- Ramsey slows down Adams: Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey did a good job limiting Las Vegas Raiders WR Davante Adams (3-71-0) despite Adams' viral one-handed snag.
- Jefferson vs. Gilmore highlights Week 15: Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson versus Indianapolis Colts CB Stephon Gilmore stands out as the week's most star-studded projected WR/CB shadow matchup.
- Howard can slow down Diggs: Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard has never allowed Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs to gain over 80 yards in four shadow matchups since 2020.
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 14
- Projected Week 15 shadow matchups
- Notes on why certain cornerbacks aren’t expected to shadow
Week 14 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:
- Cleveland Browns CB Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson shadowed Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase (10-119-1) and Trenton Irwin (2-58-1), respectively. While Chase did wind up with a solid day at the office, credit to Ward for making him work for the production and only allowing a long gain of just 20 yards.
- Dolphins CB Xavien Howard predictably shadowed Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams (6-116-1) while Keion Crossen matched up with Josh Palmer (4-53-0). Another example of how even some of the league’s best wide receivers like Keenan Allen can avoid a tough one-on-one matchup purely by usually lining up in the friendly confines of the slot.
- Rams CB Jalen Ramsey actually wound up performing pretty well against Raiders WR Davante Adams (3-71-0) despite being on the wrong side of some early-game fireworks. Troy Hill also deserves credit for mostly shutting down Mack Hollins (2-22-0).
- Bills CB Tre’Davious White shadowed for the first time in 2022, following New York Jets WR Garrett Wilson (6-78-0) all over the field. Dane Jackson matched up with Denzel Mims (3-35-0) after Corey Davis (concussion) was sidelined.
- San Francisco 49ers CB Charvarius Ward did a fairly good job limiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (4-44-0), but Evans had a 68-yard touchdown nullified due to a holding penalty and a potential nine-yard touchdown badly underthrown. As a wise man once said: Sheesh.
Projected Week 15 shadow matchups
Vikings WR Justin Jefferson vs. Colts CB Stephon Gilmore
Jefferson is fresh off an electric 11-223-0 performance that would have been even bigger with better reffing. Up next is arguably the biggest start-studded shadow matchup of the week against Gilmore, who is PFF’s 10th-highest-graded cornerback in coverage this season.
Gilmore has only been truly bested one time this season, but even then he’s yet to allow any of his shadow “victims” find their way to the end zone:
- Terry McLaurin: 6-113-0
- Brandin Cooks: 7-82-0
- Marvin Jones: 3-33-0
- Courtland Sutton: 5-74-0
- Tyquan Thornton: 1-5-0
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 0-0-0
- A.J. Brown: 5-60-0
Verdict: It’d make sense if Gilmore makes life slightly more difficult than Jefferson than normal, but the Vikings’ stud third-year receiver earned upside WR1 treatment regardless of the matchup a long time ago. The Vikings should also be able to free up Jefferson from the matchup whenever they want in the slot, where Gilmore has only lined up on seven total snaps all season.
Bills WR Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis vs. Dolphins CB Xavien Howard and Keion Crossen
Howard has shadowed Diggs on four occasions since 2020:
- Week 17, 2020: 7-76-0 (eight targets – Diggs also only played 48% of the game’s snaps)
- Week 2, 2021: 4-60-1 (eight)
- Week 8, 2021: 5-40-1 (seven)
- Week 3, 2022: 7-74-0 (11)
Nothing ridiculously overwhelming, but obviously this matchup also hasn’t caused too much trouble for one of the game’s very best wide receivers. Howard also hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt in shadow coverage this season, badly losing to Tee Higgins (7-124-1), Justin Jefferson (6-107-0) and most recently Mike Williams (6-116-1) throughout the year.