Best, worst wide receiver matchups for Week 9 in fantasy football

Mike Clay
ESPN PLUS


By utilizing our play-by-play data, we're now able to identify where each wide receiver and cornerback lines up on each play. By tracking matchups between the two positions, including potential shadow situations, we can offer the best projections, rankings and fantasy advice each week.


Down below are the receivers with the best and worst Week 9 matchups, as well as the corresponding fantasy impact.


To view the primary defenders the top three wide receivers for each team will see this weekend, be sure to check out our weekly WR vs. CB cheat sheet.



Click here for this week's cheat sheet.


Advantageous matchups

Chargers' Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams vs. Seahawks' Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin


Seattle's defense has been terrific slowing opposing quarterbacks and even slot receivers, but the unit has been exposed against perimeter receivers. The struggles of Flowers and Griffin are to blame. Marvin Jones Jr., Robert Woods, Demaryius Thomas, Allen Robinson, Emmanuel Sanders and Cooper Kuppeach cleared 17 fantasy points against Seattle this season and most of that production came on the outside.


Tyrell Williams (59 percent perimeter) and Mike Williams (70 percent) both should be upgraded this week, though inconsistent volume remains an obvious concern for both. Consider them lottery ticket flex options with six teams on a bye.


Rams' Cooper Kupp vs. Saints' P.J. Williams


Rams' coach Sean McVay expects Kupp back from his knee injury this week and the second-year slot receiver will be positioned for a big week against Williams. New Orleans' slot corner has a better coverage grade than only Teez Tabor over at Pro Football Focus. He's allowing 0.56 fantasy points per coverage snap and only eight teams have allowed more fantasy points to the slot over the past month. Kupp is a strong WR2 in his return.


Robert Woods, by the way, was well positioned to take advantage of this matchup, but Kupp's return will push him back to the perimeter where he and Brandin Cooks will face tougher challenges against Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple. Neither needs to be downgraded.


49ers' Marquise Goodwin vs. Raiders' Daryl Worley, among others


Oakland is all over the place at cornerback, rotating between safeties and corners seemingly at random. Worley appears to have locked down one starting job, but he's been heavily targeted (26 percent target rate) and has been beat often (allowing 0.65 fantasy points per route). On the other side of the field, the likes of Rashaan Melvin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who retired on Tuesday) and Gareon Conley have been given a look. Despite the mess, Oakland ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to perimeter receivers, though a relatively light schedule is a notable variable there.


This week, Goodwin (80 perimeter) will see a lot of Worley and friends and has a terrific opportunity to get deep for one of his patented long touchdowns. Pierre Garcon (77 percent perimeter) can also be upgraded.


Ravens' Willie Snead IV vs. Steelers' Mike Hilton


The Steelers have allowed the seventh most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. That includes the second most to slot receivers and the most to the slot during the past four weeks. Hilton is not a bad slot corner, but teams have racked up 912 yards and seven touchdowns on 113 targets to inside receivers this season. Enter Snead, who has aligned in the slot on 85 percent of his routes this season. Upgrade him into flex territory.


Dolphins' Danny Amendola vs. Jets' Buster Skrine


The Jets have allowed the third most fantasy points to slot receivers this season, including the fifth most over the past four weeks. Skrine missed some time due to injury, but he hasn't been much better than replacement Parry Nickerson this season. Skrine has been targeted on a massive 28 percent of his coverage snaps. Amendola has aligned inside on 80 percent of his routes this season. It's hard to trust the Miami passing game right now, but Amendola's good matchup makes him appealing in deeper leagues.


Other notables:


Washington Redskins CB Josh Norman shadowed Odell Beckham Jr. on the perimeter and fared well in Week 7, but it marks the first time he's shadowed him since he chased Beckham back in Week 17 of the 2016 season. It's possible he'll follow Falcons' Julio Jones this week, but I wouldn't be too worried about it. Norman is in zone enough that Jones -- like Beckham -- can escape for several big plays. Also, Washington is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season.


Expect Carolina Panthers James Bradberry to shadow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans and for speedy Donte Jackson to travel with Chris Godwin and DeSean Jackson this week. Neither Carolina corner has really stood out this season, though they did keep Michael Crabtree and John Brownin check in Week 8. Buccaneers receivers don't need to be downgraded.


Tough matchups

Bears' Allen Robinson vs. Bills' CB Tre'Davious White (Shadow)


White has developed into one of the game's top shadow corners. He held Josh Gordon in check on Monday night after shadowing Keenan Allen, Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, Corey Davis, DeAndre Hopkins and T.Y. Hilton on their perimeter routes earlier this season. The key word there is "perimeter", as White has aligned in the slot only three percent of the time this season. That means Robinson will escape White's coverage the 35 percent of the time he aligns inside. Still, it's a tough matchup for Robinson, who is still healing from a groin injury. Buffalo has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Downgrade Robinson to flex territory.


Lions' Marvin Jones Jr. vs. Vikings' Xavier Rhodes (Shadow)


Rhodes was out in Week 8, but was a game-time call and thus figures to return against Detroit. Rhodes shadowed Jones during both meetings between these teams last season. Jones was held to three catches for 33 yards on three targets in the first meeting, but broke out for six catches, 109 yards and a pair of scores on eight targets in Week 12. Jones is red-hot and leads the league in end zone targets, but Rhodes has shown well this season while shadowing the likes of Adams, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Alshon Jeffery, Chad Williams and Robby Anderson. Only the Cowboys and Jaguars have allowed fewer fantasy points to wide receivers than Minnesota. Jones should be downgraded a bit.


By the way, it's certainly possible Rhodes simply plays his side or even shadows Kenny Golladay, but that seems unlikely after Golladay handled only four targets during the past two games. Golladay is positioned for a bounce-back week against Trae Waynes.


Vikings' Stefon Diggs vs. Lions' Darius Slay (Shadow)


Slay shadowed Diggs during both meetings between these teams last season. Diggs totaled 10 catches for 164 yards and no touchdowns on 59 routes in the two games. Of that production, nine targets, seven catches and 92 yards came on 37 routes lined up across from Slay.


Especially considering Adam Thielen is working even more from the slot this season and Slay doesn't aligninside often, we should expect Slay to travel with Diggs again this week. Slay has performed well while shadowing Pierre Garcon, Davante Adams, Kenny Stills and Tyler Lockett already this season. The Lions are allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.


Packers' Davante Adams vs. Patriots' Stephon Gilmore (Shadow)


Whether it's scheme, talent or a combination of both, the Patriots usually get the most out of their perimeter corners. That's certainly been the case with Gilmore, who has been stellar since joining the team in 2017. He's shadowed DeAndre Hopkins, Donte Moncrief, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson and Kelvin Benjamin already this season and is a strong bet to chase Adams in Week 9. Though it's a tough matchup, Adams has finished in the top 18 at wide receiver in six of seven outings this season and certainly appears to be matchup proof as Aaron Rodgers' top target.


New England has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to the slot, so Randall Cobb is a potential upgrade, though he'll need to run more than the 16 routes he was limited to in Week 8.


Seahawks' Tyler Lockett vs. Chargers' Casey Hayward (Shadow)


Lockett has failed to eclipse four targets during each of his past three games and is unlikely to break that streak with Hayward shadow coverage looming. Hayward hasn't been quite as dominant as he was in 2017, but he's still been solid while handling shadow duties against Kelvin Benjamin, Amari Cooper, Antonio Callaway and Corey Davis.


Lockett is always a threat for a long touchdown -- he has six touchdowns in seven games this season -- but his limited target share and tough coverage from Hayward means he should be downgraded.


Other notables:


If Houston Texans slot WR Keke Coutee returns this week, he'll face a tough challenge against Denver Broncos' No. 1/slot corner Chris Harris Jr. He should be downgraded a bit.


Cleveland Browns CB Denzel Ward has been shadowing smaller/speed receivers in recent weeks, so he's a decent bet to travel with Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill this week if Hill plays. Hill is looking iffy with a groin strain, but should only be downgraded slightly if he's active. If Hill is out, Ward could shadow Sammy Watkins, which should result in a downgrade.