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By the Numbers

NFL Week 9 WR/CB Matchups and TE Analysis

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: October 31, 2019, 12:26 pm ET

Jets at Dolphins

Jets Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Robby Anderson 75 190 4.41 20% 38% Ryan Lewis 72 195 4.42
Slot Jamison Crowder 68 185 4.56 23% 27% Nik Needham 71 194 4.67
Right Demaryius Thomas 75 224 4.41 19% 28% Ken Webster 71 203 4.43

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Sam Darnold and the Jets' passing game has failed to click for pretty much the entire season outside of their Week 6 victory over the Cowboys.

Darnold's target distribution to this point has been as follows:

Anderson nearly had himself another 90-plus yard touchdown last week, but instead had to settle for a big gain from defensive pass interference. The good news is that he's now set up extremely well against the Dolphins' banged up secondary, which will be without stud No. 1 CB Xavien Howard (knee, IR) for the remainder of the season. The Dolphins are one of just nine teams to have already allowed at least 30 completions of 20-plus yards.

I'm inclined to stay away from the rest of the Jets WRs despite the pristine matchup due to their lack of a ceiling as non-field-stretching threats inside of the league's 31st-ranked scoring offense. The Dolphins managed to hold the Redskins (166 passing yards), Bills (188) and Steelers (236) relatively in check through the air in their last three games, and Darnold has hardly earned the benefit of the doubt to this point.

TE breakdown: Chris Herndon (hamstring) appears to be trending towards a return after practicing in a limited fashion all of last week. Ryan Griffin has posted 3-10-0, 3-28-1, 1-1-0 and 4-66-2 lines in four games with Darnold this season, demonstrating the boom-or-bust nature as a full-time TE in this offense. Griffin's success could perhaps lead to a committee of sorts between him and Herndon while the Jets' talented second-year TE gets back in game shape, which would render each as non-viable fantasy options.

Dolphins Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Preston Williams 76 211 4.66 21% 29% Darryl Roberts 71 187 4.43
Slot Albert Wilson 69 202 4.43 10% 3% Brian Poole 70 209 4.55
Right DeVante Parker 75 209 4.45 19% 31% Nate Hairston 72 196 4.52

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Both Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns found the end zone last week despite posting pedestrian snap rates of 30% and 33%, respectively. Neither is a realistic fantasy option as a part-time WR in the league's 32nd-ranked scoring offense.

That leaves us with the Dolphins' sneaky-talented outside WRs. Williams deserves credit for winning his battle with Joe Haden last week and has at least five targets in every game this season. Parker has ripped off 4-70-1, 3-28-1, 5-55-1 and 6-59-0 receiving lines in the Dolphins' last four games.

The Jets' 25th-ranked defense in fewest PPR per game allowed to the WR position is hardly a unit to fear, particularly for outside WRs. None of Nate Hairston (No. 51), Darryl Roberts (No. 100) nor Trumaine Johnson (No. 106) have managed to rank among PFF's top-50 CBs this season among 127 qualified players.

I can think of worse ways to spend my money than by firing up some cheap Ryan Fitzpatrick, Parker and Williams stacks in DFS this week.

TE breakdown: Mike Gesicki has averaged 3.6 targets per game this season, flashing some occasional field-stretching and contested-catch ability down the seam. Gesicki (63% snap rate) could be in for an enhanced role moving forward after the Dolphins released Nick O'Leary (30%) this week.


Vikings at Chiefs

Vikings Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Stefon Diggs 72 195 4.46 23% 44% Charvarius Ward 73 198 4.49
Slot Adam Thielen 75 200 4.54 21% 29% Tyrann Mathieu 69 186 4.5
Right Bisi Johnson 72 204 4.51 12% 14% Bashaud Breeland 71 197 4.62

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Adam Thielen (hamstring) was close to suiting up last week and is tentatively expected to play Sunday. Laquon Treadwell will start in 3-WR sets if not, although the Vikings utilized stud rookie TE Irv Smith (64% snaps) more than Treadwell (22%) in Week 8 with Thielen out.

Thielen is plenty capable of winning any matchup, but it's been Stefon Diggs who has truly been on a different level this season. Diggs joins a select list of WRs that have managed to average at least three yards per route run in a single season over the past 10 years (PFF):

You'd have to go all the way back to Steve Smith (3.87) in 2008 to find a WR that was more efficient than Diggs on a per-route basis.

The Chiefs Defense has been significantly better against the pass (No. 4 in DVOA) than the run (No. 30) this season. Still, there's no reason to fear this matchup as long as both Diggs and Cousins continue to play at all-world levels.

TE breakdown: Smith has more than 20 receiving yards in more games (4) than Kyle Rudolph (2) this season. Unfortunately, neither TE has received anything close to a fantasy-friendly role to this point as the No. 4 (at best) pass-game option in any given week behind Diggs, Thielen and Dalvin Cook. Gun to my head I'd take my chances with Smith over Rudolph, but please just avoid this situation if possible.

Chiefs Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Demarcus Robinson 73 203 4.59 13% 21% Xavier Rhodes 73 210 4.43
Slot Tyreek Hill 70 185 4.34 19% 44% Mike Hughes 70 189 4.53
Right Sammy Watkins 73 211 4.43 24% 24% Trae Waynes 72 186 4.31

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Matt Moore's target distribution in roughly six quarters of action this season is as follows:

Note that Watkins was out in Week 7, so all eight of his targets came last week against the Packers.

Watkins' return was most problematic for the Chiefs' second-round rookie. Overall, Hill (90% snaps), Watkins (85%) and Robinson (64%) played well over half of the offense's snaps, but Mecole Hardman (15%) was relegated to a clear backup role.

Surprisingly, the Vikings CBs have hardly been a group to fear this season:

I'm as sick and tired of the Watkins experience as you are, but each of the Chiefs' top-three pass-game options are in play this week against a Vikings Defense that is one of just eight units to allow double-digit touchdowns to the WR position this season.

TE breakdown: Travis Kelce caught 4-of-6 targets last week for 63 yards and a score. He's continued to operate as the position's premiere talent despite "only" functioning as the PPR TE2 this season. Continue to fire him up as a top-three fantasy TE with or without Patrick Mahomes (ankle, doubtful).



Titans at Panthers

Titans Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left A.J. Brown 72 226 4.49 14% 19% Donte Jackson 71 178 4.32
Slot Adam Humphries 71 195 4.58 16% 13% Ross Cockrell 72 191 4.56
Right Corey Davis 75 209 4.53 17% 27% James Bradberry 73 211 4.45

Projected shadow matchups: Corey Davis vs. James Bradberry.

WR/CB breakdown: Bradberry has had the league's toughest schedule when it comes to shadow matchups over the past season and a half:

Sure, the likes of OBJ, Golladay and Jeffery have proven that Bradberry isn't a matchup fantasy owners should actively fade, but the Panthers' plus-sized No. 1 CB has at least consistently made life difficult for some of the league's very best WRs for the better part of the last 14 months.

The Browns and Chargers each identified Davis as the Titans' No. 1 WR and accordingly shadowed him with their respective No. 1 CBs Denzel Ward and Casey Hayward. I expect Bradberry to follow suit, as it also makes more sense for quick-footed No. 2 CB Donte Jackson to see more of speedy rookie A.J. Brown.

Ryan Tannehill has also leaned on Davis as the offense's No. 1 pass-game option so far:

Note that Humphries played just 44% of the offense's snaps last week, as Sharpe (37%) continues to stay annoyingly involved.

The arrow is pointing up for both Davis and Brown moving forward. Still, only the 49ers (3.9) and Patriots (3.9) have allowed fewer net yards per pass attempt than the Panthers (5.2) this season. It makes more sense for the Titans to attack the Panthers Defense on the ground (No. 32 in DVOA) compared to the air (No. 3).

(Yes, it might just be a Derrick Henry week).

TE breakdown: Walker (ankle) was out in Week 8 and doesn't seem to be anything close to 100% at the moment. Smith caught 6-of-7 targets for 78 yards and a touchdown with a close to full-time 73% snap rate last week. He's not set up quite so well this week against the Panthers' stingy secondary compared to last week's smash spot against the Buccaneers, but it doesn't take many opportunities for the Titans' SPARQ-plug TE to create some big plays.

Panthers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left D.J. Moore 72 210 4.42 23% 27% Malcolm Butler 70 187 4.4
Slot Jarius Wright 70 180 4.42 10% 10% Logan Ryan 71 191 4.56
Right Curtis Samuel 71 196 4.31 22% 38% Adoree' Jackson 70 186 4.42

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Kyle Allen will once again be under center in Week 9 with Cam Newton (foot) ruled out.

Neither D.J. Moore nor Curtis Samuel (shoulder) have managed to click with Allen after five games, but it's clear who the offense has trusted to consistently stretch the field vertically:

  • Moore: 34 targets, 22 receptions, 298 yards, 362 air yards, 1 TD
  • Samuel: 37 targets, 19 receptions, 220 yards, 537 air yards, 2 TDs

Both are thin plays despite this week's solid matchup, although I'd rather roll the dice with Samuel. Only Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Kenny Golladay and DeAndre Hopkins have more air yards than Samuel through eight weeks.

Note that Adoree' Jackson (foot) failed to suit up last week and should be considered questionable for Sunday. Career backup CB LeShaun Sims sure looked a lot like a liability against the Buccaneers, allowing 5-of-7 targets into his coverage to be caught for 76 yards and a touchdown.

TE breakdown: Greg Olsen this season with Kyle Allen under center: 6-75-2, 2-5-0, 0-0-0, 4-52-0 and 2-13-0. His only two solid games occurred vs. the notoriously porous Cardinals and Buccaneers secondaries. Stud FS Kevin Byard and the Titans haven't been overly dominant against opposing TEs this season, but this is still hardly a spot to expect the Panthers' 34-year-old TE to smash. Treat Olsen as a boom-or-bust high-end TE2.


Redskins at Bills

Redskins Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Terry McLaurin 72 208 4.35 22% 49% Levi Wallace 72 179 4.63
Slot Trey Quinn 71 203 4.55 16% 17% Taron Johnson 71 192 4.5
Right Paul Richardson 72 175 4.4 15% 21% Tre'Davious White 71 192 4.47

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Case Keenum (concussion) should be considered questionable for Sunday. It'd be tough to get behind any of the offense's pass catchers if Dwayne Haskins is forced to make his first career start on the road against the Bills' sixth-ranked defense in pass DVOA.

Either way, Terry McLaurin is in an extremely tough spot. Stud CB Tre'Davious White hasn't shadowed a single WR all season, but the Bills did align him as the defense's right CB on 29 snaps in Week 8 after he spent 100% of his outside snaps as the left CB in Weeks 1-7. It wouldn't be shocking to see Buffalo attempt to take the Redskins' only consistently-competent weapon away with their best defensive player.

McLaurin F1 has largely only been slowed by Stephon Gilmore and mud this season. The problem is that he's yet to receive double-digit targets in a game and is tied for 37th in overall pass-game opportunities among all WRs. There's a low ceiling and floor here against the Bills' elite secondary, which joins the Steelers as the league's only defenses that have yet to allow 100 receiving yards in a game to an opposing WR this season.

Trey Quinn has yet to reach 50 receiving yards in 11 career games, while Paul Richardson is averaging a career-low 8.6 yards per reception and hasn't come close to resembling the same contested-catch artist that we saw with the Seahawks from 2014-2017.

TE breakdown: Vernon Davis (concussion) has been limited in practice for weeks now, but remains in the protocol and should be considered questionable for Sunday. This brutal matchup against one of just six defenses allowing fewer than 40 receiving yards per game to opposing TEs, combined with the likely reality that Jeremy Sprinkle will continue to see plenty of snaps and targets if Davis returns, renders the Washington TE position as an extremely high-risk/low-reward play this week.

Bills Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left John Brown 70 179 4.34 22% 34% Quinton Dunbar 74 201 4.49
Slot Cole Beasley 68 177 4.54 22% 18% Jimmy Moreland 70 179 4.51
Right Duke Williams 74 229 4.72 8% 7% Josh Norman 72 197 4.66

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Both Josh Norman (thigh, hand) and Quinton Dunbar (hamstring) are banged up, making an already great matchup vs. the league's No. 24-ranked defense in pass DVOA even more appealing.

John Brown joins Michael Thomas as the league's only players with at least 50 receiving yards in every game this season. The absence of Dunbar (PFF's No. 1 overall CB) would be particularly great news for Smokey considering Washington is surprisingly the league's best defense in DVOA against No. 1 WRs. Either way, fire up Josh Allen's undisputed No. 1 pass-game option as an upside WR2 in this fantastic spot. DFS exposure to Brown should be focused on FanDuel where he's priced as the WR20 as opposed to DraftKings (WR15).

Cole Beasley should be good either way considering the Redskins accordingly rank 32nd against No. 2 WRs. They've struggled to contain talented slot mavens such as Julian Edelman (8-110-1) and Sterling Shepard (7-76-0). Beasley has at least three receptions in every game this season and has found the end zone in back-to-back weeks. Slot CB Jimmy Moreland has allowed the second-highest QB Rating on passes into his coverage this season among 47 qualified slot CBs (PFF).

Duke Williams (66% snap rate in Week 8) loses occasional work to each of Robert Foster (13%) and Andre Roberts (8%). None are realistic fantasy options as the No. 3 (at best) pass-game option in the Bills' run-heavy offense.

TE breakdown: Dawson Knox has played 53% and 45% of the offense's snaps in two games since Tyler Kroft returned to action. Knox (6 targets) has been featured slightly more than Kroft (4) in the pass game during this stretch, but neither are realistic fantasy options with this type of split usage.


Buccaneers at Seahawks

Buccaneers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Mike Evans 77 231 4.53 25% 36% Tre Flowers 75 202 4.45
Slot Chris Godwin 73 209 4.42 24% 26% Jamar Taylor 71 192 4.39
Right Breshad Perriman 74 212 4.3 9% 13% Shaquill Griffin 72 194 4.38

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Both Chris Godwin (PPR WR3) and Mike Evans (WR6) have functioned as high-end WR1s after eight weeks of action. Overall, Godwin is on pace for a 107-1,611-13.7 season-long line, while Evans is projected for 87-1,513-13.7.

Evans is poised to join Randy Moss as the only WRs to gain over 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first six seasons ... ever.

They're both set up brilliantly this week against the Seahawks' mediocre secondary that doesn't move its CBs. Coach Bruce Arians should be free to deploy his stud WRs against the weak points of the artists formerly known as The Legion of Boom:

Breshad Perriman racked up a tackle for a loss (on his own teammate) and dropped a two-point conversion last week. At this point Perriman (70% snaps) is simply taking away opportunities from intriguing rookie WR Scott Miller (12%).

TE breakdown: 36 TEs have more targets than O.J. Howard (hamstring) this season. Cameron Brate caught 3-of-6 targets for 32 scoreless yards with Howard sidelined last week, but played a modest 66% of the offense's snaps. Brate is a thin option even with Howard sidelined as long as both Antony Auclair (42%) and Tanner Hudson (25%) remain so involved.

Seahawks Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left D.K. Metcalf 75 228 4.33 18% 26% Sean Bunting 70 195 4.42
Slot Tyler Lockett 70 182 4.4 22% 25% Vernon Hargreaves 70 204 4.5
Right David Moore 73 219 4.48 9% 13% Carlton Davis 73 206 4.53

Projected shadow matchups: None.

WR/CB breakdown: Everyone assumed Tyler Lockett would regress to some extent in 2019 after putting together one of the most-efficient seasons the position had ever seen last season.

This has been the case ... to an extent:

  • Lockett in 2018: 81% catch rate, 13.8 yards per target, 2.10 yards per route run (PFF), 158.3 QB Rating when targeted, WR24 in PPR per game
  • 2019: 85% catch rate, 11.4 yards per target, 2.13 yards per route run, 140.2 QB Rating when targeted, WR14 in PPR per game

Lockett has traded some of his deep ball volume for higher-percentage underneath looks that haven't made him quite as efficient on a per-target basis, but his fantasy production and efficiency on a per-route basis has actually been even better.

And then there's D.K. Metcalf, who offers one of the league's most fantasy-friendly target shares. Overall, Russell Wilson has fed his rookie WR a league-high 12 end-zone targets along with another 12 pass-game opportunities thrown 20-plus yards downfield. The absurdly-athletic and freakishly-big second-round WR is the PPR WR31 through eight weeks and only has nine fewer targets than Lockett on the season.

Both Lockett and Metcalf are set up about as well as possible against the Buccaneers' 29th-ranked defense in fewest PPR per game allowed to the WR position.

Neither David Moore (49% snap rate in Week 8) nor Jaron Brown (28%) are realistic fantasy options as part-time WRs in the league's fourth-most run-heavy offense.

TE breakdown: Luke Willson continues to split snaps and targets alike with Jacob Hollister. Neither is a recommended fantasy play even in this cake matchup due to volume concerns as complementary pieces in this offense. Hollister is the preferred dart throw if you're really feeling crazy, as the former Patriots TE has eight targets over the past two weeks.

Ian Hartitz

All things NFL. Great day to be great. You can follow Ian on Twitter @Ihartitz.