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NFL DFS – WR/CB Matchups (Week 1)

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Wide Receiver and Cornerback matchups are one of the staples of fantasy football. A lot of people will take a look at the overall matchup on defense. While that is important, it is also critical to take your research a step further and dive into the micro matchup between the WR and who he is lining up against the majority of the game.

Best Matchups:

Terry McLaurin vs Michael Davis

McLaurin has already made a name for himself while entering only his third year as a pro. He has seen increases in his stats every season so far outside of touchdowns, which should regress back to a higher number this season as their offense should take another step forward. Last season, McLaurin averaged 74.5 yards per game and 5.8 receptions per game on 9 targets per game. He looks to take another step forward this season as he tries to enter that WR1 fantasy territory.

Luckily for McLaurin, he starts the season off in an extremely favorable matchup. Just two seasons ago the Chargers were known for having one of the top defenses in the league but things have changed. This season they will be without former pro-bowler Casey Hayward, while also losing a vital vetern pass rusher; Melvin Ingram. Michael Davis has been a starting corner for the Chargers for the last three years and has yet to improve. He allowed 1.22 yards per route covered last season and a target on 16% of those routes covered while allowed a 61% catch rate.

At their 80% zone rate, the Chargers rank top 5 in zone usage across the league, this benefits Terry McLaurin immensely. Normally we see a big hit to top players moving from man schemes to zone but that is not the case with McLaurin mainly due to his work after the catch. Scary Terry ranks third in the league in yards after catch per reception while facing zone coverage with 5.6, while only decreasing from 6.1 YAC/REC in man coverage. This is one of the lowest decreases in the league. With a projected higher aDOT with the gunslinger, Ryan Fitzpatrick under center expect a much higher bump in yards before the catch on top of his fantastic yards after catch ability.

According to the Projections Portal, McLaurin is projected to be the 11th highest scoring WR on the slate with 15.08 fantasy points.

 

DeAndre Hopkins vs Janoris Jenkins

DeAndre Hopkins is one of, if not, the best Wide Receiver in the league. This puts him in favorable matchups week in and out unless he is going up against one of the top corners in the league. Hopkins looks to further add to his chemistry with Kyler Murray as the pair get another year under their belts as teammates. This will be the first real offseason the two have to work together so I am excited to see how they used their time to get on the same page. Hopkins is coming off another pro bowl season where he went for 1407 yards, with 115 receptions on 160 targets and 6 touchdowns. Hopkins was also a major talking point in this week’s NFL Podcast, seems like all of DFSkarma is on him this week.

Hopkins gets matched up against the 32-year-old cornerback in his first season with the Titans, after being with the Saints for two seasons. The Titans overall are not a great defense so expect the Cardinals to air it out all game. The Titans allow 0.27 PPR points per route to WRs and 1.21 yards per route. Last season Jenkins gave up at least six or more targets in 10 games and at least 60 yards in six games. Expect those numbers to increase as he joins a team with an even worse defense than the Saints.

According to the Projections Portal, Hopkins is projected to be the 5th highest scoring WR on the slate with 19.06 fantasy points.

 

Brandon Aiyuk vs Jeff Okudah

Aiyuk is coming off a great rookie season. Luckily for him, he is going to have Jimmy Garoppolo under center. Even though the future is Trey Lance I prefer getting Garoppolo under center for Aiyuk to reach his ceiling. Aiyuk was not able to complete his rookie season as he only played 12 games and 11 full games. If you exclude the first start of his career, in 10 full games Aiyuk had 712 yards, 57 receptions on 91 targets with 7 total touchdowns. His abilities after the catch and his usage in the rushing game made him one of the best offensive weapons in the league in just his rookie season.

He is going to be lined up against another sophomore, number three overall pick Jeff Okudah. Unlike Aiyuk, Okudah did not have a great rookie campaign. Per PFF, Okudah was graded out as the worst coverage corner in the league last season. He gave up 15.2 yards per reception, a 76% reception percentage, a target every 5 snaps, and a reception every 6.6 snaps. Those numbers are some of the worst in the league. On top of that, the Lions’ defense overall was horrid. Giving up 0.33 PPR points per route run and 1.82 yards per route run. Expect a big day from the 49ers’ offense, headed by Aiyuk.

According to the Projections Portal, Aiyuk is projected to be the 15th highest scoring WR on the slate with 13.88 fantasy points.

 

Worst Matchups:

Diontae Johnson vs Tre’Davious White

Johnson was one of the most targeted WRs in the league last season and looks to grow that number again this season as the Steelers look to run more two WR sets, leaving Juju as the potential odd man out. He recorded double-digit targets in 10 out of the 13 games he played more than 75% of snaps. Injuries cut a few games short so his numbers are a little skewed for targets per game. He averaged 10.6 targets per game in those games where he played more than 75% of the snaps. This would have ranked him first in the league in targets per game and would have made him only one of three WRs with at least 10 targets per game. If he can stay healthy it is not out of the question that he leads the league in targets. Although, that path to the most targeted WR in the league may start on Sunday he lines up against one of the top corners in the league.

Unfortunately for Johnson, he looks to be getting the Tre’Davious White shadow treatment to start the season. White held all but two WRs to under 60 yards during the regular season. White also did a great job controlling the wideout after the catch, never allowing more than 17 yards after the catch during the regular season. This was mainly because he only missed three tackles all last season, a rate of only 7.7%. White was also fifth-best in the league allowing a target on only 11% of routes covered and 0.94 yards per route. The Steelers may have to go away from those two WR sets they are supposed to be running to get Juju lined up in the slot, one of their weak points of the Bills’ defense.

Courtland Sutton vs James Bradberry

Sutton looked great in the preseason, which slowly moved his adp up. He did not have much luck with the injury bug last season. After coming off a preseason AC joint sprain, Sutton came back in week two only to tear his ACL midway through the one game he played last year. This coming after putting up 66 yards on three receptions and six targets while only playing 40% of offensive snaps.

Unfortunately for Sutton, he starts his 2021 NFL campaign against one of the best corners in the league, James Bradberry. Bradberry is known for shutting down elite talent within his division when he was in Carolina, taking on the likes of Mike Evans and Michael Thomas four total times a year. Bradberry allowed a 56% reception percentage, a target every eight snaps, and a reception every 14 snaps. All numbers fall within the top 15 in the league. Bradberry was also top 5 in the league with only 0.18 fantasy points per route run and a league-best target on only 13% of routes covered. One bright spot for Sutton is the potential for yards after the catch. Bradberry had issues wrapping up WRs after the catch, he has a missed tackle on 25% of his receptions allowed ranking worst in the league.

Sterling Shepard vs Bryce Callahan

Shepard is coming off another injury-filled season where he only played 12 games last season, but was able to play through week seven and on. After week seven, Shepard averaged eight targets per game, converting that into 5.8 receptions per game, 58 yards, and four total touchdowns. As Daniel Jones progresses through another offseason this should help improve his connection with Shepard. On top of that, the Giants added a true WR1, Kenny Golladay, who is also already dealing with a hamstring injury. It appears like we are going to see another season full of Giants injuries and the season hasn’t even started yet.

Callahan is expected to slide back into the slot corner role as the Denver Broncos look to start a healthy team. He started four total games as the main slot corner. During those four games, he allowed 6 receptions on 14 targets and 41 yards while in the slot. He covered 107 routes, while only allowing a target every 7.6 snaps and a reception every 17.8 snaps. If he sustained that throughout the season they would rank fourth and first best in the league respectively. Callahan is one of the best slot corners in the league, now getting the chance to showcase his talents potentially for the whole season he should start to earn the respect throughout the league he deserves.

Individual WR/CB Matchup Chart

 

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