Fantasy Football Week 15 - Notable WR/CB Matchups

by Nick Ercolano December 14, 2017

Fantasy Football Week 15 - Notable WR/CB Matchups

All grading, route position %, etc is per ProFootballFocus.com and Football Outsiders.

Josh Gordon (CLV) vs. Brandon Carr (BAL)

  • I'm not sure what's going on with Gordon's second half play over the last two weeks but at the end of the day he's getting it done for your fantasy lineups.
  • In what should have been a super tough matchup for Gordon and this pass offense as a whole, the Ravens are in decline after losing all-pro CB Jimmy Smith two weeks ago. They allowed Big Ben to throw for over 500 yards against them on Monday night, Antonio Brown accounting for 213 of those yards. Somehow, the next leading wide receiver on the team only had 33 yards (Bryant/Rogers).
  • Regardless, both Raven's CBs, Carr and rookie Marlon Humphrey are a massive step down from Smith, and Gordon will see plenty of both on Sunday. Flash vodka has run 39% of his route lined up left, 33% from the slot and 28% from the right.
  • Gordon has 3 inches and around 15-20 pounds on each of them. Carr grades out as the 12th worst outside CB in the NFL per PFF on the szn. Humphrey, on the other hand has graded out much better than Carr but with a much smaller sample size of coverage routes and he's given up some big numbers to WRs. He's given up the 8th most receiving yards per route covered (1.96) and is among the top-15 most generous in the league in fantasy points allowed per route covered (0.35). QBs are targeting Humphrey on a whopping 30% of his routes covered, 3rd highest in the NFL.
  • Gordon being a specimen in his own right should have his way with this BAL secondary. It's just his third game back but after catching 7 balls for 154 yards and a tuddy over his L2, there's no reason to doubt him at home as 7 points dogs. Game script yells pass.

    Michael Thomas (NO) vs. Morris Claiborne (NYJ)

    • What's funny is that in the first month or two of the szn, Claiborne was actually a tough matchup for opposing wideouts. No longer thy case, and with the Jets forced to throw Bryce Petty under center, the Saints should run away with this game and light up the scoreboard in NoLa. 
    • Despite fantasy owners' disappointment at times with him this year, M-Thom is the 4th highest graded WR on the szn behind just Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Keenan Allen. After scoring just twice in the teams first 11 games, Thomas has found paydirt in back to back games and will look to make it a third on Sunday in a game where the Saints are projected in Vegas to score over 31 points. The Jets on the other hand, have allowed the fourth most passing TDs on the szn (25) and have given up the 4th most FPs to opposing WRs.
    • PFF expects Claiborne to shadow Thomas in this matchup, which is a good thing for owners of the Saints WR1. Claiborne is the 8th worst graded outside CB in 2017 and MT will have 4 inches and more than 20lbs on the Jets top CB. Opposing WR1's have eaten the Jets up over recent weeks - Demaryius Thomas (8-93-1 in Week 14), Tyreek Hill (6-185-2 in Week 13), Devin Funchess (7-108 in Week 12). I'd expect Thomas to keep the trend line going upwards in Week 15. He's a high-end WR1 for your first fantasy playoff matchup.

    Dede Westbrook (JAX) vs. Kevin Johnson (HOU)

    • If you've read or listened to any of my content this week you can tell I've got a half a chub rocking for the Jags pass offense this week. Why wouldn't you considering they get to play the Texans, at home.
    • Westbrook has slowly crept in as the WR1 in this Jags offense in recent weeks, out-targeting Marqise Lee 27-17 over their last three games all while Allen Hurns is sidelined and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Dede's caught 17 of those targets for 200 yards and a score, seeing at least 8 targets and catching at least 5 of them in all three games. He's shaping up as a really nice PPR floor play.

    • Westbrook, who has run the majority of his routes from the left side of the field will face off with Houston's Kevin Johnson (71% RCB), PFF's single worst graded CB. On the szn, Johnson's given up the 10th most receiving yards per route covered (1.92), the 5th most FPs per route covered (0.49) and is allowing 75% of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed, 10th highest among NFL cornerbacks.
    • Houston pass defense currently ranks 25th in the NFL allowing 242 passing yards per game. Only four teams in the NFL have allowed more than the 24 passing TDs the Texans have let up and no one has let up more pass plays of 40+ yards on the year (13).
    • The Jags are really starting to settle in at home and Bortles' numbers back that up. He's  throwing for nearly 260 yards/game at home and that number's up to nearly 284 over his last three. The team is clicking on all cylinders right now and I expect Bortles and Westbrook to keep it up on Sunday.

    Sterling Shepard (NYG) vs. Patrick Robinson (PHI)

    • For as good as Wentz has been all szn, he's not the only reason the Eagles currently sit atop the league standings at 11-2. To have a record like that, you need to be loaded with numerous unsung heroes. P-Robby Rob, the Eagles slot CB is one of them in Philly.
    • These two young talents will face off in a divisional matchup on Sunday morning in New Jersey (shoutout). Robinson is currently PFF's 3rd highest graded CB in 2017 and #1 graded slot CB. While Robinson weighs in about 10lbs lighter than Shepard, the Eagles CB has both the height and speed advantage in this matchup. He's allowing just 54% of passes his way to be completed which is the best percentage for any slot CB in the NFL. 
    • Shepard has really struggled since returning from his two-game hiatus. He's reeled in just 5-of-9 targets for 72 scoreless yards over the GMen's last two games. And those came against super exploitable pass defenses in Oakland and Dallas. It'll be much tougher for Shepard on Sunday. The "volume" play storyline looks to have run its course with Shepard. He's more of a low-WR3 for Week 15.

        WRs expecting Shadow Coverage

        1. Martavis Bryant vs. Stephon Gilmore (NE) [17th graded CB]
        2. A.J. Green vs. Xavier Rhodes (MIN) [20th graded CB]
        3. Josh Doctson vs. Patrick Peterson (ARZ) [39th graded CB]
        4. Antonio Brown vs. Malcolm Butler (NE) [41st graded CB]
        5. JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Jonathan Jones (NE) [44th graded CB]
        6. Michael Thomas vs. Morris Claiborne (NYJ) [78th graded CB]

          Other Notes

          • The top five (5) rated PFF WRs that are playing in Week 15, in order, are Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins... they may be onto something here with their grading system.
          • The top five (5) rated PFF CBs that are playing in Week 15, in order, are Casey Hayward, Jalen Ramsey, Patrick Robinson, A.J. Bouye and Marshon Lattimore.
          • Kamar Aiken, Russell Shepard and Rashard Higgins are the lowest graded WRs in Week 15.
          • Kevin Johnson, Dontae Johnson and David Amerson are the lowest graded coverage defenders for Week 15. 


          Nick Ercolano
          Nick Ercolano

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