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NFL DFS: The Impact of CB Matchups on WR Fantasy Scoring
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NFL DFS: The Impact of CB Matchups on WR Fantasy Scoring

When NFL season rolls around there is content everywhere from ESPN to the depths of the dark web. In order to profit without turning into a social recluse my goal is to find a handful of trusted sources of information to engrain in my process rather than consuming everything I can get my hands on. I’m never going to have the time to break down game film or guess how the Redskins are going to deploy Josh Norman in Week 1, but what I can do is turn hours of somebody else’s work into minutes of my approach and make smart data driven decisions. But what information should you trust?

The Pro Football Focus WR vs. CB chart is one of the most popular pieces of content relied on by DFS gamers. If you’re not familiar with it, PFF outlines a grade for each Cornerback and Wide Receiver as well as calculating a matchup grade for duos they expect to line up to each other, as well as other relevant information such as height, size, and time spent on the left, right, and slot position. The premise of it is simple: if a WR possesses a matchup advantage they are more likely to produce Fantasy points. Makes sense, right? But with all the information in there, can we even rely on it, or more specifically, how should we leverage it?

In this article we will try to outline what and how you should utilize this tool with the lens of Fantasy performance on DraftKings. But before we start, some parameters:

  • Focusing on Weeks 8-17 of the 2015 NFL season aligning with the new PFF format
  • Bucketed WR and CB grades into <40, 40-50, 50-60, 60-70, 70-80, 80-90 and 90+ ratings to create groups of similar players
  • Bucketed matchup grades -20+, -20 to 0, 0 to 20, and 20+ ratings (PFF matchup grades are calculated as such: WR grade minus CB grade)
  • Bucketed Fantasy point performance into GPP thresholds for success: Boom (25+), Cash (15-25), Mediocre (10-15), and Bust (<10)

Since these are CB ratings, to start we’ll look at the impact that has on WR Fantasy production:

PFF1

Not quite what you’d expect at face value, huh? While PFFs lowest rated CBs rated less than 40 are yielding a high BOOM clip, the top BOOM yield rating actually belongs to the best defensive backs in football. To make matters worse that appears to be a progressive trend as we move through the ranks. Said another way, even the most elite CBs in football are yielding GPP winning performances at a 17% clip and as CBs get higher ratings they give up more production.

Key Takeaway: Don’t let CB matchup alone scare you away, especially if it causes a high upside player to be low owned.

But intuitively they are facing off against the best WRs, so let us also take a look at how WRs perform in ratings:

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