Julio vs. Norman among Week 14's top WR/CB Showdowns
Before you set your DFS lineup this week, be sure to study our Wide Receiver vs. Cornerback matchup tool.
Down below is an examination of a few of the key one-on-one matchups that jump out on this week’s chart.
More information on weekly WR vs. CB matchups can be found in this week’s Shadow Report.
Julio Jones vs. Josh Norman
In what will (or at least should) be one the most-intriguing showdowns of the season, Jones and Norman are set to do battle in Week 14. No cornerback has had a better 2015 campaign than Norman and no wide receiver has caught more passes than Jones (102). Already this season, Norman has shadowed DeAndre Hopkins, Vincent Jackson, T.Y. Hilton, Dez Bryant and Davante Adams. Charles Tillman, meanwhile, has shadowed Nate Washington, Mike Evans, Donte Moncrief and James Jones. Tillman is noteworthy because Ed Werder reported on Wednesday that the team would like to shadow Jones with Tillman, if the veteran is able to return from an injury that has cost him the past three games. Tillman has been fine in coverage this season, but sticking him against Jones because he has two more inches on Norman would be absurd. That, of course, would leave Norman to waste away covering Roddy White, who has been rarely targeted and inefficient this season. Norman has four interceptions and has allowed a 39.9 quarterback rating and a 47.1 catch rate this season. Tillman sits at one pick, a 71.3 rating, and a 53.7 catch rate.
Digging more into a potential Jones/Norman showdown (despite reports, this still seems like the most-probable matchup), Jones has lined up on the perimeter on 71 percent of his routes and in the slot 29 percent of the time. This is key because Norman does not cover the slot. In fact, he’s lined up inside only one percent of the time this season. The most likely scenario here is that Norman will cover Jones the 70 percent of the time he’s out wide, leaving pedestrian Bene Benwikere to cover Jones when he is in the slot. Could the Falcons line Jones up inside more often to try and avoid Norman? Sure, but it’s unlikely. Jones has lined up in the slot a maximum of 42 percent and a minimum of nine percent of the time this season. On the other hand, could Norman all-of-a-sudden be asked to man the slot? Also unlikely, as 14 of the 1,025 routes he’s faced over the past two seasons have come inside.
Speaking of past seasons, Jones and Norman have a history. In two meetings between Carolina and Atlanta last year, Norman did, in fact, shadow Jones. In Week 11, Norman lined up opposite Jones on 41 of his 43 routes. Jones caught six of 10 targets for 59 yards and zero touchdowns (all against Norman) in the game. In Week 17, Norman covered Jones on 33 of his 40 pass routes. Jones caught four of eight targets for 58 yards and no scores in the game, including one catch on four targets for 10 yards against Norman. Plain and simple, Norman shut him down twice.
The Falcons offense is struggling badly, but Jones still paces the NFL in targets, receptions, and receiving yardage thanks to a massive volume of work. That volume and his efficiency will certainly take a hit if Jones is up against Norman 70 percent of the time this week. Jones should be downgraded to a back-up WR1. He’s obviously still a worthwhile play in season-long. In DFS, you should fade Jones in cash games. He’s not the worst tournament flier because (A) he’s an elite player and (B) he’ll avoid Norman while in the slot and (C) many will pass on him because of his high salary and the tough matchup.
Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL