- Get your popcorn ready for a star-studded shadow matchup between Raiders WR Davante Adams and Colts CB Stephon Gilmore.
- Commanders WR Terry McLaurin and Eagles CB Darius Slay will add another chapter to their competitive rivalry on Monday night.
- Browns WR Amari Cooper might have a field day against Dolphins CB Xavien Howard if their last meeting in 2019 is a sign of things to come.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
Shadow matchups are when a defense assigns a particular cornerback to follow one specific wide receiver all over the field.
Of course, wide receivers often can overcome difficult one-on-one matchups thanks to good ole’ fashioned volume. It’s also rare that a cornerback follows a single receiver around the field for each and every route. This leads to situations where Jalen Ramsey “shuts down” Justin Jefferson in their direct coverage (3-25-0), but Jefferson’s full game line (8-116-0) reflects the reality that fantasy managers were still better off playing him.
What follows is a breakdown on:
- Which cornerbacks shadowed in Week 9
- Projected Week 10 shadow matchups
- Notes on why certain cornerbacks aren’t expected to shadow
Week 9 shadow results
The following six defenses deployed at least one of their cornerbacks in shadow coverage last week. Note that receiving production refers to what the player achieved during the entire game, not just specifically in the referenced cornerbacks’ direct coverage:
- Falcons CB Darren Hall checked Chargers WR Michael Bandy (5-26-0) throughout the afternoon. The Falcons have also had Cornell Armstrong shadow in the absence of A.J. Terrell (hamstring) and Casey Hayward (shoulder, IR).
- Jaguars CB Tyson Campbell shadowed Raiders WR Davante Adams (10-146-2), as expected. The matchup predictably went quite terribly for Campbell; just realize he did shut down both Courtland Sutton (1-13-0) and Mike Williams (1-15-1) in his only other two shadow dates this season.
- Commanders CB Benjamin St-Juste and Kendall Fuller shadowed for the first time all season against Vikings WR Justin Jefferson (7-115-1) and Adam Thielen (3-66-0). That’s right: Washington traded CB William Jackson because he wanted to play more man coverage, and now Washington has seemingly decided that they want to play more man coverage.
- Colts CB Stephon Gilmore somewhat surprisingly spent his afternoon across from rookie Patriots WR Tyquan Thornton (1-5-0). Note that DeVante Parker (knee) was sidelined.
- Texans CB Derek Stingley Jr. predictably shadowed and struggled against Eagles WR A.J. Brown (4-59-1). At least the rookie is getting his lumps in during on an otherwise forgetful 2022 Texans team (other than Dameon Pierce, of course).
- Cardinals CB Byron Murphy Jr. and Marco Wilson decided to track Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf (5-37-1) and Tyler Lockett (5-67-1) all over the field after not doing so when these teams met back in Week 6. Arizona has been more willing to ask Murphy Jr. to shadow in recent contests after refraining from doing so for most of the first six weeks of the season.
Projected Week 10 shadow matchups
Panthers WR Terrace Marshall vs. Falcons CB Cornell Armstrong
The Falcons were already struggling against the pass with A.J. Terrell (hamstring) and Casey Hayward (shoulder, IR); lately they have been an even bigger mess trying to hold fort without them. Atlanta also used Darren Hall last week on Chargers WR Michael Bandy instead of Joshua Palmer, lending credence to the idea that they will again focus their shadow coverage on the opposition’s No. 2 receiver as opposed to the No. 1. Armstrong didn’t exactly slow down Marshall (4-87-0) back in Week 8; the second-year receiver shouldn’t be downgraded against the Falcons’ 31st-ranked defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers.
Browns WR Amari Cooper vs. Dolphins CB Xavien Howard
The absence of both CB Nik Needham (Achilles, IR) and Byron Jones (Achilles, PUP) leaves Howard as this cornerback room’s last man standing. This is too bad, as Howard himself has dealt with multiple groin injuries this season that have helped sap his usual effectiveness in some admittedly tough matchups:
- Week 1 vs. DeVante Parker: 1-9-0
- Week 3 vs. Stefon Diggs: 7-74-0
- Week 4 vs. Tee Higgins: 7-124-1
- Week 6 vs. Justin Jefferson: 6-107-0
Further complicating matters is the fact that Cooper absolutely roasted Howard back in 2019 to the tune of a 6-88-2 receiving line on just seven targets. Cooper has the sort of high-end route-running chops to give even the league’s best shadow corners some serious problems, as he demonstrated time and time again on that fall afternoon.
The last time Amari Cooper and Xavien Howard faced offpic.twitter.com/9Kl6eLKQEf
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 9, 2022
Perhaps Howard makes Cooper work for his yards more than usual, but the Browns’ undisputed No. 1 pass-game option shouldn’t be downgraded at all against the league’s ninth-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position.