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Week 16 WR/CB Matchups: Who to target and avoid in DFS lineups

Identifying the best and worst DFS plays at the WR position based on CB matchups for Week 16.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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

Antonio Brown (TB) vs. Amani Oruwariye (DET)

It took Brown until last week to finish a slate in the WR1 realm thanks to his 20.3 PPR points and WR8 finish. Brown put up a 5/7-93-1 line on that game against Atlanta, catching his first touchdown of the season.

If everything goes according to what the numbers tell us, Brown should be on his way to have another 20+ PPR game this week against Detroit. Brown is expected to start most of his routes in front of cornerback Oruwariye, and the Lion has been plain bad all year long. Oruwariye has surrendered 177.9 PPR total in his 14 games for an average of 12.7 per game. He’s the most-used CB by Detroit, and he’s just getting cooked left and right.

Oruwariye, although only targeted in 18.7 percent of the routes he’s defended, has allowed 60 of his 92 targets to end in completions (62%) and has been scored-on five times already while only intercepting three passes through the year. In the past four weeks, Oruwariye has given up at least 17 PPR points in three of four matches to Will Fuller, Darnell Mooney, and Davante Adams. His line-against in those three games combined: 26-21-93-2.

Quarterbacks know Oruwariye is just not able to handle heavy stress and that’s why he’s getting targeted way more of late, in 23.4 percent of their routes. Oh, and he’s facing Tom Brady in Week 16...

D.J. Moore (CAR) vs. Kendall Fuller (WAS)

Even though Washington has been pretty bad on offense, its defense has showed a lot of talent this season. Not Kendall Fuller, though, who is one of the most fantasy-exploitable corners of the year. Fuller has allowed his prime coverages a total of 158.6 PPR points in 12 games for an average of 13.2 per match. That ranks as the 11th-most overall and 16th-worst on a per-game basis. Ugh.

On top of that, it must be factored that Moore has improved from a Week 1 to 6 average PPR score of 13.4 points to a much healthier one of 15.3 in the past seven games, including an average of 17.7 in his last four. In fact, Moore has finished with 19+ PPR points in three of his last four matches against Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Green Bay.

Moore has seen 7+ targets in all four of his games since W10 (included), caught 4+ passes in all of those, and reached at least 61 yards. Moore’s average line in those four weeks amounts to a very palatable 5/9-103 with a touchdown coming against the Bucs back in Week 10.

With someone like Fuller covering him for most of this week’s game, the odds are Moore goes off once more and for the second consecutive time after finishing WR11 last week. In five of his last six games, Fuller has given up at least 15 PPR points, with Detroit and Pittsburgh cooking him for 28+ and 39+ (!) respectively. His average line-against in those five games: 7/10-96-2. It’s lunchtime for Moore.

A.J. Green (CIN) vs. Vernon Hargreaves III (HOU)

While Hargreaves III has had his moments through the season, the Texans cornerback has been on the wrong side of things more often than not. He has four games in which he limited his covered wideouts to fewer than 8.0 PPR points, sure, but that’s a small sample in the total 14 games he’s played in 2020. On top of that, in three of those four good games, VH3 only defended a measly 21 routes at most.

In the other 10 of 14 games Hargreaves has played this year, the cornerback defended an average of 31 routes per game allowing receivers to 16.5 PPR points on average, with four of those matches ending in 17, 17, 22, and 32 PPR tallies for his opponents. Quite the cupcake.

A.J. Green has looked far from his heyday-version this season, but he got things right against Dallas a couple of weeks ago when he had his best game of the year thanks to a 6/7-62-1 effort for 18.2 PPR points and a WR16 finish. He went down a bit last week (6.0 PPR) but he should rebound up facing Houston and precisely Hargreaves.

On the season as a whole, VH3 has given up a total of 187.3 PPR points in coverage through W15 for an average of 13.4 per game. His counting stats are ridiculous, too. He has been targeted 94 times, allowed 66 receptions (69% completion rate), and given up the fourth-most touchdowns among all CBs with six against one single interception and three broken passes.

Top 3 WR/CB Matchups To Avoid

Marquise Brown (BAL) vs. James Bradberry (NYG)

Brown had a relatively nice start to the season by logging 12+ PPR points in three of his first five games. He then proceeded to finish below 10 PPR points five games in a row, and he’s rebounded quite nicely lately with four performances of 13+ PPR points in the last four weeks. That could mean Brown has finally found his mojo, sure, but he will have a tall task this weekend facing one of the best corners of the year in Bradberry.

The Giant is probably Brown’s toughest matchup to date. He’s allowed three teams to score more than 15 PPR points on him on his coverages, and even then opposing wideouts needed to score a touchdown to bulk up their scores in two of those three games. Those two games, by the way, are the only ones in which Bradberry has allowed a pass to be completed for a touchdown, keeping his other 12 lines clean of scores.

Even on incredibly-high volume-against (Bradberry has defended 501 routes so far, the sixth-most), James has been able to prevent 33% of his targets to end in completions while intercepting four of those passes and breaking up nine more. He’s got the second-lowest Y/R allowed (10.5) among CBs with at least 500 routes covered, and has surrendered the fewest receptions (61) among those in that group.

Breshad Perriman (NYJ) vs. Denzel Ward (CLE)

The last time we ran this column Perriman was part of it. It made a lot of sense, as he was facing the Rams and a stud corner in Jalen Ramsey, who in fact turned out to be his prime-corner through last week’s game and helped LA in limiting Perriman to a 1/1-21 performance that amounted to a putrid 3.1 PPR points. Things aren’t getting easier for Perriman, who is jumping from one killer to another in Denzel Ward this week.

Ward has been terrific playing corner for the Browns this season. He has played four games since Week 8 and only once (last weekend against the Giants) has he allowed his covered men to 10 PPR points. Even then, with Darius Slayton as his prime-WR, he was able to finish 4/9-61 with no touchdowns against. Not bad at all.

But the overall season stats are what put Ward on another level. Ward is one of only 40 corners with 390+ routes defended through W15, but he’s only played 11 games compared to at least 12 by every other cornerback in that group. Ward has allowed the fewest PPR/Route and PPR/Target of those 40 players, and it is not even close in any department.

Quarterbacks fear targeting Ward, as his 17.5 percent targeted-routes rank in the bottom-five among those 40 players. Ward has allowed a ridiculously low 51% completion rate (34-of-74) for just 316 yards-against over the year, three touchdowns, and a stupid 7.7 Y/R. He has also intercepted two passes in his 11 games and broken up 10 of them.

Tim Patrick (DEN) vs. Casey Hayward (LAC)

Patrick has had a very good season while solidifying himself as a go-to receiver in Denver. He’s averaging 11.4 PPR points per game through Week 15, and although that’s not going to cut it for a WR1 profile, he’s been able to finish in that realm once and as a WR2/3 in five of his total 13 games played in 2020. The problem for Patrick is that he’s going downhill these days with scores going from 20.4 to 12.6 to 4.4 PPR in his last three matches.

Things aren’t getting easier for him with such a terrible matchup as the one he’ll have to face this week projects to be. Hayward, while not expected to shadow Patrick, will most probably face him in most of the snaps due to both players’ usual alignment on the gridiron.

In the past five weeks, Hayward has faced the likes of Agholor, Gage, Perriman, and Parker and allowed just one team’s receivers (the Jets’) to score more than 10 PPR points on him. In the other four games in the Week 10 to 15 span, Hayward allowed fewer than 9.0 PPR points three times, and his average line-against read 4-4-34-0.

That high completion rate against is definitely more a fluke than anything else, as Hayward has allowed just 45% of the passes thrown his way to end in completions (38 of 79), one of the best marks among all heavily-targeted cornerbacks this year. Although he doesn’t rank at the top of the PPR/Target leaderboard, Hayward is a top-10 corner in PPR/Route allowed, given the very few fantasy goodies he gives up per route defended.