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Week 12 WR/CB Matchups: Who to target and avoid in NFL DFS lineups

Identifying the best and worst NFL DFS plays at the WR position based on CB matchups for Week 12

San Francisco 49ers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

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

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Deebo Samuel (SF) vs. Bashaud Breeland (MIN)

There is no point in arguing this has been Deebo’s breakout season anymore. Samuel hit the floor running with a 31.9-PPR point performance in Week 1, we all thought that was a freakish outlier, and then we had to eat an ‘L’ as Deebo kept racking up numbers on a weekly basis. In fact, Deebo has five WR1 finishes and has also entered the WR2 realm in all but two of his 10 games played this season. Some people might fade Samuel this week knowing he’s coming off back-to-back 5-or-fewer-target games, but the truth is that while he’s lacked that volume he’s still found ways to excel...on the ground with two rushing touchdowns (one against the Rams, one against Jacksonville). The receiving prowess should be back this week, though, with an underperforming CB projected to cover most of Deebo’s routes.

Bashaud Breeland has been atrocious this season. I’m sorry, but there is just no way I can sugarcoat that. BB has defended almost 350 routes (334 through Week 11) and he’s just sucked in defensive duties. As simple as that. Breeland is surrendering the highest FP/Route mark at 0.39 (among 142 defenders with 200+ routes defended) and his FP/Target allowed is also sky-high at 1.87 (33rd percentile). That latter number is definitely not horrid, but that’s only because opposing quarterbacks are throwing balls in bunches toward Breeland knowing he’s going to flop sooner or later: Bashaud has been targeted a monster 62 times (9th-most), allowed 39 passes to end in receptions (6th-most; 62.9% completion rate), and allowed 4 TDs on the routes he’s defended already against just one interception... The 104.8 passer rating when targeted is the 8th-worst among CBs targeted 50+ times.

Cooper Kupp (LAR) vs. Chandon Sullivan (GB)

Kupp has turned into a bonafide WR1, perhaps even FFMOP1. I made that last thing up, but it means he’s for real about to become the Fantasy Football Most Outstanding Player of this the 2021 year of our lord. Kupp is only trailing RB Jonathan Taylor in total PPR points but the latter has one more game played. Kupp’s also way less volatile than Taylor on a weekly basis, even more of late: it’s been five games in a row with 20+ PPR points in his bag including two matches hitting 34+ FP. Kupp has strung five top-7 finishes among WRs, and he has been a top-5 fantasy player overall in three weeks already. Jesus. Kupp has only once seen fewer than 10 targets this season, has only once caught fewer than seven passes and has only once fallen below the 92-yard receiving mark. It’s not that you ever doubt this type of stud as a perennial starter/pick for your DFS squads, but you can rest assured you’re landing a surefire WR1 this week on Kupp.

And that doesn’t just have to do with Kupp himself, but his cover-corner this weekend in Packers’ Chandon Sullivan. No offense, but maybe Green Bay should be looking in another direction while Jaire Alexander is out? Sullivan has played in all 11 games this season but only in six of them as the “starter.” Even then, though, he’s been active as hell with 381 routes defended, one of only 41 CB/S with 350+ such marks. Now, in terms of production, things have not been that rosy for the corner. Sullivan has been targeted 40 times while allowing 26 receptions (65% completion rate). Not nightmarish, but still a high allowance rate. He’s been burned for 164 YAC, the sixth-largest mark in that 41-man cohort on both a per-target and a per-reception basis, and has intercepted just one ball. Again, this is definitely not the worst secondary D-man in the league but he’s a young, still developing one that will suffer a ton this week facing the best wideout in the NFL these days.

Top WR/CB Matchups To Avoid

Las Vegas Raiders v New York Giants Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Chase Claypool (PIT) vs. Chidobe Awuzie (CIN)

If you were wondering why Claypool was missing practice time on a weekly basis, well, we got news related to his status: Claypool seems to be navigating a turf toe injury and playing through pain, but he’s yet to miss ample playing time and/or games. The PPR points have been a little bit down on the year with very bouncy outcomes, but Claypool righted his wrongs last weekend with a 14.4-FP outing against the Chargers in which he caught 5-of-9 targets for 93 yards. He also had a couple of WR2-level games (18.6 and 24.0 PPR) in Weeks 3 and 5 sandwiching his W4 absence. The targets are never falling from five a game, and odds are he’s going to catch at least 3+ of them for some 65+ yards—and the touchdown count should positively regress and improve as he’s only scored once in eight games played. But man, this definitely doesn’t look like the weekend to bet on Chase given the tough corner he’s projected to be facing on most snaps come Sunday.

Enter Chidobe Awuzie, he of the Cincy Bengals. Awuzie has covered 348 routes through Week 11—one of only 69 players to do so—yet he’s allowing a reasonable 0.20 FP/Route to date. That’s definitely not the best mark out there and just an average one (42nd percentile), but what is outstanding is how Awuzie is limiting receivers when targeted. Chidobe boasts the fourth-best FP/Target mark at a measly 1.23 which is only worse than the averages of Jamel Dean, Tre’Davious White, and Devin McCourty. Awuzie has allowed 30 completions in 56 targets (53.6% rate) and allowed 271 yards on those plays with only 2 TDs surrendered against one interception. Awuzie’s 4.8 Y/T and 9.0 YPC allowed are the best marks among CBs targeted 50+ times this season. Uh, oh, talk about a bad matchup... not to mention Claypool’s shaky health.

DJ Moore (CAR) vs. Xavien Howard (MIA)

The Panthers have improved of late going 2-2 in the past four weeks compared to 0-4 in the prior month, and this weekend they face another lowly opponent in the Miami Dolphins. The third ‘W’ in a little over a month is definitely at reach for Cam & Co., but that will probably have to do with how well Carolina’s WR1 DJ Moore performs come game time. And the truth is, it feels like Moore was good ages ago and he’s now just a shell of himself. With Cam back Moore was able to finish with a 7-5-50-1 line in Week 11 and 16.0 PPR points against Washington. Prior to that, though, he had finished in the WR2 realm just once since Week 5 (included). Ugh. Tons of fantasy GMs will believe in the reality of that W11 rebound and bet on Moore against Miami, though Xavien Howard will be waiting for the wideout on the other side and that should scare pretty much everyone off playing Moore this weekend.

Howard is in the top-4 in routes defended with 445 already to his name. Only 23 players have reached 400+ this season, and Xavien Howard has dealt with the fourth-most targets in those routes having faced 64 passes already. Howard, though, has allowed only 57.8% of those to end in receptions for 456 yards. Obviously, the numbers feel large but that’s a consequence of the super-heavy volume he’s facing. On the larger picture, though, Howard is allowing just 7.1 Y/T and 1.85 FP/Target, both marks sitting above average levels of play among CB/S players with 350+ routes defended. While the touchdowns he’s allowed are already at six, that’s again mostly because of the vast amount of targets faced. Newton has the ability to challenge defenders deep and Moore is capable of pulling those catches off, but Cam will rush the rock on some of those vertical field-stretching plays limiting Moore’s upside and giving Howard some room to put the clamps on DJ.