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By the Numbers

NFL Week 2 WR/CB Matchups and TE Analysis

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: September 12, 2019, 8:24 pm ET

And just like that we're on to Week 2. 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.

Buccaneers at Panthers

Buccaneers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left Breshad Perriman 74 212 4.3 Donte Jackson 71 178 4.32
Slot Chris Godwin 73 209 4.42 Javien Elliott 71 176 4.68
Right Mike Evans 77 231 4.53 James Bradberry 73 211 4.45

Projected shadow matchups: Mike Evans vs. James Bradberry

WR/CB breakdown: Evans and Bradberry have already squared off several times over the last two seasons.

  • Week 8, 2017: 5 receptions-60 yards-0 TD (10 targets)
  • Week 16, 2017: 6-107-0 (8)
  • Week 9, 2018: 1-16-0 (10)
  • Week 13, 2018: 4-48-0 (6)

Bradberry's status as a plus-sized CB has presented problems that the monstrous Evans isn't used to facing. The Buccaneers' No. 1 WR is due for a bounce-back performance after his brutal 2-28-0 effort on just five targets last week, but this isn't a great spot for him to get back on track -- particularly if Evans continues to not look 100% healthy.

If you're ever going to take a shot on Breshad Perriman, it probably shouldn't be in a matchup with a CB just as fast as him.

This leaves us with Chris Godwin, who is in a smash spot against a Panthers Defense that surrendered seven receptions to Cooper Kupp in Week 1 and allowed notable slot WRs such as Adam Humphries (8-82-2), Cole Beasley (7-73-0), Tyler Boyd (6-132-1), Mohamed Sanu (5-81-01), Tyler Lockett (5-107-1) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (3-90-1) to ball out in 2018. Godwin's team-high six targets last week reflect the potential reality that he emerges as the most-involved Bucs WR in 2019. He possesses one of the week's top advantages in terms of the largest differences in 40-yard dash times among projected Week 2 WR/CB matchups.

TE breakdown: O.J. Howard (79% snaps) played well ahead of Cam Brate (44%), but it was the latter TE that caught two touchdowns ... although each was nullified by a penalty. The entire Bucs passing offense looked #bad in their Week 1 implosion, and Howard certainly didn't help matters by fumbling as well as dropping a pass which resulted in an interception. Still, he remains a fantasy TE1 thanks to his status as a locked-in starter that combines freakish athleticism with the ability to stretch defenses down the field in a pass-first offense.

Panthers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left D.J. Moore 72 210 4.42 Vernon Hargreaves 70 204 4.5
Slot Jarius Wright 70 180 4.42 M.J. Stewart 71 200 4.54
Right Curtis Samuel 71 196 4.31 Carlton Davis 73 206 4.53

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Panthers' passing attack underwhelmed in Week 1, although D.J. Moore (7-76-0 on 10 targets) seemed to clearly separate himself as Cam Newton's go-to target ahead of Curtis Samuel (3-32-0 on four targets). We shouldn't read too much into a one-week sample size, but Moore's status as the most-efficient target of Newton's career is tough to ignore.

Also tough to ignore is the lack of overall skill in the Buccaneers' secondary. Vernon Hargreaves deserves credit for jumping a curl and taking it to the house in Week 1 after playing just one game in 2018, but each of M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis were largely liabilities for most of last season.

  • Yards allowed per cover snap (PFF): Stewart: 2.21 (130/132 qualified CBs), Davis: 1.1 (54th)
  • QB rating on passes into coverage: Stewart: 148.6 (129th), Davis: 113.3 (102nd)

The Panthers' 28.25 implied point total is the fourth-highest mark in Week 2 (per FantasyLabs). This home matchup represents a great opportunity for Newton and company to get back on track, particularly if Samuel can take advantage of his massive speed advantage and prove that the offense's lack of deep-ball success in Week 1 was simply a one-week issue.

TE breakdown: Greg Olsen (back) is questionable after failing to practice on either Monday or Tuesday. Be sure to monitor our Week 2 Injury Dashboard for daily practice participation as well as estimated and official game statuses for every injured player. Talented second-year backup Ian Thomas is firmly in streamer discussion if he ultimately gets the start, as he worked as the PPR TE6 in Weeks 13-17 last season after Olsen was sidelined for good. 

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Cardinals at Ravens

Cardinals Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left Damiere Byrd 69 180 4.32 Anthony Averett 71 178 4.36
Slot Larry Fitzgerald 75 225 4.48 Brandon Carr 72 207 4.44
Slot Christian Kirk 71 201 4.47 Justin Bethel 72 200 4.58
Right KeeSean Johnson 73 201 4.6 Marlon Humphrey 72 197 4.41

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: That's right, the Cardinals are officially a 4-WR offense. Each of Damiere Byrd (88% snaps in Week 1), Larry Fitzgerald (96%), Christian Kirk (93%) and KeeSean Johnson (76%) should be considered starters.

Note that Michael Crabtree is expected to suit up Sunday after being a healthy scratch in Week 1. He's more likely to take away snaps from Byrd and Johnson than Fitz or Kirk.

They'll face off against a Ravens Defense that isn't expected to have long-time No. 1 CB Jimmy Smith (knee). Still, Marlon Humphrey has emerged as a star in his own right, and it's tough to see Baltimore ever working as anything worse than an above-average secondary as long as FS Earl Thomas is around.

The case for taking a chance on Fitz (13 targets in Week 1) or Kirk (12) comes down to fantasy-friendly opportunity. Both Fitz (No. 5) and Kirk (No. 10) ranked among the league's top-10 WRs in air yards last week (Airyards.com).

TE breakdown: Don't play a TE in a Kliff Kingsbury offense. Not even if there's a fire.

Ravens Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left Miles Boykin 76 220 4.42 Chris Jones 72 200 4.57
Slot Willie Snead 71 195 4.62 Tramaine Brock 70 195 4.54
Right Marquise Brown 69 166   Byron Murphy 71 190 4.55

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Year two of the Lamar Jackson era couldn't have possibly gotten off to a better start, as the second-year QB completed 17-of-20 passes (85% completion rate) for 324 yards (16.2 YPA) and five touchdowns. Each of Hollywood Brown (4-147-2), Willie Snead (2-41-1) and Miles Boykin (1-5-1) found the end zone during the Ravens' 59-10 demolition of the Dolphins.

Well, things through the air could feasibly be even easier in Week 2 against the Cardinals' trainwreck of a secondary. Both journeyman Tramaine Brock and second-round rookie Byron Murphy allowed over 80 yards and a score against the Lions in Week 1, while 2018 undrafted free agent Chris Jones has exactly 59 NFL defensive snaps to his name.

I'm inclined to believe Hollywood (14 snaps) and Boykin's (18) mundane snap rates were the result of ridiculously optimal game flow that saw the Ravens build a 42-10 lead at halftime. The latter rookie is an intriguing cost-saving option on DraftKings at just $3,200.

TE breakdown: Mark Andrews has averaged a position-high 11.4 yards per target dating back to Week 1 of 2018. His 8-108-1 line on eight targets last week gives credence to the idea that he could very well be Jackson's No. 1 pass-game target. Andrews is locked in as a TE1 in a prime matchup against the Cardinals' aforementioned brutal secondary that allowed first-round rookie T.J. Hockenson (6-131-1) to go bananas in his NFL debut.

Cowboys at Redskins

Cowboys Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left Michael Gallup 73 205 4.51 Quinton Dunbar 74 201 4.49
Slot Randall Cobb 70 192 4.46 Jimmy Moreland 70 179 4.51
Right Amari Cooper 73 211 4.42 Josh Norman 72 197 4.66

Projected shadow matchups: Amari Cooper vs. Josh Norman

WR/CB breakdown: Norman didn't shadow Cooper in 2018, as was the case when No. 2 CB Quinton Dunbar was healthy. Still, the Redskins broke this tendency in Week 1 by having Norman track Alshon Jeffery for the majority of the afternoon.

Both Cooper (6-106-1) and Michael Gallup (7-158-0) proved to be difficult covers in the Cowboys' Week 1 blowout win over the Giants. Their one-two punch is similar to what the Eagles have in Jeffery and DeSean Jackson, so I'm expecting Norman to travel with Cooper for most of the game (excluding when he lines up in the slot).

Cooper hasn't surpassed 75 yards on the road during his brief time with a star on his helmet. Still, it's tough to deny he's worked as one of the league's best pass catchers since upgrading from Derek Carr to Dak Prescott: Cooper's totals in 12 games with the Cowboys amount to a 96-1,336-10.7 line when extrapolated over 16 matchups.

Per Graham Barfield, the Dallas offense increased their play-action rate (48% in Week 1 vs. 25% in 2018), use of motion (73% vs. 45%) and snaps in 11-personnel (73% and 63%) in their impressive first game with OC Kellen Moore calling the shots. Cooper is locked in as a WR1, Gallup is looking more like a low-end WR2 than boom-or-bust option with each passing day, and even Randall Cobb appears to be healthy as well as capable of making plays in this suddenly explosive offense.

TE breakdown: Both Jason Witten (3-15-1) and Blake Jarwin (3-39-1) managed to score equally wide-open touchdowns last week, but Witten (66%) was clearly the starter ahead of Jarwin (40%). Both players will offer low floors and ceilings alike with this type of usage in an offense that seems more inclined to feed their crop of WRs and All-Pro RB than the TEs.

Redskins Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left Terry McLaurin 72 208 4.35 Byron Jones 73 199 4.48
Slot Trey Quinn 71 203 4.55 Anthony Brown 71 192 4.33
Right Paul Richardson 72 175 4.4 Chidobe Awuzie 72 202 4.43

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Redskins built a 17-0 lead over the Eagles in Week 1 before ultimately falling 32-27. Case Keenum surpassed all expectations in his D.C. debut, completing 30-44 passes (68%) for 380 yards (8.6 YPA) with three touchdowns, zero interceptions and perhaps most-surprisingly just one sack.

RB Chris Thompson (7-68-0 on 10 targets) was plenty involved in the passing game, while TE Jordan Reed is tentatively expected to clear the concussion protocol in time for Week 2. Still, neither's presence should do much to dissuade Keenum from continuing to feed third-round rookie WR Terry McLaurin, who absolutely balled out in his NFL debut.

TE breakdown: Vernon Davis sure didn't look like a 35-year-old TE on his ridiculous 48-yard score that featured a hurdle and numerous broken tackles. Still, Reed should seamlessly take back his starting spot if active. He's set up well against a Cowboys Defense that just surrendered a huge day to Giants TE Evan Engram (11-116-1). Dallas was one of just 12 defenses to allow at least seven receptions to the TE position in 2018 (Football Outsiders).

Colts at Titans

Colts Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left Deon Cain 74 202 4.43 Malcolm Butler 70 187 4.67
Slot Chester Rogers 72 185 4.56 Logan Ryan 71 191 4.56
Right T.Y. Hilton 69 183 4.39 Adoree' Jackson 70 186 4.42

Projected shadow matchups: T.Y. Hilton vs. Adoree' Jackson

WR/CB breakdown: The Titans didn't ask Jackson to travel with OBJ in Week 1, but he's made a habit of doing so with Hilton. Overall, the Colts' No. 1 WR has posted 9-155-2 and 2-15-0 lines in two shadow matchups with Jackson since 2017.

Jacoby Brissett and company didn't resemble an incompetent offense last week, but it's a bit alarming that Brissett totaled just 27 pass attempts in a game that the Colts were trailing for over 45 minutes. Andrew Luck finished with 27 or fewer pass attempts in 23-0 and 37-5 victories last season.

Hilton is capable of winning virtually any matchup in the league. The bigger question is if any of Deon Cain, Parris Campbell, Chester Rogers or Zach Pascal can emerge as a viable fantasy football option in this run-first offense that also includes multiple capable receiving RBs and TEs. Those aforementioned receivers are expected to fill Devin Funchess' (collarbone, IR) role with a committee approach.

The only non-Hilton WR that I'm inclined to take a chance with is Cain, who is the stone-cold minimum on DraftKings and demonstrated the ability to make big-time catches in his NFL debut last week. He's set up well with the week's fifth-best matchup in difference of 40-yard dash times for his projected matchup against the ever-burnable Malcolm Butler.

TE breakdown: Eric Ebron has posted snap rates of 45%, 26%, 22%, 38%, 40%, 71% and most-recently 40% with Jack Doyle also active over the past two seasons. Neither Ebron (1-8-0 in Week 1) nor Doyle (1-20-0) offer much of a floor as long as both are a threat to vulture the other.

Titans Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left A.J. Brown 72 226 4.49 Rock Ya-Sin 72 192 4.51
Slot Adam Humphries 71 195 4.58 Kenny Moore 69 185 4.52
Right Corey Davis 75 209 4.53 Pierre Desir 73 198 4.59

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Second-round WR A.J. Brown (3-100-0) looked a lot like the best receiver on the Titans last week, while Adam Humphries (1-5-0) and Corey Davis (0-0-0) were an afterthought in the offense.

This is a good example of the "problem" that the Titans' run-heavy offense presents: It's going to be tough to predict who offers the most fantasy upside in any given week due to the plethora of options. None of Brown (four targets), Davis (three), Humphries (one) nor No. 4 WR Tajae Sharpe (two) were consistently involved, and team's non-WRs in Dion Lewis (four), Delanie Walker (six) and Derrick Henry (two) actually finished with more combined targets.

The Colts run the most zone coverage in the league, which was exploited by the Chargers with underneath passes to Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen. Similar strategy would position Lewis and Walker to benefit the most this week, leaving the offense's WRs in need of big plays to produce any semblance of mid-tier, let alone high-end, fantasy production.

TE breakdown: Walker (35-years-old) looked surprisingly spry against the Browns in Week 1, catching 5-of-6 targets for 55 yards and a pair of red-zone scores. His average of 7.5 targets per game since Marcus Mariota was drafted trail only rookie T.J. Hockenson (nine), Zach Ertz (8.2), Travis Kelce (7.8) and Dennis Pitta (7.6) among all TEs. Fire up Walker as a TE1 in Week 2 against a Colts Defense that allowed a league-high 76 receiving yards per game to the position in 2018 (Football Outsiders).

Seahawks at Steelers

Seahawks Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left D.K. Metcalf 75 228 4.33 Steven Nelson 70 197 4.49
Slot Tyler Lockett 70 182 4.4 Mike Hilton 69 178 4.6
Right Jaron Brown 74 205 4.45 Joe Haden 71 193 4.62

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Russell Wilson displayed somewhat alarming target distribution in the Seahawks' Week 1 win over the Bengals on his 20 pass attempts.

Lockett mentioned after the game that the Bengals consistently double teamed him and noted that he hadn't experienced that since college. This could be problematic in future matchups, but not this week against a Steelers Defense that has been boat raced by slot WRs for the better part of the 21st century. Primary inside WRs such as Keenan Allen (14-148-1), Jarvis Landry (8-39-0, 7-106-0), Tyler Boyd (7-62-2), Julian Edelman (7-90-0, 6-83-0), Willie Snead (7-58-0, 6-56-0) and Emmanuel Sanders (7-86-1) have all had their way against Pittsburgh over the past two seasons. Lockett's massive speed advantage over Mike Hilton is the icing on the cake for this plus matchup.

Metcalf will carry a solid weekly ceiling as Wilson's primary field stretcher. He even snagged a tough contested catch in Week 1 in the midst of an off-script extended play.

The problem for the entire passing game is consistency in what looks like the league's most run-heavy offense.

TE breakdown: Will Dissly (knee) is banged up at the moment. The unit has a great matchup against a Steelers Defense that ranked 31st in DVOA against TEs in 2018. Still, I wouldn't expect Nick Vannett to suddenly turn into a world beater if Dissly is ultimately sidelined, as the 2016 third-round pick has cleared 50 receiving yards in just one of 40 career games.

Steelers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed CB Height Weight Speed
Left Donte Moncrief 74 221 4.4 Tre Flowers 75 202 4.45
Slot Ryan Switzer 68 181 4.51 Ugo Amadi 69 199 4.51
Right JuJu Smith-Schuster 73 215 4.54 Shaquill Griffin 72 194 4.38

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: JuJu Smith-Schuster (90% snap rate) and Donte Moncrief (90%) were the Steelers' only full-time WRs in Week 1, as each of Ryan Switzer (69%), James Washington (52%) and Diontae Johnson (36%) were featured more as auxiliary options.

I expect Ben Roethlisberger and the passing offense to get back on track this week against the Seahawks' underwhelming crop of CBs.

Still, Big Ben's mythical home/away splits have taken a turn towards neutral over the past two seasons.

  • 2014: 25.2 fantasy points per game at home vs. 14.8 away
  • 2015: 23.5 vs. 14.5
  • 2016: 25.5 vs. 13.8
  • 2017: 21.3 vs. 15.4
  • 2018: 21.5 vs. 21.7

JuJu is locked in as a WR1 as the undisputed lead target in what looks like one of the league's most pass-heavy offenses. Moncrief was brutal last week (3-7-0 on 10 targets), but received a post-game endorsement from Roethlisberger and is still tentatively locked in as the offense's No. 2 pass-game option. The optimistic case for Washington as a boom-or-bust option comes down to the fantasy-friendly nature of his targets, as only DeAndre Hopkins (216) racked up more air yards than Washington (169) in Week 1.

TE breakdown: The Steelers' season-opening debacle against the Patriots included a pedestrian 2-40-0 line from Vance McDonald that all came on the offense's final drive of the game. The good news is McDonald played 72% of the offense's snaps, which is good for the second-highest mark of his Steelers career. I wouldn't write off McDonald's chances at working as a weekly TE1 just yet.

Ian Hartitz

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