The best and worst fantasy WR matchups in Week 14 based on corners
Remember when fantasy matchup analysis used to be “Team A gives up the most fantasy points to wide receivers”? Well, we’ve moved from analog to digital and now look at matchups on an individual level. Each week, I dig through the actually coverage tendencies for all 32 NFL teams and compile this information in the WR/CB Matchup Chart, which is released on Thursday mornings.
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Remember, the chart only contains data from the present season. For those who would like to do historic research on coverage responsibilities, I suggest checking out the 2015 Coverage Data Chart. We also released a new feature this season, the Shadow Coverage Matrix, which breaks down every shadow coverage situation for every team throughout the season. Also, if you’re curious how tight ends perform on a per route basis, check out our tight end route data chart.
Week 14 matchup upgrades
Sammy Watkins vs. Pittsburgh – He’s still very risky, but Watkins offers a lot of upside. He managed to get through last week’s contest unscathed, playing 68 percent of the Bills offensive snaps and leading the team with nine targets. Watkins figures to see a lot of Artie Burns, who has shown a propensity for giving up big plays this season with three scores surrendered over the last five weeks. Watkins is a sneaky bet for a breakout week, but fantasy owners should be warned that he’s an extremely volatile play.
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Emmanuel Sanders vs. Tennessee – While Sanders has faded back to the second-fiddle role in the Broncos receiving corps, he still offers plenty of fantasy upside. He makes for a strong play this week against the Titans, who are a mess in the secondary after releasing starting CB Perrish Cox after Week 12. That move forces Antwon Blake into the starting lineup, which is a nice advantage for Sanders. Blake has played sparingly this season, but was one of last season’s worst corners when he pulled off the rare feat of giving up over 1,000 yards in his coverage.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Indianapolis – Widely labeled as a fantasy bust, Hopkins has actually played good football this season. Unfortunately, he’s had Brock Osweiler throwing him the ball. However, the duo did manage to connect for a touchdown last week. Hopkins isn’t in WR1 consideration, but he’s worth a start against Indy. He’ll see a lot of Vontae Davis, who have allowed four receiving touchdowns in the last five weeks.
Willie Snead and Michael Thomas vs. Tampa Bay – The Saints are coming off a disappointing Week 13 where Drew Brees failed to connect on a single touchdown pass. However, fantasy owners should keep going back to the well with Thomas, who gets a plus matchup against Alterraun Verner. Snead is also worth consideration. He’ll see coverage from rookie Vernon Hargreaves, who allows a 69-percent catch rate.
Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman vs. Carolina – Upgrade the entire Chargers passing game this week. In the wake of Keenan Allen’s season-ending injury, Williams has emerged as San Diego’s de facto No. 1 receiver. He has a clear path to a strong fantasy week with coverage likely to come from rookie Daryl Worley. Inman also has some appeal in this matchup. He’ll square off against Leonard Johnson who has surrendered a catch on 26-of-33 targets this season.
Other matchup upgrades: Rinse and repeat for Larry Fitzgerald, as he gets another strong matchup out of the slot. He’ll line up frequently against Bobby McCain, who has allowed a reception on 76.5 percent of his targets this season. … Julio Jones is dealing with turf toe, but is anticipated to play on Sunday. If he suits up, he’ll be shadowed by Trumaine Johnson, who has allowed 16 catches and two scores on 19 targets over the last three weeks. … Like Jones, we anticipate a shadow situation for Mike Evans from Delvin Breaux. Evans has a significant advantage in that matchup, as Breaux has seen 30 targets thrown into his coverage over his last three games. … The Seahawks have to head into Lambeau in December, but don’t let that dissuade you from starting Doug Baldwin. He gets a nice boost this week with much of his coverage coming from Micah Hyde. The hybrid safety has allowed a catch on 73.9 percent of his targets. … Without Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman will continue to see heavy volume. He’s a backend WR1 play this week against Jerraud Powers, who has given up 0.30 fantasy points per route. … Amari Cooper offers a lot of upside on Thursday night against Terrance Mitchell. The special-teamer replaced Phillip Gaines last week. … If he manages to return to the field, Jordan Matthews will benefit from running out of the slot against Kendall Fuller. The rookie has allowed a catch on 79.2 percent of his targets. … The Eagles’ secondary continues to trend in the wrong direction, so start all of your Redskins wideouts this week.
Mike Wallace vs. New England – The Patriots have shifted away from shadowing, with all three of their corners not traveling with receivers since Week 10. However, Wallace figures to line up most frequently against Malcolm Butler, who currently grades out as our No. 4 corner. That’s a decided disadvantage for Wallace, who should be faded if possible.
Brandon LaFell vs. Cleveland – He’s coming off a big Week 13 outing, but fantasy owners may not want to put all their chips on LaFell this week. We expect the Browns to at least partially shadow LaFell with Joe Haden. While he’s struggle at times this season, Haden is still a capable player who can limit LaFell’s fantasy potential.
Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe vs. Denver – In case you haven’t heard, the Broncos secondary is pretty good. Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. currently grade out as our top two corners. Both players currently hold opposing receivers to under a 55 percent catch rate. Matthews flashed fantasy upside through the middle of the season, but fantasy owners will want to avoid him and Sharpe this week.
Other matchup downgrades: Allen Robinson managed just three catches on 10 targets last week. He’ll have his hands full again on Sunday with coverage coming from ascending talent, Xavier Rhodes. … Yes, Jordy Nelson will see his share of Richard Sherman in Week 14. No, you should not sit him. Nelson is currently an elite fantasy option who should be started regardless of matchup. … We anticipate shadow coverage for Dez Bryant from Janoris Jenkins on Sunday night. Like Nelson, fantasy owners would be wise to continue starting Bryant. However, be forewarned that Jenkins is allowing a catch on just 52.8 percent of his targets this season. … Kelvin Benjamin’s fantasy stock continues to trend down. Owners may want to steer clear of him this week, as Benjamin is likely to see shadow coverage from Casey Hayward. … We also expect shadow treatment for DeVante Parker from Patrick Peterson. The all-world corner is seeing just 4.7 targets thrown into his coverage per game.