Cornerbacks Games in Shadow Coverage PPG Allowed Games Under 10 PPG Top 24 WRs Faced Y/SNP
James Bradberry 9 8.6 5 5 0.75
Carlton Davis 8 9.4 5 4 1.37
Darius Slay 7 13.6 3 4 1.53
Jalen Ramsey 5 13.5 2 5 0.53
Bradley Roby 5 10.9 3 2 0.72
Patrick Peterson 5 13.4 2 4 1.05
William Jackson 5 6.2 3 2 1.07
Isaac Yiadom 5 8.2 3 0 1.2
Malcolm Butler 5 7.9 3 3 1.36
Jaire Alexander 4 9.6 2 3 0.64
Tre’Davious White 4 9.5 2 1 0.94
Stephon Gilmore 4 8.2 2 2 1.01
Janoris Jenkins 4 9.1 3 1 1.17
J.C. Jackson 4 21.8 2 1 1.23
Xavien Howard 4 11.3 1 2 1.25
Marshon Lattimore 4 10 2 4 1.27

Chart Key

*Games in Shadow Coverage – This represents how many games these cornerbacks shadowed opposing wide receivers on at least 50% of snaps during that game

*PPG Allowed – This is the PPG these cornerbacks allowed in the matchups where they were in shadow coverage. Please note, this includes all the points an opposing wide receiver got in the matchup that week. This means even the snaps that wide receiver wasn’t in shadow coverage were incorporated. The reason why we include all the points from that game is if a cornerback shadowed a wide receiver on 50% of snaps and held that wide receiver to zero points, but on the other 50% of snaps that wide receiver went 8-100-2 then wouldn’t we really care about shadow coverage since those wide receivers are still producing

*Games Under 10 PPG – This shows how many games the cornerback held his opponent in shadow coverage under 10 points per game in .5 PPR. This metric also includes all snaps as stated above

*Top 24 WRs Faced – This column shows how many of the wide receivers the cornerbacks shadowed finished as a top 24 wide receiver at the end of the 2020 season

Y/SNP – The represents Yards per covered snap on for the entire 2020 season.

 

Cornerback Overview

The chart above shows us all the cornerbacks that shadowed an opposing wide receiver in at least four games in 2020. Some of the best cornerbacks are shown here including Jalen Ramsey, James Bradberry and Stephon Gilmore while some come as more of a surprise like Bradley Roby. Other cases we see #2 corners who are tasked with shadow coverage while their #1s are featured on opposing top wide receivers. This includes J.C. Jackson, Janoris Jenkins and Isaac Yiadom all who only shadowed 1 or fewer top 24 wide receivers on the year.

 

Top Shadow Corner of 2020

Cornerback: James Bradberry

Team: New York Giants

Division: NFC East

Primary Impacted Wide Receivers in 2021: Terry McLaurin and Amari Cooper

The proof is in the numbers for Bradberry as his first season in New York under Patrick Graham was a major success. Bradberry led the NFL with nine shadow coverage matchups with five vs. top 24 wide receivers. In these contests Bradberry held his opponents to 8.6 PPG holding five under 10 points in .5 PPR. Bradberry’s 8.6 PPG could have looked even better if Terry McLaurin didn’t shake lose for a 50-yard TD from the slot away from his coverage. Outside of that monster game from Terry McLaurin only Mike Evans in week 8 finished as a top 24 wide receiver on the week when facing shadow coverage from Bradberry.

Outside of those two games Bradberry held some notable wide receivers to lower than expected fantasy outputs. Below is a list of wide receivers and their finishes on the week when they faced Bradberry.

 

Player Week Wide Receiver Finish
Allen Robinson 2 81
Amari Cooper 5 79
D.K. Metcalf 13 41
Marquise Brown 16 31

 

The next great Shadow Cornerback?

Cornerback: Carlton Davis

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Division: NFC South

Primary Impacted Wide Receivers in 2021: Michael Thomas, Julio Jones and D.J. Moore

Carlton Davis is an up and coming star under DC Todd Bowles who tasked Davis with the second most shadow coverage matchups in 2020 with eight. Davis did face four wide receivers that finished inside the top 24 this season, but that list doesn’t include Michael Thomas who he faced three times in 2020. We could argue that Davis had one of the toughest schedules of any cornerback which included Davante Adams twice, Allen Robinson, D.J. Moore and Michael Thomas three times which makes his 9.4 PPG allowed extremely impressive.

THE BIG caveat

There is one BIG caveat in those numbers for Davis. Davis did have an absolute disastrous performance against Tyreek Hill which resulted in eight receptions for 204 yards and three scores when in his shadow coverage. However, this performance fell under the 50% snap threshold since the Buccaneers realized right away that matchup wasn’t working. That being said, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t point that out. The Buccaneers didn’t repeat that coverage in the super bowl as they held Hill to 7-73.

Below is a list of wide receivers and their finishes on the week when they faced Carlton Davis.

Player Week Wide Receiver Finish
Michael Thomas 1 94
Allen Robinson 5 22
Davante Adams 6 34
Michael Thomas 9 57
D.J. Moore 12 38
Michael Thomas* 19 29
Davante Adams* 20 3

*Playoff Games

 

Shadow Cornerbacks on the Move

Cornerbacks Old Team New Team
Patrick Peterson Arizona Cardinals
Minnesota Vikings
William Jackson Cincinnati Bengals
Washington Football Team
Janoris Jenkins New Orleans Saints
Tennessee Titans
Malcolm Butler Tennessee Titans
Arizona Cardinals
Adoree’ Jackson* Tennessee Titans
New York Giants

*2019 Shadow Corner

Cornerback: Patrick Peterson

Team: Minnesota Vikings

Division: NFC North

Primary Impacted Wide Receivers in 2021: Allen Robinson and Davante Adams

Patrick Peterson gives Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer a top cornerback he has been missing since the decline of Xavier Rhodes back in 2018. Peterson isn’t the cornerback he once was, but he made his presence felt on players like D.K. Metcalf in 2020. His 1.05 yards per covered snap was still top 30 in the NFL last season.

Cornerback: William Jackson

Team: Washington Football Team

Division: NFC East

Primary Impacted Wide Receivers in 2021: Terry McLaurin, Amari Cooper and Kenny Golladay

William Jackson gives Washington Football Team Head Coach Ron Rivera the top corner he was missing from 2020. In his prior years in Carolina Rivera used James Bradberry to shadow opposing #1 wide receivers. This move will be felt most by Amari Cooper who will now have to face a shadow corner in all three division matchups.

Cornerback: Malcolm Butler

Team: Arizona Cardinals

Division: NFC West

Primary Impacted Wide Receivers in 2021: D.K. Metcalf and Robert Woods

Malcolm Butler held his own last year in shadow coverage holding wide receivers to 7.9 PPG in those five contests. However, even at this stage of their careers, Butler is a downgrade vs. Patrick Peterson which will be felt in games when they play Seattle and D.K. Metcalf. In 2020 Butler was right at league average in yards per covered snap at 1.36 roughly .3 yards higher than Peterson.

Cornerback: Adoree’ Jackson

Team: New York Giants

Division: NFC East

Primary Impacted Wide Receivers in 2021: Curtis Samuel and Michael Gallup  

The Giants used #2 cornerback Isaac Yiadom in shadow coverage five times last season, and he held his own vs solid opponents. That being said, Adoree’ Jackson gives them an elite second cornerback that could give the Giants the best cornerback duo in the NFL. Prior to his injury filled 2020, Jackson was 12th in the NFL in yards per covered snap at .86 in 2019. The Giants face some solid wide receiver duos in 2021 including the Falcons, Dolphins, Cowboys, Washington Football Team, Panthers, Broncos, Rams and Buccaneers.

 

References: Razzball, Pro Football Reference and Pro Football Focus

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