Best, worst wide receiver matchups for fantasy football in Week 14

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 14 matchups, as well as the corresponding fantasy impact.


Cowboys' Amari Cooper vs. Eagles' Rasul Douglas, Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones


The Eagles' struggling and injury-plagued cornerback room has been covered up a bit in recent weeks by the Giants inexplicably not game-planning to attack the perimeter in Week 12 and a shaky Redskins offense on Monday night. Life won't be as easy with the red-hot Cooper on the slate this weekend.


Douglas and Jones worked the outside last week, with Cre'Von LeBlanc in the slot against Washington. If Mills returns, he figures to play outside with Douglas, kicking Jones inside. That's the best-case scenario for the Eagles, but still leaves them with one of the league's worst cornerback situations.


Cooper, who has lined up on the outside on 76 percent of his routes this season, racked up six catches for 75 yards on 10 targets against the Eagles back in Week 10. Most of his routes came against Ronald Darby (out for the season) and Douglas. Upgrade Cooper and Michael Gallup against the defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season.


Chargers' Keenan Allen vs. Bengals' Darqueze Dennard


One week after destroying the Steelers from the slot, Allen is positioned with a great matchup on the inside against the struggling Dennard. The Bengals have actually been better against inside receivers lately but have still allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to the slot during the past two months. Dennard has been targeted on a hefty 21 percent of his coverage snaps and is allowing 0.33 fantasy points per route (which is not good). Expect another big game from Allen, who aligns inside on 55 percent of his routes.


Vikings' Stefon Diggs vs. Seahawks' Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin


The Seattle perimeter corners get picked on often in this section, but it's hard to ignore the big production Flowers and Griffin have allowed this season. Flowers is targeted more often (20 percent of his coverage snaps) and is allowing a woeful 0.45 fantasy points per route. Griffin isn't targeted much (14 percent), but receivers aligned against him are averaging 0.38 fantasy points per route. In total, Seattle is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to outside receivers this season, including the fifth-most during the past two months.


Enter Diggs, who has aligned outside on 77 percent of his routes this season. He'll be positioned to feast against Flowers and Griffin. Adam Thielen has a tougher matchup against slot corner Justin Coleman (Seattle has allowed the fewest fantasy points to the slot this season), though if Chad Beebe returns, Thielen will get more run on the outside. Aldrick Robinson will be a sleeper if Beebe remains out.


Saints' Michael Thomas and Tre'Quan Smith vs. Buccaneers' cornerbacks


We don't know yet who Tampa Bay will have available at cornerback this week, but it will be a good matchup for perimeter receivers Thomas and Smith regardless. Brent Grimes and Carlton Davis were both out with injuries last week but weren't playing particularly well when active. If the two remain out, Ryan Smith and De'Vante Harris will assuredly be picked on by Drew Brees.


Similar to the aforementioned Colts, the Buccaneers' defense appears to be improved against wide receivers as of late, but the schedule since Week 9 has included the Panthers (twice), Redskins, Giants (Beckham posted a 4-4-74-1 line) and 49ers. When these teams met in Week 1, Thomas caught 16 of 17 targets for 180 yards and one touchdown. Ted Ginn Jr. hauled in five of six targets for 68 yards and a score. Ginn, of course, is out for the season, and Smith has stepped into his role opposite Thomas. Thomas and Smith should both be upgraded.


Other notables:
-- Upgrade Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Raiders' Nick Nelson
-- Upgrade Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald vs. Lions' Nevin Lawson
-- Upgrade Bills' Zay Jones vs. Jets' Buster Skrine
-- Upgrade Broncos' Emmanuel Sanders vs. 49ers' K'Waun Williams
-- Upgrade Patriots' Julian Edelman vs. Dolphins' Bobby McCain
-- Browns standout rookie CB Denzel Ward is questionable for Week 14 with a concussion, but if he plays against the Panthers, expect him to shadow DJ Moore. Cleveland has been pounded by perimeter receivers this season (third-most fantasy points allowed) but has been a bit better recently, and Ward has been terrific. Meanwhile, T.J. Carrie could shadow Devin Funchess, but also may move back to the slot with Terrance Mitchell activated from injured reserve. Regardless, Funchess doesn't need to be downgraded.


-- In that same game, expect the Panthers' James Bradberry to shadow Rashard Higgins and Donte' Jackson to shadow Antonio Callaway. Bradberry has been good against Mike Evans, but that's about it this season. Both corners have been heavily targeted and beaten often this season, with Carolina allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers. ,/p>


Tough matchups

Lions' Kenny Golladay vs. Cardinals' Patrick Peterson (shadow)


Get used to seeing Golladay's name in this section of this weekly article. Golladay's hell month begins with the shadow treatment from Peterson. These teams faced off last season, but Peterson shadowed Marvin Jones Jr., and Golladay didn't run a single route against him. Of course, Jones is out for the season, leaving Golladay as Detroit's clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver.


Peterson has been his usual dominant self this season. He's rarely targeted and doesn't allow much when he is. Peterson has shadowed Davante Adams, Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill on their perimeter routes during the past four weeks. Golladay will escape to the slot on 30 percent of his routes, which is some much-needed good news, as Arizona is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to the slot this season. Downgrade Golladay to fringe WR2 territory.


Titans' Corey Davis vs. Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye


These teams have met three times since Davis entered the league, and Jacksonville has not shadowed in any of the games. That includes a Week 3 meeting earlier this season, in which Davis was held to four targets, two catches and 34 yards on 19 routes. He aligned across from Bouye on 10 of those plays and Ramsey on six. In two games against the Jaguars last season, Davis was held to five targets, one catch and 4 yards on 32 routes (30 of which came against Ramsey and Bouye).


Jacksonville has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers on the season but hasn't been as dominant lately (12th-most allowed during the past month). Davis needs to be downgraded quite a bit against Ramsey and Bouye but is still worth flex consideration.


Bengals' Tyler Boyd vs. Chargers' Desmond King and Bengals' John Ross vs. Chargers' Casey Hayward (shadow)
A.J. Green is done for the season, which means it's back to Boyd and Ross as the team's top wideouts. Life won't be easy for the duo in Week 14 with the Chargers' secondary on tap.


Boyd will face off with King, who is arguably the league's best slot corner (in addition to his Steeler-deflating ability as a punt returner). Receivers aligned against King have been targeted on an extremely low 13 percent of their routes and are averaging a minuscule 0.17 fantasy points per route this season. The Chargers have allowed the fewest fantasy points to the slot both over the past eight weeks and the past four weeks.


Meanwhile, with Green out, Ross figures to draw shadow coverage from Hayward. Hayward hasn't been nearly as dominant as he was in 2017, but offenses still rarely throw his way (14 percent of his coverage snaps) and he's surrendering only 0.23 fantasy points per route (also very good).


Both Boyd and Ross should be downgraded, with Boyd more of a fringe WR2 this week and Ross no more than a desperation flex.


Rams' Robert Woods vs. Bears' Bryce Callahan


Woods has a soft overall playoff schedule, but it starts out tough against Callahan. Woods has mostly been an outside receiver this season, but he's converted into the Rams' primary slot receiver with Cooper Kupp sidelined. That means a matchup with Callahan, who has been tremendous this season. Receivers aligned against Chicago's slot corner have been targeted on 11 percent of their routes and are scoring 0.15 fantasy points per route. Both of those numbers are best among all "top three" corners set to play this weekend. Chicago has, in turn, allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to the slot this season.


Perimeter corners Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara are good players, but offenses have been forced to attack them often, which has led to Chicago allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to outside receivers this season and the most over the past month. That said, the door is open for Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds to fill the box score.


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


Gilmore has shadowed the opposing team's No. 1 wide receiver in most games this season. He did not when these teams met back in Week 4, but Parker was sidelined for that game. Gilmore did shadow Parker in both 2017 meetings, and Parker struggled in those games. He ran 79 routes (69 against Gilmore) and was held to five catches and 45 yards on nine targets. These two faced each other on 34 pass plays when Gilmore was with Buffalo, and Parker posted a 10-6-63-0 line on those plays.


Gilmore is playing at a high level this season, and New England has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers during the past month. Parker was already a desperation flex, so this matchup should lock him onto either your bench or waivers.


Other notables:
-- Jets' Robby Anderson vs. Tre'Davious White (shadow)
-- Raiders' Jordy Nelson vs. Joe Haden (shadow)
-- Expect the Vikings' Xavier Rhodes to shadow the Seahawks' Tyler Lockett on his perimeter routes this weekend. That will be about only half the time, considering Lockett has aligned in the slot on 47 percent of his routes since Doug Baldwin returned in Week 4. Baldwin aligns outside 32 percent of the time, and Rhodes could follow him on those plays. Seattle's receivers should be downgraded slightly.


-- If Sammy Watkins returns to action for the Chiefs in Week 14, he'll have his hands full against the Ravens' tough perimeter corners. Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey have helped Baltimore allow the second-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers both this season and over the past month. Tyreek Hill aligns in the slot on 45 percent of his routes and, though Brandon Carr is a solid corner, Hill's matchup is lighter, and he doesn't need to be downgraded as much as Watkins.


-- Expect Josh Norman of the Redskins to shadow the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., as he did when these teams met in Week 8. Beckham had little trouble in that game, catching eight of 11 targets for 136 yards. Most of that came while aligned against Norman, so although Norman has been good this season, Beckham doesn't need to be downgraded much.


-- As was the case in Week 1, it's likely that the Saints' Marshon Lattimore will shadow the Buccaneers' Mike Evans. As a byproduct, Eli Apple would then travel with Chris Godwin and/or DeSean Jackson on the other side of the field. Lattimore is a solid corner, but New Orleans has been lit up for the most fantasy points to outside receivers this season and over the past two months. Additionally, Tampa Bay wide receivers exploded for 361 yards and four touchdowns on 18 catches back in Week 1. Jackson (5-5-146-2), Evans (7-7-147-1) and Godwin (4-3-41-1) all had good games. We don't need to downgrade the Tampa Bay receivers.


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 cheat sheet.


Advantageous matchups

Texans' DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and Keke Coutee vs. Colts' Kenny Moore II, Pierre Desir and Quincy Wilson


The Colts have absolutely shut down opposing wide receivers as of late. In fact, Indianapolis has been fourth best against perimeter receivers and seventh best against the slot during the past eight weeks. Though impressive, consider the opposition during that span: Jets, Bills, Raiders, Jaguars (twice), Titans and Dolphins. It doesn't get much easier than that.


Expect the tide to turn in Week 14 with Houston on the docket. These teams met back in Week 4, and Houston had no trouble dominating this secondary. Hopkins went for 10 catches, 169 yards and a score on 12 targets. Coutee exploded for 11 catches and 109 yards on 15 targets. Will Fuller V totaled four catches, 49 yards and a score on five targets. Hopkins is a strong play, as usual, whereas Thomas and Coutee (if back from his injury) are flex options.


Cowboys' Amari Cooper vs. Eagles' Rasul Douglas, Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones


The Eagles' struggling and injury-plagued cornerback room has been covered up a bit in recent weeks by the Giants inexplicably not game-planning to attack the perimeter in Week 12 and a shaky Redskins offense on Monday night. Life won't be as easy with the red-hot Cooper on the slate this weekend.


Douglas and Jones worked the outside last week, with Cre'Von LeBlanc in the slot against Washington. If Mills returns, he figures to play outside with Douglas, kicking Jones inside. That's the best-case scenario for the Eagles, but still leaves them with one of the league's worst cornerback situations.


Cooper, who has lined up on the outside on 76 percent of his routes this season, racked up six catches for 75 yards on 10 targets against the Eagles back in Week 10. Most of his routes came against Ronald Darby (out for the season) and Douglas. Upgrade Cooper and Michael Gallup against the defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers this season.


Chargers' Keenan Allen vs. Bengals' Darqueze Dennard


One week after destroying the Steelers from the slot, Allen is positioned with a great matchup on the inside against the struggling Dennard. The Bengals have actually been better against inside receivers lately but have still allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to the slot during the past two months. Dennard has been targeted on a hefty 21 percent of his coverage snaps and is allowing 0.33 fantasy points per route (which is not good). Expect another big game from Allen, who aligns inside on 55 percent of his routes.


Vikings' Stefon Diggs vs. Seahawks' Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin


The Seattle perimeter corners get picked on often in this section, but it's hard to ignore the big production Flowers and Griffin have allowed this season. Flowers is targeted more often (20 percent of his coverage snaps) and is allowing a woeful 0.45 fantasy points per route. Griffin isn't targeted much (14 percent), but receivers aligned against him are averaging 0.38 fantasy points per route. In total, Seattle is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to outside receivers this season, including the fifth-most during the past two months.


Enter Diggs, who has aligned outside on 77 percent of his routes this season. He'll be positioned to feast against Flowers and Griffin. Adam Thielen has a tougher matchup against slot corner Justin Coleman (Seattle has allowed the fewest fantasy points to the slot this season), though if Chad Beebe returns, Thielen will get more run on the outside. Aldrick Robinson will be a sleeper if Beebe remains out.


Saints' Michael Thomas and Tre'Quan Smith vs. Buccaneers' cornerbacks


We don't know yet who Tampa Bay will have available at cornerback this week, but it will be a good matchup for perimeter receivers Thomas and Smith regardless. Brent Grimes and Carlton Davis were both out with injuries last week but weren't playing particularly well when active. If the two remain out, Ryan Smith and De'Vante Harris will assuredly be picked on by Drew Brees.


Similar to the aforementioned Colts, the Buccaneers' defense appears to be improved against wide receivers as of late, but the schedule since Week 9 has included the Panthers (twice), Redskins, Giants (Beckham posted a 4-4-74-1 line) and 49ers. When these teams met in Week 1, Thomas caught 16 of 17 targets for 180 yards and one touchdown. Ted Ginn Jr. hauled in five of six targets for 68 yards and a score. Ginn, of course, is out for the season, and Smith has stepped into his role opposite Thomas. Thomas and Smith should both be upgraded.


Other notables:
-- Upgrade Steelers' JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Raiders' Nick Nelson
-- Upgrade Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald vs. Lions' Nevin Lawson
-- Upgrade Bills' Zay Jones vs. Jets' Buster Skrine
-- Upgrade Broncos' Emmanuel Sanders vs. 49ers' K'Waun Williams
-- Upgrade Patriots' Julian Edelman vs. Dolphins' Bobby McCain
-- Browns standout rookie CB Denzel Ward is questionable for Week 14 with a concussion, but if he plays against the Panthers, expect him to shadow DJ Moore. Cleveland has been pounded by perimeter receivers this season (third-most fantasy points allowed) but has been a bit better recently, and Ward has been terrific. Meanwhile, T.J. Carrie could shadow Devin Funchess, but also may move back to the slot with Terrance Mitchell activated from injured reserve. Regardless, Funchess doesn't need to be downgraded.


-- In that same game, expect the Panthers' James Bradberry to shadow Rashard Higgins and Donte' Jackson to shadow Antonio Callaway. Bradberry has been good against Mike Evans, but that's about it this season. Both corners have been heavily targeted and beaten often this season, with Carolina allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to perimeter receivers. ,/p>


Tough matchups

Lions' Kenny Golladay vs. Cardinals' Patrick Peterson (shadow)


Get used to seeing Golladay's name in this section of this weekly article. Golladay's hell month begins with the shadow treatment from Peterson. These teams faced off last season, but Peterson shadowed Marvin Jones Jr., and Golladay didn't run a single route against him. Of course, Jones is out for the season, leaving Golladay as Detroit's clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver.


Peterson has been his usual dominant self this season. He's rarely targeted and doesn't allow much when he is. Peterson has shadowed Davante Adams, Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill on their perimeter routes during the past four weeks. Golladay will escape to the slot on 30 percent of his routes, which is some much-needed good news, as Arizona is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to the slot this season. Downgrade Golladay to fringe WR2 territory.


Titans' Corey Davis vs. Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye


These teams have met three times since Davis entered the league, and Jacksonville has not shadowed in any of the games. That includes a Week 3 meeting earlier this season, in which Davis was held to four targets, two catches and 34 yards on 19 routes. He aligned across from Bouye on 10 of those plays and Ramsey on six. In two games against the Jaguars last season, Davis was held to five targets, one catch and 4 yards on 32 routes (30 of which came against Ramsey and Bouye).


Jacksonville has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers on the season but hasn't been as dominant lately (12th-most allowed during the past month). Davis needs to be downgraded quite a bit against Ramsey and Bouye but is still worth flex consideration.


Bengals' Tyler Boyd vs. Chargers' Desmond King and Bengals' John Ross vs. Chargers' Casey Hayward (shadow)


A.J. Green is done for the season, which means it's back to Boyd and Ross as the team's top wideouts. Life won't be easy for the duo in Week 14 with the Chargers' secondary on tap.


Boyd will face off with King, who is arguably the league's best slot corner (in addition to his Steeler-deflating ability as a punt returner). Receivers aligned against King have been targeted on an extremely low 13 percent of their routes and are averaging a minuscule 0.17 fantasy points per route this season. The Chargers have allowed the fewest fantasy points to the slot both over the past eight weeks and the past four weeks.


Meanwhile, with Green out, Ross figures to draw shadow coverage from Hayward. Hayward hasn't been nearly as dominant as he was in 2017, but offenses still rarely throw his way (14 percent of his coverage snaps) and he's surrendering only 0.23 fantasy points per route (also very good).


Both Boyd and Ross should be downgraded, with Boyd more of a fringe WR2 this week and Ross no more than a desperation flex.


Rams' Robert Woods vs. Bears' Bryce Callahan


Woods has a soft overall playoff schedule, but it starts out tough against Callahan. Woods has mostly been an outside receiver this season, but he's converted into the Rams' primary slot receiver with Cooper Kupp sidelined. That means a matchup with Callahan, who has been tremendous this season. Receivers aligned against Chicago's slot corner have been targeted on 11 percent of their routes and are scoring 0.15 fantasy points per route. Both of those numbers are best among all "top three" corners set to play this weekend. Chicago has, in turn, allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to the slot this season.


Perimeter corners Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara are good players, but offenses have been forced to attack them often, which has led to Chicago allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to outside receivers this season and the most over the past month. That said, the door is open for Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds to fill the box score.


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


Gilmore has shadowed the opposing team's No. 1 wide receiver in most games this season. He did not when these teams met back in Week 4, but Parker was sidelined for that game. Gilmore did shadow Parker in both 2017 meetings, and Parker struggled in those games. He ran 79 routes (69 against Gilmore) and was held to five catches and 45 yards on nine targets. These two faced each other on 34 pass plays when Gilmore was with Buffalo, and Parker posted a 10-6-63-0 line on those plays.


Gilmore is playing at a high level this season, and New England has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers during the past month. Parker was already a desperation flex, so this matchup should lock him onto either your bench or waivers.


Other notables:
-- Jets' Robby Anderson vs. Tre'Davious White (shadow)
-- Raiders' Jordy Nelson vs. Joe Haden (shadow)
-- Expect the Vikings' Xavier Rhodes to shadow the Seahawks' Tyler Lockett on his perimeter routes this weekend. That will be about only half the time, considering Lockett has aligned in the slot on 47 percent of his routes since Doug Baldwin returned in Week 4. Baldwin aligns outside 32 percent of the time, and Rhodes could follow him on those plays. Seattle's receivers should be downgraded slightly.


-- If Sammy Watkins returns to action for the Chiefs in Week 14, he'll have his hands full against the Ravens' tough perimeter corners. Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey have helped Baltimore allow the second-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers both this season and over the past month. Tyreek Hill aligns in the slot on 45 percent of his routes and, though Brandon Carr is a solid corner, Hill's matchup is lighter, and he doesn't need to be downgraded as much as Watkins.


-- Expect Josh Norman of the Redskins to shadow the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., as he did when these teams met in Week 8. Beckham had little trouble in that game, catching eight of 11 targets for 136 yards. Most of that came while aligned against Norman, so although Norman has been good this season, Beckham doesn't need to be downgraded much.


-- As was the case in Week 1, it's likely that the Saints' Marshon Lattimore will shadow the Buccaneers' Mike Evans. As a byproduct, Eli Apple would then travel with Chris Godwin and/or DeSean Jackson on the other side of the field. Lattimore is a solid corner, but New Orleans has been lit up for the most fantasy points to outside receivers this season and over the past two months. Additionally, Tampa Bay wide receivers exploded for 361 yards and four touchdowns on 18 catches back in Week 1. Jackson (5-5-146-2), Evans (7-7-147-1) and Godwin (4-3-41-1) all had good games. We don't need to downgrade the Tampa Bay receivers.