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
Marquise Brown (BAL) vs. Kindle Vildor (CHI)
First things first: both Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown have missed practices through the week and (as I’m writing this) the latest news we have heard from the Ravens training field went on to report that they weren’t available for Thursday’s drills. In other words: keep an eye on those developments, but read this blurb assuming both will be out there come Sunday. And if that is the case, oh man does this matchup look good for the Lamar/Hollywood pairing. Brown seems to put up numbers in two-week bursts followed by a day off. Good for us, he’s coming off one of those bad games after scoring only 8.7 PPR. In the “good” outings, though, he’s been marvelous hitting 19 and then 20.6 FP in W7 and W9. Brown is pretty much a lock to get 10+ looks (he’s been targeted 12 times in three games straight) and hit 5+ receptions with 80+ yards baked into them.
Playing nine games for the Bears this season, Vildor has covered a ton of routes (339) and is in a very select group of 50 players with 300+ such volume seen through Week 10. With such a vast amount of defensive presence by Vildor, it is just nonsensical to see him allowing 0.31 FP/Route—you assume the number would go down a bit if only because, reasonably, he won’t get burned each and every time he covers a route out there... But even more worrying is the fact that his FP/Target is actually worse at 2.63 surrendered on his 40 targets to date. Vildor has allowed 29 of those 40 passes to end in completions (72.5%), has handed WRs a monster 463 receiving yards, and he’s tied for the second-most TD against with 5 on the year. Yikes.
D.K. Metcalf (SEA) vs. Marco Wilson (ARZ)
Metcalf surely had a rough outing last weekend against Green Bay. DK could only reach 5.6 PPR points on a night to forget in which he put up a season-low 8-3-26 line with no touchdowns, obviously. Good amount of targets, yes, but not the best yardage/pass-catching performance ever by this mountain of a man. Metcalf, though, had ranked as (at least) a top-22 receiver in five of his earlier six games and that means he did so without Russ throwing him the rock. Wilson will undoubtedly not put up another mega dud as he did last Sunday. That was a dumbfounding development that won’t be repeating itself. Metcalf will get back to his usual 60-yard, 7-target, 5-catch averages and most probably haul a touchdown in as he's done in all but three games this season, scoring twice a couple of times (against the Rams and most recently against the Jags a couple of weeks ago).
Oh, and it is not that Marco Wilson will make things hard for Metcalf to thrive this weekend. Wilson has a freakish 338 routes covered through nine games played... and he’s getting molly-torched for an average of 0.37 FP/Route against his coverage. That is, just in case you need some context, the worst mark league-wide among players with at least 300 routes covered and the second-worst (only 0.01 FP below No. 1 Bashaud Breeland) among those with 200+ routes. Ugh. Wilson has given up 44 receptions on 60 targets. Only six other secondary D-men have gotten targeted more than 60 times this season. Makes sense, considering Wilson’s 2.08 FP/Target rank 12th-worst in the NFL. You just target Marco and reap the rewards, among them: 5 TDs against and no interceptions to his name.
Top WR/CB Matchups To Avoid
Tyler Boyd (CIN) vs. Nate Hobbs (LV)
The Bengals and QB Joe Burrow did a magnificent job sustaining a multi-threat receiving corps through the first four weeks of the season. That’s why Boyd put up 13.6+ PPR points in three of the first four games of the year while finishing inside the top-35 at the WR position in all of those slates. After that, though, things have not been so rosy for Boyd while fighting for looks against teammates Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Entering W11, Boyd is third in targets with 55 to Higgins’ 55 and Chase’s 73. He hasn’t topped 7.9 PPR points more than once (W8 against the silly-bad Jets), and last weekend he went for a 2-1-11 receiving line and 2.1 FP... Yikes.
The Raiders are most probably going to deploy Nate Hobbs on Boyd because of where they align on the field 90 percent of the time: the slot. Hobbs has been an absolute defensive stud this year, though his counting/classic stats won’t tell you about that. That’s because Hobbs has been targeted 31 times and allowed 27 of those passes to become completions (87.1%). That has to be bad, right? Wrong. Those 27 completions have translated to zero touchdowns and just 164 receiving yards. Opposing QBs are just averaging a measly 88.7 Pass Rating when throwing Hobbs’ way, and Hobbs is keeping up the 18th-best FP/Target and 16th-best FP/Route marks this season among 80 players with 300+ routes covered.
DeAndre Hopkins (ARZ) vs. D.J. Reed Jr. (SEA)
Assuming Hopkins comes back this weekend, and with Kyler Murray back at pocket-manning duties, it won’t be surprising to see fantasy GMs and DFS players around the nation banking on those two. But give yourself some pause, because this Sunday’s game might pose a tall task to pass with high grades by Nuk. Hopkins, even logging just 15 snaps against Green Bay his last time out, still reached 8.6 PPR points in Week 8 (2-2-66). Before that: 20.7, 20.5, and 18.3 PPR points were his fantasy tallies. Hopkins is just that good, folks. If he’s back, healthy, and plays to his average, then you’d think it’d be safe to assume he would excel on the field. Only he’ll be facing a tuff-as-nails D-man in Reed Jr.
D.J. Reed Jr., he of the Seattle Seahawks secondary, is pretty much the yin to Marco Wilson’s yang (read his blurb above). Reed has covered the eighth-most routes among both CBs and safeties through Week 10 doing so 393 times. Massive volume, sure, but midget numbers against his coverage all things considered. The 56 targets are really high for this man’s exploits, so Kyler better be actually avoiding him at all costs. Reed is one of two defenders targeted 55+ times with a pass-completion rate below 50%. He has given up 372 yards on those receptions, the fifth-lowest among those in that group. He has only 2 TDs against his coverage, tied for the second-fewest in that 16-player group. Even on a larger group of players (143 of them) with 200+ routes covered Reed’s 1.36 FP/Target and 0.19 FP/Route allowed would still rank in the 84th and 53rd percentiles. No joke.