Pro Football Focus WR vs. CB Breakdown – NFL Week 16
Remember when fantasy matchup analysis used to be “Team A gives up the most fantasy points to wide receivers”? Well, we’ve moved from analog to digital and now look at matchups on an individual level. Each week, I dig through the actually coverage tendencies for all 32 NFL teams and compile this information in the Pro Football Focus WR/CB Matchup Chart. Here are this week’s upgrades and downgrades.
Week 16 Matchup Upgrades
Allen Robinson vs. Tennessee – We have the makings of a bizarro week in the NFL, as Todd Gurley projects as a potential top-five running back, and Robinson has WR1 potential. We’re not going to go quite that far, but the Jacksonville receiver is worth strong consideration based on his matchup. With Jason McCourty banged up, the Titans will be forced to turn to LeSahaun Sims to play along with Antwon Blake. Sims is a rookie fifth-rounder who gave up eight catches for 108 yards and a score to the Bears in Week 12, and Blake was the only corner to allow over 1,000 yards in his coverage last season. Robinson is volatile because of Blake Bortles, but he certainly offers upside this week.
Cameron Meredith vs. Washington – With Alshon Jeffery likely to draw Josh Norman, Meredith has the potential to see plenty of volume this week. With Redskins rookie CB Kendall Fuller benched, Meredith will square off against Bashaud Breeland. A standout last year, Breeland has largely struggled this season, allowing a catch on 64.1 percent of his targets and surrendering five touchdowns.
Mohamed Sanu vs. Carolina – It’s extremely rare to see a corner allow a catch on over 80 percent of his targets, but Leonard Johnson is doing just that this season. Receivers have caught 33-of-41 targets in his coverage, include all six this past Monday night. That means good things for Sanu this week. He’s a sneaky WR3 play.
Other matchup upgrades: Odell Beckham Jr. is set to go ham on the Eagles this week. He moves around the formation, but will line up against Nolan Carroll most frequently. Carroll has surrendered two scores in his last four games. … Antonio Brown is set to rebound after a lackluster Week 15 performance. He’ll likely see coverage from Shareece Wright, with Jimmy Smith still banged up. Wright has allowed six receiving touchdowns this season. … And to complete the elite fantasy trio, Mike Evans could go nuclear in New Orleans this weekend. With Delvin Breaux banged up, the Saints may have to turn to Ken Crawley again. Crawley grades out 106th out of 120 qualifiers. … Try to get a piece of the Chargers receiving corps this weekend if you can. Tyrell Williams will likely see a shadow from Joe Haden, who has struggled this season. Dontrelle Inman gets a top-15 fantasy-points-per-route-run matchup against Tramon Williams. … Cole Beasley gets an upgrade in Week 16. He’ll see coverage from Asa Jackson, who allows a league-high 0.54 fantasy points per route run. … Brandin Cooks went nuts last week, but this week it could be Michael Thomas’ turn. He’s going to square off against fellow rookie Vernon Hargreaves, who has allowed 22 of his last 25 targets to be caught. … Amari Cooper made the Pro Bowl, but has frustrated fantasy owners recently. However, he’s worth firing up this week in a plus matchup against Vontae Davis. Vernon’s brother has struggled for much of the season, allowing four touchdowns in his coverage. … The Colts didn’t need T.Y. Hilton last week, but they’re likely to lean heavily on him in a potential shootout. Hilton will see coverage from T.J. Carrie, who is seeing a target on 20 percent of his routes covered. … Julian Edelman leads all wide receivers in targets since Rob Gronkowski’s injury. The heavy volume will continue this week against the Jets with coverage likely to come from Juston Burris. If you’ve never heard of a cornerback, there’s a good chance Tom Brady will pick on him.
Tyreek Hill vs. Denver – The party could be over for Hill owners this week. The dynamic rookie has been a human highlight reel, but he’s also producing fantasy points at an unsustainable rate. Last week, he touched the ball just one time. He’s going to have his hands full on Sunday night with coverage coming from PFF’s No. 1 corner, Chris Harris Jr. Hill still offers upside, but he’s an extremely volatile play in this brutal matchup.
J.J. Nelson vs. Seattle – There isn’t likely to be a shadow situation in this contest, as Richard Sherman mainly played his side the last time these two teams met. However, that side happens to be where Nelson lines up most frequently. Sherman allows a catch on just 47 percent of his targets, and hasn’t surrendered more than three receptions since Week 8. Nelson isn’t an ideal play this week.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Washington – He returned from suspension and put up a strong fantasy line, but Jeffery should be downgraded this week. We’re likely to see at least a partial shadow for Jeffery from Josh Norman, who continues to play well following his breakout 2015 campaign. Norman has held opposing receivers to a 55.1-percent catch rate this season.
Terrelle Pryor vs. San Diego – Not only is he dealing with an injured finger, but Pryor also figures to see shadow coverage from ascending talent Casey Hayward this week. Hayward has impressed in relief of Jason Verrett, allowing just 49 catches on 85 targets despite having to face opposing No. 1 receivers on a nearly weekly basis. Pryor is a hard fade this week.
Other matchup uowngrades: If A.J. Green is able to return this week, he’ll draw a tough matchup against A.J. Bouye, who has allowed just two catches on 11 targets over the last two weeks. … The Chiefs may have found something in Terrence Mitchell. He stepped into the lineup in Week 13 and has allowed just seven catches on 19 targets. He won’t shadow, but is likely to be on Demaryius Thomas most frequently. … Jordy Nelson scored the last time the Packers faced the Vikings, but that was back in Week 2 when Xavier Rhodes was sidelined. Nelson will see plenty of Rhodes, which isn’t a good thing. That being said, Nelson does have the second-most fantasy points among wide receivers over the last five weeks. … Brandon Marshall has continued to trend down over the second half of the season. He’s essentially unplayable this week in a brutal matchup against Malcolm Butler, who is allowing a catch rate of just 55.2 percent. … Patrick Peterson isn’t likely to shadow this week, but he does lineup most frequently on Tyler Lockett’s side of the field. However, Lockett is still worth a look given how Brandin Cooks performed against Arizona last week.