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How to apply Yards Added numbers to cornerback usage

Carson, CA, USA; Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) reacts during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

As a PFF Fantasy reader, you no doubt strive to make sophisticated, informed fantasy decisions. It is the pursuit that drove fantasy analysts to look past receptions to targets and to look past touchdowns to red-zone and end-zone targets. Cornerback matchups are at the frontier of that analysis, and the research from my previous article demonstrated why that trail isn’t well-worn. Contrary to the consensus opinion, an elite corner’s presence on the field does not by itself hurt a receiver’s production. That corner also must regularly shadow the receiver to turn the game into a bad matchup for him.

That epiphany started with the mystery from my last article of why the top cover corners in recent seasons have had so small of an impact on the fantasy success of top receivers. I worried that my new Yards Added metric had somehow missed the mark, but the game logs of the top receivers who faced Josh Norman in 2015 provided a simpler explanation.

Top Receiver Production in Games with Josh Norman, 2015
Week Receiver Team Shadow% Rec Yards
1 Allen Robinson JAX 50.0% 1 27
2 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 63.6% 5 53
3 Brandin Cooks NO 37.5% 7 79
4 Vincent Jackson TB 42.9% 10 147
6 Doug Baldwin SEA 25.0% 3 23
8 T.Y. Hilton IND 50.0% 1 15
9 Davante Adams GB 18.2% 7 105
10 Justin Hunter TEN 25.0% 4 47
11 DeSean Jackson WAS 42.9% 5 87
12 Dez Bryant DAL 71.4% 2 26
13 Brandin Cooks NO 44.4% 6 104
14 Julio Jones ATL 66.7% 7 88
15 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG 77.8% 6 76
16 Julio Jones ATL 54.5% 9 178
17 Mike Evans TB 55.6% 4 99

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