Pro Football Focus WR vs. CB Breakdown – NFL Week 15
Based on this week’s matchups and projected shadow situations from Pro Football Focus, let’s take a look at some of the most important wide receiver vs. cornerback matchups for this weekend’s daily fantasy slate. If you’re a fan of this article, make sure you’re also checking out our WR v. CB Chart and the Shadow Matrix.
Notes: Any references to statistical and graded rankings for cornerbacks is out of all 97 cornerbacks to play at least 350 snaps, unless otherwise stated. Any reference to fantasy points is in point per receptions (PPR) scoring.
New York Jets Wide Receivers vs. Miami Cornerbacks – Byron Maxwell is projected to shadow Brandon Marshall this week, as he did in Week 9, when Marshall was held to 9.6 fantasy points on eight targets. Maxwell is our 10th-highest-graded cornerback in coverage and ranks top-10 in fantasy points allowed per snap in coverage and fantasy points allowed per target. In two Bryce Petty starts, Marshall has 11 targets, seven receptions, 48 yards, and no touchdowns.
The only New York Jets receiver I’m excited about is Robby Anderson, who should run roughly 88 percent of his routes against Tony Lippett. Lippett ranks bottom-25 in fantasy points allowed per snap in coverage and fantasy points allowed per target. Anderson was Petty’s most-targeted receiver this preseason (and his most successful target), and that’s clearly carried over to the regular season. With Petty at quarterback, Anderson owns 31 percent of the team’s targets, 61 percent of the air yards, and 51 percent of the passing yards. For reference, Mike Evans currently leads the league in target market share, also at 31 percent. Anderson represents a tremendous value at only $4,200 on DraftKings if you’re planning on playing the Saturday slate.
Oakland Wide Receivers vs. San Diego Cornerbacks – This week, we’re projecting Amari Cooper to be shadowed by Casey Hayward. Hayward is our fifth-highest-graded cornerback in coverage and ranks 17th-best in fantasy points allowed per target. Cooper is likely still somewhat in play in tournaments, but I like him much less than his fellow teammate, Michael Crabtree.
Over the past four weeks, Crabtree ranks fourth at the position in targets (37), totaling 12 more than Cooper over this span. With Brandon Flowers on IR and Hayward likely shadowing Cooper, Crabtree should run roughly 71 percent of his routes against undrafted rookie, Trevor Williams. On 27 career targets, Williams has allowed 15 receptions for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Jacksonville Wide Receivers vs. Houston Cornerbacks – Allen Robinson’s price has hit a season-low at $4,400 (on DraftKings), but don’t get tricked into thinking that puts him in play this week. Robinson runs 45 percent of his routes from A.J. Bouye’s side of the field, and should face him on the majority of his routes. When Robinson posted a 9-107-1 line on 13 targets against Houston in Week 10, Bouye sat out with an ankle injury. For the season, Bouye is our seventh-highest-graded cornerback in coverage and ranks fifth-best in fantasy points allowed per target. Robinson has only nine receptions and 90 yards over the last four weeks.
Since Week 11, fellow wide receiver, Marqise Lee has out-targeted him (31 to 24) and doubled him in fantasy points. Over this span, Lee ranks 12th at the position in targets and 22nd in fantasy points. Following Kevin Johnson’s recent injury, Lee should spend the majority of his time (roughly 49 percent) against Jacksonville’s Robert Nelson. Prior to last week’s game, Nelson had played on just 34 career snaps. Last week, he gave up six receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. There is a possibility Johnathan Joseph, last season’s fourth-highest-graded cornerback in coverage (of 118 qualifying), returns from a rib injury. Joseph ranks 15th-best in fantasy points allowed per target this season, and would push me off of Lee if he is not ruled inactive.
Jacksonville’s slot receiver, Allen Hurns, has the most attractive matchup, against Kareem Jackson, who is surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points per snap in coverage – but Hurns’ four receptions on 16 targets over his last four games keeps him out of play.
New Orleans Wide Receivers vs. Arizona Cornerbacks – After missing Week 14 with a foot injury, Michael Thomas sat out Week 14. He was back at practice on Wednesday, and we’re projecting Patrick Peterson to shadow him this week, which should keep him out of your DFS lineups. Peterson is our eighth-highest-graded cornerback in coverage and ranks eighth-best in fantasy points allowed per snap in coverage.
Brandin Cooks should then run roughly 54 percent of his routes against Marcus Cooper. Cooper has allowed the third-most fantasy points this season and is our fourth-worst graded cornerback in coverage. Cooks will have one of the highest ceilings of the week, assuming Peterson shadows Thomas.
Willie Snead has, perhaps, an even more attractive matchup against Tyvon Branch in the slot. With Tyrann Mathieu playing most of his snaps at safety this year, Arizona has struggled all season against slot wide receivers, but especially so as of late. Over the last five weeks, Arizona is allowing 20.5 fantasy points per game to wide receivers out of the slot, nearly four points per game more than the next-closest defense (16.7, San Francisco). Over this span, Jeremy Kerley, Adam Thielen, Mohamed Sanu, Jamison Crowder, and Jarvis Landry have combined for 33 targets, 27 receptions, 345 yards, and three touchdowns.
Baltimore Wide Receivers vs. Philadelphia Cornerbacks – Philadelphia’s starting right cornerback, Nolan Carroll, is our ninth-worst-graded cornerback in coverage. Philadelphia’s starting left cornerback, Leodis McKelvin, is allowing both the most fantasy points per snap in coverage and the most fantasy points per target.
In last week’s article I wrote:
“McKelvin has routinely been burnt deep this season. No defender has given up more plays of 30 yards or more (or 40 yards or more) this season. This bodes well for [DeSean] Jackson, who leads the league in percentage of targets to go for 30 or more yards (12.7 percent).”
Jackson caught an 80-yard touchdown pass against McKelvin last week.
A friend pointed out to me on Twitter today, “Since [Mike Wallace] entered the league (2009), only DeSean Jackson has recorded more 40-yard pass plays than Wallace.” As a similar player to Jackson, Wallace is a good bet to post a similar stat-line this week. He’s projected to run roughly 36 percent of his routes against McKelvin and 44 percent against Carroll. Smith will likely run 40 percent of his routes against McKelvin and 23 percent of his routes against Carroll. Despite likely running less total routes against McKelvin, Wallace is still my preferred punt-play option (over Smith Sr.) this week, seeing as he holds the higher-upside and the cheaper pricetag.
San Diego Wide Receivers vs. Oakland Cornerbacks – Since Week 5, if we exclude his two games against Denver, Tyrell Williams is averaging 18.3 fantasy points per game over his last seven games. Although he’s been less impressive since returning from a shoulder injury, averaging 10.8 fantasy points and only two receptions per game over his last two weeks, he’s still the wide receiver that excites me the most in this contest. Due to his somewhat disappointing performances in recent weeks, I think there’s a chance we can get him at low ownership in a deceptively attractive matchup.
Williams runs roughly 77 percent of his routes from the outside, which means he should spend nearly all of his day against Oakland’s outside cornerbacks, Sean Smith and David Amerson. Although both cornerbacks grade out among our 25 highest-graded cornerbacks in coverage, they both rank bottom-25 in fantasy points allowed per target. As a team, Oakland is allowing the second-most plays of 40 yards or more to wide receivers on the outside. The cornerback Williams should spend most of his day against (42 percent), Smith, is allowing the third-most plays of 40 or more yards. Williams, meanwhile, leads the league in plays of 40 or more yards. His 4.38 (forty yard dash) speed should be no match for Smith (4.50 forty yard dash in 2009).
New England Wide Receivers vs. Denver Cornerbacks – Julian Edelman has a few things going for him. He has 52 targets since Week 11, which ranks first at the position by, a whopping, nine targets over that span. He’s averaging 23.3 fantasy points per game over his last four games against Denver. Still, he has one massive thing going against him, and that’s that he’s about to set off against Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib on roughly 80 percent of his routes. He runs 52 percent of his routes from the slot, so most of his day will be up against Harris, Denver’s slot cornerback, and our highest-graded cornerback this season. For an in-depth look at why Harris has arguably been the best cornerback in the game since his rookie season, check out my love-letter to him here. The rest of the time he’ll face off against Talib, our second-highest-graded cornerback. Both rank top-five in fantasy points allowed per snap in coverage and fantasy points allowed per target. Edelman’s immense target share following Rob Gronkowski’s injury may keep him somewhat in play on tournaments, but he’s mostly a fade for me this week. If you’re thinking of taking a stab at Malcolm Mitchell or Chris Hogan and hoping one of them get lucky on a deep ball, I’d advise against it. Denver has allowed the fewest plays of 20, 30, and 40 yards or more to opposing wide receivers.