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Fantasy Football: Week 10 WR/CB shadow matchups and biggest mismatches

Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) runs the ball after the catch against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

  • 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:

  1. Which cornerbacks shadowed in Week 9
  2. Projected Week 10 shadow matchups
  3. 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:

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:

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.

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.


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