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Fantasy Football: Week 17 WR/CB shadow matchups and biggest mismatches

Denver, Colorado, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

• Scary Terry: Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin (4-77-1) again managed to put up solid numbers while facing shadow coverage from 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward in Week 16.

• Get your popcorn ready: Bengals wideout Ja'Marr Chase could see a bunch of Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White on Monday Night Football.

• No worries: Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner hasn't shadowed a receiver all season. Don't expect that to change against Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf this week.

Estimated Reading Time: 10 mins

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 ol’ 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 16
  2. Projected Week 17 shadow matchups
  3. Notes on why certain cornerbacks aren’t expected to shadow

Week 16 shadow results

13 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 17 shadow matchups

Patriots WR DeVante Parker (concussion) vs. Dolphins CB Xavien Howard

These two squared up all the way back in Week 1, and Howard won in style on his way to holding Parker to just one reception for nine scoreless yards. Of course, there have been quite a few battles since then that didn’t shine as brightly upon the Dolphins’ No. 1 cornerback:

Verdict: Parker has seen five or more targets in only three of 12 games this season. He’s not a realistic fantasy option in a less-than-ideal matchup with little-to-no guaranteed volume.


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