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By the Numbers

NFL Week 11 WR/CB Matchups and TE Analysis

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: November 14, 2019, 1:42 am ET

We're on to Week 11! I'll be breaking down the WR/CB matchups all season long with a focus on figuring out who could be facing shadow coverage as well as the best and worst overall situations. We'll also briefly touch on each team's TE group.

Physical data is courtesy of NFL.com and PlayerProfiler.com, alignment information is from Pro Football Focus while each WR's target share and air yard market share is provided by the fine folks at AirYards.com.


Steelers at Browns

Steelers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Diontae Johnson 70 183 4.53 15% 19% Greedy Williams 74 185 4.37
Slot JuJu Smith-Schuster 73 215 4.54 19% 29% T.J. Carrie 72 206 4.48
Right James Washington 71 213 4.54 14% 26% Denzel Ward 71 183 4.32

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Ben Roethlisberger's season-ending elbow injury has easily impacted JuJu Smith-Schuster more than any other skill-position player on the Steelers. The third-year WR has certainly managed to put together a few solid performances with Mason Rudolph under center, but it's been more bad than good in recent weeks:

  • Week 2: 5 receptions-84 yards-0 TD (8 targets), PPR WR34
  • Week 3: 3-81-1 (7), WR21
  • Week 4: 3-15-0 (4), WR66
  • Week 5: 7-75-1 (7), WR15
  • Week 6: 1-7-0 (4), WR89
  • Week 8: 5-103-1 (9), WR8
  • Week 9: 3-16-0 (5), WR67
  • Week 10: 3-44-0 (6), WR47

    It's sadly reasonable to bench Smith-Schuster in most season-long formats at this point. Mason Rudolph has fed JuJu (20 targets) and Jaylen Samuels (20 targets) the most in three games since the Steelers' Week 7 bye, but each of Vance McDonald (18), James Washington (17) and Diontae Johnson (15) have also been plenty involved. The expected return of James Conner (shoulder) renders Smith-Schuster as nothing more than an upside WR4 against T.J. Carrie, who sizes up well with JuJu and has allowed the 11th-fewest yards per cover snap among 49 qualified corners in slot coverage this season.

    Washington has played some of the best football of his (regular season) career over the past two weeks, catching 10-of-11 targets for 159 yards and a touchdown against the Colts and Rams. Johnson had a 1-3-0 dud in Week 9, but that was sandwiched between solid 5-84-1 and 4-64-0 outings.

    Ultimately, it's hard to get too excited about any members of the Steelers' passing game. Rudolph has cleared 200 yards in just three of seven games. His most-prolific performance to date was throwing for 251 yards and a pair of scores against the Dolphins. The offense's trio of talented WRs will pop off at times, but the Browns offer underrated talent in the secondary when they're healthy -- as they are now.

    TE breakdown: McDonald had a let-down performance in Week 10 with a measly 3-11-0 line. Still, it marked the second consecutive week he tied a season high with seven targets, and his 97% snap rate was the most he's been on the field all season. Treat him as a low-end TE1 against a Browns Defense that has allowed big days to Delanie Walker (5-55-2), Mark Andrews (4-31-1), George Kittle (6-70-1), Dawson Knox (4-55-0) and Noah Fant (3-115-1) this season.

    Browns Offense

    Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
    Left Odell Beckham 71 198 4.43 25% 37% Steven Nelson 70 197 4.49
    Slot Jarvis Landry 71 205 4.65 25% 26% Mike Hilton 69 178 4.6
    Right Antonio Callaway 71 200 4.41 11% 13% Joe Haden 71 193 4.62

    Projected shadow matchups: None

    WR/CB breakdown: Well, at least Baker Mayfield tried this time around.

    The hunt for an Odell Beckham bounce-back performance continues after the Browns' No. 1 WR caught 5-of-12 targets for just 57 scoreless yards while in Tre'Davious White's shadow in Week 10.

    Still, OBJ deserves credit for getting free from White on numerous occasions. Beckham notably got free deep on the first play of the game only to be overthrown, and he also drew multiple defensive pass interference flags on the Buffalo secondary in the end zone. His air yards are finally trending in the right direction:

    • Week 1: 116 air yards
    • Week 2: 147
    • Week 3: 46
    • Week 4: 120
    • Week 5: 89
    • Week 6: 124
    • Week 8: 80
    • Week 9: 52
    • Week 10: 168

    Bigger days *should* be on the horizon for one of the league's most-talented WRs.

    The question is whether or not that'll be Thursday night against the Steelers' thriving secondary. Minkah Fitzpatrick has a league-high seven combined interceptions and forced fumbles, while Joe Haden demonstrated he still has the ability to play at a high level against the Rams in Week 10.

    The Steelers are yet to allow a WR to clear 100 yards in a game this season.

    Jarvis Landry has double-digit targets in three consecutive games, peeling off 5-65-0, 6-51-1 and 9-97-1 lines in less-than-ideal spots against the Patriots, Broncos and Bills, respectively. Only Michael Thomas (5 games), Julian Edelman (4) and DeAndre Hopkins (4) have longer active streaks with double-digit targets. The Steelers proved plenty capable of shutting down great slot WRs in Week 10 by goose egging Cooper Kupp, but Landry has earned upside WR3 treatment with his recent play.

    The rest of the group is best approached with extreme caution. Callaway (team suspension) was a healthy scratch last week and expected to return Thursday night, but it wouldn't be surprising if Rashard Higgins continued to see some snaps after scoring the game-winning touchdown vs. the Bills. Kareem Hunt played a career-high 14 snaps in the slot and out wide in his Browns' debut.

    TE breakdownRicky Seals-Jones (knee, questionable) is shaping up as a true game-time decision for Thursday night. Demetrius Harris will continue to work as the featured TE if RSJ is again sidelined, although the team's reliance on two-RB formations could lead to the TE becoming a non-viable fantasy option in this offense. I'd go with Seals-Jones as a showdown slate option if active, but this group has honestly been a bit of a low-upside toss-up ever since David Njoku (wrist, IR) was sidelined following Week 2.


    Falcons at Panthers

    Falcons Offense

    Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
    Left Julio Jones 75 220 4.39 22% 35% James Bradberry 73 211 4.45
    Slot Russell Gage 72 184 4.55 8% 9% Ross Cockrell 72 191 4.56
    Right Calvin Ridley 73 189 4.43 15% 24% Donte Jackson 71 178 4.32

    Projected shadow matchups: Julio Jones vs. James Bradberry (groin), Calvin Ridley vs. Donte Jackson (leg)

    WR/CB breakdown: The Panthers are dealing with multiple key injuries at the moment: Bradberry didn't manage to suit up last week, while Jackson left before the end of the game and failed to return. Former-Bucs backup CB Javien Elliott will step in across from Ross Cockrell if Bradberry and Jackson are ultimately unable to suit up.

    The Panthers have been one of the league's most-pronounced run-funnel defenses this season, performing much better against the pass (No. 3 in DVOA) than the run (No. 32). Still, they've allowed the fifth and third-most passes per game to opposing No. 1 and No. 2 WRs, respectively (Football Outsiders).

    Jones and Ridley are plenty capable of dominating this matchup, particularly if Bradberry and Jackson are ultimately sidelined.

    Julio has posted 6-118-0, 5-80-0, 5-64-0 and 4-28-1 lines in four shadow dates with Bradberry since 2017. The Panthers' plus-sized No. 1 CB has consistently made life difficult for some of the league's best WRs over the years, but this is a different beast we're talking about with Jones. The Falcons' No. 1 WR is currently in the midst of a six-game scoreless streak and due for an eruption. Jones has surprisingly averaged more receiving yards per game on the road compared to at home during his career.

    And then there's Ridley, who has a disappointing 12 combined targets in two games since Mohamed Sanu was traded to the Patriots. All Ridley has done with anything resembling a large role is completely ball out. Somehow, the 24-year-old WR has just five career games with at least eight targets:

    • 2018, Week 3: 7 receptions-146 yards-3 TD (8 targets)
    • 2018, Week 9: 6-71-1 (9)
    • 2018, Week 12: 8-93-1 (13)
    • 2019, Week 2: 8-105-1 (10)
    • 2019, Week 5: 5-88-1 (9)

    Continue to lock in Jones as an every-week WR1, while I expect Ridley to provide upside WR2 value as Matt Ryan's clear-cut No. 2 pass catcher moving forward.

    TE breakdown: Austin Hooper (knee) is reportedly expected to miss "about a month" while recovering from a sprained MCL. He'll be replaced by a combination of Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham, neither of whom are expected to emerge as viable fantasy options in the short term.

    Panthers Offense

    Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
    Left D.J. Moore 72 210 4.42 24% 29% Isaiah Oliver 72 201 4.5
    Slot Jarius Wright 70 180 4.42 10% 10% Kendall Sheffield 71 193 4.4
    Right Curtis Samuel 71 196 4.31 21% 37% Blidi Wreh-Wilson 73 195 4.53

    Projected shadow matchups: None

    WR/CB breakdown: The Panthers have made a point to keep D.J. Moore heavily involved on a weekly basis since he saw just seven combined targets in Kyle Allen's first two starts:

    • Week 5: 6 receptions-91 yards-0 TD (8 targets)
    • Week 6: 7-73-0 (10)
    • Week 8: 5-38-0 (9)
    • Week 9: 7-101-0 (10)
    • Week 10: 9-120-0 (11)

    Additional touchdowns will come at some point. Tyler Boyd (91 targets) and Odell Beckham Jr. (79) join Moore (79) atop the list of positive regression candidates as the most-targeted players in the league with one or fewer receiving TDs this season.

    Meanwhile, Samuel continues to boast one of the more fantasy-friendly roles in the league. Overall, only Mike Evans (1,391), Keenan Allen (1,124), Kenny Golladay (1,113) and Julio Jones (1,073) have more air yards (1,044) than Samuel this season. He ranks 10th in fantasy-friendly target share (which accounts for red zone and deep ball opportunity) among all players with at last 50 targets this season.

    Both WRs are set up brilliantly against the league's seventh-worst defense in PPR per game allowed to the WR position. The return of Desmond Trufant (toe) would help, but Moore and Samuel alike are plenty capable of eating against a secondary that doesn't have a single CB graded among PFF's top-70 corners this season.

    TE breakdown: Olsen caught 8-of-10 targets for 98 scoreless yards last week while posting a McCaffrey-esque 100% snap rate. His targets have been inconsistent this season, but your fantasy team could do worse than a full-time TE that works as the offense's No. 3 to No. 4 (at worst) pass-game option during any given week. Fire up the Panthers' 34-year-old stalwart as a low-end TE1 against the league's second-worst defense in DVOA against the pass.


    Cowboys at Lions

    Cowboys Offense

    Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
    Left Michael Gallup 73 205 4.51 22% 26% Rashaan Melvin 74 192 4.47
    Slot Randall Cobb 70 192 4.46 16% 17% Justin Coleman 71 185 4.53
    Right Amari Cooper 73 211 4.42 22% 28% Darius Slay 72 192 4.36

    Projected shadow matchups: Michael Gallup vs. Rashaan Melvin, Randall Cobb vs. Justin Coleman, Amari Cooper vs. Darius Slay

    WR/CB breakdown: The Lions are always a bit difficult when it comes to projecting their shadow matchups, but lately they've made a habit of ...

    • Assigning their best CB (Slay) against their opponent's clear-cut No. 1 WR
    • Putting their full-time nickelback (Coleman) on the opposing slot WR
    • Sticking their plus-sized CB (Melvin) on the remaining outside WR

    Cooper is capable of winning against whoever the Lions decide to line him up against. Yes, his home/away splits with the Cowboys are troubling. Also yes, there doesn't seem to be a ball that Cooper isn't capable of catching these days.

    Meanwhile, since Week 6 ...

    • Gallup: 27 targets, 13 receptions, 191 yards, 2 TDs
    • Cobb: 19 targets, 14 receptions, 170 yards, 1 TD

    Gallup has the higher ceiling; I used an arbitrary cutoff that doesn't include the second-year WR's 7-158-0 and 7-113-1 performances in Weeks 1 and 5, respectively. Still, Cobb has earned upside WR4 consideration as a full-time WR in the league's most-efficient passing offense in net yards per attempt.

    The Lions rank among the league's bottom-12 defenses in yards allowed per game to both opposing No. 1 and No. 2 WRs (Football Outsiders). Fire up both Cooper (obviously) and Gallup with confidence this week, while Cobb is a more-than-worthy bye week filler. 

    TE breakdown: Jason Witten's eight-game streak with at least three receptions ended against the Vikings, as the best Monday Night Football broadcaster that ESPN has had in two years was held to a pedestrian 2-17-0 line vs. Harrison Smith and company. It'd be surprising if Witten's seven-game scoreless streak continues much longer. A matchup against the Lions' 30th-ranked defense in DVOA against TEs doesn't seem like a bad bounce-back spot.

    Lions Offense

    Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
    Left Kenny Golladay 76 218 4.5 21% 33% Byron Jones 73 199 4.48
    Slot Danny Amendola 70 186 4.68 17% 15% Jourdan Lewis 70 195 4.54
    Right Marvin Jones 74 200 4.46 19% 25% Chidobe Awuzie 72 202 4.43

    Projected shadow matchups: None

    WR/CB breakdown: The upside of the entire Lions' passing game hinges on whether or not Matthew Stafford (hip, back) manages to suit up. He's considered week to week and failed to practice Wednesday.

    Jeff Driskel will draw the start again if Stafford is sidelined. His debut with the Lions resulted in a 20-13 loss to the Bears, but the 26-year-old career backup managed to enable both Kenny Golladay (3-57-1) and Marvin Jones (5-77-0) to fine-enough performances.

    All things considered: Driskel doesn't suck!

    Overall, Driskel displayed the following target distribution in Week 10:

    Five other Lions had one target, including Driskel himself!

    Golladay has been the most fantasy-friendly WR in football this season on a per-target basis. We can better calculate the nature of WR targets by assigning different weights to various types of targets. Specifically, players have averaged 2.46 PPR per red zone target (inside the 20-yard line), 2.17 per deep ball target (20-plus yards downfield) and 1.45 on every other type of target.

    Golladay ranks first among 62 players with at least 50 targets in this "weighted targets" metric, while Jones is ninth. Amendola ranks 32nd.

    The Lions consistently feed their two studs outside WRs the ball in the most fantasy-friendly manner possible. Continue to target both Golladay and Jones even with Driskel under center, although they're probably better approached as upside WR3s against the league's second-best defense in fewest PPR allowed to opposing WRs.

    TE breakdown: Hockenson has more games with over 40 yards in the last two weeks (2) than he did in Weeks 1-8 combined (1). The No. 8 overall pick of the 2019 draft shows off his tantalizing upside once or twice a game, but there remains a low weekly floor here. Still, the Cowboys have funneled fantasy points to the TE position at a bottom-three rate through 10 weeks -- and bye weeks can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. Treat Hockenson as an upside TE2 that's plenty worthy of flyer consideration in this spot.


    Jaguars at Colts

    Jaguars Offense

    Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
    Left Chris Conley 74 213 4.35 15% 28% Marvell Tell 74 198 4.45
    Slot Dede Westbrook 72 178 4.44 21% 17% Kenny Moore 69 185 4.52
    Right D.J. Chark 75 199 4.34 22% 35% Rock Ya-Sin 72 192 4.51

    Projected shadow matchups: None

    WR/CB breakdown: Dede Westbrook (shoulder) is tentatively expected to return following the Jaguars' Week 10 bye. If active, he'll be joined by Week 1 starter and $88 million man Nick Foles.

    We've obviously seen that Foles is capable of stringing together high-end performances in both the playoffs as well as generally whenever his head coach hasn't been Jeff Fisher. Still, we shouldn't necessarily dismiss the idea that this passing game won't improve all that much. Gardner Minshew had his down moments, but only Dak Prescott, Robert Griffin, Marc Bulger, Deshaun Watson, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson have averaged more adjusted yards per attempt among 85 rookie QBs to throw at least 100 passes since 2000.

    The Jaguars are an underrated offense when it comes to their ability to elevate the QB thanks to their talented WRs and solid run game. Both D.J. Chark (7.8 targets per game) and Westbrook (6.9) are set up well this week against a Colts Defense that is one of just seven units to allow more than nine yards per target to opposing WRs this season.

    TE breakdown: Each of Seth DeValve (52% snaps, 5 targets in Week 9), Josh Oliver (45%, 2) and Ben Koyack (23%, 1) rotated reps in the Jaguars' last game. The team reportedly wants to get their third-round pick more involved in the passing game, but Oliver has just two targets in three games of action. None of these TEs are realistic fantasy options as long as they remain in a three-way committee despite this week's strong matchup.

    Colts Offense

    Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
    Left Marcus Johnson 73 204 4.44 18% 13% Tre Herndon 71 186 4.52
    Slot Chester Rogers 72 185 4.56 9% 11% D.J. Hayden 71 191 4.45
    Right Zach Pascal 74 219 4.55 11% 17% A.J. Bouye 72 186 4.6

    Projected shadow matchups: Zach Pascal vs. A.J. Bouye

    WR/CB breakdown: Bouye was always an over-qualified No. 2 CB while Jalen Ramsey was still in town. He probably doesn't need to be considered a world-beating No. 1 CB based his first two shadow dates against Michael Thomas (8-89-0) and DeAndre Hopkins (8-48-1), but Zach Pascal also isn't in the same stratosphere as those elite WRs.

    The bigger issue for Pascal and the entire Colts' passing game is the health of Jacoby Brissett (knee). Coach Frank Reich said that Brissett will start if he can get in a full practice on Wednesday, which the Colts' signal caller managed to accomplish. Here's to hoping Reich sticks to his word, as Brian Hoyer was absolutely brutal against the Dolphins. Overall, the 34-year-old journeyman completed just 18-of-39 passes (46% completion rate) for 204 yards (5.2 YPA) with one touchdown and a trio of interceptions.

    This is somewhat of a two-way street. One of the interceptions should've been a touchdown to Eric Ebron had the TE not had the ball ripped out of his hands, and the Colts WRs are also all sorts of banged up at the moment. T.Y. Hilton (calf) hasn't been ruled out for Week 11, but seems more like a week or two away, electric rookie Parris Campbell (hand) is reportedly expected to return in December, and Devin Funchess (collarbone, IR) will likely be limited if active on Sunday.

    Pascal (99% snap rate) and Marcus Johnson (80%) worked well ahead of both Chester Rogers (50%) and Ashton Dulin (4%) after the team waived Deon Cain last week, instead relying on more two-TE sets with Ebron (61%) and Jack Doyle (60%). Pascal is the only WR worthy of fantasy consideration, but I'd look elsewhere if possible.

    TE breakdown: Ebron's mid-week complaints to the media in Week 10 earned him season-high marks in both targets (12) as well as snaps while lined up as a true WR (30). The 5-56-0 line wasn't spectacular, but we can treat Ebron as a low-end TE1 as long as Hilton and Campbell remain sidelined. The Jaguars haven't exactly been great against the likes of Travis Kelce (3-88-0), Ryan Griffin (4-66-2), Delanie Walker (7-64-0), Jared Cook (3-37-1) and Noah Fant (2-31-1) through 10 weeks. Doyle remains more of a touchdown dependent TE2.

    Ian Hartitz

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