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 15 slate of games.
Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Target
Corey Davis (TEN) vs. Amani Oruwariye (DET)
I’m glad I stayed a Corey Davis believer, as he’s ultimately paid the effort off. Davis is the Titans no. 2 wide receiver after A.J. Brown’s ascension, but Davis was Brown before Brown was Brown and is now kind of fulfilling his draft-day pedigree and destiny. Don’ look at last week’s score (Davis put up a 4.4 PPR-point dud) but other than that Davis has been balling of late.
Davis had his best game of the season two weeks ago facing the Browns and dropping 35.2 PPR on their foreheads to the tune of a monster 11/12-182-1 performance. On the season, Davis is averaging 14.7 PPR per game while Brown is at 17.4, which isn’t that great of a difference as some folks want to make of it.
On the other side next weekend, Davis will be facing Amani Oruwariye for most of their Week 15 game. Oruwariye, simply put, has been kind of atrocious on coverage this season. The Lion has surrendered the seventh-most PPR points to wideouts on his covered routes (426 on the season) for an average of 0.44 PPR/Route and 2.10 PPR/Target allowed. Those marks might not mean anything to you if you’re new to CB metrics, so to add a little bit of context let’s say instead that Oruwariye ranks inside the bottom 10 corners at both things among qualified CBs in 2020.
Oruwarie has allowed 57 of 88 targets to turn into receptions (67% of them), which is not bad, but he’s been scored-on five times already while only intercepting three of the 88 balls thrown his way. Davis should easily rebound and get on the double-digit PPR column again this week.
Willie Snead IV (BAL) vs. Tre Herndon (JAX)
The Ravens offense hasn’t been anything more than average at best this season. Lamar Jackson is the only player averaging more than 12 PPR points on the year, with Marquise Brown (10.3) and Mark Andrews (11.8) ways away, and J.K. Dobbins as the most-productive rusher already at a measly 9.2 PPR per game. That means Willie Snead has been rather forgettable among those in this attack. That could change this weekend.
It has happened before, don’t get me wrong. Snead has three games this season in which he reached 15+ PPR points (Week 1, Week 8, and Week 10), but he’s been a boom/bust guy most weeks. When he hits, he hits, but when he doesn’t, duds are his thing. Facing cornerback Tre Herndon should help Snead and boost his upside all the way to those sweet 15 points once more.
While Herndon is not the worst corner on a per-route basis (0.36 PPR/Route allowed, around 25th-worst among qualified CBs), the truth is that whenever he gets targeted, he gets cooked. Herndon has seen passes thrown his way in 73 of the 397 routes he has defended, which translates to 18.8 percent of his routes. That’s a low mark, but he’s allowed 55 of 73 targets to end in completions for a massive 77% completion rate. No cornerback targeted 70+ this season has allowed a higher reception rate as Herndon’s.
Herndon has been able to limit receivers to only tow touchdowns on the season, but he has yet to intercept a single pass and only has broken two passes in all of his 13 games combined. Herdon is also giving up an average of 13.2 yards per reception, one of the highest marks (inside the worst-20) among qualified CBs.
Anthony Miller (CHI) vs. Jeff Gladney (MIN)
Jeff Gladney has a very similar profile to that of Tre Herndon (read above). He is not bad on a per-route basis, but he also suffers a lot when he has to actually work, that is when he gets targeted. Gladney has been targeted in 18.8% of his defended routes this season (78 times) and he’s surrendered 605 yards to his covered-men for an average of 12.3 yards per reception (47 receptions).
The touchdowns are starting to pile up on Gladney, with four allowed by the corner through Week 14. He’s only picked off a quarterback once, and that happened more than a month ago, precisely against Chicago (although Nick Foles was manning the pocket then). That day, covering Miller for most of the game, Miller finished with a 2/7-28-0 line (against all corners, not just Gladney). That’s a bad line, but that was also the fluky game in Gladney’s log and one that doesn’t align at all with his true averages this season.
Miller is a low-end WR3 in the best of cases, not going to lie about it here. This matchup, though, should make him good if Gladney plays to his average performance levels. Miller has two 10+ PPR performances in his last six games, and he’s shown enough to make us know he’s got it in him to reach some 15 fantasy points if things go well for him.
Just two weeks ago he scored 10.9 PPR points in a 5/5-56-0 game that only lacked a touchdown to end in a very efficient performance. That’s what we’re projecting here. The volume might not be incredible but against Gladney it all points toward a great reception-rate for some good yardage and a potential touchdown through the game.
Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Avoid
Amari Cooper (DAL) vs. Richard Sherman (SF)
The Cowboys entered the season with one of the most incredible offenses on paper, although since Dak Prescott’s injury most folks have forgotten about it due to lack of interest in a lost year. Cooper has been able to keep his fantasy value up, though, falling short of 12+ PPR points just two times through Week 14 and scoring 15+ PPR points in nine of his 13 games played. Not bad.
Veteran corner Richard Sherman, though, has been quite good at what he’s done this season too. Although he missed every game between Weeks 2 and 11 (both included), Sherman has allowed more than 8.0 PPR points in just one of his four matches this season (against Buffalo in Week 13). In the other three games, Sherman has defended a combined 103 routes, been targeted in just 16 of them (15.5%), and allowed nine receptions for 81 yards and no touchdowns. Oh, and he also intercepted one of those targets. Not bad.
While Cooper is so close to reaching 1,000 yards on the season for the fourth time in his career (he currently has 942), those 58 yards might turn into a tall task to complete against Sherman. The corner has given up an average of 5.3 yards per target since Week 12 included, and it’s been six full games since Cooper got targeted 7+ times for the last time.
Cooper could very well find a way to the end zone against the 49ers, which would make up for his lack of yardage, but you’d be better off lowering your expectations about Amari finishing inside the top 12 or even top 24 WRs of the week if you don’t want to be upset when Sunday comes to a close.
Breshad Perriman (NYJ) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR)
Considering no one was a single share of any New York Jets player these days, this won’t be a tough pill to swallow. Perriman has had his moments this season, namely a three-game streak that included his season-high 27.1 PPR in Week 9 and expanded to Week 12 in which marked a span of a month of three consecutive 11+ PPR performances by the WR. That’s pretty much it for Perriman.
Even though Perriman has played 97 percent of the Jets offensive snaps when he’s been healthy, and he’s getting targeted 5+ times per game more often than not, Perriman’s production hasn’t been very good. This won’t change this weekend facing a stud corner in Jalen Ramsey, so forget of Perriman as an under-the-radar, winning play on this one.
Ramsey would most probably align with Perriman in most plays (no shadow, though), and that means tough times are ahead for the wideout. Ramsey has already put the clamps on both DK Metcalf and Mike Evans when he shadowed them, limiting both to fewer than 10 PPR points each of those games. Only Amari Cooper in Week 1 and DeAndre Hopkins in Week 13 were able to score more than 10 PPR points against his coverage.
Ramsey’s season line is staggering, reading 45/74-442-2. That yields an average of 4/6-37-0 per game for the receivers on his coverage, something quite similar to Perriman’s actual averages on the season. No corner has allowed fewer yards on as many targets as Ramsey has seen, and among CBs with 45 receptions allowed he has been able to limit receivers to the fourth-lowest Y/R mark at just 9.6 yards.
Diontae Johnson (PIT) vs. William Jackson (CIN)
The situation isn’t the best for Diontae Johnson entering Week 15 as he was benched mid-game last Sunday by the Steelers. Adding wood to the fire, this matchup looks horrid for the wideout on paper, too, making Johnson one of the worst plays of the week and one to definitely avoid in DFS contests.
Johnson only played 28 snaps last week, and those didn’t even account for 50% of all offensive plays Pittsburgh ran against Buffalo. Even then, Johnson was somehow able to finish 4/7-40 on the day for 8.0 PPR points, not bad for such a performance. Prior to that, Johnson had strung together five games with 10+ targets, 6+ receptions, and at least 46 yards (he topped 70 in the other four, with two at 100+ yards).
Johnson has turned into Pittsburgh no. 1 wide receiver... as much as William Jackson is Cincy’s clear CB1 these days. No joke, this Jackson. In shadow coverage this season (four times) he has never allowed his main-man to go past 11.1 PPR points (Terry McLaurin) and the other three times he limited his shadowed wideout to zero, zero, and 3.7 PPR points. Uh, oh.
Since coming back from the Bengals bye in Week 9, Jackson has not surrendered a touchdown, has broken six passes and allowed a measly 44% completion rate (16 receptions on 34 targets). Given that Diontae went off against Cincinnati back in Week 10 (23.6 PPR points), odds are the Bengals call for a shadow coverage on this one, putting Jackson on Johnson all day long. That makes Johnson a very risky play this weekend, as WJ3 has been sublime on coverage during the past five games.