Week 17 WR/CB Matchups: Hopkins vs. Ramsey IX, Downgrade for Diggs, More

Week 17 WR/CB Matchups: Hopkins vs. Ramsey IX, Downgrade for Diggs, More article feature image

Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Deandre Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey

Wide receiver-cornerback showdowns might be the most important individual matchups in football.

In this piece, I leverage snap data from Pro Football Focus (PFF) to project NFL Week 17 WR/CB matchups, especially shadow situations.

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For more, see the FantasyLabs Matchups page, where we provide basic and advanced data — including fantasy and red-zone performance — for each offensive skill-position player based on his matchup.

As we get more clarity during the week on the injury status of receivers and corners, I will update my WR/CB projections.

Let’s start with this week’s featured matchup and then run through all the potential shadow matchups and the injury situations to monitor.

Note: I am writing this before the Week 16 Monday Night Football game. Results of that contest might impact the statistics and matchups below.

WR/CB Injury Updates

UPDATE (Sat. 1/2): I have made updates based on injury reports for the week. Here are some changes and key situations to note.

Wide Receivers: OUT

  • Chiefs WRs Tyreek Hill (hamstring) & Sammy Watkins (calf) are OUT.
  • Falcons WRs Julio Jones (hamstring) & Brandon Powell (foot) are OUT.
  • Saints WRs Michael Thomas (ankle, IR), Tre’Quan Smith (ankle, IR) & Deonte Harris (neck, IR) are OUT.
  • 49ers WRs Deebo Samuel (hamstring) & Brandon Aiyuk (ankle) are OUT.
  • Rams WR Cooper Kupp (COVID-19) is OUT.
  • Chargers WR Keenan Allen (hamstring/COVID-19) is OUT.
  • Lions WRs Kenny Golladay (hip) is OUT.
  • Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (COVID-19) is OUT.
  • Jaguars WRs D.J. Chark Jr. (leg) & Collin Johnson (hamstring) are projected OUT.
  • Bills WR Cole Beasley (knee) is OUT.
  • Giants WR Golden Tate (calf) is OUT.
  • Broncos WR K.J. Hamler (concussion) is OUT.
  • Ravens WR Willie Snead (ankle) is projected OUT.
  • Titans WRs Adam Humphries (concussion, IR) is OUT.

Wide Receivers: IN

  • Football Team WR Terry McLaurin (ankle) is tentatively projected IN.
  • Steelers WR Diontae Johnson (illness) is tentatively projected IN.
  • Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (groin) is tentatively projected IN.
  • Dolphins WRs DeVante Parker (leg) & Jakeem Grant (hamstring) are tentatively projected IN.
  • Browns WRs Jarvis Landry (COVID-19), Rashard Higgins (COVID-19), Donovan Peoples-Jones (COVID-19) & KhaDarel Hodge (COVID-19) are IN.
  • Bills WR John Brown (COVID-19) is IN.
  • Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (concussion) is IN.

Cornerbacks: OUT

  • 49ers CBs Richard Sherman (calf) & K'waun Williams (shin) are OUT.
  • Chargers CB Casey Hayward Jr. (hamstring, IR) is OUT.
  • Steelers CB Joe Haden (COVID-19) is OUT.
  • Bengals CB William Jackson III (concussion) is OUT.
  • Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis (groin) is projected OUT.
  • Saints CB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (COVID-19) is OUT.
  • Bears CBs Buster Skrine (concussion) & Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) are OUT.
  • Colts CB Rock Ya-Sin (concussion) is OUT.
  • Vikings CBs Cameron Dantzler (hamstring), Chris Jones (groin), Mike Hughes (neck, IR) & Kris Boyd (shoulder, IR) are OUT.
  • Falcons CB Darqueze Dennard (quad) is projected OUT.
  • Texans CBs Phillip Gaines (knee/shoulder) & Eric Murray (COVID-19) are projected OUT.
  • Jets CBs Brian Poole (knee, IR) & Blessuan Austin (illness) are projected OUT.
  • Panthers CB Troy Pride Jr. (groin) is projected OUT.
  • Broncos CBs A.J. Bouye (suspension), Bryce Callahan (foot, IR), Essang Bassey (knee, IR) & Duke Dawson Jr. (knee, IR) are OUT.
  • Jaguars CBs C.J. Henderson (groin, IR), Sidney Jones (Achilles, IR) & D.J. Hayden (hamstring, IR) are OUT.
  • Seahawks CB Quinton Dunbar (knee, IR) & Tre Flowers (hamstring, IR) are OUT.
  • Lions CBs Desmond Trufant (hamstring, IR) & Jeff Okudah (shoulder, IR) are OUT.
  • Eagles CBs Avonte Maddox (knee, IR) & Kevon Seymour (knee, IR) are OUT.

Cornerbacks: IN

  • Ravens CBs Jimmy Smith (groin) & Marcus Peters (calf) are tentatively projected IN.
  • Cardinals CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring/calf) is IN.
  • 49ers CB Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) is tentatively projected IN.
  • Jets CB Javelin Guidry (knee) is projected IN.
  • Giants CB Darnay Holmes (knee) is IN.
  • Eagles CB Michael Jacquet (calf) is projected IN.

Jump To: WR/CB Matchup Matrix

WR/CB Matchup of the Week

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Rams CB Jalen Ramsey

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: CBS

Going back to their years together in the AFC South, Hopkins and Ramsey have had some epic matchups. They know each other well.

🔥 D. Hopkins vs. J. Ramsey 🔥

Nuk vs. Ramsey & JAX/LAR, 2016-20:
5-48-0, 13 targets (5-48-0, 10 vs. Ramsey)
8-87-0, 17 (5-46-0, 10)
7-55-1, 16 (3-28-0, 6)
4-80-1, 13 (4-80-1, 8)
3-50-1, 8 (0-0-0, 1)
12-147-0, 16 (8-122-0, 11)
5-40-0, 8 (4-27-0, 7)
8-52-1, 13 (3-20-0, 8)

— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 28, 2020

Hopkins is the No. 1 wide receiver in the league with 1,372 yards receiving, but he has had mixed results in his eight matchups with Ramsey.

On ridiculously heavy volume, Hopkins has been good but not great. In two games, he has absolutely taken it to Ramsey. But in the other games Ramsey has more than held his own.

Overall, Ramsey has allowed Hopkins just 6.1 yards per target with a 52.5% catch rate on 7.6 targets per game.

Against the Cowboys in Week 1, Ramsey had a tough matchup and allowed a line of 8-81-0 receiving on nine targets. On top of that, he was beat deep for a long reception toward the end of the game that was called back by a questionable pass interference.

By the eyes and the numbers, it was a bad performance.

Since then, however, Ramsey has allowed just 4.4 yards per target on a 44.7% catch rate and 3.6 targets per game.

Opposing quarterbacks want no part of Ramsey in 2020.

Hopkins could go off against Ramsey, but I think it’s likelier we see yet another muted performance.

Action:Large downgrade for Hopkins

Potential Week 17 Shadow Matchups

Given some of the notable receivers and corners injured entering Week 17, here are the shadow matchups I’m projecting at the moment.

Projected Week 17 shadow matchups:

– Hopkins vs. Ramsey 🔥🔥🔥
– Diontae vs. Ward (maybe?) 🔥🔥
– Diggs vs. Howard (maybe?) 🔥🔥🔥
– Perriman vs. J.C. Jackson 👎
– Amari vs. Bradberry 👎
– Sanders vs. D. Jackson 👍
– Cooks vs. A. Jackson 🤷‍♂️

— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 28, 2020

Steelers WR Diontae Johnson vs. Browns CB Denzel Ward

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: CBS

UPDATE (Sat. 1/2): Ward (COVID-19) is OUT. I now expect Terrance Mitchell to shadow Diontae Johnson. Action: No change for Johnson

This matchup might not actually happen because the Steelers could rest starters. Such is the life of a football analyst in Week 17.

If we exclude his partial games in Week 3 (concussion), Week 5 (back) and Week 8 (hamstring), then Johnson has an 11-game sample in which he has averaged 12.2 targets, 7.5 receptions and 74.9 yards receiving per game.

But he has also averaged just 5.9 yards per target this year.

Johnson is probably good at football — but he might not be.

One of the NFL’s best young corners, Ward is yet to have a subpar season since entering the league in 2018 (based on PFF coverage grades).

  • 2018: 83.6
  • 2019: 72.7
  • 2020: 74.6

For his career, Ward has allowed just 6.0 yards per target on a 51.4% catch rate.

Action:Large downgrade for Johnson

Bills WR Stefon Diggs vs. Dolphins CB Xavien Howard

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: CBS

Note: I am writing this before the Bills play in the Week 16 Monday Night Football game.

This is a tentative matchup. The Bills might not have much to play for in Week 17.

Of all starting corners, Howard is No. 1 in the league with a 90.2 PFF coverage grade.

Action:Large downgrade for Diggs

Jets WR Breshad Perriman vs. Patriots CB J.C. Jackson

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: CBS

Note: I am writing this before the Patriots play in the Week 16 Monday Night Football game.

When Perriman faced Jackson in Week 9, he was a triumphant 5-101-2 receiving on seven targets, but that was with quarterback Joe Flacco.

Perriman just doesn't have the same downfield connection with quarterback Sam Darnold. Since Darnold's Week 12 return from injury, Perriman is 9-148-0 on 26 targets in five games.

Last week, he had zero receptions on six targets.

With No. 1 cornerback Stephon Gilmore (knee, IR) out for the season, Jackson will once again man up Perriman.

Although he has long played in Gilmore’s shadow, Jackson is a strong defender. For his career, he has allowed just 6.3 yards per target with a 51.0% catch rate.

His outstanding career 5:16 TD:INT ratio speaks to how much of a true ballhawk Jackson is.

Action:Large downgrade for Perriman

Cowboys WR Amari Cooper vs. Giants CB James Bradberry

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: FOX

Cooper is coming off a strong 4-121-0 receiving performance with which he bagged his fifth 1,000-yard season in six years — but he could struggle against Bradberry.

Cooper has long been challenged by physical corners, and against Bradberry and the Giants in Week 5, he was just 2-23-0 receiving on four targets.

This year, Bradberry has allowed just 6.1 yards per target with a 56.3% catch rate. With his 79.4 PFF coverage grade, Bradberry is having the best season of his career.

Action:Large downgrade for Cooper

Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders vs. Panthers CB Donte Jackson

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: FOX

The Panthers have used Jackson in shadow coverage over the past two weeks, so I expect to see him tail Sanders.


For his career, Jackson has allowed 8.9 yards per target.

Without No. 1 wide receiver Michael Thomas for the past two games, Sanders is a respectable 8-159-0 receiving.

Action:Small upgrade for Sanders

Texans WR Brandin Cooks vs. Titans CB Adoree' Jackson

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday | TV: CBS

In his 10 games since the firing of head coach Bill O’Brien, Cooks is 60-846-4 receiving on a team-high 82 targets, and he's just 16 yards away from securing his fifth 1,000-yard campaign in six seasons.

Jackson has been an above-average corner throughout this career (based on PFF coverage grades).

  • 2017: 75.2
  • 2018: 69.0
  • 2019: 82.5
  • 2020: 72.7

But his career 14:2 TD:INT ratio highlight the extent to which he's not a defender to be feared.

Action:Small downgrade for Cooks

WR/CB Injuries to Monitor

I take a cautious approach to players I think are likely to be questionable at best. If they look probable to play by the weekend, I will include them in the WR/CB matrix.

Here are the injury situations I’m monitoring and projecting early in the week.

Wide Receivers: OUT

  • NA

Wide Receivers: IN

  • NA

Cornerbacks: OUT

  • NA

Cornerbacks: IN

  • NA

NFL Week 17 WR/CB Matrix

Pos = left, right or slot WR or CB
Projected shadow matchups are CAPITALIZED

WR Exp = Wide Receiver Expectation: I rank from 3 to -3 how much I think we should adjust expectations for wide receivers based on matchups. 3: Large upgrade. 2: Medium upgrade. 1: Small upgrade. 0: No change. -1: Small downgrade. -2: Medium downgrade. -3: Large downgrade.

Thanks to Scott Barrett for providing me with some of PFF’s historical data.

Matthew Freedman is 916-720-33 (56.0%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

The Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, Freedman is commonly called the Oracle & the Labyrinthian.

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