NFL Week 8 WR/CB Matchups: Antonio Brown Faces Off Against Denzel Ward, More Shadow Dates
- Browns cornerback Denzel Ward will attempt to slow down Steelers No.1 receiver Antonio Brown in Week 8.
- Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes will be matched up with Michael Thomas in a playoff rematch with the Saints.
- Buccaneers receivers Mike Evans, Desean Jackson and Chris Godwin have a great matchup against the Bengals defense.
I’ll be breaking down the top wide receiver/cornerback matchups every week throughout the 2018 NFL season.
Here’s a data-driven analysis of the week’s best passing-game matchup, seven potential shadow matchups and an additional six potential non-shadow matchups. Then we’ll round it out with a quick look at plus and minus matchups.
Matchup of the Week
Bengals Offense vs. Buccaneers Defense
Field stretcher John Ross (groin) is reportedly expected to miss a few weeks, so the Cincinnati offense will move forward with A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd as Andy Dalton’s undisputed top two targets. De facto No. 3 receiver Alex Erickson saw just six combined targets during Ross’ two-game absence.
The absence of both Ross and Tyler Eifert (ankle, injured reserve) doesn’t help the overall upside of the offense, but both Green and Boyd were just fine as the team’s featured passing-game weapons in Weeks 5-6 vs. the Dolphins and Steelers:
- Green: 22 targets, 13 receptions, 197 yards, 0 TD
- Boyd: 16 targets, 11 receptions, 106 yards, 2 TDs
Green and Boyd are the overall WR9 and WR14, respectively, through seven weeks. Each carries a positive Projected Plus/Minus in our Pro Models and is set up well against a Buccaneers defense that has allowed an additional 3.6 DraftKings PPG above salary-based expectation to opposing wide receivers over the past 12 months.
The specific corners that make up the Buccaneers’ league-worst secondary in virtually every pass defense metric have predictably been terrible this season:
- Brent Grimes: The 35-year-old is PFF’s 102nd-ranked corner among 112 qualified at the position.
- Carlton Davis: One of the Bucs’ 2018 second-round picks is PFF’s 72nd-ranked cornerback and is seemingly playing through groin and ankle injuries.
- M.J. Stewart: The Bucs’ other second-round pick ranks last among 26 full-time slot corners in quarterback rating, yards, and touchdowns allowed this season.
Green figures to spend most of his time across from Grime and Davis, while Boyd should see plenty of Stewart. Be sure to check out our NFL Ownership Dashboard shortly after lock to see if the Bengals receivers are chalky on a main slate featuring five games with an over/under of at least 50 points.
The Week 8 Shadow Club
Not many cornerbacks are consistently asked to travel with the opposition’s No. 1 wide receiver, but we can expect at least seven cornerbacks (in addition to Xavien Howard on DeAndre Hopkins on Thursday night) to regularly line up across from their opponent’s top receiver in Week 8.