Wide Receivers With the Best and Worst Cornerback Matchups in Week 14
Exploiting key matchups is one of the best ways to give your fantasy team an edge over your opponent. Poor cornerback play should be exploited whenever possible, as even subpar receivers can produce in positive situations, while elite receivers can hand in career games.
These mismatches can be found in every game on every team if you dig deep enough. Here’s a look at the wide receivers with the best and worst matchups in Week 14.
Matchups to Target
DeVante Parker breaking out in his fifth year with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback was not something many saw coming. That breakout was official in Week 13, as he dropped 159 yards and 2 touchdowns on the Philadelphia Eagles. He has now caught a touchdown or hit 50 receiving yards in every game except Week 2, where the Miami Dolphins were shut out by the New England Patriots.
Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker, who just had a career game that helped beat the Eagles, know most people view him as a first-round bust. He’s thankful the Dolphins never gave up on him. pic.twitter.com/Yi4KTLzMbb
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) December 2, 2019
Over the last four weeks, Parker has been heavily utilized, seeing the third-most targets (41) and air yards (500), while leading the league in receiving yards (454). People should be targeting Parker based on that ridiculous volume alone, but his matchup this week should have everyone salivating.
Parker should spend most of his day running against Blessuan Austin, a sixth-round rookie out of Rutgers that missed the first half of the season. He hasn't given up any massive games over the last four weeks, but he was also playing against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, and Cincinnati Bengals. Not many tough receivers or aggressive quarterbacks there.
Austin is about to be tested hard, as Fitzpatrick likes to push the ball downfield with his big-bodied breakout receiver. He recorded a 4.74 40-yard dash time at his Rutgers pro day, per PlayerProfiler. That's in the first-percentile of NFL cornerbacks, which is the opposite of good. Don't expect him to run well with the likes of Parker (4.45).
Don't let last week's two-catch, nine-yard box score fool you. Jamison Crowder is still the top receiver for Sam Darnold. He's leading the team in target share, receptions, and yards -- he just wasn't on the same page as his quarterback in Week 13. One positive was that he still saw nine targets last week, a trend that should continue in Week 14 against a Dolphins defense that ranks 32nd in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play.
Jomal Wiltz is one of the weak links in this bottom-ranked secondary, as he's been transitioned into a slot role ever since giving up a massive game to Phillip Dorsett in Week 2. Crowder has seen at least five targets in 10-of-12 games as Darnold's slot security blanket, so he will likely test his coverage often in this matchup.
Courtland Sutton is insanely good. He's been catching balls from a washed Joe Flacco, someone who had never thrown an NFL pass in Brandon Allen, and now a rookie quarterback in Drew Lock. Despite the lack of passing talent, he's ranked 10th among receivers (min. 30 catches) in Reception NEP per target. He's also faced a tough set of cornerbacks on the season in Casey Hayward, Tre'Davious White, Xavier Rhodes, Jaire Alexander, and others. His production in those matchups makes you wonder what he could do in a soft matchup.
Courtland Sutton... no way. Insane one-handed, full extension, diving grab.
First career TD for Drew Lock.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 1, 2019
You won't have to wonder long, as this week he'll face Johnathan Joseph and a Houston Texans secondary that ranks 19th in schedule-adjusted pass defense. Houston's pass rush has tanked ever since the loss of J.J. Watt, as they now rank 28th in adjusted sack rate on Football Outsiders. Lock should have plenty of time in the pocket to connect with Sutton on the deep routes that he's been dominating all season.
With T.Y. Hilton getting declared out late in the week, Zach Pascal was set up nicely last week against a Tennessee Titans secondary that has struggled in coverage without Malcolm Butler. He crushed that matchup, seeing 10 targets and putting up a career-high 109 yards.
With Eric Ebron on IR and Hilton likely out again, Pascal's role as the top receiver will continue against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' weak pass defense. They've allowed the second-most touchdowns and the most receptions and receiving yards to opposing receivers this season. The Indianapolis Colts will likely struggle to gain any traction on the ground against Tampa's top-ranked schedule-adjusted run defense, so look for Jacoby Brissett to be airing it out to his receivers often.
Matchups to Avoid
Diggs was a dud last week, catching only four of his nine targets for 25 yards in a primetime game against the Seattle Seahawks. He also suffered an ankle injury in the contest, but still returned and played 96 percent of the snaps. If Tre Flowers was able to give him fits in coverage, Darius Slay is about to end this man's whole career.
On the season, the #Lions cornerbacks have the most passes defensed (36) for any team in the #NFL.
Darius Slay now has 100 career pass break-ups -- most in the NFL since he came into the league in 2013. #OnePride @_bigplayslay23 pic.twitter.com/VHl37p62FR
— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) December 4, 2019
According to PlayerProfiler, he's allowing a 52.1 percent catch rate, has nine pass breakups, and allows less than a yard of separation when targeted. Slay has shadowed opposing top receivers all season, meaning he's been doing that against the likes of Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson, and Terry McLaurin.
The Minnesota Vikings could also just feature a heavy dose of Dalvin Cook against this 29th-ranked defense in terms of Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, so the pass game might not be needed. With Adam Thielen possibly set to return, Diggs' ankle issue, and this tough matchup, Diggs should just be avoided wherever possible.
John Brown hit his absolute peak in Week 11, posting 137 yards and 2 scores against the Dolphins. Since then, he's been held to under 40 yards in both games and just five total catches on eight targets. While they weren't easy matchups, his lack of volume was concerning considering the Buffalo Bills won both contests with ease.
Brown has another tough matchup against a Baltimore Ravens defense that has been truly elite since acquiring Marcus Peters. They rank fifth in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and have severely limited production to perimeter receivers with their duo of Peters and Jimmy Smith. The way to beat this Ravens team is on the ground, as they rank 29th in schedule-adjusted run defense. Expect Brown's drought to continue in this spot.
Jalen Ramsey has shadowed all over the field this season. He has chased the likes of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Christian Kirk, and Allen Robinson into the slot in recent weeks, so there's a good chance he'll be seeing Tyler Lockett regardless of where he lines up.
Besides a matchup with one of the best shadow corners over the past few years, Lockett has just been bad. Despite heavy volume early in the season, Lockett has seen just nine targets over his last three games. Meanwhile, D.K. Metcalf is dominating the team's target share and percentage of air yards, according to airyards.com.
Tyler Lockett's retirement party was lit last night, by the way.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) December 3, 2019
Lockett could still be getting over his leg injury that he sustained prior to the Week 11 bye, but either way, he can't really be relied on in this matchup.