- D.K. Metcalf is back in the position’s top-15 regardless of the matchup with Marshon Lattimore.
- Michael Pittman might not flirt with a blowup performance due to his matchup, but his combination of elite talent and gaudy volume floor make it tough to downgrade him more than a spot or two.
- Tough matchup be damned, continue to fire up Courland Sutton as a borderline WR1 thanks to his status as Russell Wilson’s undisputed No. 1 target.
Estimated reading time: 24 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 4
- Projected Week 5 shadow matchups
- Notes on why certain cornerbacks aren’t expected to shadow
Week 4 shadow report
The following nine 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:
- Bills CB Kaiir Elam was used to track Demarcus Robinson (2-10-0) all over the field presumably so the rest of the defense could focus on more important matters.
- Giants CB Fabian Moreau was used in a similar manner as Elam, as he shadowed complementary Bears WR Dante Pettis (0-0-0) so the rest of the defense could look elsewhere.
- Dolphins CB Xavien Howard was matching up with Tee Higgins (7-124-1) for most of last Thursday night’s matchup before departing late with a groin injury. No. 2 CB Keion Crossen — usually alongside a safety — spent most of his evening across from Ja’Marr Chase (4-81-0).
- Falcons CB A.J. Terrell continues to rebound after a rough start to the season, this time locking up Amari Cooper (1-9-0) for four quarters. Old man/No. 2 CB Casey Hayward wasn’t as successful keeping track of Donovan Peoples-Jones (5-71-0).
- Patriots CB Jonathan Jones was deployed against breakout rookie WR Romeo Doubs (5-47-1), who nearly hauled in a game-winning 40-yard touchdown at the end of regulation. Surprising but true: Doubs became the first opposing No. 1 option to have a good game against Bill Belichick in NFL history.
- Chargers CB Asante Samuel Jr. surprisingly tracked Nico Collins (3-82-0) as opposed to Brandin Cooks. Perhaps this was because Cooks spent 30% of his snaps in the slot, where Samuel has lined up just twice all season.
- Texans CB Derek Stingley Jr. did a pretty good job on Mike Williams (7-120-0) in Week 5; Williams gained 50 of his 120 yards on a complete coverage bust that featured him running completely unguarded across the middle of the field.
- Broncos CB Patrick Surtain II held up about as well as could be expected against Davante Adams (9-101-0), while No. 2 CB Ronald Darby locked up Week 3 all-star Mack Hollins (3-33-0) for most of the afternoon.
- Saints CB Marshon Lattimore struggled to keep Justin Jefferson (10-147-0) in check throughout most of the Vikings’ London-themed win over the Saints. No. 2 CB Paulson Adebo didn’t fair much better against Adam Thielen (8-72-0).
Projected Week 5 shadow matchups
Colts WR Michael Pittman vs. Broncos CB Patrick Surtain II
Surtain has held up fairly well in shadow coverage this season, limiting D.K. Metcalf (7-36-0) before more recently at least making Davante Adams (9-101-0) need 13 targets to clear the century mark. Expect a similar outcome in this one: Pittman might not flirt with a blowup performance due to this tough matchup, but his combination of elite talent and gaudy volume floor make it tough to downgrade him more than a spot or two.
Broncos WR Courtland Sutton vs. Colts CB Stephon Gilmore
Sutton’s 35 targets are tied for the 10th-most in the league through four weeks of action. More impressive have been the air yards at hand: Only Chris Olave (677), Tyreek Hill (472) and Davante Adams (465) have more than Sutton (458) this season. Tough matchup be damned, continue to fire up Sutton as a borderline WR1 thanks to his status as Russell Wilson’s undisputed No. 1 target.