Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 11 Matchups

Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 11 Matchups

This article is part of our Corner Report series.

This article will go game by game for the Week 11 slate looking at the top wide receivers from an offense and, based on the inside/outside and left/right splits of those receivers, identify the cornerbacks most likely to face them in man coverage. 

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Receivers rarely see the same corner every play, be it due to formation quirks or zone coverage calls by the defense, so a receiver's fortunes depend on much more than just the quality of the corner they're likely to see the most in a given game. Even against a bad corner, a good receiver can be denied the opportunity if the pass rush or something else outside his control complicates things. But it's part of the puzzle, and it's worth keeping track of.

Receivers are left with an Upgrade, Downgrade, or Even verdict based on their projected matchup. This shouldn't be read as 'good' or 'bad' but rather a measured tweak from the receiver's baseline projection.

NO vs LAR

NEW ORLEANS WIDE RECEIVERS

Jalen Ramsey might or might not shadow Chris Olave – the Rams usually don't use Ramsey much as a shadow but made an exception last week against DeAndre Hopkins, and Hopkins probably got the better of the

This article will go game by game for the Week 11 slate looking at the top wide receivers from an offense and, based on the inside/outside and left/right splits of those receivers, identify the cornerbacks most likely to face them in man coverage. 

If you are located in Maryland or Ohio, keep in mind that legal sportsbooks are set to launch in your state soon. Stay up to date with the latest BetMGM Maryland bonus code, and prepare for Ohio with the BetMGM Ohio bonus code.

Receivers rarely see the same corner every play, be it due to formation quirks or zone coverage calls by the defense, so a receiver's fortunes depend on much more than just the quality of the corner they're likely to see the most in a given game. Even against a bad corner, a good receiver can be denied the opportunity if the pass rush or something else outside his control complicates things. But it's part of the puzzle, and it's worth keeping track of.

Receivers are left with an Upgrade, Downgrade, or Even verdict based on their projected matchup. This shouldn't be read as 'good' or 'bad' but rather a measured tweak from the receiver's baseline projection.

NO vs LAR

NEW ORLEANS WIDE RECEIVERS

Jalen Ramsey might or might not shadow Chris Olave – the Rams usually don't use Ramsey much as a shadow but made an exception last week against DeAndre Hopkins, and Hopkins probably got the better of the matchup. Ramsey would probably have slightly better luck against Olave, and Olave would otherwise project for the advantage against David Long or Troy Hill, especially downfield. Jarvis Landry might find Hill an unpleasant matchup in the slot – Hill plays rugged and is most comfortable keeping the play ahead of him.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Chris Olave (downgrade if shadowed by Ramsey), Jarvis Landry

RAMS WIDE RECEIVERS

Allen Robinson will have to take up a bigger role with Cooper Kupp out, and presumably a significant portion of that usage will have to occur in the slot, where Kupp primarily ran his routes. In that part of the field Robinson would mostly see Chris Harris, while Paulson Adebo and Alontae Taylor line up outside. Robinson would likely see all three depending on his specific alignment splits. Robinson is unlikely to separate from anyone, so he'd rather see the smallish Harris than the tall duo of Adebo and Taylor. None of the other Rams receivers have any obvious angles on the Saints corners, either – Ben Skowronek can't beat anyone and Van Jefferson has no speed advantage against Adebo/Taylor.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek

NE vs NYJ

NEW ENGLAND WIDE RECEIVERS

The Jets started moving around Sauce Gardner more last week, meaning he is a candidate to shadow opposing WR1 types when appropriate. It's not clear whether the Patriots have a player to qualify as much, but if they have one it might be DeVante Parker. Tyquan Thornton or/and Nelson Agholor might also see Gardner if they don't use him to shadow Parker. It seems less likely that Gardner would see much of Jakobi Meyers in the slot. D.J. Reed is a solid corner opposite Gardner but at 5-foot-9 and not particularly fast he's clearly the corner the Patriots would rather target.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: DeVante Parker (arguable Even if not shadowed by Gardner)
Even: Jakobi Meyers, Tyquan Thornton, Nelson Agholor

JETS WIDE RECEIVERS

The Patriots don't really have anyone concerning for Garrett Wilson, though Jonathan Jones is the best Patriots corner and one they might normally try to match up with Wilson. It's still not properly concerning for Wilson, though, who would otherwise have an easy advantage over Jalen Mills and even more so Myles Bryant. It's probably best to not expect much else from the Jets receivers.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Garrett Wilson (arguable upgrade if not shadowed by Jonathan Jones)

ATL vs CHI

ATLANTA WIDE RECEIVERS

Drake London mostly lines up outside and on those snaps the Bears might choose to shadow him with Jaylon Johnson. London is still developing and might not yet be ready to get the better of a player like Johnson – who's a totally solid starter. The less London sees of Johnson the better – it's Kindle Vildor you want to see if you're a London investor. Olamide Zaccheaus can probably beat Kyler Gordon.

Upgrade: Olamide Zaccheaus
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Drake London (arguable downgrade if shadowed by Johnson)

CHICAGO WIDE RECEIVERS

If A.J. Terrell (hamstring) can return and play like his usual self then it would probably be a concenr for Chase Claypool, who has generally deferred slot reps to Darnell Mooney when applicable. Going to the slot is how you get away from Terrell, so be it Claypool or Mooney the slot rep is the one with the most favorable matchup between the two.

Upgrade: Darnell Mooney
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Chase Claypool (upgrade if Terrell is out or limited)

BAL vs CAR

BALTIMORE WIDE RECEIVERS

Devin Duvernay is worth the shadow coverage of Jaycee Horn, because Demarcus Robinson and James Proche are ineffective receivers even by backup standards. The good news for Robinson and Proche is that the Panthers are without CB2 Donte Jackson and slot corner Myles Hartsfield, meaning they'll both run against backups if Horn shadows Duvernay.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Devin Duvernay ('Even' if not shadowed by Horn)
Even: Demarcus Robinson, James Proche

CAROLINA WIDE RECEIVERS

DJ Moore might be able to avoid Marlon Humphrey a bit, but Carolina will probably need to line up Moore on the right side of the offense with Humphrey usually lining up on the offense's left. Humphrey is a complication Moore doesn't need, especially since the other Ravens corners are so much more easily beaten. Terrace Marshall wouldn't project for an obvious advantage against Marcus Peters but Peters has given up plays to worse. Laviska Shenault doesn't have an obvious advantage against whoever lines up in the slot for Baltimore, be it Humphrey or Brandon Stephens.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: DJ Moore, Terrace Marshall, Laviska Shenault

HOU vs WAS

HOUSTON WIDE RECEIVERS

Brandin Cooks usually has the advantage over the defense yet only occasionally has the fantasy production to prove it. Whether he can control his own circumstances in this game is no more clear, but it's still a good matchup for him. It's a good matchup for Nico Collins and Chris Moore, too – they're not close to Cooks' level, but it's always good to face the Washington secondary. The pass rush is the bigger concern, especially with Chase Young back on the field.

Upgrade: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins, Chris Moore
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

WASHINGTON WIDE RECEIVERS

Derek Stingley (hamstring) is the only Texans corner who can run with Terry McLaurin even a little, and even if Stingley kept stride McLaurin would probably get the better of the rookie at the catch point. McLaurin loses to almost no one and would be unlikely to fail against Stingley, but Steven Nelson and Desmond King really can't track McLaurin more than 15 yards or so. King could be tough underneath against Curtis Samuel, but Washington could hurt King over the top if they set it up. Jahan Dotson doesn't seem to have an obvious advantage or disadvantage over any of these corners – his skill set plays well generally.

Upgrade: Terry McLaurin
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson

IND vs PHI

INDIANAPOLIS WIDE RECEIVERS

Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce might or might not draw assigned coverage from Darius Slay and James Bradberry on some basis, but it's tough to tell which combination makes more sense than another. Pierce is more of a speed and downfield threat, traits that normally correlate to Slay while Bradberry tends to take the leftover or first assignment if the WR1 in question is bigger. Parris Campbell should in any case mostly see Josiah Scott, who's certainly much more vulnerable than Slay or Bradberry.

Upgrade: Parris Campbell
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce

PHILADELPHIA WIDE RECEIVERS

A.J. Brown probably won't find Stephon Gilmore to be the easiest matchup, but it's still probably not worth calling a downgrade for Brown. Gilmore should be thought of more as a potential limiting presence rather than a threatening one, and Gilmore got shown up by DeVante Parker a year ago when the two faced up. If Gilmore struggled against Parker's physicality then Brown should be able to hold serve at least. DeVonta Smith is overqualified against the leftover Colts corners, while Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal struggle to draw usage reliably in their committee. As the one who subs in during short-yardage and run-heavy situations, though, Pascal might have the most to gain from the absence of Dallas Goedert. Pascal plays more when the offense trends tower bigger, and he's the biggest non-Brown wideout the Eagles have.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal

NYG vs DET

GIANTS WIDE RECEIVERS

Wan'Dale Robinson (hamstring) might not be fully healthy here but he has a good matchup if he can. All the Giants receivers do – none of them can run with Darius Slayton, and even recent practice squad poach Isaiah Hodgins might be able to land a few punches here. The wind in this game is the main concern for these receivers – the windier it gets, the more difficult it gets to throw downfield. If the ball is getting shot out of the air it might hurt Slayton the most, but as he showed last week he has some ability after the catch if he gets a shot underneath.

Upgrade: Wan'Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

DETROIT WIDE RECEIVERS

Amon-Ra St. Brown is in a good spot here if Jared Goff can hold up under the windy conditions. The Giants have Adoree' Jackson as a shadow corner but he might not be able to follow St. Brown into the slot, in which case St. Brown should more so see Darnay Holmes. Kalif Raymond and Tom Kennedy are not imposing but Raymond's speed makes him the most rational pick to get shadowed by Jackson when outside. Kennedy might be one of the very few receivers in the NFL who can't beat Fabian Moreau.

Upgrade: Amon-Ra St. Brown
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Kalif Raymond, Tom Kennedy

CLE vs BUF

CLEVELAND WIDE RECEIVERS

Amari Cooper will probably see all the Bills corners at some point, but outside he should mostly see Dane Jackson and Christian Benford. Benford and Kaiir Elam (ankle, questionable) are both rookies and are unlikely to mirror Cooper throughout routes, and though more polished Jackson lacks the tools to match Cooper in cases of isolated 1:1. The Buffalo pass rush and Sean McDermott's scheming give the Buffalo corners a lot of cushion, but Cooper is definitely a bit out of their league talentwise. Donovan Peoples-Jones continues to impress and especially can out-athlete a player like Jackson. Slot corner Taron Johnson might be the toughest of the current Bills corners, so Cooper and DPJ investors probably should hope to see them more outside.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones

BUFFALO WIDE RECEIVERS

Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome and Martin Emerson are a very good top three but the Browns defense just doesn't play to its talent level in most cases, so these guys give up plays sometimes in ways that just don't really make sense. If Ward and Newsome were harnessed by a coordinator like Sean McDermott on the other side they'd no doubt have an All-Pro season or four, but there's nothing about the Browns defense worth sweating over Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis or Isaiah McKenzie. Although, McKenzie's lack of abilities are a concern and the Bills really should make the switch to Khalil Shakir in the slot.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie 

DEN vs LV

DENVER WIDE RECEIVERS

Courtland Sutton might need to step up with the Broncos so beaten up at receiver, with Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler both looking bad for Sunday. Kendall Hinton might be the WR2 in that case, with perhaps rookie returner Montrell Washington the main slot target. Sutton's easiest matchup would be the 5-foot-8 Amik Robertson in the slot, but outside Sutton should see Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett, neither of whom are very good.

Upgrade: Courtland Sutton
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Kendall Hinton, Montrell Washington

LAS VEGAS WIDE RECEIVERS

Davante Adams might be able to hide from Patrick Surtain in the slot a few times, but Surtain should be on him the rest of the time. It's not clear what any of that means for Adams, but it's not good. The question is whether it's the kind of 'bad' he can withstand, at a time where everything about the Raiders seems to be falling apart. Adams will probably play with focus for his own part, but there's about as much working against him here as possible. Mack Hollins might be able to get the better of Damarri Mathis on the other side, but that's mostly because Mathis is a rookie rather than a poor trait match.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Davante Adams
Even: Mack Hollins

PIT vs CIN

PITTSBURGH WIDE RECEIVERS

Diontae Johnson and George Pickens are both in good spots here, cornerback matchup-wise, because without Chidobie Awuzie (knee) the Bengals lose most of their man coverage ability. Eli Apple is probably below replacement-level quality and the rookie Cam Taylor-Britt, though toolsy, is still untested. Steven Sims doesn't have any obvious angle on Mike Hilton.

Upgrade: Diontae Johnson, George Pickens
Downgrade: Steven Sims
Even: N/A

CINCINNATI WIDE RECEIVERS

The Steelers rarely ask their corners to play traditional man coverage, so that their personnel is lesser isn't an interesting point. What's more interesting/concerning is that T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cameron Heyward are all active for this game. Those three are the main producers in the Pittsburgh scheme and the rest of the pieces tend to fall into place from there. Joe Burrow got rattled the first time these teams played, and Pittsburgh has the same pieces on defense as they did that week.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd

MIN vs DAL

MINNESOTA WIDE RECEIVERS

The Cowboys defense doesn't face any good coverage personnel, so pretty much any type of receiver is eligible to produce against them. Given the Make a Play/Give Up a Play approach of the Dallas secondary it might reason that a receiver is more likely to exploit them the more big-play ability they have, and Christian Watson's Week 10 numbers might be effective evidence for that argument. If there's anything to it then Adam Thielen is the Vikings receiver least likely to exploit this matchup, being more of a technician than a runner, whereas Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn offer more downfield explosiveness. Thielen has been slightly disappointing this year and Osborn has been a complete dud, so perhaps there will be slack for Jefferson to put up yet another big game.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn

DALLAS WIDE RECEIVERS

Corners like Cam Dantzler and Patrick Peterson can probably play competently against CeeDee Lamb when the field gets small but if Lamb has room to work with they're both burn risks. Michael Gallup can run past Dantzler with enough time and might be able to get lateral leverage on Peterson at other points. Noah Brown has predictably cooled off and the more he plays from this point the more slack for Lamb, Gallup and the Dallas tight ends.

Upgrade: CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Noah Brown

LAC vs KC

CHARGERS WIDE RECEIVERS

Keenan Allen and Mike Williams seem set to return, in which case Josh Palmer and DeAndre Carter would have to split the WR3 functions on some basis. Allen mostly functions from the slot and should see the most of L'Jarius Sneed – at once the toughest Chiefs corner and one still beatable. Williams should mostly run against rookies Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams. McDuffie is the most skilled of those three but the smallest by far, so Williams might actually prefer to see McDuffie especially when the field gets small. Palmer doesn't project well against anyone but is a bit bigger than McDuffie as well. Carter wants to avoid McDuffie and work against the bigger rookies.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, DeAndre Carter

KANSAS CITY WIDE RECEIVERS

Kadarius Toney made a big impact last week and could keep it up here, especially with Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster out. Marquez Valdes Scantling lines up everywhere but mostly serves as a decoy wherever that is, while Justin Watson might need to make some catches over the middle. Skyy Moore has seen his playing time dwindle in light of Watson's emergence and the Toney trade but the Chiefs might have no choice but to call on him here. The Chargers' corner personnel is probably interchangeable as far as it relates to the Kansas City matchups. Valdes-Scantling has a major height advantage over Bryce Callahan and Asante Samuel, but the Chargers mostly match traits otherwise.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore

ARI vs SF

ARIZONA WIDE RECEIVERS

DeAndre Hopkins can beat all of the 49ers corners but especially Deommodore Lenoir, who should be his primary matchup. Charvarius Ward is better but plays on the left side of the defense, whereas Hopkins usually lines up on the offense's left (the defense's right). Jimmie Ward is the slot corner for now, meaning he should see the most of Rondale Moore, to uncertain effect. Ward is an experienced player with a varied skill set but Moore's quickness and start/stop can be disorienting. More than the corner personnel the concern here is the San Franciso pass rush and the Arizona quarterback situation.

Upgrade: DeAndre Hopkins
Downgrade: Robbie Anderson
Even: Rondale Moore

SAN FRANCISCO WIDE RECEIVERS

The 49ers receivers match up well here to the point that the question of which produces might literally come down to Kyle Shanahan's preference and nothing else. Particularly if the Cardinals don't have Byron Murphy it's tough to tell what they can do to defend themselves.

Upgrade: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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