Best, worst wide receiver matchups for Week 13 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.


Down below are the receivers with the best and worst Week 13 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 my weekly WR vs. CB Cheatsheet.


Advantageous matchups

Buccaneers' Mike Evans vs. Panthers' James Bradberry (shadow) and Buccaneers' DeSean Jackson/Chris Godwin vs. Panthers' Donte Jackson (shadow)


These teams faced off in Week 9 and Bradberry shadowed Evans on 35 of his 40 routes, including six of 11 slot routes. Jackson was on Godwin and Jackson on 33 of 45 pass plays. Both Jacksons are questionable for this game, but even if one or both are out, we should expect a similar dynamic. Evans struggled big time in that first meeting, hauling in one of 10 targets for 16 yards. On the other side of the field, Godwin and Jackson combined for four catches on seven targets for 72 yards. Adam Humphries posted an 8-8-82-2 line while mostly facing off with Captain Munnerlyn.


Of course, if we look back to last season's meetings, we see Evans with an 18-11-167-0 line against Carolina with Bradberry in coverage on most of those routes. Evans' earlier debacle against this team is a concern, but it can't be ignored that Carolina has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to outside receivers this season, including the fourth most over the past month. This is a good matchup for all Buccaneers receivers.


Redskins' Josh Doctson, Maurice Harris and Trey Quinn vs. Eagles' Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones


The Eagles were without Mills, Jones, Avonte Maddox and Douglas (for all but two plays) last week, not to mention that Ronald Darby is out for the season. That led to desperation options De'Vante Bausby, Cre'Von LeBlanc and Chandon Sullivan holding down the fort. It's unknown who will be out there this week, but it's undoubtedly a very shaky situation for Philadelphia -- a team that has allowed the most fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season.


Enter Washington's receivers, which hasn't been a group that has had much fantasy success this season but is set up with a nice Week 13 matchup. Doctson was held to four targets, three receptions and 39 yards on 51 routes (31 against Mills) last season. Jamison Crowder could return this week, but his playing time is in question with Quinn playing a big role and faring well the past two weeks. Harris is a sleeper to watch opposite Doctson.


Jets' Robby Anderson vs. Titans' Adoree' Jackson (shadow)


Jackson has shadowed Josh Gordon, T.Y. Hilton and DeAndre Hopkins, and he hasn't had much success slowing them from decent-to-great fantasy production in recent weeks. In fact, when combined with Malcolm Butler and injury-replacement LeShaun Sims, Tennessee has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the perimeter, including the third most over the past month.


Anderson is the Jets' No. 1 and fastest perimeter receiver and drew shadow treatment from Stephon Gilmore last week, so we should anticipate the speedy Jackson traveling with him this week. Anderson can be upgraded slightly, especially if Josh McCown remains under center. With Jermaine Kearse dealing with solid Logan Ryan in the slot, Quincy Enunwa also has a nice matchup against Butler or, if he remains out, Sims.


Other notables:


- Upgrade Broncos' Emmanuel Sanders vs. Bengals' Darqueze Dennard


- Upgrade Lions' Kenny Golladay vs. Rams' Marcus Peters, Sam Shields and Nickell Robey-Coleman, though if Aqib Talib returns, the upgrade should only be slight.


- Expect Browns' Denzel Ward and T.J. Carrie to shadow the Texans' Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas, respectively, this week. Ward is playing well and presents Hopkins with a tough challenge, but we don't need to move the needle much against the defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers. Thomas should be upgraded after showing well in a terrific Week 12 matchup.


Tough matchups

Packers' Davante Adams vs. Cardinals' Patrick Peterson (shadow)


Peterson wasn't expected to be a shadow corner this season, but that was quickly thrown to the wayside way back in Week 1. Peterson has shadowed the likes of Crowder, Taylor Gabriel, Stefon Diggs, Sanders, Marquise Goodwin, Tyreek Hill and Keenan Allen at least part time this season. That said, we can all but lock him in for shadow coverage against Adams the 82 percent of the time Green Bay's top receiver is on the perimeter this week.


Adams has run 15 career routes against Peterson (all back in 2015) and has one target and no catches to show for it. Peterson has been terrific as usual this season, but Adams is a touchdown machine and should be downgraded only slightly. Rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling played outside last week and, assuming that doesn't change, he'll be a rebound candidate in an elite matchup against David Amerson.


Colts' T.Y. Hilton vs. Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey (shadow)


These teams met only three weeks ago, and Ramsey shadowed Hilton on 15 of his 27 routes, including 14 of 16 on the perimeter. Hilton posted a 7-3-77-0 line in the game, though he caught zero of two targets when Ramsey was covering him. Hilton has had some moderate success against Ramsey during his career, however, and will certainly dodge him occasionally when lined up in the slot. Hilton needs to be downgraded only slightly, especially with the Jaguars' defense struggling against outside receivers lately (11th-most fantasy points allowed over the past month).


Eagles' Alshon Jeffery vs. Redskins' Josh Norman (shadow)


Over the past five weeks, Norman has shadowed Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Evans and Hopkins. He followed Amari Cooper on only two plays last week, however, so though it seems likely that he'll travel with Jeffery this week, it's certainly not a lock.


Jeffery was held to five catches on 13 targets for 75 yards and no touchdowns on 65 routes against Washington last season, though 35 of those routes came against Bashaud Breeland (now with the Packers). Norman has rarely been targeted and has been terrific in coverage this season (0.25 fantasy points per coverage snap slowed). However, Washington has allowed the most fantasy points to outside receivers over the past two months, so there's room for some production here, especially from Golden Tate and perhaps Nelson Agholor.


Upgrade those two a bit and downgrade Jeffery and his declining target share to WR3 territory.


Rams' Brandin Cooks vs. Lions' Darius Slay (shadow)


Cooks -- or really anyone from this Rams offense -- is hard to doubt, but we can't ignore shadow treatment from one of the game's better corners in Slay. Slay has shadowed in six consecutive games and, though quarterbacks rarely shy away from targeting him, his efficiency in coverage has been good.


Cooks has aligned across from Slay on 39 career routes. He totaled seven catches for 96 yards and zero touchdowns on 11 targets on those plays. Cooks will escape to the slot on 29 percent of his routes, but Slay may cover him on some of them (he has aligned inside on 18 percent of his coverage snaps this season). Downgrade Cooks in this one, if only because QB Jared Goff will have better matchups to exploit.


The most obvious of those features Josh Reynolds, who will benefit from facing undrafted rookie Mike Ford on the other side of the field. Reynolds posted an 8-6-80-1 line the last time we saw him and figures to be busy again in this one. He's an intriguing flex.


Steelers' Antonio Brown vs. Chargers' Casey Hayward (shadow)


Believe it or not, this will be the first meeting between these two star players. Expect them to get to know each other early and often. Hayward has picked up where he left off last season, shadowing clear No. 1 perimeter receivers. That list has included Kelvin Benjamin, Cooper, Antonio Callaway, Corey Davis, Brandon LaFell and Courtland Sutton this season. Hayward's season started slowly, but he has been terrific overall, having been targeted on only 13 percent of his coverage snaps and allowing a terrific 0.21 fantasy points per route.


Brown, of course, is one of the best in the business and, like JuJu Smith-Schuster, who also has a very tough matchup against Chargers' slot CB Desmond King, has shown signs of being matchup-proof in the past. Brown is still in the WR1 mix and Smith-Schuster a WR2 play, but these are certainly tough matchups.


Falcons' Julio Jones vs. Ravens' Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey


Smith is settling in after missing the first four weeks of the season and, though he has been targeted often, he's allowing a solid 0.28 fantasy points per coverage snap. Fellow perimeter corner Humphrey has proved to be a strong find in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. The second-year corner is rarely targeted and is allowing 0.22 fantasy points per route. With Brandon Carr also helping the cause (he's now in the slot), Baltimore has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season and over the past month.


Jones runs 79 percent of his routes on the outside, so he'll see a ton of Smith and Humphrey this week. Baltimore hasn't been as good against the slot, but with Carr inside now, that may change in the coming weeks. This is a tough challenge for Jones, as well as Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu. Jones is a name to avoid in DFS cash games, whereas Ridley and Sanu are shaky flex options in season-long formats.


Dolphins' DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills vs. Bills' Tre'Davious White and Levi Wallace


I don't know if it's scheme or home run personnel moves (we'll find out in due time), but the Bills can't seem to miss in the secondary. White was a star find in last year's draft. E.J. Gaines, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer were outstanding free agent/trade acquisitions. And, most recently, rookies Levi Wallace and slot man Taron Johnson have been terrific as "starters" along with White. The Bills have allowed the fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season, over the past eight weeks, and over the past month. They've also allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to slot receivers over the past four weeks.


You were probably already avoiding Dolphins' wide receivers, so this is further evidence that it's a good plan in Week 13. That's despite Parker's success against White last season; he lined up against the then-rookie 31 times and posted a solid 11-7-110-1 line (he posted a 19-12-153-0 line on 88 total routes against Buffalo). Stills was limited to a 13-4-42-0 line on 91 routes against Buffalo last season.


Other notables:


- Downgrade Browns' Jarvis Landry vs. Texans' Kareem Jackson and/or Aaron Colvin
- Downgrade Bengals' Tyler Boyd vs. Broncos' Chris Harris Jr.
- Downgrade Giants' Sterling Shepard vs. Bears' Bryce Callahan

-Downgrade all Jaguars wide receivers against a Colts cornerback group that has been eighth or better against wide left, wide right and slot receivers over the past two months.


- The Vikings' Chad Beebe took control of the team's No. 3 wide receiver gig two weeks ago, which meant more perimeter work for Adam Thielen (opposite Diggs). Beebe missed Week 12, which meant Thielen headed back to the slot. Beebe's status for Week 13 could decide where he lines up and, more importantly, if he's covered by Gilmore (he'll likely shadow Diggs if Beebe returns) and Jason McCourty. New England has been good against the perimeter but terrible against the slot this season (most fantasy points allowed over the past two months).


- Speaking of that game, the Vikings' Xavier Rhodes is iffy with a hamstring injury, but expect him to shadow the Patriots' Gordon if active. That would be cause to downgrade Gordon, who aligns outside on 89 percent of his routes.