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
Chris Godwin (TB) vs. Jonathan Jones (NE)
Look—it’s hard to put it in kind words, so let’s get straight to the point: Patriots corner Jonathan Jones has been on an absolute downward trend since the start of the year and things are looking uglier by the week. Just peep the numbers. Jones has gone from allowing no completions, getting targeted once, and intercepting a pass in W1; to a 6-4-34 line against his assignments in W2; to lastly a 4-3-23 with a touchdown-against his last time out in W3. That, simply put, doesn’t paint anything remotely close to a good picture for Jones.
On the other end of the field, the Bucs will deploy long-time Patriot QB Tom Brady and, among other menacing threats, WR Chris Godwin. Godwin, if you’ve been under a rock for the past month, has been the most solid Buc not named Tom. Godwin has put up 59.3 total PPR points already, is averaging 19.8 FPPG so far, and he’s yet to fall behind the 16.2-FP mark in a single game this season while he’s topped at 23.5 (W1 with a 14-9-105-1 receiving line). This is one of the most ridiculously unbalanced matchups of the week on paper, and even though it’s more than probable that Tampa Bay crushes New England on their way to the W, chances are Godwin will still exploit Jones to the limit and close Sunday at the top of all fantasy leaderboards.
Calvin Ridley (ATL) vs. Benjamin St-Juste (WAS - Questionable)
Benjamin St-Juste is labeled as questionable in the latest Footies’ injury report I have checked at press-time. Even then, Benji’s backup—or Ridley’s second cover-man—would be William Jackson III, who I mean, is not that much better than St-Juste. Just imagine. St-Juste has defended 105 routes so far this season and he’s allowing receivers a high 0.32 FP/Route per PFF data. Assuming St-Juste makes it to the field this Sunday, he’d be the worst corner of the slate in those terms while projected to defend 25+ snaps against his main cover—Ridley in this case—and also the corner allowing the most yards per route run among the 23 qualifiers at 1.49. Yikes.
Ridley, although part of an offense manned by washed-up QB Matt Ryan, has somehow been able to keep his production kinda-up and improving from a W1 stinker. Ridley went from 10.1 to 19.3 and lately 14.1 PPR points in his three games this year, and he’s gotten targeted at least 8 times in each of those three matches. Ridley has caught more passes each passing week (from 5 to 7 to 8), racked up 51+ yards all days he’s been out there, and scored his first—and lone—TD of the year in W2. After dropping to an overall WR27 finish in Week 3 (11-8-61-0), this weekend could very well see Ridley hit the WR1 realm with a bounty against one of the worst corners around the league through W3.
Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE) vs. Patrick Peterson (MIN)
We can’t say that OBJ debuted to the greatest of levels for the Browns last weekend, but the truth is that he only played 64% of the team's offensive snaps, which undoubtedly cut his upside a bit. Beckham was good for a high-end WR3 finish back then dropping 13.7 PPR points on the Bears to the tune of a 9-5-77 receiving line to go with 10 yards rushing on a single carry. Not bad for an injury-returning appearance, ‘Dell.
This weekend should pose a bigger challenge for OBJ as he is expected to go against Patrick Peterson. Or maybe this is not that scary of a matchup? Judging by Peterson’s 2021 season to date, it’s reasonable to see this as a positive matchup for OBJ. It is what it is, and the veteran corner seems to be closer to hitting rock-bottom levels of performing than his early-days prime. In three games Patrick P has surrendered 10 completions on 13 targets for 115 yards and a touchdown against. That, simply put, is unacceptable. Peterson is allowing the opposition’s QBs to close games at a massive 128.7 Pass Rating when targeting him, has yet to pick a pass, and has been cooked for 81 YAC in those 10 receptions he’s allowed. Odell might not be at his 100% yet, but Peterson has been so bad that this could be the ultimate get-fit game for Odell and his first explosion of the year.
Top WR/CB Matchups To Avoid
DeAndre Hopkins (ARI) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR)
It is true that Hopkins has been a little bit banged up of late, but that’s no excuse for one of the best wideouts of the world—and the NFL by extension. Hopkins was unstoppable in W1 scoring a couple of touchdowns on an 8-6-83 day in which he poured 26.3 PPR points on Tennessee’s D. He proceeded to get a 15.4-FP bounty facing Minny a week later scoring another TD in an über-efficient/seriously-unsustainable 4-4-54-1 game. And then, last weekend, he cooked himself a dud of 5.1 PPR points to the tune of a ridiculous 6-3-21 outing. Ugh.
Not making things easier in Week 4: Jalen Ramsey. Now, hear me out. It’s probable that you won’t find this matchup penciled in some reports out there because Ramsey has been stuck in the slot for 55% of the snaps/routes he’s defended so far this year. BUT. Jalen Ramsey was tasked with covering Hopkins last year the two times LA faced Arizona (didn’t shadow him per se, though) and Ramsey finished with receiving lines-against of 9-4-22 and 9-4-43 while Hopkins (again, not always covered by Ramsey) scored 19.2 and 7.5 PPR points in those two games. Also: Ramsey’s 0.18 FP/Route allowed are the 10th-least among CBs with at least 100 routes defended entering W4.
Mike Williams (LAC) vs. Casey Hayward (LV)
While Mike Will has been absolutely stunning through the first three games of the season, Casey Hayward has been even better at his thing. Believe it or not. In three games so far, Hayward has allowed his covered WRs to score all of 6.6 PPR points in all those matches combined. All Hayward has surrendered have been 4 receptions on 10 targets for a ridiculous 36.1% completion rate and a grand total of 26 receiving yards, only 2 of them coming after the catch—the funny stat: those two yards came in his lone reception allowed in W1, though that pass went for two negative-2 air yards making the overall yardage surrendered by Hayward a net-zero.
Obviously, Mike Williams is going to be the best wideout Hayward has faced to this day in 2021. And by the look of it we can be pretty sure Williams will get to 10+ PPR points more probably than not. He’s been such a stud, full stop. Mike has three games of 22+ PPR points, topped at 33.2 FP last weekend, and is averaging a stupid 10-7-98 line with 1 TD per game (he’s yet to finish a match without scoring). All of that is great, but I have to advise you on tempering your expectations when it comes to Mike Williams this weekend. Hayward has scared rivals QBs when it came to targeting him, and when they did they never truly found a way to burn him. Tough day ahead for the Chargers wideout if you ask me.
DJ Moore (CAR) vs. Trevon Diggs (DAL)
Shouts out to the best new shadow corner in the NFL! Trevon, brother of Stefon, is the seventh-best graded corner by PFF three weeks into the 2021 season. In the three games he’s played so far this year, Diggs has defended 150 routes while allowing just 0.17 FP per route, which ranks as one of the best marks among corners with at least 130 routes defended at this point. Diggs has allowed 10 completions on the 19 targets he’s seen so far giving up 157 yards at it but no touchdowns at all. He’s gotten burned for 79 YAC but only allowed 78 air yards, which should bode well for him going forward, and his QB Pass Rating against of 40.8 is the second-lowest among CBs with 15+ targets only behind Jaylon Johnson’s 29.6.
With Robby Anderson struggling a ton in his reunion with QB Sam Darnold, DJ Moore has been the man tasked with carrying the Panthers' offensive production and the lone guy in the roster not named Christian playable in fantasy contests. Moore has put up 15.4, 21.9, and 20.5 PPR points in the past three games with an average 10-7-95 receiving line and a single TD so far. Those are marvelous numbers, sure, but so are Diggs’ and it’s not that Moore has faced stout corners so far this year—all of Bryce Hall, Paulson Adebo, and Tremon Smith, who have been the ones tasked with covering Moore most of the time in Weeks 1 to 3, rank 59th, 122nd, and 70th in PFF Grades among CBs entering Week 4.