR points in six of those 10 games.
Rashard Robinson, on the other hand, has been rather meh. Rob-Rob has played just three games for the Cowboys and that small sample hasn’t been very encouraging for the corner. His matches have turned into 50 routes defended in which he’s been cooked left and right. Rob has allowed 7 of his 10 targets to turn into receptions for a not-so-good 72 percent completion rate against. Two of those seven receptions ended in scores, which doesn’t improve Robinson’s outlook.
Kirk Cousins targeted Rob in four of the six routes he covered (66+ percent) but that percentage has dropped to 13 and 14 percent in his last two games. That hasn’t mattered a lot, as even on a lower amount of targets-against Rob is surrendering plenty of fantasy goods. He gave up 10+ PPR points to Minny, 6+ to Washington, and 10+ once more this past week to Baltimore.
If Cincinnati has studied this secondary at least for a minute, they should know Robinson is a clear must-target corner. And if that volume materializes and Higgins align in front of Rashard Robinson, Higgins could be in for another booming performance.
Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Avoid
Rashard Higgins (CLE) vs. Jimmy Smith (BAL)
Speaking of Higginses and Rashards... Enter the ultimate combination, Browns’ WR Rashard Higgins. And as you enter him, start waving him goodbye while you can. You might have already bought your ticket for Higgins’ train after his Week 13 performance, which is reasonable considering he posted season-high marks in targets, receptions, touchdowns, and most of all fantasy points at 21.5 against Tennessee.
Is that repeatable, though? Even more, are we sure it is even doable against Jimmy Smith on coverage? I’m not so sure, folks. Higgins has scored more than 10 PPR points just three times this season, and prior to his Week 13 out-of-nowhere game, he had finished below that mark in his last five games. Smith, on the other hand, has allowed 10+ PPR points once this season (to Kansas City in Week 3). Other than that, Smith has been simply unbeatable.
Among corners with 200+ routes defended, Jimmy Smith ranks tied-second in PPR/Route allowed and he’s the leader in PPR/Target against. He’s giving up 0.85 fantasy points each time he’s targeted, which is already 0.06 fewer than No. 2 Isaac Yiadom and 0.24 fewer than No. 3 Jimmy Moreland. Just for context, that distance between Smith and Moreland is the same as the distance between Moreland and the 11th-best cornerback. No joke.
The only thing missing on Jimmy’s season-stat line is an interception. Other than that, he’s allowed just 42 percent of his targets to end in completions, is allowing a measly 7.5 yards per reception, and has yet to surrender a touchdown to a wide receiver in his coverage.
Keelan Cole (JAX) vs. Desmond King (TEN)
Desmond King departed Los Angeles with back-to-back relatively “bad” games in which he allowed 11.0 and 12.6 PPR points to his covered WRs, and also had a couple of rough games in his first couple for Tennessee (10.9 and 15.0). Before and after that Week 5 to Week 10 span, though, King has been a nightmarish corner to target this season.
King’s first four games finished with the cornerback allowing 7.9 PPR points at most, and fewer than two fantasy points twice, although on limited playing time. His last three-game streak of surrendering fewer than 7 PPR points has been much more impressive, though: King has defended a combined 88 routes in those three matches being targeted only 11 times (12.5%) and allowing back-to-back-to-back two receptions in each of those three games for a combined 80 yards and no scores.
Keelan Cole, playing for a Trevor-Lawrence-seeking Jags, had his moments early in the season and a few other good games here and there, but he’s not been otherworldly. In fact, Cole’s last three games have gone for 7.4 PPR points at most, topping at 6 targets, 3 receptions, and 44 yards against Cleveland.
Pretty much as Jimmy Smith (read above), the only thing King has missed is intercepting a pass through the year. Other than that, he can’t look much better in any of the other tracked stats for corners. Oh, and Jacksonville has Mike Glennon as its starting quarterback these days...
Marvin Jones Jr. (DET) vs. Jaire Alexander (GB)
Jaire Alexander is a top-20 corner in PPR/Target allowed to his covered wide receivers, which is not an easy thing to do considering he’s been targeted 69 times already this season. In fact, only five other cornerbacks are currently giving up more PPR/Target than Alexander while having at least 69 targets to their name. Among those six players (including Jaire), Alexander has allowed the fewest completions (50%) and has the second-most broken passes with 12 already).
Jones has started to get things right lately with Detroit missing players due to injury. Jones has scored 13+ PPR points in five of his last seven games. Just this past weekend he went off for a season-high 25.6 points against Chicago. He put up season-highs in targets (12), receptions (8), and yards (116) in that game, so it’s reasonable to consider him as a good WR1 option for this week... was he not expected to face Jaire, that is.
Although Alexander is not expected to play shadow coverage on Jones, odds are they face each other for most of the game as they align on the right side (looked at from the offense’s perspective) of the field. In that case, Jones might be in for a tough one. Alexander was Jones’ prime cornerback back in Week 2, and he limited Jones to a 4/6-23-1 game. That was a good-not-great performance, but enough for Jones to reach 12.3 PPR points on the day.
The problem with that Jones vs. Jaire matchup from Week 2, though, is that that game was pretty much the second-worst of the cornerback through 2020. Since Week 8 (included), Alexander has not allowed a touchdown, has 7 broken passes and has allowed a paltry 26 percent completion-rate for 148 combined yards (30 yards per game, 5.7 yards per reception). Kenny Golladay is questionable for this weekend’s game, and if he plays Jones’ upside should be even lower. As is always the case with tough matchups, this doesn’t mean that Jones can’t beat Alexander and reach a good amount of fantasy points, but odds are he does not do that and drops a few PPR points below his season average.