Pro Football Focus WR vs. CB Breakdown- NFL Week 12 (Thanksgiving Special)
Based on this week’s matchups and projected shadow situations from Pro Football Focus, let’s take a look at the five most important wide receiver vs. cornerback matchups for Thanksgiving Thursday’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 94 cornerbacks to play at least 300 snaps.
Jameson Crowder vs. Orlando Scandrick – Scandrick has played poorly since returning from a year-long absence rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL. In six games this year, he’s seen 30 targets, allowing 24 receptions, 263 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a 125.4 passer rating when targeting him, which ranks ninth-worst. He also ranks bottom-20 in both fantasy points allowed per snap in coverage and fantasy points allowed per target. For the season, Dallas is allowing the most fantasy points per game to wide receivers out of the slot. Crowder runs roughly 73 percent of his routes from the slot, and has five straight games with either 100 yards or a touchdown. Though his target volume has been inconsistent, he still makes for a top play this week.
Jarius Wright (likely) vs. Quandre Diggs – Stefon Diggs has been Minnesota’s primary slot receiver this season. He is highly unlikely to play this week. When he sat out in Week 5, Wright drew the start, playing 60 percent of the team’s snaps and running 66 percent of his routes from the slot. He caught all four of his targets for 32 yards. Undoubtedly a guy who has played just 48 snaps all season is a tough sell, but at minimum price he’s at least worth consideration in a soft matchup on a short slate if Diggs is ruled out. Detroit’s starting slot cornerback, Diggs, is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per target. When targeted in coverage, opposing passers are averaging a Passer Rating of 134.3, which ranks fourth-worst. If Diggs plays, he catapults near the top of my wide receiver projections despite the injury.
Antonio Brown vs. Vontae Davis – In what would typically be a slight downgrade for Brown, Davis has not been performing as his typical self. He’s our 40th-worst-graded corner in coverage this season. He had graded among the top-20 in each of the last three seasons. Davis will likely shadow, but he’ll be no match for Antonio Brown who leads the league in fantasy points and ranks second in targets. In Pittsburgh’s last meeting against the Colts, Brown saw 11 targets, catching eight for 118 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a third touchdown on special teams. Both receiving touchdowns and 60 of those yards came on four targets against Davis. Davis is also dealing with an ankle injury and is officially “questionable” to play. If Davis is out, Brown’s sky-high fantasy ceiling grows even higher. Though even if he does play, Davis on a gimpy ankle shouldn’t be a concern for DFS players looking to pay up at wide receiver.
Dez Bryant vs. Josh Norman (likely shadow) – It’s not a lock Norman shadows in this contest, and indeed one beat writer suggested that won’t be the case, but given Norman’s history against Bryant, I’m not buying it. Bryant has seven career targets against Norman, catching just one ball for six yards. In Week 2 against the Redskins, before Washington started letting Norman shadow, Bryant caught seven of his nine targets against all other Washington corners, for a total of 102 yards. Last Thanksgiving, Bryant faced Norman’s Panthers, and was held to just two catches for 26 yards (on eight targets).
Washington’s other outside corner, Bashaud Breeland, is our 17th-worst-graded cornerback, and is giving up the 19th-most fantasy points per target. If there’s no shadow, Bryant should see plenty of Breeland, considering he runs roughly 53 percent of his routes from his side of the field. If Bryant is shadowed, he will be in for a long day against Norman who is allowing only 52 percent of the targets he’s seen go for completions – which ranks sixth-best. Norman is also allowing the 16th-fewest fantasy points per route in coverage.
Cole Beasley vs. Kendall Fuller – One consequence of a Josh Norman shadow for Dez Bryant would mean additional targets funneled elsewhere. Terrance Williams would have an attractive matchup against Bashaud Breeland, and we’ve outlined his deficiencies as a corner in the previous section. Beasley would have an even more attractive matchup against rookie slot corner Fuller as well. Since being named a starter, Fuller has seen 43 targets, allowing 33 receptions, 435 yards, one touchdown, and has not recorded an interception. Fuller ranks fifth-worst in yards per target, fifth-worst in catch percentage, sixth-worst in fantasy points per snap, and 13th-worst in opposing Passer Rating. Beasley, meanwhile, ranks second-best among all wide receivers on a fantasy points per snap basis. He doesn’t have much of a ceiling, but has hit at least 50 receiving yards in nine of his 10 games this year.