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Fantasy Football Week 1: Three WR/CB matchups to target and avoid

2RH79HJ Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) runs with the ball against Dallas Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland (26) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)

• WR Calvin Ridley (82.3 PFF preseason offense grade), Jacksonville Jaguars: He will get off to a hot start against the Indianapolis Colts’ talent-depleted secondary.

• WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (54.3 PFF preseason offense grade), New England Patriots: His preseason usage points toward a full-time slot role, which is bad news against the Philadelphia Eagles.

• Dominate your fantasy league in 2023: For up-to-date fantasy draft rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool!

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Knowing when an NFL wide receiver has an advantageous or disadvantageous cornerback matchup is critical for fantasy football start-sit decisions. This article details six players who either be started with confidence or avoided at all costs, thanks in part to their primary defensive counterpart for Week 1.

3 Wide Receivers to Target

WR Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. CB Darrell Baker Jr., Indianapolis Colts

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley (82.3 PFF preseason offense grade) makes his Jacksonville debut against a ramshackle Indianapolis defense that lost starting perimeter cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (81.1 PFF 2022 coverage grade) and Brandon Facyson (56.0 PFF 2022 coverage grade) this offseason. Ridley’s 76.5% wide-right per-snap alignment rate indicates second-year undrafted cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. (71.3 PFF preseason coverage grade) will take his first career regular-season snaps opposite Ridley. Ridley will play a key role in Jacksonville reaching FanDuel’s sky-high 25.0-point implied team total.

Ridley’s sterling preseason showing points toward a Week 1 fantasy football eruption after his gambling-related year-plus hiatus.

The table below ranks in parentheses Ridley’s preseason receiving data among 160 NFL wide receivers with at least 15 receiving snaps and five targets.

NFL Preseason WR Receiving Calvin Ridley
PFF Receiving Grade 85.8 (No. 3)
TPRR – YPRR 31.3% (No. 11) – 4.44 (No. 4)
Catch % – Contested Catch % 100.0% (T-No. 1) – 100.0% (T-No. 1)

Baker’s 2021 coverage profile in his final college season at Georgia Southern was potentially the single-worst coverage performance among Group of Five cornerbacks.

The table below ranks in parentheses Baker’s 2021 coverage data among 126 Group of Five cornerbacks with at least 250 coverage snaps.

2021 Group-of-Five CB Coverage Darrell Baker Jr.
PFF Coverage Grade 54.9 (No. 118)
Targeted % 24.6% (No. 126)
Yards Allowed per Cov. Snap 1.73 (No. 119)
15+-Yd Pass Plays Allowed % 3.9% (No. 113)

Ridley’s matchup against Baker is the largest talent discrepancy among all Week 1 wide receiver-cornerback matchups.

Baker is side-kicked by 2021 undrafted free agent Dallis Flowers (65.9 PFF preseason coverage grade) and slot cornerback Kenny Moore II (60.3 PFF preseason coverage grade).


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