NFL DFS WR vs. CB Matchups to Monitor for Week 5 (Fantasy Football)
Integrating specific WR/CB matchups into your DFS process adds another layer of analysis into the mix. While this is only a piece of the puzzle, this tool allows you to better value ceiling-type plays for elite WRs who can run circles around their opponent.
I break up this WR/CB article into several categories: Alpha WRs, Slot Mavens, Discount Target Specials, and Full-On Fades. The goal is to go from the top-tier stars to move down to bargain WRs with excellent matchups. As always, make sure you use the tools found in the DFS Pass such as the Value Comparison and Buzz Report to discern which WR would be best in cash and tournament lineup builds.
The Bears have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to WRs, so the matchup doesn’t look great on the surface. Justin Jefferson has earned enough respect to be worthy of consideration regardless of opponent, but Chicago isn’t as tough as you might think. So far, they’ve played the 49ers, Packers, Texans, and Giants. The only opponent to have a WR even close to Jefferson’s talent is San Fransisco, and that game was essentially played under water.
Digging deeper, Jefferson has played the majority of his snaps aligned wide left, which is where Jaylon Johnson has lineup up almost exclusively. He also plays zone coverage 70% of the time. Jefferson’s 6.7 YAC/rec against zones is the second-highest in the league and points to him racking up extra yards. When he lines up in the slot, as he’s done 36% of the time, send help for Kyler Gordon. He’s allowing a near-perfect 158 QB rating in the slot, and a league-high 2.97 yards/snap from that area of the field.
You can’t get much more alpha than A.J. Brown, who carries PFF’s highest receiving grade among qualified WRs at 89.1 through four weeks. He has the third-most receiving yards, the third-most yards/RR, and the fourth-most YAC. Now he gets a juicy matchup with a Cardinals team that has allowed the most YAC in the NFL, 624 yards as a team. Brown has the chance to bust some signature explosive plays in Arizona this week in a matchup with a GPS score of 4, which you can read more about in this week’s pace of play article.
Maybe Terry McLaurin hasn’t earned the right to be considered an alpha WR yet, but he’ll certainly get his chance to take a step in that direction in Week 5. He should see his targets increase with the absence of Jahan Dotson, especially deep targets of 20+ yards. He’s already tied for the fifth-most deep targets in the league with eight, trailed closely by Dotson with seven. Obviously, Carson Wentz likes to chuck it deep. Scarry Terry has been great with them, earning the second-highest PFF grade (95.9) when targeted 20+ yards downfield.
The matchup with Tennessee doesn’t get much better. The Titans allow 8.2 yards/attempt, the second-highest in the league. None of their CBs are particularly intimidating, but the matchup with right corner Kristian Fulton is ideal. He’s allowing a perfect QB rating of 158.3 and 16.8 yards/rec when targeted.
Isaiah McKenzie returned to practice this week and is trending toward playing against Pittsburgh. 85% of his targets have come from the slot this season, and Josh Allen is sporting a league-high 140.8 QB rating when targeting McKenzie from that alignment. McKenzie is also leading the league with three touchdown catches from the slot. He’ll be matched up frequently with Pittsburgh’s nickel back Arthur Mallet, who’s allowed 1.72 yards/slot snap, the eighth-most among the 24 corners with at least 66 snaps in slot coverage. If McKenzie has a setback and can’t clear concussion protocol, rookie Khalil Shakir will man this slot role for Buffalo and becomes a discount target special, especially on DraftKings at just $3,200.
Featuring Christian Kirk as a full-on fade against Philly paid off last week, but I’m back on board with him this week against Houston. Despite his lackluster performance last week, he still has the second-most receiving yards (226) and an impressive 2.28 yards per route run from the slot. Desmond King II and the rest of the Houston DBs are a far cry from the Eagles secondary that held Kirk in check last week.
You may not immediately think of Darnell Mooney as a slot maven, but he’s aligning there 61% of the time this season. His numbers haven’t been great, thanks in large part to the wet weather and underwhelming quarterback play that he’s dealt with thus far, but at least the weather won’t be a problem in a dome game this week. Minnesota’s slot corner Chandon Sullivan has given up the fourth-most receiving yards and the most YAC to WRs from the slot. Mooney could finally have a strong fantasy game if the Bears decide to open it up just a little bit more than they did with their season-high 22 pass attempts last week.
Discount Target Specials
As mentioned earlier, Justin Jefferson will smash if the Vikings scheme him a handful of targets from the slot. Most of the time, however, it will be K.J. Osborn matched up with Kyler Gordon. Kirk Cousins has a 135.1 QB rating when targeting him in the slot, and as noted at the top, Gordon is allowing a nearly perfect QB rating when targeted there. If Osborn gets the targets, he should be well worth his affordable DFS salary.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine & Kyle Phlips
With Treylon Burks sidelined, there are available routes for wideouts in Tennessee against a Commanders team allowing the second-most fantasy points to the position. Robert Woods gets the most obvious bump, but both Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Kyle Philips are worthy of a throw at their discount salaries. Westbrook-Ikhine will get more snaps out wide while Burks is absent. There, he’ll get chances to take on Kendall Fuller, who’s allowing 15.5 fantasy points/game to wideouts. Phillips can return to the primary slot role, where he saw nine targets for 66 yards in Week 1.
I already mentioned how often Carson Wentz has been chucking deep to his wideouts and how good the matchup is for deep balls against Tennessee. It looks like Dyami Brown will get the chance to run under some of those deep balls this week.
Dotson was living solely on TDs so far, but WAS has been in 11 personnel on 89.4% of passing plays, which is 3rd in the league.
Dyami Brown is going to get some exercise at minimum. https://t.co/XKXCg7s7NY
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) October 3, 2022
It doesn’t cost much to roster Brown. In fact, his salary is lower than five other WRs named Brown, including Noah and Equanimeous. It will only take one big play for Dyami, exactly what he was known for when he entered the NFL last season, to pay off his salary in tournaments.
Marquise Brown ostensibly replaced Christian Kirk in Arizona, and now he’s replacing him in the fades section of this article. Simply put, the Philadelphia secondary has been elite.
Passer rating throwing at the dirt every snap: 39.6
Passer rating when targeting Darius Slay and James Bradberry: 28.3 pic.twitter.com/9UjeVT1LYs
— PFF (@PFF) October 6, 2022
Hollywood has been producing thus far in the desert, but he hasn’t leveled up to the alpha status that gives me confidence in a matchup this tough, especially when the other receiving weapons on his team are some combination of Rondale Moore, Zach Ertz, and the corpse of A.J. Green.
Even the biggest D.J. Moore truther like myself is starting to lose faith that the talented WR will ever see a true breakout. I’m certainly not expecting it this week against San Fransisco, the team allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.
Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Mosley have become one of the better CB tandems in the league, each earning top-20 coverage grades at the position from PFF. As a team, the Niners run zone coverage 68% of the time, and Moore has been downright dreadful against zone coverage. His 8.3 yards/rec, 6.2 aDOT, and 0.87 yards per route run, all rank in the bottom three among qualified WRs against zone. This isn’t the matchup for DJM to improve those numbers, especially considering Nick Bosa will likely be putting the pressure on Baker Mayfield all game long.