Fantasy Football Week 4: Three WR/CB matchups to target and avoid

2RXYK4G Chicago Bears wide receiver DJ Moore (2) in a action against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

• WR Tank Dell, Houston Texans vs. CB Levi Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh's susceptible secondary is perfect for Dell to exploit.

• WR Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders vs. CB James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles: Dotson is a candidate for Bradberry’s shadow coverage.

• 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: 8 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 should either be started with confidence or avoided at all costs, thanks in part to their primary defensive counterpart for Week 4.

WR:CB Matchup Chart


3 Wide Receivers to Target

WR Tank Dell, Houston Texans vs. CB Levi Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers

Houston rookie wide receiver Tank Dell (76.6 PFF offense grade) increased his per-route efficiency after earning a full-time role in Week 2. His 1.50-second 10-yard-split speed will be on full display against Pittsburgh’s explosive-pass-play-prone cornerbacks. He is a points-per-reception WR3 with top-12 upside.

As detailed in “QB Matchups, Streamer of the Week, Week 4 Rankings and More,” Pittsburgh’s aging secondary has allowed 13 explosive pass plays to opposing wide receivers, tied for the fifth most in the NFL.

Dell will likely take snaps against all members of Pittsburgh’s five-pronged coverage unit, including cornerbacks Levi Wallace (58.1 PFF coverage grade, six explosive pass plays allowed), Patrick Peterson (72.7 PFF coverage grade, five explosive pass plays allowed) and Chandon Sullivan (50.8 PFF coverage grade, 80.0% catch rate allowed).

Among 66 NFL perimeter cornerbacks with at least 50 perimeter-coverage snaps, Wallace’s 20.7% targeted rate ranks seventh highest and his 1.67 yards allowed per perimeter-coverage snap barely sneaks inside the top 50.

The table below ranks in parentheses Dell’s Weeks 2-3 receiving data among 73 NFL wide receivers with at least 50 receiving snaps in that span.

NFL WR Receiving | Weeks 2-3 Tank Dell
PFF Receiving Grade 78.1 (No. 15)
Target % – YPRR 23.9% (No. 21) – 3.06 (No. 8)
Yards per Reception 18.1 (No. 11)
Yards After Catch per Reception 5.9 (No. 14)
20-Plus-Yard aDot % 23.5% (No. 22)
15-Plus-Yard Pass Plays 4 (T-No. 16)
Missed Tackles Forced 1 (T-No. 18)

Houston quarterback C.J. Stroud’s (71.1 PFF passing grade on 15-plus-yard throws) 53.8% adjusted completion rate on throws 15-plus-yards downfield ranks 10th among 26 NFL quarterbacks with at least 15 such passing attempts.

Dell’s game-breaking speed makes him a must-start in this winnable matchup.


WR Marvin Mims Jr., Denver Broncos vs. CB Tyrique Stevenson, Chicago Bears

Rookie wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr.’s (81.1 PFF offense grade) 4.38-second 40-yard-dash speed will be on display against Chicago’s injury-ruined secondary. Mims’ elite efficiency demands a role increase following Denver’s humiliating 70-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 3.

FanDuel implies Denver to score a fantasy-friendly 24.75 points.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Denver a 35.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, the best such rating on the week. Quarterback Russell Wilson (73.9 PFF passing grade) can expect cozy pockets on Sunday.

Mims has displayed game-changing receiving and special teams ability.

The table below ranks in parentheses Mims' receiving data among 97 NFL wide receivers with at least 25 receiving snaps and eight targets, and his return data among 25 NFL kick returners with at least five kick returns.

NFL WR Receiving Marvin Mims
PFF Receiving Grade 83.2 (No. 7)
Target % – YPRR 33.3% (No. 6) – 7.22 (No. 1)
Catch % 77.8% (T-No. 16)
aDot – Yards per Reception 24.7 (No. 1) – 27.9 (No. 1)
Yards After Catch per Reception 7.3 (No. 5)
15-Plus-Yard Pass Play % 57.1% (T-No. 7)
20-Plus-Yard aDot % 55.6% (No. 1)
PFF Return Grade 72.1 (No. 3)
Missed Tackles Forced Returning 3 (T-No. 11)
Kickoff Returns 4 (T-No. 4)
Avg. Kickoff Return Yardage – TDs 44.0 (No. 1) – 1 (No. 1)
Punt Returns 1 (T-No. 24)
Avg. Punt Return Yardage – TDs 45.0 (No. 1) – 0 (T-No. 4)

The table below lists the Chicago defensive backs’ current injury statuses.

Chicago Secondary Injuries Injury Status PFF Coverage Grades
Slot CB Kyler Gordon Hand Fracture Injured Reserve 65.0
Starting FS Eddie Jackson Foot (2022 Lisfranc injury) Expected to miss Week 4 72.3
Starting CB Jaylon Johnson Hamstring Suffered in Week 3, Likely Out in Week 4 84.1
Starting CB Tyrique Stevenson Week 3 Concussion Eval/Neck/Illness TBD 51.4
Starting SS Jaquan Brisker Entered/Exited Week 3 TBD 47.9
Backup Slot CB Josh Blackwell Week 1 Hamstring Strain Re-Injured in Week 3/Likely Out in Week 4 24.4

Among 75 NFL cornerbacks with at least 75 coverage snaps, Stevenson’s 1.85 yards allowed per coverage snap and 4.9% explosive pass plays allowed rate both rank outside the top 65.

Jackson’s center-field absence debilitates Stevenson’s prospects.

Mims’ profile bears risk, but he carries week-winning upside in a perfect matchup.


WR D.J. Moore, Chicago Bears vs. CB Damarri Mathis, Denver Broncos

Chicago wide receiver D.J. Moore (68.4 PFF offense grade) gets a dreamy matchup against Denver’s helpless secondary. As detailed in “QB Matchups, Streamer of the Week, Week 4 Rankings and More,” Denver’s defense was surrendering fruitful outings prior to the Miami Dolphins’ Week 3 eruption. Moore is a PPR WR2.

PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects Moore to face Denver cornerback Damarri Mathis (29.9 PFF coverage grade) on a 24-snap plurality, giving Moore an average 61.2 receiving matchup advantage rating.

The game opened with a fantasy-friendly 46.0-point FanDuel over/under.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Chicago a helpful 10.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating. Chicago quarterback Justin Fields (54.3 PFF passing grade) should remain largely free of pressure.

Denver’s No. 1 cornerback Pat Surtain II (64.8 PFF coverage grade) has shadowed only five NFL wide receivers over the past two years and totaled just four slot-coverage snaps during that span. Moore can easily avoid Surtain’s moderate coverage on most snaps. Among 66 NFL perimeter cornerbacks with at least 50 perimeter-coverage snaps in 2023, Surtain’s 1.42 yards allowed per coverage snap figure ranks outside the top 40.

Mathis ranks in the bottom three in catch rate allowed (89.5%), yards allowed per coverage snap (2.40) and explosive pass plays allowed rate (7.5%).

Slot cornerback Essang Bassey (52.2 PFF slot-coverage grade) has allowed a 100.0% slot-coverage catch rate.

Denver safety Justin Simmons’ (49.4 PFF coverage grade, hip injury) continued absence leaves the deep field exposed.

Chicago’s passing game has been volatile, but Moore remains an elite weapon with the ball in his hands.

The table below ranks in parentheses Moore’s post-catch receiving data among 67 NFL wide receivers with at least 80 receiving snaps.

NFL WR Post-Catch Receiving D.J. Moore
PFF Receiving Grade 67.9 (No. 34)
YAC/Rec. 6.2 (No. 7)
Missed Tackles Forced 2 (T-No. 12)
MTC/Rec. 0.18 (T-No. 13)
15-Plus-Yard Pass Plays 4 (T-No. 24)
15-Plus-Yard Pass Play % 36.4% (T-No. 25)
20-Plus-Yard aDot % 42.9% (T-No. 3)

Moore is a PPR WR2 with WR1 upside.


3 Wide Receivers to Avoid

WR Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders vs. CB James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles

Washington wide receiver Jahan Dotson (58.2 PFF receiving grade) should be avoided, facing a potential shadow matchup against 2022 second-team All-Pro cornerback James Bradberry (67.3 PFF coverage grade).

FanDuel implies Washington to score just 17.5 points.

Philadelphia lost slot cornerback Avonte Maddox (56.2 PFF slot-coverage grade) to injured reserve in Week 2. Safety Justin Evans (67.9 PFF coverage grade, neck injury) and talented backup cornerback Sydney Brown (86.9 PFF slot-coverage grade, thigh injury) were both forced out in Week 3. Bradberry subsequently operated as Philadelphia’s primary slot cornerback.

Eagles No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay (57.5 PFF coverage grade) was assigned shadow-coverage duties against Washington No. 1 wide receiver Terry McLaurin in Weeks 3 and 10 last year, while Bradberry shadowed Dotson in the first contest. Bradberry limited Dotson to two receptions for 10 receiving yards on six targets in 2022.

Given Philadelphia’s current defensive back situation and Dotson’s 50.0% slot rate, it is likely that head coach Nick Sirianni again tasks Bradberry with shadowing Dotson.

Bradberry frequently dissuades opposing quarterbacks from testing his coverage; his 11.4% targeted rate ranks 12th among 75 NFL cornerbacks with at least 75 coverage snaps. Both his 55.6% catch rate allowed (tied for 15th) and 0.81 yards allowed per coverage snap (tied for 23rd) trail closely behind.

Dotson has disappointed in his second NFL season. Among 67 NFL wide receivers with at least 80 receiving snaps, his 12.8% target rate, 0.71 yards per route run and 1.8 yards after the catch per reception all rank outside the top 55.

PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart gives Dotson a below-average 42.9 receiving matchup advantage rating against Bradberry.

As noted in “QB Matchups, Streamer of the Week, Week 4 Rankings and More,” Washington quarterback Sam Howell (55.7 PFF passing grade) will struggle to stay upright; PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Washington a -27.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating.

Dotson should remain on 12-team benches.


WR Isaiah Hodgins, New York Giants vs. CB Tariq Woolen, Seattle Seahawks

Isaiah Hodgins’ (55.7 PFF receiving grade) 2022 breakout looks like fool’s gold, and Seattle is expected to return No. 1 cornerback Tariq Woolen (70.5 PFF coverage grade, chest injury) and safety Jamal Adams (81.0 PFF 2022 coverage grade, knee injury).

PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects Hodgins to face Woolen on a 22-snap plurality, giving Hodgins a below-average 39.4 receiving matchup advantage rating. Among 105 NFL cornerbacks with at least 40 coverage snaps, Woolen ranks in the top four in targeted rate (7.0%), yards allowed per coverage snap (0.16) and explosive pass plays allowed rate (0.0%). Teammate Devon Witherspoon (62.0 PFF coverage grade) is hot on Woolen’s tail with a 13th-ranked 44.4% catch rate allowed.

Hodgins’ 11.5% target rate and 0.82 yards per route run figure both rank outside the top 60 among 72 NFL wide receivers with at least 75 receiving snaps. Plus, both tight end Darren Waller (69.8 PFF receiving grade, nerve irritation) and slot receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (66.9 PFF receiving grade, ACL reconstruction) are returning to full health.

Hodgins’ surehandedness was his calling card (82.1%) in 2022, but even that escapes him. His 55.6% catch rate in 2023 ties for 57th.

New York quarterback Daniel Jones (61.9 PFF passing grade) will be throwing under duress. PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives New York a -13.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating.

Hodgins should not be started in 12-team leagues.


WR Mack Hollins, Atlanta Falcons vs. CB Darious Williams, Jacksonville Jaguars

Mack Hollins (59.1 PFF receiving grade) leads the Falcons with 114 receiving yards, but he cannot be trusted against Jacksonville’s top-tier perimeter coverage.

FanDuel implies Atlanta to score just 20.25 points in Week 4.

Hollins (80.0% perimeter pre-snap alignment rate) is likely to take repetitions against both No. 1 perimeter cornerback Tyson Campbell (66.8 PFF coverage grade) and No. 2 perimeter cornerback Darious Williams (75.7 PFF coverage grade), though Jacksonville head coach Doug Pederson occasionally tasks Williams with shadowing No. 2 wide receivers.

PFF’s WR/CB matchup gives Hollins respectively poor 22.1 and 21.6 receiving matchup advantage ratings against Williams and Campbell.

Hollins’ surface stats are enticing, but his efficiency metrics reveal him to be a subpar journeyman. Among 60 NFL perimeter wide receivers with at least 50 perimeter-receiving snaps, Hollins’ 55.6 PFF perimeter-receiving grade, 14.8% target rate, 1.02 yards per route run figure, 55.6% catch rate and 1.4 yards after the catch per reception rank outside the top 40.

Williams and Campbell’s dominance on downfield passes creates concern for Hollins’ outlook.

The table below ranks in parentheses Williams' and Campbell’s perimeter-coverage data among 66 NFL perimeter cornerbacks with at least 50 perimeter-coverage snaps.

NFL Perimeter CB Coverage Darious Williams Tyson Campbell
PFF Perimeter-Coverage Grade 75.6 (No. 12) 66.2 (No. 27)
Targeted % 12.1% (No. 17) 11.5% (No. 13)
Yards Allowed per Cov. Snap 1.13 (No. 36) 0.68 (No. 14)
15+-Yard Pass Plays Allowed % 1.7% (No. 17) 1.8% (No. 18)

Hollins cannot be trusted in 12-team formats.

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