Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 14 Matchups

Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 14 Matchups

This article is part of our Corner Report series.

This article will go game by game for the Week 14 slate looking at the top wide receivers from an offense and, based on the inside/outside and left/right splits of those receivers, identify the cornerbacks most likely to face them in man coverage.

Receivers rarely see the same corner every play, be it due to formation quirks or zone coverage calls by the defense, so a receiver's fortunes depend on much more than just the quality of the corner they're likely to see the most in a given game. Even against a bad corner, a good receiver can be denied the opportunity if the pass rush or something else outside his control complicates things. But it's part of the puzzle, and it's worth keeping track of.

Receivers are left with an Upgrade, Downgrade, or Even verdict based on their projected matchup. This shouldn't be read as 'good' or 'bad' but rather a measured tweak from the receiver's baseline projection.

PIT vs BAL

PITTSBURGH WIDE RECEIVERS

Marlon Humphrey is capable of removing or limiting one of Diontae Johnson or George Pickens but one of the two wideouts will be matched up against either Marcus Peters or one of the Ravens safeties lining up as a slot corner. Coverage has been an issue for the Ravens all year so there's not much reason to give them the benefit of the doubt if they continue to trot out this personnel, but the potential return of Marcus Williams at safety would change things for

This article will go game by game for the Week 14 slate looking at the top wide receivers from an offense and, based on the inside/outside and left/right splits of those receivers, identify the cornerbacks most likely to face them in man coverage.

Receivers rarely see the same corner every play, be it due to formation quirks or zone coverage calls by the defense, so a receiver's fortunes depend on much more than just the quality of the corner they're likely to see the most in a given game. Even against a bad corner, a good receiver can be denied the opportunity if the pass rush or something else outside his control complicates things. But it's part of the puzzle, and it's worth keeping track of.

Receivers are left with an Upgrade, Downgrade, or Even verdict based on their projected matchup. This shouldn't be read as 'good' or 'bad' but rather a measured tweak from the receiver's baseline projection.

PIT vs BAL

PITTSBURGH WIDE RECEIVERS

Marlon Humphrey is capable of removing or limiting one of Diontae Johnson or George Pickens but one of the two wideouts will be matched up against either Marcus Peters or one of the Ravens safeties lining up as a slot corner. Coverage has been an issue for the Ravens all year so there's not much reason to give them the benefit of the doubt if they continue to trot out this personnel, but the potential return of Marcus Williams at safety would change things for the centerfield coverage at the very least. Humphrey usually just plays the right side, where Johnson tends to run trivially more often than Pickens. If Johnson can't play then slot wideout Steven Sims could play more but Gunner Olszewski has played a lot recently too and offers more speed on the boundary.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: George Pickens (downgrade if shadowed by Humphrey), Diontae Johnson (downgrade if shadowed by Humphrey), Steven Sims, Gunner Olszewski


BALTIMORE WIDE RECEIVERS

Demarcus Robinson and Devin Duvernay might see their already paltry numbers suffer with Tyler Huntley at quarterback, but there's not much in the cornerback personnel that would be cause for concern against the Pittsburgh defense.

Upgrade: Demarcus Robinson, Devin Duvernay
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

CIN vs CLE

CINCINNATI WIDE RECEIVERS

Tee Higgins and especially Ja'Marr Chase have mostly struggled against the Browns since last year, but it's too small of a sample to get too worked up about, especially with the Browns routinely underachieving on defense against other teams. Cleveland has a standout rotation of corners between Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome and Martin Emerson, and Myles Garrett can certainly make a big impact as a pass rusher, but too often the Browns don't put forth results reflective of their talent. The Bengals might need to lean on their run game a bit initially – the Browns pose almost no resistance on the ground – but if Cleveland gives up a few first downs on the ground then eventually they'll leave an opening downfield.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd

CLEVELAND WIDE RECEIVERS

Who knows what we'll get from Deshaun Watson but this is a setting where Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones both could get open. Cam Taylor-Britt is very toolsy and has shown something but if he's anything less than one of the better corners in the league then he's definitely at a disadvantage to Cooper and maybe DPJ. Eli Apple is toolsy himself but has never known how play cornerback well. Slot man Mike Hilton plays tough but that might mostly be the problem of David Bell.

Upgrade: Amari Cooper
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell

BUF vs NYJ

BUFFALO WIDE RECEIVERS

D.J. Reed has been a formidable complement to the star rookie Sauce Gardner, but he and slot man Michael Carter won't be easily hidden from Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis deployed in whatever fashion they might be – there's not necessarily reason for the Bills to worry about Diggs versus Gardner, but they might still want to get Diggs more so against Reed just because it'd be easier. Davis is unlikely to get the better of Gardner, who's just about the worst possible matchup for him, but Davis tends to take the most vertical of the Buffalo routes and taking Gardner deep most of the time might be a good way to keep him away from the other 10 players. Isaiah McKenzie can produce after the catch regardless of matchup, but if the Jets leave him open it was probably either a chance outcome or a strategic one made by the Jets to focus on the more dangerous parts of the Bills offense.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie


JETS WIDE RECEIVERS

Benching Kaiir Elam and Dane Jackson for the 32-year-old Xavier Rhodes was an odd move indeed, but Rhodes always was a size/speed standout and perhaps his tools can play up still in a defense that offers a lot of structural support. Tre'Davious White is nearly 100 percent back from his ACL tear and will be expected to be a standout corner at that point, but in the meantime Rhodes and White are somewhat unproven despite their substantial career accomplishments. Taron Johnson is usually good in the slot. Garrett Wilson might be better off running outside against White and especially against the somewhat lumbering Rhodes. Corey Davis matches up poorly against Rhodes and is unlikely to lose White but might be able to push him around a bit.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis

TEN vs JAC

TENNESSEE WIDE RECEIVERS

This game could be ugly. Robert Woods should be able to get something going when he isn't lined up against Tyson Campbell, but that's no given at all as Woods has proven to be an awful fit with the Titans scheme. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine might be the better bet to take advantage of those same opportunities.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine

JACKSONVILLE WIDE RECEIVERS

An absent or injured Trevor Lawrence takes most of the appeal away from what would otherwise be an interesting matchup for the Jaguars receivers. Christian Kirk is mirrored trait-wise somewhat by Roger McCreary but Kirk can probably still beat McCreary vertically while otherwise leaning on his veteran insights to beat McCreary for some amount of underneath production. Zay Jones and Marvin Jones are uninspiring in their roles but particularly if Kristian Fulton is out they might be able to get the better of undrafted non-prospect Tre Avery and dollar store starter Terrance Mitchell.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones

DAL vs HOU


DALLAS WIDE RECEIVERS

CeeDee Lamb seemed to hit a new gear in recent weeks and if he can maintain that level of play then matchups shouldn't matter much for him, both because Dallas is utterly dependent on him for production and because they line him up everywhere to make sure they can adjust the game plan if a defense presents a new foil to looks that might have worked up to that point. With that said, Desmond King can be tough underneath and in the intermediate, and Steven Nelson is solid at one of the boundary spots. Neither of King or Nelson can really run with Lamb downfield or across the field, though, so if the pass rush doesn't get to Dak Prescott then Lamb will probably find a way loose eventually. Tavierre Thomas can run better than King and Nelson but hasn't demonstrated skill to this point in his journeyman career. In short, the Houston defense might encourage the Dallas passing game to work deep rather than underneath, which would also follow well from the playaction given Houston's run defense struggles. One or both of Lamb and Michael Gallup should find opportunity downfield.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Noah Brown

HOUSTON WIDE RECEIVERS

If Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins are both out then it's hard to see what's worth the bother here. That might be the case even if they're active.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins

NYG vs PHI

GIANTS WIDE RECEIVERS

Darius Slayton is really playing well this year but name-doppelganger Darius Slay is a nightmare matchup for him and James Bradberry wouldn't necessarily be much easier. Richie James has shown some moxie this year and could be the Giants' best means of moving the ball at receiver since he should avoid both Slay and Bradberry. Whether that's a worthwhile sum of production even if so is another question.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Darius Slayton
Even: Richie James

PHILADELPHIA WIDE RECEIVERS

The poor Giants didn't have much talent at corner to start with, and now their otherwise credible CB1 Adoree' Jackson is out.

Upgrade: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

DET vs MIN

DETROIT WIDE RECEIVERS

Amon-Ra St. Brown has another seemingly great setup here against Duke Shelley, who seemingly needs to step up as slot corner while previous slot corner Chandon Sullivan moves outside, where the Vikings suffered a trio of injuries to Cam Dantzler, Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans. Patrick Peterson is still good at one boundary rep and he can probably stall DJ Chark for the most part, but Chark against Sullivan is a big mismatch without safety help. Josh Reynolds isn't a great bet to do much against Peterson but should be able to hold his own against Sullivan or Shelley.

Upgrade: Amon-Ra St. Brown
Downgrade: N/A
Even: DJ Chark (the less Peterson the better), Josh Reynolds

MINNESOTA WIDE RECEIVERS

The Lions defense really gave the Vikings a lot of trouble the last time they played, really roughing up the Minnesota route runners and frustrating Kirk Cousins. That might have been luck, but the Vikings passing game has needlessly struggled at other points this year and at this point it's mostly a trend. The Lions don't have obviously concerning personnel for Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn, but given their returns this year there's not much reason to think they have any advantage over Jeff Okudah or Jerry Jacobs. They and Will Harris are all at a massive disadvantage to Justin Jefferson, however.

Upgrade: Justin Jefferson
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn

DEN vs KC

DENVER WIDE RECEIVERS

Jerry Jeudy should be able to capitalize if Courtland Sutton is out, if only because the only other viable targets in the Denver offense – the only viable ones allowed to compete for playing time, anyway – are Jeudy and Greg Dulcich. L'Jarius Sneed is not a concerning matchup for Jeudy and the rookie trio of corners aren't either.

Upgrade: Jerry Jeudy
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

KANSAS CITY WIDE RECEIVERS

It's not clear what the Broncos will do with Patrick Surtain here – he could just play one side or he could shadow JuJu Smith-Schuster when JSS is lined up outside – but the Chiefs move everyone around so much it might not be worth the hassle for Denver. The more Surtain sees of JSS the worse for the latter. Marquez Valdes-Scantling can make a play against the non-Surtain corners but he generally needs someone to mess up to get free. Kadarius Toney is dangerous after the catch but as always it's very difficult to tell how caught up he is in the offense or what his role might be. Justin Watson is already overexposed in his role and the Chiefs really might want to think of how they can cut his snaps for Skyy Moore, but the Broncos pose tough slot coverage with K'Waun Williams, too. It's not an easy matchup for the Chiefs receivers.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore

SEA vs CAR

SEATTLE WIDE RECEIVERS

Tyler Lockett can still dust just about anybody and until he hints otherwise it's best to assume he can at least hold his own if not straight up beat an otherwise imposing corner like Jaycee Horn. Horn could just as easily be more so lined up against DK Metcalf, too, and Metcalf might actually project worse against Horn than Lockett would. Myles Hartsfield has been tough in the slot but the outside corner rep opposite Horn – usually C.J. Henderson – should be vulnerable.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Tyler Lockett (arguable upgrade if Horn shadows Metcalf), DK Metcalf, Marquise Goodwin

CAROLINA WIDE RECEIVERS

Tariq Woolen is no joke and it doesn't seem like anyone will get open deep against him without a double move but DJ Moore is still probably one of the receivers Woolen matches up worst against. Moore can threaten toward all depths and directions, whereas Woolen gets more out of his element the more laterally he runs or the more he has to start and stop. Moore has a vertical element but he's even more so a slasher, so Woolen shouldn't be considered a huge obstacle at this point. Mike Jackson definitely can't cover Moore and maybe not Terrace Marshall either. Woolen would be a difficult matchup for Marshall, however, and Coby Bryant looks potentially challenging for Laviska Shenault.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: DJ Moore, Terrace Marshall, Laviska Shenault

SF vs TB

SAN FRANCISCO WIDE RECEIVERS

You don't exactly fear for Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk given their varied abilities and the consistent benefits of the Shanahan scheme, but between the Jimmy Garoppolo injury and the imposing defensive back personnel in Tampa this is about as close to a downgrade as either of them gets. Disruptive slot corner Antoine Winfield might be out, at least, which leaves a worse player defending Jauan Jennings, but when outside the 49ers duo finds a difficult matchup against Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean. Davis and Dean can be beaten, but their strengths as big corners tend to mirror those of Samuel and Aiyuk.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings

TAMPA BAY WIDE RECEIVERS

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both capable of threatening San Francisco in the slot if linebacker Fred Warner isn't in the region, but if he is then that might be a no-go. Evans can still beat Deommodore Lenoir at one outside spot but might have a tougher time against the bigger and faster Charvarius Ward. The less Evans sees of Ward the better. The same is true of Julio Jones – he'd rather see Lenoir.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Mike Evans (arguable downgrade if shadowed by Ward), Chris Godwin, Julio Jones (arguable downgrade if Ward does not shadow Evans)

LAC vs MIA

CHARGERS WIDE RECEIVERS

Keenan Allen still has something to prove as he works his way back from injury but on paper this should be a favorable matchup for him. Promising as rookie corner Kader Kohou might be, you don't really like many rookie corners' chances against a player like Allen in a game with stakes like these. If Kohou gets the better of Allen then it would bode very well for his NFL projection from this point, but in the meantime it requires a leap of faith to think Allen struggles here. Joshua Palmer probably needn't worry much about Xavien Howard – though the veteran corner remains an INT threat he doesn't seem to cover that well at this point. Mike Williams is probably a problem for all of the Miami corners.

Upgrade: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Joshua Palmer, DeAndre Carter

MIAMI WIDE RECEIVERS

Tyreek Hill simply isn't affected by matchups – maybe not everything is an upgrade, but there are no matchups worth recognizing as a downgrade. Jaylen Waddle isn't quite at that level but is maybe not that far off, and in any case is much too good to be slowed by corners like Asante Samuel and Michael Davis. If the Chargers don't have standout slot corner Bryce Callahan (groin) then it looks significantly worse yet.

Upgrade: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle
Downgrade: N/A
Even: N/A

ARI vs NE

ARIZONA WIDE RECEIVERS

Jonathan Jones might be an effective foil to Marquise Brown, but anyone else in the Patriots secondary is at major burn risk against Brown. Not that Jones at his height would be able to do anything about DeAndre Hopkins, but if Jones is on Brown then Hopkins runs against one of the Patriots other corners, who are all worse than Jones. Jack Jones might be the best of the rest and Jalen Mills has played a lot of snaps this year, but neither of them have an obvious defense against Hopkins. Robbie Anderson can run past all of the non-Jonathan Jones Patriots corners. More than the corner personnel the concern here might be varied coverages and an effective pass rush.

Upgrade: DeAndre Hopkins
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Marquise Brown (arguable upgrade if not shadowed by Jonathan Jones), Robbie Anderson

NEW ENGLAND WIDE RECEIVERS

Jakobi Meyers might see a lot of Isaiah Simmons, which is a tough matchup to call. Simmons isn't exactly polished but his tools are so loud that he can sort of play poorly but still end up in range of snatching the ball because he can cover so much ground. If Meyers can't play through his concussion then Nelson Agholor might be his main replacement, but it's also tough to think through Agholor vs. Simmons. Agholor can definitely cross up Simmons but if Agholor can't then he's getting smothered. DeVante Parker in any case has a major talent advantage over the Arizona boundary corners, but the Cardinals play so much zone that it won't really be about one-on-one considerations. If the Cardinals sit in off coverage and try to bait Mac Jones into jumpable throws then it might be tough for Parker to present as an obvious target. If the Patriots attack underneath in response then players like Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton might need to step up a bit.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only NFL Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire NFL fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
NFL Reactions: The Sunday Before the Super Bowl
NFL Reactions: The Sunday Before the Super Bowl
Best Ball Journal: Underdog 2023 Rookies
Best Ball Journal: Underdog 2023 Rookies
Early Look At Best Super Bowl LVII Prop Picks: First Touchdown Scored
Early Look At Best Super Bowl LVII Prop Picks: First Touchdown Scored
SXM Highlights: Did Denver Get Desperate?
SXM Highlights: Did Denver Get Desperate?