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. This post will have to be a little shorter and lean more on speculation/generalities than the entries to come, because teams haven't yet conclusively revealed their personnel tendencies.

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.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

ATLANTA WIDE RECEIVERS

Carlton Davis will be active but it's not clear if he will shadow Drake London – Tampa has generally used Davis on one side of the field, so if they want the Falcons should be able to line up London on the other side and face Zyon McCollum. Both corners match London's build,

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. This post will have to be a little shorter and lean more on speculation/generalities than the entries to come, because teams haven't yet conclusively revealed their personnel tendencies.

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.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

ATLANTA WIDE RECEIVERS

Carlton Davis will be active but it's not clear if he will shadow Drake London – Tampa has generally used Davis on one side of the field, so if they want the Falcons should be able to line up London on the other side and face Zyon McCollum. Both corners match London's build, and both corners are athletically capable of moving with London, but London is a naturally advanced route runner who can probably chip away even at corners who are built and move like him. Christian Izien in the slot isn't an obviously better or worse corner to target than Davis or McCollum, but the Falcons don't move London into the slot much anyway.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Drake London


 


 

TAMPA BAY WIDE RECEIVERS

If A.J. Terrell (concussion) can play then Mike Evans is a pretty good candidate to see an assignment from Terrell, who might or might not be a limiting factor for Evans. Evans gets so many targets most weeks that the question of efficiency here isn't one worth worrying about for his fantasy owners, but if he peels off a high YPT figure against Terrell is would be impressive. Not unusual for a player as good as Evans, but still a tougher assignment than running against Jeff Okudah or Clark Phillips. Dee Alford in the slot can't race with Trey Palmer but Palmer is unlikely to separate much before 20 yards or so downfield. Chris Godwin might not be as good on the boundary as he is in the slot, but against Phillips or Okudah he should be able to win consistently.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Mike Evans (upgrade if Terrell is out), Chris Godwin (see Evans)

Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Rams

BALTIMORE WIDE RECEIVERS

Zay Flowers' primary matchups should be Ahkello Witherspoon and Derion Kendrick, neither of whom is well suited to covering speed/twitch traits like Flowers has. Witherspoon has some speed but the start/stop is an issue for him, while Kendrick is a glaring cushion merchant on the other side. Both corners are much bigger than Flowers, so he'll need to actually create separation, but there's a good chance he does. Odell Beckham can torch either corner and to greater degrees than Flowers, but Beckham's managed workload makes it difficult to see major fantasy upside. Rashod Bateman can outrun Kendrick and can probably beat Witherspoon, but probably not as easily as Flowers or Beckham. Nelson Agholor tends to get most of the slot reps these days and should primarily see Cobie Durant, though it's unclear to me whether either has an advantage over the other.

Upgrade: Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor


 


RAMS WIDE RECEIVERS

Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua both line up all over, though with Kupp taking a bit more of the slot and Nacua a bit more of the boundary. That should mean that, while both will see both Kyle Hamilton in the slot and Marlon Humphrey on the boundary, Kupp should get a bit more of Hamilton as Nacua sees the most of Humphrey. The implications of that aren't obvious – both Hamilton and Humphrey are conventionally challenging, and additionally are strong trait matches to both Rams receivers. Even if one of them avoids Humphrey on the boundary in a given rep, Brandon Stephens looks pretty good and is also a trait match. This is all to say that, while Kupp and Nacua are great fantasy assets regardless, this might be a matchup where they need to grind through with volume rather than find much in the way of big plays.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell

Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions

CHICAGO WIDE RECEIVERS

DJ Moore can dust either of Cam Sutton or especially Jerry Jacobs if the Bears send him downfield, but the underneath game is a much more comfortable assignment for either corner. Unfortunately, in many games this year the Bears have (puzzlingly) used Moore to extreme extents as a screen pass target, even though Moore's downfield game is perfectly legitimate. Even against tough defenders Moore can break a tackle and make a big play with YAC, but the easier big play is when you make Jacobs turn and run way from the quarterback. Darnell Mooney can roast either corner downfield, too, but will probably see more of Brian Branch, who probably won't allow much underneath either. Equanimeous St. Brown seems mostly for blocking on the other side of Moore.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown

DETROIT WIDE RECEIVERS

Amon-Ra St. Brown is due for a big game and could easily find it here, where he should avoid Jaylon Johnson on the boundary and instead line up against Kyler Gordon, the more easily beaten of the two. While Jared Goff sometimes struggles on the road and/or outdoors, this game shouldn't be prohibitively cold and St. Brown's per-snap production should be more durable as a low-ADOT slot guy than what would be the case with most boundary, downfield receivers. In other words, whatever limiting effects of the weather could fall disproportionately on Jameson Williams and Kalif Raymond as the primary downfield targets for Detroit. Tyrique Stevenson is much more beatable on the boundary than Johnson, and against the rookie any of Williams, Raymond or Josh Reynolds would probably have the advantage.

Upgrade: Amon-Ra St. Brown
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Jameson Williams, Josh Reynolds 

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts

CINCINNATI WIDE RECEIVERS

If Jake Browning is for real then this should be a spot where the Cincinnati passing game keeps rolling. Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins against the likes of Jaylon Jones and Darrell Baker is a complete mismatch, and that mismatch would likely remain the case even if rookie JuJu Brents is able to return from a six-week absence. Slot man Kenny Moore is definitely the toughest defender in the Indianapolis secondary, and for that reason he could be enough to cause a funnel away from Tyler Boyd and the slot in general. Throwing downfield and outside isn't Browning's strength, but he has shown the ability to produce when he has a decisive WR:CB advantage and he definitely has that here.

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


 

INDIANAPOLIS WIDE RECEIVERS

Chidobe Awuzie can definitely run with Michael Pittman and is even big enough to mostly match Pittman's physicality, so if the Bengals play it that way it could make it challenging for Pittman to push for a high YPT. It shouldn't be a meaningful impediment to Pittman's usage though, so the targets should be double digits like most weeks. Josh Downs might or might not get much going against Mike Hilton, but Hilton is comfortable underneath and that's where Downs mostly runs. There's reason to think Downs can hurt Hilton downfield, but it still might be a matchup that depresses Downs' target rate a little, assuming Awuzie isn't shutting down Pittman outside. If Awuzie and Hilton are at all effective against Pittman and Downs then there could be a little more slack than usual for Alec Pierce, who is probably better than his numbers imply. He normally gets stuck with a lot of decoy work to clear space for Pittman and Downs, but if those two are slowed at all then Pierce's utility as an actual target might increase. In that particular event Pierce could be a significant threat to the rookie D.J. Turner, who is extremely athletic but has struggled at times this year.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Michael Pittman, Josh Downs, Alec Pierce

Cleveland Browns vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

CLEVELAND WIDE RECEIVERS

If Amari Cooper (concussion) is out then it would probably be another busy day for Elijah Moore, especially if Jacksonville slot corner Tre Herndon (concussion) remains out. It's not easy to throw against Jacksonville but it's more difficult to run, and other than Moore and David Njoku it's not clear where the ball could go without Cooper. Outside corners Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams both might be a bit much for Cedric Tillman, and Campbell in particular could be challenging for Cooper if he plays.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Cedric Tillman
Even: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore (arguable Upgrade if Herndon is out)


 


JACKSONVILLE WIDE RECEIVERS

Calvin Ridley might deal with a shadow assignment from Denzel Ward and still get double teamed, which is a lot to overcome even if you have a top-30 offensive coordinator running the show. That's before you get to the subject of C.J. Beathard likely starting at quarterback due to Trevor Lawrence's ankle injury. Parker Washington is interesting as a prospect and looked great against the Bengals, thriving in the slot after the Christian Kirk injury. Greg Newsome is one of the absolute toughest slot corners in the league, though, so there are truly few matchups as bad for Washington as this one. With that said, Washington was extremely productive at Penn State in college and that includes a history of producing in difficult matchups. Zay Jones against Martin Emerson is probably a tie if it isn't an advantage for Cleveland.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: Calvin Ridley (raise to Even if not shadowed by Ward), Parker Washington
Even: Zay Jones

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

NEW ORLEANS WIDE RECEIVERS

Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed can both beat corners like Donte Jackson and Troy Hill – and Olave can probably beat Jaycee Horn – but the Panthers pass defense has quietly become stingy over the course of the year and that can probably be attributed to the work of defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. It's a near certainty that Evero will outscheme Pete Carmichael on the Saints' side, and this before you get to the myriad problems presented by Derek Carr.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed


 


 

CAROLINA WIDE RECEIVERS

Adam Thielen has a good on-paper matchup against Alontae Taylor in the slot, and on the boundary Isaac Yiadom should be beatable for Jonathan Mingo and DJ Chark. Paulson Adebo is unlikely to get beat by Chark and especially not Mingo.

Upgrade: Adam Thielen
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Jonathan Mingo (the less Adebo the better), DJ Chark (see Mingo)

New York Jets vs. Houston Texans

JETS WIDE RECEIVERS

Garrett Wilson can beat Derek Stingley and Steven Nelson, but between the formidable Houston duo and the difficulties of the Jets quarterback situation there is still plenty working against Wilson here. The Houston pass rush getting more lively lately is another concerning development for the Jets passing game.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Garrett Wilson, Xavier Gipson


 

HOUSTON WIDE RECEIVERS

Nico Collins might be able to beat Sauce Gardner, especially when running away from the sideline, but the 5-foot-9 D.J. Reed has to be a slightly easier matchup for the 6-foot-4 Collins. The Jets defense is well-schemed overall and does a good job of giving its corners help, so this will probably be a challenging spot for Collins even aside from the question of specific cornerback matchups. Basically, the Jets are good at stopping who they want to and in this game Collins is who they will want to stop with Tank Dell out. Robert Woods hasn't done anything from the slot yet, so if Collins is slowed at all then there might be slack falling to Noah Brown or the tight ends. Brown would likely require broken coverages to find openings and this doesn't seem like the defense to make those sorts of fundamental mistakes.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Nico Collins, Robert Woods, Noah Brown

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings

LAS VEGAS WIDE RECEIVERS

Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers both can lose Akayleb Evans pretty easily, and Byron Murphy should only be challenging to Meyers at most. Meyers should be challenging to Josh Metellus on his slot looks, though. As long as Aidan O'Connell doesn't flinch against the Vikings blitzes there should be opportunities for Adams and Meyers both.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers


 


 

MINNESOTA WIDE RECEIVERS

Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison are both too much for Jack Jones or Amik Robertson. Both players can hold their own underneath, but downfield they're both asking for trouble. K.J. Osborn should also be able to bully either corner, especially Robertson. Addison had been playing more slot snaps than Osborn lately, which means if Brandon Powell is phased out from Jefferson's return then we might see a primary three-wide look of Jefferson and Osborn outside and Addison in the slot, though in this matchup that would be concerning for Addison given that Nate Hobbs is the one totally solid Raiders corners.

Upgrade: Justin Jefferson
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Jordan Addison (arguable Upgrade if Osborn plays the slot), KJ Osborn

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

SAN FRANCISCO WIDE RECEIVERS

Tariq Woolen (outside), Devon Witherspoon (slot) and Tre Brown (outside) all have their own standout traits, but none of them is a complete cover corner and have certain weak spots. Woolen gets worse the farther away from the sideline he goes, and both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are of course threats to go horizontal. Witherspoon gets worse the farther downfield he goes, and Aiyuk especially is a threat to go in that direction. Brown is much lighter than Brown or Aiyuk and isn't someone you want tackling them one on one. This is all to say that the 49ers wideouts should be able to get open, even if there are certain looks from which the Seahawks might present challenges. Those challenges should be brief, if they occur at all.

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


 

SEATTLE WIDE RECEIVERS

D.K. Metcalf has the size and speed to make a useful fantasy box score out of a single play, but his chances of making repeated catches against Charvarius Ward don't seem great. Ward is one of the worst matchups for Metcalf league-wide, which makes sense with their traits so similar. Tyler Lockett can certainly beat Ambry Thomas but he'll probably have help. Deommodore Lenoir in the slot should hold up against Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and also might have a little help too.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: D.K. Metcalf
Even: Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills

KANSAS CITY WIDE RECEIVERS

Marquez Valdes-Scantling can run right past either of Rasul Douglas or Christian Benford, but Valdes-Scantling has a tendency to get jammed up even when he isn't dropping wide-open passes. If he can avoid the jam then Valdes-Scantling can at least get open, which is arguably a start. Justin Watson seems pretty well countered by Douglas and Benford, given that he lacks MVS' speed. Rashee Rice is as always the key to the Chiefs passing game in this matchup, yet he draws the toughest matchup against Taron Johnson. If Travis Kelce doesn't do heavy lifting in this game then it's not obvious to me how the Chiefs move the ball through the air with regularity.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Rashee Rice, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson


 


 

BUFFALO WIDE RECEIVERS

The worry here for Stefon Diggs is that he might see a shadow assignment from L'Jarius Sneed and a double team over the top almost every single play. Diggs can transcend difficult circumstances, but the Chiefs will presumably make him a focus of their game plan and they have the varied personnel in the secondary to pull it off. Trent McDuffie is a tough cover on the other side, and one who's able to move into the slot when requested. It's not clear if the Chiefs will prioritize the slot by placing Sneed or McDuffie there, or if they will instead leave the remainder to run against Gabe Davis outside. The Chiefs will sometimes move those two outside and have their safeties defend the slot, but they can just as easily leave one of Sneed or McDuffie in the slot and then line up Jaylen Watson or Joshua Williams on the boundary, where both role players tend to play reasonably well. If you're Khalil Shakir you'd probably rather see McDuffie and Sneed on the boundary.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Khalil Shakir

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos

CHARGERS WIDE RECEIVERS

Keenan Allen should be able to mostly avoid Patrick Surtain, and if so then Allen should be in a good spot here. Ja'Quan McMillian has had some success this year but at 5-foot-9 probably will give something up eventually over the span of 12 or so targets. Fabian Moreau is someone Allen could beat outside if the Broncos neglect to assign Surtain when Allen goes to the boundary, but more likely it will be Quentin Johnston and Jalen Guyton running at Moreau and Damarri Mathis – a race to the bottom sort of showdown. Josh Palmer would be more likely to capitalize than Johnston or Guyton if Palmer can return from his knee injury for this one, though.

Upgrade: Keenan Allen
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Josh Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Jalen Guyton


 


 

DENVER WIDE RECEIVERS

Courtland Sutton is a lot bigger than Asante Samuel and a fair amount bigger than Deane Leonard, meaning Sutton's customary application as a sideline jumpball merchant should remain viable here. If Leonard is out and Michael Davis is in then it probably doesn't change much. That the Denver passing game routes disproportionately through Sutton means that Jerry Jeudy faces categorical volume limitations despite his ability to otherwise beat these corners.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy

Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

DALLAS WIDE RECEIVERS

Good as they might remain, it's safe to say the names of Darius Slay and James Bradberry don't ring out like they once did. That makes sense – corners age more cruelly than most positions, and when Slay turns 33 on Jan. 1 he and Bradberry will combine for more than 63 years of age (Bradberry turning 31 in August). This is all to say that CeeDee Lamb is the danger to them rather than the other way around, and the Eagles need to worry about how they'll hold off Brandin Cooks from doing substantial additional damage. Once you're down to the likes of Michael Gallup and Jalen Tolbert you're probably back to a territory where the Eagles have the advantage, but Dallas doesn't need those two to step up here.

Upgrade: CeeDee Lamb
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Brandin Cooks


 


 

PHILADELPHIA WIDE RECEIVERS

DaRon Bland and Stephon Gilmore play well within the Dallas scheme, but rather than the corner personnel the concern is always the pass rush. The Dallas rush can ruin opposing passing games, but offensive lines who can hold serve against the Dallas rush sometimes reveal the secondary for more vulnerable than it might generally appear. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are both in a fine spot to produce here, especially since the Dallas run defense is a greater deterrent to Philadelphia than the pass rush, which Philadelphia is uniquely well-suited to withstand.

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

Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans

MIAMI WIDE RECEIVERS

The Titans tend to stay composed against underneath targets, which is certainly one of the areas Tyreek Hill makes his living, but after eight yards or so it's difficult to see how corners like Kristian Fulton or Roger McCreary can defend themselves downfield – be it against Hill or Jaylen Waddle. Sean Murphy-Bunting is the Titans corner with some reach and speed, but there's no reason to think he's up to the challenge of mirroring route runners like Hill or Waddle. It might take buying some time from the pass rush to get them downfield, but once they're there Hill and Waddle should both find themselves open.

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


 


 

TENNESSEE WIDE RECEIVERS

DeAndre Hopkins can win at the catch point against anyone, Jalen Ramsey included, but it's really not a helpful complication given what's already working against Hopkins. Will Levis might throw it up there anyway, but to this point the rookie has not shown that sort of ability. Treylon Burks can beat Xavien Howard but might need to take him downfield to do it. Kader Kohou in the slot isn't an obvious vulnerability against Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine

New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers

GIANTS WIDE RECEIVERS

Darius Slayton and Jalin Hyatt have the kind of speed to be a problem downfield against most corners, but if Jaire Alexander can return from his shoulder injury then he would be a good bet to mostly close down whatever third of the field he's covering. Carrington Valentine might or might not be able to hold his own on the other side, but he has to be an easier target than Alexander. Keisean Nixon in the slot isn't an obvious limiting factor for Wan'Dale Robinson.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt, Wan'Dale Robinson


 


 

GREEN BAY WIDE RECEIVERS

Deonte Banks has generally struggled against competent opposing passing games, but it's unclear where Green Bay lands on that spectrum despite some improved play of late. Banks and Adoree' Jackson is an interesting matchup against Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson (hamstring) and Dontayvion Wicks because both groups are looking to prove they're on the upswing. Jayden Reed gets most of the slot reps so he should see more of Cor'Dale Flott than Banks or Jackson. Flott might have some amount of promise, but he's probably at a disadvantage against Reed.

Upgrade: N/A
Downgrade: N/A
Even: Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, Dontayvion Wicks

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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