Best, worst wide receiver matchups for Week 8

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 8 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.



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Advantageous Matchups

Lions' Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. vs. Seahawks' Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin


The Seahawks have allowed the 11th fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, but don't be fooled. A light slate has been the primary reason for what seems like success. Consider that Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Allen Robinson each eclipsed 18 fantasy points during Seattle's games against the Broncos, Rams and Bears. However, no opposing receivers came close to that mark in games against the Cowboys, Cardinals and Raiders.


Set to face Golladay, Jones and Golden Tate, Seattle will face its toughest wide receiver unit since the Rams torched them for 33 points back in Week 5. Struggling perimeter corners Flowers and Griffin will try to contain Jones and Golladay on the outside with Tate facing off with solid slot corner Justin Coleman (Seattle has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to slot receivers). Upgrade Golladay and Jones, making both solid WR2 options.


Colts' T.Y. Hilton vs. Raiders' Daryl Worley and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie


The rebuilding Raiders made the bizarre decision to bench both Gareon Conley(23 years old) and Rashaan Melvin (29), instead leaning on Rodgers-Cromartie (32), Worley (23) and Leon Hall (33) at corner. Worley has predictably been torched in coverage since being promoted, allowing opposing receivers to average 0.80 fantasy points per route while being targeted on 27 percent of their routes. Both rank among the worst in the league at the position.


Hilton moves around the formation quite a bit, but 75 percent of his routes have come on the outside this season, which means he'll mostly see Worley and Rodgers-Cromartie (who, to be fair, has been solid). Hilton has been heavily targeted this season and enjoys a nice edge over all three corners. Upgrade him to WR1 territory.


Ravens' Michael Crabtree vs. Panthers' James Bradberry (shadow) and Ravens' John Brown vs. Panthers' Donte Jackson (shadow)


Bradberry has shadowed Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. and Alshon Jeffery this season. He also shadowed A.J. Green in Week 3, leaving Jackson to travel with John Ross in what is perhaps the most similar matchup to this week's contest with Crabtree and the speedster Brown. Jackson sports ridiculous 4.32 wheels and is built similarly to Brown, whereas Bradberry is built similar to Crabtree.


That all being said, both Crabtree and Brown are positioned as strong fantasy plays this week. Carolina sits among the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to both left and right perimeter receivers, and has the eighth most combined to all outside WRs.


Bengals' Tyler Boyd vs. Buccaneers' M.J. Stewart


Second-round rookie Stewart continues to be picked on. Receivers aligned against him have been targeted on a massive 29 percent of their routes and are averaging 0.48 fantasy points per route. This week, Boyd -- who is enjoying a third-year breakout -- stands to benefit. Boyd has lined up in the slot on 72 percent of his routes this season and Tampa Bay is allowing a league-worst 37.8 fantasy points per game to receivers lined up in the slot. Boyd is a WR2 option against one of the league's worst defenses.


Seahawks' Doug Baldwin vs. Lions' Teez Tabor


Detroit lost slot corner Jamal Agnew for the season, forcing them to promote Tabor. The 2017 second-rounder has struggled thus far in his pro career and quarterbacks haven't been afraid to attack him in coverage. Last week, Miami receivers aligned against him on 30 pass plays and caught six of seven targets for 88 yards and a touchdown on those routes. Baldwin is fresh off a bye week after a strong Week 6 performance and is positioned for a big day against Tabor.


Other notables:





Tough Matchups

Vikings' Stefon Diggs vs. Saints' Marshon Lattimore (shadow)


When these teams met in the divisional round of last season's playoffs, Lattimore shadowed Adam Thielen on 34 of his 42 routes, including five of 12 slot routes. Ken Crawley, meanwhile, shadowed Diggs on 29 of 37 routes (two of seven in the slot). Thielen went for six catches and 74 yards on nine targets, while Diggs managed six catches, 137 yards and a touchdown you might have heard about on 10 targets.


Of course, back then, Thielen was still playing a pretty significant role on the perimeter. In 2018, Thielen is aligning in the slot on 61 percent of his pass routes. Lattimore rarely travels inside and has lined up in the slot on 5 percent of his coverage snaps. Lattimore may still cover Thielen the 39 percent of the time he's on the outside, but with Diggs (81 percent perimeter) operating as the team's top outside receiver, it's fair to expect Lattimore to travel with him throughout most of the game. Lattimore hasn't been nearly as effective this season, by the way, so Diggs should be downgraded only slightly.


Thielen will, in turn, run many of his routes against strugglinslot corner P.J. Williams and should be upgraded in this matchup. Thielen has been targeted on a massive 30 percent of his routes, which trails only Julio Jones (33 percent) for highest in the league.


Saints' Michael Thomas vs. Vikings' Xavier Rhodes (shadow)


On the other side of this week's highly-anticipated NFC showdown, we have Rhodes primed for shadow coverage against Thomas. These two went head-to-head on 29 of 43 pass plays in last season's playoff game, with Rhodes covering Thomas on 21 of his 22 perimeter routes. Thomas still delivered the goods with seven catches, 85 yards and two scores on 13 targets, though he was held to three catches for 46 yards on nine targets when lined up across from Rhodes.


Thomas should be downgraded a bit, but he's traveled to the slot 30 percent of the time this season, so he'll draw some Mackensie Alexander, as well. The Vikings have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to slot receivers.


Patriots' Josh Gordon vs. Bills' Tre'Davious White (shadow)


Gordon's stock is on the rise now that he's a full-time player in New England, but the increase in production and playing time will mean shadow coverage this week courtesy of one of the game's best corners. White has been good this season despite tough assignments against Keenan Allen, Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, Corey Davis, DeAndre Hopkins and T.Y. Hilton. The second-year corner aligns on the perimeter 97 percent of the time, which is where Gordon has been on 92 percent of his routes this season. Expect these two to go head-to-head on most pass plays this week, which means Gordon should be downgraded to WR3 territory. Buffalo has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season.


Eagles' Alshon Jeffery vs Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey (shadow)


The Jaguars' defense may be slumping, but the Ramsey/A.J. Bouye duo continues to shut down opposing perimeter receivers. Jacksonville has allowed the fewest fantasy points to outside receivers this season (15.5 per game), which is where Jeffery aligns on 72 percent of his routes. Ramsey has shadowed Odell Beckham Jr., Tyreek Hill and DeAndre Hopkins already this season, so he's a good bet to travel with Jeffery. Even if he doesn't, it won't matter much, as Bouye is just as effective in coverage as his counterpart. Jeffery should be downgraded quite a bit, but should still be in lineups in leagues with 12 or more teams.


Panthers' Devin Funchess vs. Ravens' Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr


The Ravens were without Humphrey during last week's loss to New Orleans, but it didn't matter much as they had Smith waiting in the wings to shadow Michael Thomas. Granted, Thomas got the better of Smith a few times, but there's no doubt the Ravens are elite on the perimeter with Smith, Humphrey and Carr. Baltimore is allowing 17.7 fantasy points per game to outside receivers, which is fourth-best in the league.


Funchess is coming off a good performance in a great matchup against the Eagles, but doesn't figure to be as fortunate with Baltimore on the docket. Carolina's No. 1 receiver lines up outside on 83 percent of his routes, which means he'll rarely "escape" to Tavon Young coverage in the slot. Funchess is more of a flex option this week and is certainly a major bust candidate.


Seahawks' Tyler Lockett vs. Lions' Darius Slay (shadow)


Your immediate reaction here might be "Why not Doug Baldwin?" Baldwin is, of course, Seattle's primary slot receiver, aligning inside on 70 percent of his routes this season. Slay has shadowed Pierre Garcon, Davante Adams and Kenny Stills this season and, though he will sometimes travel to the slot to cover receivers he is shadowing, there hasn't been a single occasion in which he shadowed a primary slot receiver since he began shadowing back in 2015.


Plan on Slay instead following Lockett, who aligned inside a lot earlier this season, but is now back on the perimeter with Baldwin healthy and in the lineup. Lockett is already a candidate for touchdown regression to the mean and tough matchup dampens his short-term outlook. Consider him a fringe flex pick.


Other notables: