Best, worst wide receiver matchups for Week 4 in fantasy football

Mike Clay
ESPN PLUS


By utilizing our play-by-play data, we're now able to identify where each wide receiver and cornerback lines up on each play. By tracking matchups between the two positions, including potential shadow situations, we can offer the best projections, rankings and fantasy advice each week.


Below are the receivers with the best and worst Week 4 matchups, as well as the corresponding fantasy impact.



To view the primary defenders the top three wide receivers for each team will see this weekend, be sure to check out our weekly WR vs. CB cheat sheet.


Advantageous matchups

Bears' Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel vs Buccaneers' Carlton Davis, Brent Grimes and M.J. Stewart


The Bears move Robinson all over the formation, as he has lined up approximately 35 percent wide to the left, 34 percent wide to the right and 32 percent in the slot this season. Gabriel is used similarly (35 percent, 36 percent, 30 percent, approximately). This week, that means both will see a fairly even share of the Buccaneers' struggling corners. The Bucs have allowed the most fantasy points to slot receivers (a missed opportunity for injured Anthony Miller) and the third-most to wide receivers overall. Robinson should be locked into lineups every week and Gabriel's heavy volume makes him an underrated asset as is. The good matchup pushes him into the flex mix.


Browns' Jarvis Landry vs Raiders' Leon Hall


Landry has been a target hog this season, with Browns quarterbacks going his way on 32 percent of his routes. Landry has aligned in the slot 70 percent of the time, which means a showdown with Hall this week. The 33-year-old slot corner has played a shockingly large role this season, seeing the field on 85 percent of the Raiders' defensive snaps. He has aligned in the slot on all 52 of his coverage snaps and Oakland is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to slot receivers. Landry is a terrific Week 4 play.


Broncos' Demaryius Thomas and Courtland Sutton vs. Chiefs' Orlando Scandrick and Steven Nelson


The Chiefs' defense allowed another onslaught of fantasy production in Week 3 against San Francisco. The unit has now allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers, which is good relative to where it ranks against quarterbacks (second), running backs (first) and tight ends (third). The unit has allowed the third-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers, which is why Thomas and Sutton get the nod here over slot man Emmanuel Sanders. Scandrick has been surprisingly serviceable (at best) thus far, but Nelson has struggled. He also has been targeted 24 times, which is third-most at the position. Expect Case Keenum to attack the perimeter in this one. Sanders, by the way, will face off with the team's best corner in Kendall Fuller.



Chargers' Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams vs. 49ers' Jimmie Ward and Ahkello Witherspoon


Witherspoon showed some flashes as a third-round rookie last season, but he was benched for ineffectiveness prior to the team's Week 3 game in Kansas City. Unfortunately, an injury to Richard Sherman means Witherspoon will rejoin the starting lineup, along with his replacement Ward, in Week 4. Ward has been toasted for six catches for 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns on seven targets. Witherspoon has allowed 11 catches for 145 yards and three scores on 19 targets. K'Waun Williams hasn't been much better in the slot (so Keenan Allen will be fine), but it's clear the perimeter is the weak spot here. Mike Williams (71 percent perimeter) is a viable starter and Tyrell Williams (56 percent perimeter) is a sneaky flex in deeper leagues.


Titans' Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor vs. Eagles' Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills


To update last week's column, Darby has been targeted 32 times this season, which is four more than any other cornerback. Mills sits 19th in the category (18) and is allowing a 123.1 QB rating. Offenses continue to pick on the weak spot of the Eagles' defense, which is the perimeter corners. Expect Tennessee to do the same in Week 4. Davis has been targeted on a massive 32 percent of his 74 routes and Taylor, who was promoted to a larger role last week, sits at 36 percent on 28 routes. Davis is fine to re-insert into lineups following a tough matchup with Jacksonville last week. Taylor is a sneaky flex/DFS option.


Vikings' Stefon Diggs vs. Rams' Sam Shields and Troy Hill


Aqib Talib (ankle) is out and Marcus Peters (calf) is doubtful to play in this Thursday's showdown between two NFC favorites. Shields has been solid thus far in relief work, but there's no question that the Rams' cornerback room has gone from elite to a major question mark. Diggs is coming off a rough matchup against Tre'Davious White, but life will be much easier on Thursday with roughly 80 percent of his routes against Shields and Hill. Adam Thielen had the much better matchup in Week 3, which helps explain his 19-target afternoon, but he'll face the tougher challenge this week against Rams' slot man Nickell Robey-Coleman. Thielen should be downgraded slightly with 69 percent of his routes coming from the slot.


Ravens' Michael Crabtree vs. Steelers' Coty Sensabaugh and Artie Burns


The Steelers have surrendered the most fantasy points to players lined up wide to the left. This makes sense considering the team's turmoil at right corner. Burns, who was actually benched in favor of Sensabaugh entering Monday Night Football, still allowed five catches for 115 yards and a score in the game. Sensabaugh allowed 87 yards and a score on six catches. On the season, Burns has allowed a 157.9 passer rating and Sensabaugh is at 147.7. Crabtree lines up at left receiver 60 percent of the time, which sets him up with a terrific matchup. Willis Snead is also in good shape against struggling slot corner Mike Hilton (the Steelers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to slot receivers).


Bengals' Tyler Boyd vs. Falcons' Brian Poole


As in past weeks, this one is more about the perimeter matchups and less about the ability of Poole. A.J. Green (if he plays) and John Ross primarily work on the outside, which means matchups with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. Both have been terrific this season and Atlanta has allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers. On the other hand, with Poole as the primary slot man, Atlanta has surrendered the eighth-most points to slot receivers. Enter Boyd, who is enjoying a third-year breakout while aligning in the slot 70 percent of the time. He should be lineups this week.


Tough matchups

Lions' Golden Tate vs. Cowboys' Anthony Brown


Tate may be third on this own team in pass routes (127) this season, but he's still on the field just as often as 2017 and, perhaps most surprisingly, he's currently handling a career-high 26 percent target share. That share figures to drop some this week with Brown and the Cowboys on tap. Tate aligns in the slot 72 percent of the time and Dallas has allowed the fewest fantasy points to that spot this season. Brown has been terrific and has been targeted on only 9 percent of his 57 coverage snaps.


Byron Jones, meanwhile, has been one of the league's best corners this season, which could spell some trouble for Marvin Jones Jr. Dallas has allowed the fewest fantasy points to left perimeter receivers (Jones' side), which is where Jones aligns 46 percent of the time. Dallas has allowed the second-most points to right perimeter receivers (Chidobe Awuzie's side), which is where Kenny Golladay aligns 47 percent of the time. All three Lions wideouts should be downgraded a bit, but Golladay has the best matchup of the three.



Packers' Davante Adams vs. Bills' Tre'Davious White (Shadow)


White has been nothing short of elite, allowing only five catches on nine targets for 29 yards on 131 coverage snaps this season. He did an exceptional job shutting down Stefon Diggs during Buffalo's shocking upset of the Vikings last week, limiting the explosive Diggs to four catches and 17 yards on 10 targets (White was on Diggs on 42 of 43 perimeter routes). It's never easy to downgrade a wide receiver in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense, but this is about as tough as it gets for Adams.


Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, meanwhile, have good matchups. With White on Adams, Allison will see replacement level Phillip Gaines or Ryan Lewis and Cobb will face off with rookie Taron Johnson in the slot (Buffalo has allowed the second-most fantasy points to slot receivers).


Dolphins' DeVante Parker vs. Patriots' Stephon Gilmore (Shadow)


Gilmore shadowed Parker in both meetings between these teams last season. Parker lined up across from Gilmore on 69 of his 79 routes in those games and was held to five catches for 45 yards on nine targets. Quarterbacks haven't been afraid to target Gilmore this season (thrown at on 23 percent of his coverage snaps), but he's playing well and still one of the game's better corners. Especially with Miami distributing targets to five wide receivers, Parker is a risky fantasy bet in Week 4 and should be on benches.


Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Saints' Marshon Lattimore (Shadow)


After a rough Weeks 1-2, Lattimore finally seemed to finally get on the right track in Week 3, shadowing Julio Jones and allowing only three catches for 38 yards in the game. Lattimore has shadowed in two of three games this season and during eight of his past nine outings. This week, that will mean a showdown with Beckham. The matchup is enough to consider downgrading Beckham slightly, but he's obviously too good to completely avoid and the Saints have allowed 190 fantasy points to wide receivers this season, which is 43 more than any other defense. Sterling Shepard stands to benefit in a big way with Patrick Robinson injured, Evan Engram out and Lattimore on Beckham. Shepard is expected to see P.J. Williams in the slot, who has been absolutely lit up on 25 coverage snaps this season. He's a WR3, at worst.


Jets' Robby Anderson and Terrelle Pryor Sr. vs. Jaguars' A.J. Bouyeand Jalen Ramsey


It wouldn't be a WR/CB column with a mention of the Jaguars' dominant corner duo. I don't expect any clear shadowing in Week 4, but Anderson (56 percent perimeter) and Pryor (81 percent) will face Ramsey (86 percent) and Bouye (96 percent) on most of their routes. Neither should be close to a fantasy lineup. Quincy Enunwa (70 percent slot) will primarily see D.J. Hayden or, if he remains out, Tyler Patmon in the slot. The Jaguars could choose to occasionally use Ramsey against Enunwa inside, but history suggest it won't be often enough that you need to bench Enunwa.


Other notables:


The Saints' Michael Thomas can expect shadow coverage from the Giants' Janoris Jenkins after Jenkins "contained" DeAndre Hopkins in shadow coverage last week. Jenkins is a good corner, but has allowed 14 catches for 215 yards on 20 targets this season. Thomas doesn't need to be downgraded much, if at all, in this matchup.