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Week 9 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 9

Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/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 Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Marquise Brown (BAL) vs. Bashaud Breeland (MIN)

Do we love Baltimore’s passing game? Not a lot. Do we love Marquise Brown turning stones into gold? You bet. Brown has had a couple of stinking games, but those are on the fluky/outlier side of things rather than a weekly event. Brown has gathered at least 5 targets in each game he’s played, and 7+ in four of them. The results? An average of 18.4 PPR points per game through Week 7 (the Ravens were off the schedule last week) with Brown hitting a season-high in W5 against Indy (10-9-125-2) and coming off a game against Cincy in which he reached 19 PPR points to the tune of a 14-5-80-1 line.

Do you know what would happen this weekend if Bashaud Breeland has to defend 14 targets opposite Brown? Oh, boy, bring some offensive fireworks. Breeland has defended a more than respectable 241 routes this season in seven games. He’s been targeted in 46 of those (19.1%) and he’s allowed those passes to end in completions 29 times for a 63% completion rate and an astonishingly high 428 yards (!) against his coverage. That’s the sixth-most yards allowed among defenders with at least 100 routes covered, and WRs have scored 4 TDs on this poor soul already, almost one every other week he’s been out there on the field. Ugh.

Cooper Kupp (LAR) vs. Elijah Molden (TEN)

Not that you will ever doubt starting or playing Kupp in DFS contests, but this week could very easily see this man explode for a season-high tally, folks. Considering Kupp has already had four games above 30-PPR points on the year, that should be a pretty bold statement and prediction to make here, but it’s not. Kupp has gotten targeted 10+ times all year with the exception of Week 8—even then, he reached 24.5 PPR points with a masterful 9-7-115-1 line. Kupp is just a freaking rock-solid play and a real/fantasy MVP candidate (impossible not being a QB) and a true OPOY contender. And this week’s matchup can only boost his chances.

Why? Well, because Elijah Molden. That’s why. Molden, he of the Kingless Titans, is probably not the worst CB ever, or even the worst CB on the NFL this season. But it can’t get much worse than this man’s numbers... Molden has defended 202 routes so far in 8 games (only 3 starts, though), and he’s been targeted a low 24 times by opposing quarterbacks. There is no reason not to bomb passes this CB’s way on a snap-to-snap basis, seriously, and I expect Matthew Stafford to exploit the Kupp/Molden matchup as much as anyone has to date. Molden is allowing 66.7% of his targets to end in the WRs hands, has surrendered 3 TDs on the year, and the Pass Rating of QBs targeting him is a surreal 119.1. That’s the eight-worst mark among CBs targeted 24+ times this season.

Top WR/CB Matchups To Avoid

Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

A.J. Brown (TEN) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR)

Brown seems to be back. That cannot be argued. That is as real as it gets. Brown has put up 16+ PPR points in three consecutive games and an even better 27+ in back-to-back games prior to this weekend’s affair with the Rams. He’s getting 9+ targets weekly these days, and he’s done enough to finish with 7, 8, and 10 receptions to go with 2 combined TDs and an average of 126 receiving yards in that three-game span. That’s no joke, I know. And now with King Henry down injured and missing time, odds are Brown gets even more looks from Ryan Tannehill.

That being said, the Rams have featured a stud on the front-line in Aaron Donald, just traded for another ass-whopping rusher in Von Miller, and most probably will be shadowing Brown with bonafide all-timer Jalen Ramsey. It is what it is, and you better accept this is not looking very good for Brown sooner rather than later. Brother Ramsey is defending routes like a madman with 334 to his name already (via PFF), which ranks fourth-highest among CBs this year. Even though Ramsey has been targeted a high 51 times, such is his defensive-play volume that he only averages a target every 6+ routes covered. Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, Ramsey is just surrendering 0.23 FP/Route (15th-best mark among CBs with 250+ Routes covered) and 1.50 FP/Target (10th-best among CBs with 40+ targets). Tall task this one for A.J., I’m afraid, and even more with a dishonest D given Henry’s absence.

Diontae Johnson (PIT) vs. Jaylon Johnson (CHI)

Diontae has been a steady producer this season, and there is no doubt about that. He missed W3, but he’s played every other Steelers game averaging 18 PPR points per game while never falling below a 14.6 (W1) mark through Week 8. This man has been a lock to put up 6+ receptions, 12+ targets, and 70+ yards weekly with ease. He’s been kept off the scoring sheet for two games straight, yes, but it’s not that he’s needing those bonus points to thrive and stay a perennial WR2 no matter what. He’s been just that good even enduring QB Ben Roethlisberger. Just imagine.

Now, even then, he’ll have to deal with Jaylon Johnson this weekend for most of his snaps, or at least that’s how PFF has it on its projections. And if that’s the case, there is a very serious threat to Johnson’s upside and potential outcome, which could fall below the 14-mark for the first time this year. Johnson’s case isn’t far from that of Ramsey, all things considered. Johnson has been on the field for all eight Bears’ games manning the right corner and he’s already logged 298 routes covered. His 43 targets are even fewer on a per-route basis than those of Ramsey, and Johnson has allowed a lower 48.8% completion rate to opposing QBs while surrendering just 360 yards and 2 TDs in those eight games. In the simplest terms: Jaylen Johnson is one of only 11 CBs with 40+ targets-against giving up fewer than 1.60 FP/Route and less than 0.23 FP/Target. Good luck to our boy Diontae.