WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade – Week 1 – RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Courtland Sutton - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

The NFL season is finally here, and I’m excited to share the completely free WR/CB Matchup Chart for the third straight year.

Over the past two seasons I’ve tweaked my process to make the chart more user-friendly and predictive, but NFL teams are moving receivers more than ever in today’s game. It’s hard to pinpoint which CB each WR will be matched up against. The chart is designed to give a 1-vs-1 matchup for each player, but the reality is that most NFL WRs will see a mix of all the DBs they face each week. The chart is best used to understand how teams defend outside vs. inside receivers if teams shade, and how much emphasis they put on slowing down the opposing WR1.

Week 1 is always especially interesting because of player movement and coaching changes. The PPGA (points per game against) column is empty, and the only metric to help describe matchups is my rating of each CB. This ranking is derived from film study, player profiles, and advanced statistics.

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WR vs. CB details

The CB Matchup Chart below is a snapshot of each team’s cornerback group as it relates to allowing fantasy points. There are inherent flaws within the cornerback data compilation. The first is the fact that quantifying a 1-on-1 matchup in an NFL game is unfair because of zone coverages, mental mistakes, certain passing concepts and a million other things. Assigning fantasy points against a cornerback is not a perfect science.

The purpose of this chart is to give a more general sense of how defenses handle opposing WR groups rather than identifying exactly where, when and how each encounter occurred. Another factor to consider is that players are listed according to where they rank most of the time. Most receivers don’t line up on the same side on every snap, so they won’t be matched up with the same CB on every snap.

The “Rtng” column is each cornerback’s rating based on film study and analysis. The lower a player is rated, the easier the matchup for the WR, so low ratings are green and high ratings are red. The “PPGA” is the number of fantasy points per game the player has given up on average this year (in Week 1 it is blank). Remember that team scheme is a huge factor in points allocated to specific players. A name in blue means that the corner could potentially overshadow the WR1. A name in red means the player is dealing with an injury.

Cornerback Ratings and Matchups Chart – Week 1

Click image for full screen view

WR/CB Matchups to Target

Fantasy managers are excited about Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, and Week 1 features a great matchup for AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. Jeff Okudah was a high draft pick, but he had a difficult and injured first two seasons. The Lions have been a team to target the last two years.

Terry McLaurin is locked in as the Commanders WR1 with new QB Carson Wentz. He gets a matchup with Tyson Campbell, who struggled mightily in his rookie year.

Tyreek Hill gets an easy matchup against Patriots RCB Jalen Mills in Week 1. Jaylen Waddle should also see a lot of snaps at LWR, so he gets an upgrade as well.

All three Cincinnati WRs have easy matchups against a relatively poor Steelers CB trio. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd are likely to rotate pick weeks if one of them isn’t injured. Hopefully the Bengals’ pass percentage goes up this year.

Courtland Sutton should be the primary LWR for Russell Wilson in Denver. In Week 1 he will see Mike Jackson, a former 5th-round pick who was cut by the Cowboys last year. Jackson has the length that Pete Carroll likes in his corners, but his profile makes him a huge question mark. The Seahawks will start another 5th rounder against Jackson in rookie Tariq Woolen from UTSA. Woolen beat out Artie Burns and Coby Bryant for the starting job, but he’s also unproven. KJ Hamler gets a bump and remember Jerry Jeudy should also see a lot of snaps out there.

It will be very interesting to see how the Chiefs deploy their WRs this season. Whoever sees the most of Cardinals’ LCB Marco Wilson will have an advantageous matchup. It could be Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman, or even JuJu Smith-Schuster depending on personnel and formation.

George Pickens was a star at Steelers camp and earned a starting spot opposite Diontae Johnson. Pickens will see the highly flammable Eli Apple in his first game for Pittsburgh.

Drake London is another newcomer with an easy pairing on paper. I’m not exactly sure who will get the most snaps at RWR for the Falcons, but if London matches up with Saints second-year CB Paulson Adebo, he could have a big debut.

Another newcomer could be in a pie contest in Treylon Burks. Whoever matches up with Giants RCB Aaron Robinson could have a huge day. I have Robert Woods penciled in for the most RWR snaps, meaning he would see more of the awesome Adoree Jackson. It will be interesting to see the lineup of Burks, Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

Slot WRs with additional matchups include Jarvis Landry vs. the Falcons, Russell Gage vs. the Cowboys, Keenan Allen vs. the Raiders, and Byron Pringle vs. the 49ers. Jakobi Meyers, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Allen Lazard (if healthy), and Christian Kirk, also get a bump.

WR/CB Matchups to Downgrade

The Falcons already had one of the best young CBs in the league in AJ Terrell, but also added veteran Casey Hayward, who has been solid at limiting opposing WRs throughout his career. It’s not an easy matchup for Michael Thomas or Chris Olave.

Diontae Johnson should see most of his snaps at LWR, and Bengals RCB Chidobie Awuzie is Cincy’s best cover. It’s not ideal for Johnson.

DK Metcalf actually produced well with Geno Smith last year, but it was obviously a very small sample size. I wouldn’t feel overconfident about him against Patrick Surtain II, who had a brilliant rookie year.

Justin Jefferson is obviously a must-start every week, but he should see a heavy dose of Jaire Alexander, who is arguably the best cover corner in the entire NFL. Davante Adams also gets a matchup boost against the Chargers talented CB group, but he’s still a great play that should see plenty of targets.

Brandin Cooks plays all around the formation, but the Colts have two very formidable CBs in Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore in the slot. It’s not a great match for Cooks.

Two young WRs with a chance to break out will face the top two rookie CBs in the league in Week 1. Michael Pittman Jr. will have his hands full with Derek Stingley Jr., while Rashod Bateman will have to deal with Jets’ RCB Sauce. Gardner. I expect those two rookies to be very tough matchups throughout the year.

Xavien Howard, Denzel Ward, and Darius Slay are three of the toughest matchups for RWRs. If you were for any reason considering playing Robbie Anderson, Kendrick Bourne or Josh Reynolds, consider looking elsewhere.

The top slot corners will face non-starting WRs this week, but the chart will update easy and tough slot contests as the year goes on. The Bills have been great at limiting opposing slot fantasy points, but it doesn’t matter in Week 1. Cooper Kupp plays around the formation and can’t be stopped.

Thanks for reading and good luck this week.

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