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 some of the best WR/CB matchups to target, and some of the worst WR/CB matchups to avoid for this weekend slate of games.
Top WR/CB Matchups To Target
Jakobi Meyers (NE) vs. Jourdan Lewis (DAL)
Let’s be honest for a minute: it’s been five weeks of games, and the lone bright light on New England’s offense—one with weekly reliability and viability as a fantasy football play—has been Jakobi Meyers. There is no lie in that, and although Meyers is only the 31st-best WR in PPR-format leagues so far, the truth is that no one is above him among Patriots’ skill-position players (in fact, Meyers is just 2.7 FP below QB Mac Jones in the race for the best fantasy play in the squad). Meyers will keep getting tons of looks (leads the team in targets 46 to Agholor’s 27), racking up yards (302), and this weekend might see him score his first touchdown of the season. Even without a single score so far, Meyers is averaging a 9-6-60 receiving line for 12.6 PPR points with a floor of 7.8 and a ceiling of 18.4 that could almost double this Sunday.
Why do I say that, you ask? Well, because Dallas will be at the other end of the field come Week 6 and that means Meyers will be facing tons of Jourdan Lewis’ coverage at the slot. Any other time we’d face the conundrum of who’ll face who on the field, but with Meyers having 72% of his snaps from the slot and Lewis covering such placement in 82% of his snaps, the matchup is clearly happening. As good as Cowboy Trevon Diggs has been, Lewis has not. He’s been targeted 22 times in his 198 routes covered and while that mark is middle-of-the-pack, what is not are the 2.11 FP/Target he’s surrendering. Lewis has allowed 15-of-22 targets to end in completions (68.2%), let his covered men rack up 195 yards on those receptions (13.0 YPR, 122 of those being YAC), and surrendered a couple of touchdowns already. With Diggs wide and excelling, rookie QB Mac Jones manning the pocket, and Meyers the best receiver of the team, odds are the wideout gets a bulky workload and thrives facing Lewis.
Ja’Marr Chase (CIN) vs. Amani Oruwariye (DET)
Rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase has been so absolutely great that it is starting to make no sense to include him in this type of column. He’s just sublime, and a lock to finish with 13+ PPR points every week, which is what he’s done all of the past five games. It’s funny that Chase has not strung two top-24 finishes together yet, though. He’s scored 20.9, then 13.4, 22.5, 13.7, and lastly 27.9 PPR points through Week 5 but he’s still yet to put up back-to-back top-tier games. And that will most probably happen this Sunday. Chase is coming off his best game of the year (27.9 PPR) after catching 6-of-10 targets for a monster 159 yards and score, and it’s been 5 TDs on the year for the ball-dropper already. Yeah, right...
Oh, and not only is Cincy facing a lowly Lions squad, but also putting Chase on the outside of the formation against a massively overmatched Amani Oruwariye. PFF has this pair projected to face each other at least 27 times on Sunday (makes sense, as Chase has changed sides fairly often with 43% of his snaps on the left, and 32% on the right side of the formation). No matter what, and even if Oruwariye covers Chase just for half of Sunday’s game, that could still end in a massacre. While Oruwariye has two interceptions already, the overall receiving-against line reads 24-17-265-3 for him. That’s bonkers. Oruwariye is allowing 70.8% of his targets to end in the wideout’s hands, has allowed a ridiculously high 15.6 YPR, quarterbacks are throwing his way at a 112.0 Pass Rating and he’s even missed a tackle this season. Pray for your Lion, who might end looking more like a Chase-tamed cat this weekend.
Top WR/CB Matchups To Avoid
Diontae Johnson (PIT) vs. D.J. Reed Jr. (SEA)
Roethlisberger seems to be catching up a bit with his game and the required levels of play demanded by the NFL... only he just lost one of his bonafide stars in JuJu Smith-Schuster, making everything more complicated for him once more. While JuJu had three of four games of <10 PPR points prior to last weekend’s match, the truth is his track record was still keeping defenses honest. Now, with him out, all focuses will be on Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Johnson, even more this weekend, will be facing a tall task in trying to outperform CB D.J. Reed Jr. of Seattle. Don’t get me wrong, though. Johnson is a stud who has scored 14.6+ PPR points in all games he’s played (four) this season. But Johnson is also coming off a 2-2-72-1 kinda-dud (still 15.2 FP) that I don’t like one bit as that production vs. volume is just straight unsustainable long term.
Reed, in cover duties, has defended a monster 224 routes so far this season, the fifth most among corners in the NFL. Obviously, that volume of snaps played is always going to hand high PPR-against tallies and that’s the case with Reed’s 51.7 PPR-against in five games. That being said, though, Reed is allowing 1.57 PPR/Target, a mark only bested by Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams among heavily-targeted cornerbacks (33+ targets). Reed has allowed two touchdowns to WRs in his coverage, but other than that the completions are down at 54.5% (18-of-33) and opposition QBs are posting a Pass Rating of just 95.1 against him. Among corners with 200+ routes defended (18 players), Reed is allowing the seventh-lowest Yds/Tgt (6.6), eighth-lowest Yds/Rec (12.1), and the fifth-lowest YAC/Rec (2.9).
Hunter Renfrow (LV) vs. Bryce Callahan (DEN)
If you have been paying the smallest amount of attention to the NFL newswire of late, you know about all of the crap going Jon Gruden’s way. Or should I say, former Vegas HC Jon Gruden? The Raiders, which had started the season 3-1 before dropping a stinker last Sunday to Chicago, are waving goodbye to Gruden after a few years of not-good-not-bad performances because of a scandal I’m just not going to get into here. Darren Waller is the man getting all eyes on him in Las Vegas weekly because he plays a position barren of talent and that makes him a prime fantasy football play weekly. But Hunter Renfrow has been the true fantasy-winning player of the team. Renfrow has just 0.5 PPR points fewer than Waller through W5, has the same number of receptions (28) in 10 fewer targets (38), and has already reached 305 yards and hauled in 2 TDs over the year. Everybody expects him to bounce back after his 11.6-PPR, no-TD game from last weekend...
...but should they? No, sir. Renfrow mans the slot (63% rate) for the Raiders, and Chicago put Duke Shelley on him last Sunday most of the time. While Shelley hasn’t been bad, he’s allowed his covered WRs to put up a combined 19-16-173 receiving line this season in four games (average line of 5-4-43). That’s nice. Now, check Bryce Callahan’s numbers also defending the slot most of the time: 16 targets, 5 receptions, 31.3% completion rate, 45 yards, no touchdowns. That’s otherworldly at the very least, folks. Callahan’s done that while defending 144 routes. What I mean is, only six other CBs with such volume of routes covered are allowing fewer FP per Route than the Bronco. And absolutely nobody has been able to limit wide receivers to fewer FP/Target than him (0.59) with no. 2 Malcolm Jenkins almost doubling the FP he gives away on a per-target basis. I love Renfrow, but with everything going on in Vegas and this horrid matchup, I’m afraid he’ll stay away from my lineups this weekend.