Fantasy football Week 11 shadow report: Key WR/CB matchups

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By utilizing our play-by-play data, we’re able to identify defensive schemes and where each wide receiver and cornerback lines up on each play. By tracking these WR/CB matchups, including potential shadow situations, we can offer the best projections, rankings, sit/start decisions and fantasy advice each week. Fantasy football is a weekly game, so knowing the matchups can also help you make the best waiver-wire pickups.

Down below are the receivers with the best and worst matchups this week, as well as the corresponding fantasy impact.

To view the primary defenders the top three wide receivers for each team will see this weekend, be sure to check out our weekly WR vs. CB Cheatsheet.

Note that, unless otherwise noted, references to where teams rank in statistical categories adjusts to a per-game basis in order to avoid distortion due to bye weeks.

Advantageous Matchups

Titans’ A.J. Brown and Marcus Johnson vs. Texans’ Desmond King, Tavierre Thomas and Terrance Mitchell

Houston is back from its bye week, but it’s hard to imagine that major improvements were made to a pass defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season, including the most over the past month. Houston is middle of the pack in overall fantasy points to the position, but has been worse as of late, allowing the second-most over the past month. Perimeter corner play has been the major problem area, as Thomas and King (who has been benched multiple times) have struggled.

Brown aligns all over the formation, but will spend close to 60% of his day against Thomas and Mitchell. Brown aligns inside 38% of the time, so he’ll also see Thomas, who has shown well in the slot. Overall, it’s a good matchup for Brown and certainly an opportunity for a “fix me” game after his Week 10 dud. Johnson (85% perimeter) is also in a good spot, but his inconsistent usage makes him very hard to trust.

Seahawks’ DK Metcalf vs. Cardinals’ Marco Wilson

It’s rare that a 1-on-1 matchup opportunity appears in this column without the shadow designation, but that’s what we have here. Metcalf aligns at left perimeter receiver 53% of the time, which is where Wilson has spent 94% of his coverage snaps this season. The fourth-round rookie has struggled mightily, having been targeted on 21% of his coverage snaps and allowing a hefty 0.40 fantasy points per route. The Cardinals are a bit better than average in terms of fantasy points allowed to receivers, but they’ve allowed the ninth-most points to Wilson’s side of the field.

Metcalf will see Byron Murphy Jr. in the slot and Robert Alford on the other side of the field occasionally, but running more than half his routes against Wilson sets him up for a nice week.

Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle, Preston Williams and Albert Wilson vs. Jets’ Michael Carter II, Bryce Hall and Javelin Guidry

Following a better-than-expected start to the season, the wheels have fallen off the Jets’ pass defense. New York has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers over the past month (second most over expected), as well as the third most to the perimeter and 12th most to the slot. Hall and Guidry (who is filling in for injured starter Brandin Echols) will man the perimeter, leaving fifth-round rookie Carter to handle the slot. The inexperience and lack of pedigree has been a problem in recent weeks and will be to the benefit of Miami’s wideouts this week. Waddle has worked from the slot on 64% of his routes this season and can be upgraded against Carter. Wilson is the de facto No. 2 wide receiver with Will Fuller V and DeVante Parker still out and makes for a deep-league sleeper. Williams is too risky to play in most formats, but he nonetheless is in a good spot.

Ravens’ Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay and Marquise Brown vs. Bears’ Jaylon Johnson, Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor

Chicago returns from its bye week having allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. The Bears have allowed the eighth most over the past month, including the fifth most to the perimeter and 10th most to the slot. Second-year corner Johnson has flashed at times, but he has struggled against top corners and quarterbacks haven’t avoided throwing at him. Johnson is the primary right perimeter corner with struggling Vildor on the left side and Shelley currently manning the slot.

Brown (68% perimeter) aligns all over the field and will see a fairly even share of the three corners. Bateman (82% perimeter) will see Johnson most often. Duvernay worked the slot and played ahead of Sammy Watkins last week. He’ll see plenty of Shelley in this one. All three receivers can be upgraded, with Brown and Bateman the viable fantasy starters.

Other notable upgrades:

Bills’ Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders vs. Colts’ Xavier Rhodes, Kenny Moore II and Rock Ya-Sin

Eagles’ DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor vs. Saints’ Marshon Lattimore, P.J. Williams and Paulson Adebo

Cardinals’ Christian Kirk vs. Seahawks’ Ugo Amadi (slot)

Chargers’ Keenan Allen vs. Steelers’ Tre Norwood (slot)

Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb vs. Chiefs’ L’Jarius Sneed (slot)

Packers’ Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. Vikings’ Cameron Dantzler, Mackensie Alexander and Bashaud Breeland

Tough Matchups

Buccaneers’ Mike Evans vs. Giants’ James Bradberry (shadow)

Buccaneers’ Antonio Brown or Tyler Johnson vs. Giants’ Adoree’ Jackson (shadow)

The Giants started the season in an underwhelming fashion in terms of their ability to slow opposing wide receivers. A lot of that was volume based, however, as the Giants have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points over expected (13th most straight up) this season. We’ve seen some reversion to the mean in recent weeks (at least against perimeter receivers) as the Giants have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to outside receivers over the past month. That’s hardly a surprise with standouts Bradberry and Jackson playing on the outside.

The most notable matchup this week features Evans against longtime rival Bradberry. During his four seasons in Carolina, Bradberry racked up 2,080 coverage snaps. A ridiculous 201 (or 9.7%) of those plays came while lined up against Evans. On those snaps, Evans caught 30 of 61 targets for 387 yards and one touchdown. Four of the targets were intercepted. Bradberry shadowed Evans in seven of the eight games, and Evans averaged 12.2 fantasy points per game in the seven showdowns. His only touchdown came in 2016, and he averaged 64.7 yards per game despite a massive 9.9 targets per game. These teams faced off last season as well (Bradberry’s first with New York), and Evans was, once again, shadowed by Bradberry. Evans posted a decent 5-55-1 receiving line on seven targets in the game with most of that coming against Bradberry. Needless to say, Bradberry has had Evans’ number for the most part, but last season’s performance suggests there’s no need for major panic in what projects as a ninth showdown between the two standouts.

If Brown returns this week, he’ll also be safe to play, but the matchup won’t be a cake walk against Jackson, who has arguably outplayed Bradberry this season. If Brown is out, Johnson can be avoided, especially considering his recent duds in Brown’s place. New York has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the slot (third most over the past month), so Godwin (68% slot) can be upgraded against Darnay Holmes.

Colts’ T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal and Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Bills’ Tre’Davious White, Taron Johnson and Levi Wallace

Some garbage-time production led to Buffalo allowing a season-high 194 yards to the opposing wide receiver room last week, and yet the Bills’ numbers against the position are still elite. Buffalo has allowed the fewest fantasy points (fewest over expected), receiving yards and touchdowns to wide receivers, as well as the lowest yards per target (5.7) and catch rate (58%). The Bills have also allowed the fewest fantasy points to the perimeter. White continues to be a dominant presence on the perimeter and, while it’s certainly not a lock, he’s a candidate to shadow Pittman (78% perimeter) this week.

It’s already a tough matchup, so that added risk makes Pittman a major downgrade this week. Hilton (81% perimeter) will see a ton of Wallace and, if he doesn’t shadow Pittman, White. Pascal will work primarily against Johnson, one of the league’s best slot corners. Hilton and Pascal shouldn’t be in lineups. No wide receiver has reached 17.0 fantasy points against Buffalo this season.

Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn and Adam Thielen vs. Packers’ Rasul Douglas, Chandon Sullivan and Eric Stokes

Green Bay’s defense has been red hot as of late, which is incredible when you consider that stars Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith have been sidelined. Green Bay has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season (second fewest over expected), as well as the third fewest over the past month (fewest over expected). The Packers have been middle of the pack against the slot but very good against the perimeter (seventh fewest). Kevin King, Douglas and first-round rookie Stokes have been manning the perimeter and will be the primary competition for Jefferson (68% perimeter) and Thielen (74%) this week. Osborn (56% slot) will see Sullivan inside most often, though his targets have dwindled and he’s barely on the fantasy radar at this point. Jefferson and Thielen are lineup locks, but lower expectations and consider avoiding in DFS.

49ers’ Deebo Samuel vs. Jaguars’ Shaquill Griffin (shadow)

There aren’t many clear-cut shadow scenarios this week, but perhaps the most likely one features Griffin traveling with Samuel. Griffin has shadowed several times this season, including in all three games since Jacksonville’s Week 7 bye. Results have varied in his meetings with A.J. Brown (3-38-0 receiving line in the game), DK Metcalf (6-43-2), Stefon Diggs (6-85-0) and, most recently, Michael Pittman Jr. (5-71-0). Samuel (72% perimeter) rarely aligns in the slot, so he figures to align against Griffin on most of his routes this week. There’s no need for major panic here, especially with Samuel getting work at running back, but Griffin is Jacksonville’s top corner and has played well, so it’s a notable matchup. While Griffin is chasing Samuel around, Brandon Aiyuk will be in a good spot against rookie Tyson Campbell on the other side of the field and can be upgraded. Despite Griffin’s solid play and the surprising emergence of Rudy Ford in the slot in recent weeks, Jacksonville has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers overall and to the perimeter this season.

Other notable downgrades:

Saints’ Marquez Callaway, Tre’Quan Smith and Deonte Harris vs. Eagles’ Steven Nelson, Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay

WFT’s Terry McLaurin, Adam Humphries and DeAndre Carter vs. Panthers’ Donte Jackson, A.J. Bouye, Keith Taylor and Stephon Gilmore

Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green vs. Seahawks’ D.J. Reed and Tre Brown

Falcons’ Tajae Sharpe, Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus vs. Patriots’ Jalen Mills, Myles Bryant and J.C. Jackson

Bengals’ Tyler Boyd vs. Raiders’ Nate Hobbs (slot)

Source: ESPN

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