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Fantasy football: WR shadow matchups, best/worst mismatches and Week 2 rankings

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) scores a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

  • There are a number of potential high-profile shadow matchups this week including Mike Evans vs. Marshon Lattimore, Ja’Marr Chase vs. Trevon Diggs and Michael Thomas vs. Carlton Davis.
  • Julio Jones and Josh Palmer headline the week’s top waiver wire additions at the position.
  • Don’t discount the possibility that both Brandon Aiyuk and Elijah Moore have major bounce-back performances.
Estimated reading time: 20 minutes

Happy Week 2; let’s break down all things wide receiver ahead of another electric slate of NFL football. What follows is a look at the week’s projected shadow matchups followed by answers to bunches of key questions before getting to the fantasy football rankings.

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Week 2 Shadow Matchups

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.

Last week 11 different defenses had at least one cornerback shadow the opposition’s No. 1 wide receiver all over the field:

A good rule of thumb: Start your studs. Still, fantasy managers are always looking for an edge, so what follows is a breakdown of the week’s projected shadow matchups defined by instances in which a defense will ask one of their cornerbacks to travel with a specific opposing wide receiver for at least 50% of the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson vs. New England Patriots CB Jonathan Jones

New quarterback, same target-hog. Overall, Johnson was one of just 13 wide receivers to command a target share of at least 30% in Week 1; don’t expect the Steelers to shy away from continuing to feed their undisputed No. 1 receiver against Jones, who was a better snap away from giving up a house call touchdown to Tyreek Hill on the first play of the season. Johnson shouldn’t be downgraded for this matchup.

Carolina Panthers WR D.J. Moore vs. New York Giants CB Adoree’ Jackson

Perhaps the Giants view Robbie Anderson as the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver after he garnered most of Baker Mayfield’s attention in Week 1, but I doubt it. This means Moore should see plenty of Jackson, who did a good job shutting down Robert Woods (1-13-0) in Week 1. At Moore’s best he should be capable of defeating one-on-one coverage from just about anybody, but at a minimum don’t expect Jackson to make life overly easy. This is a neutral matchup from a pure coverage perspective.

Baltimore Ravens WR Rashod Bateman vs. Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard

Bateman turned two of his five targets into 59 yards and a score during the Ravens’ Week 1 win over the Jets. Now he’ll have to deal with a blitz-happy Dolphins defense that gave Lamar Jackson all sorts of problems in 2021. Howard is a damn good corner in his own right, and the added potential for Jackson to not be at his best has me downgrading Bateman just a bit for this tough Week 2 matchup.

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