USA Today Sports. Pictured: Michael Thomas, Joe Haden
- Week 16's WR/CB matchups feature a shadow date between Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas and Steelers cornerback Joe Haden.
- Seven other wide receivers are likely to draw shadow coverage. We also break down plus and minus matchups.
I’ll be breaking down the top wide receiver/cornerback matchups every week throughout the 2018 NFL season.
Below is a data-driven analysis of the week’s best passing-game matchup, eight potential shadow matchups and an additional nine potential non-shadow matchups. At the end, I’ll wrap up with a quick look at plus and minus matchups.
Matchup of the Week
Colts Offense vs. Giants Defense
The Giants have won four of six games since their Week 9 bye, but last week’s 17-0 loss to the Titans was a brutal reality check. The Giants benefited from great matchups against Nick Mullens, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chase Daniel and Mark Sanchez in their wins, but Carson Wentz and Marcus Mariota were able to take care of business.
Andrew Luck and Co. should also have every opportunity to thrive against this mediocre secondary.
- The Giants rank 23rd in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the pass and 32nd against No. 1 wide receivers.
- Their trio of underwhelming starting cornerbacks rank 45th or lower among corners graded by Pro Football Focus: Grant Haley (45), Janoris Jenkins (47) and B.W. Webb (83).
- Julio Jones (9 receptions-104 yards-0 TD), Alshon Jeffery (8-74-2), Mike Evans (6-120-1) and Will Fuller (5-101-1) were able to clear 20 DraftKings points against the Giants (per our NFL Trends tool).
Now the Giants will have to travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to deal with Luck’s and T.Y. Hilton’s indoor fantasy-goodness.
Hilton (ankle) was a game-time decision last week and only wound up playing 41-of-72 (57%) snaps. Be sure to monitor our Week 16 Injury Report for Hilton’s daily practice participation as well as his estimated and official game status.
Chester Rogers, Ryan Grant and Zach Pascal each carry one-catch floors, but it’d be surprising if Eric Ebron doesn’t bounce back this week. The Colts are in must-win mode against a Giants team that was eliminated from playoff contention last week and have every reason to feed Ebron the ball in scoring position early and often.
The Week 16 Shadow Club
Not many cornerbacks are consistently asked to travel with the opposition’s No. 1 wide receiver, but we can expect the following eight teams to regularly line up across from their opponent’s top receiver in Week 16.
Titans WR Corey Davis vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman
Davis is technically a No. 1 wide receiver, but he’s had fewer than eight targets in 10 of his 14 games this season. This trend has been particularly pronounced since Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor returned to the lineup in Week 13. Taylor (17 targets), Davis (16), Sharpe (11) and Dion Lewis (11) have been plenty involved in the Titans’ low-volume pass offense over the past three games.
Up next is a likely shadow date with Norman, who hasn’t exactly shut down the opponent’s No. 1 receiver on a regular basis this season. Julio Jones (7-121-1), Mike Evans (3-51-0), DeAndre Hopkins (5-56-1), Alshon Jeffery (3-31-0) and Odell Beckham Jr. (8-136-0) were largely able to produce in Norman’s shadow this season.