Fantasy Football: 5 Receiver-Cornerback Matchups to Exploit in Week 14
Matchups are everything in the NFL, especially at the receiver position.
For fantasy purposes, being able to identify which receivers have advantageous (or disadvantageous) matchups is a sharp way to get a leg up on your opponent.
Each Friday I'll be listing out the best wide receiver-cornerback matchups for the upcoming week. It doesn't take a genius to tell you to start Tyreek Hill, but there will be weeks when some WR1s have better matchups and other weeks when typical WR2 or WR3s have matchups that bump them up in our weekly rankings.
The numberFire (nF) Player Matchups chart helps to identify advantageous matchups for specific positions. Then, Pro Football Focus (PFF) Player Grades and their WR/CB Matchup chart are great starting points for identifying which specific matchups we want to target.
Week 14 Receiver-Cornerback Matchups
D.J. Moore (CHI)-Jerry Jacobs (DET)
numberFire Projection: 12.3 points (WR12)
- 74.7 Yards
- 5.0 Receptions (8.8 Targets)
- O/U 73.5 Yards
- O/U 5.5 Receptions
- +180 Any Time Touchdown Scorer
Fields has relied on Moore heavily, feeding him a 29% target share, 46% air yard share, and 36% red zone target share in those seven outings.
But it's not just Moore's utilization that skyrockets with Fields; his production does, too. His yards per route run (YPRR) jump nearly double with Fields under center, jumping from 1.65 to 3.22 -- a mark that would rank third only behind Tyreek Hill and Brandon Aiyuk on the season.
In the two games since Fields returned, Moore was the WR6 and WR12 on the week.
That WR6 week came against the Detroit Lions, his opponent again this week. In their previous matchup, Moore torched Detroit for seven receptions, 96 yards, and a touchdown, totaling 19.1 fantasy points in the process.
I don't see why much would change this time around.
Entering Week 14, the Lions had let up the fifth-most adjusted fantasy points per target to opposing receivers for the season, but they've been even worse of late. Since Week 8, Detroit has allowed the third-most raw fantasy points per target, third-highest YPRR, and 10th-highest target rate to the position. Over that same span, the Lions allowed the fourth-highest catch rate and tied for the third-most WR touchdowns.
Detroit mixes up their zone and man coverage scheme, so Moore himself should see a fair amount of Jerry Jacobs just as he did in Week 11. Three of Moore's nine targets came against Jacobs that week. He secured two of them for 44 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown.
Jacobs wasn't a matchup to shy away from then, and he won't be now. The 26-year-old has a 55.6 PFF coverage grade, 89th out of 116 corners with at least 150 coverage snaps. When targeting Jacobs, quarterbacks posted a 103.4 passer rating and receivers caught 67% of targets -- both of which are below-average marks.
DJ Moore has been a top-12 fantasy receiver in each of his last four full games with Fields. In a familiar matchup, it's more than reasonable to expect another WR1 outing in Week 14.
Rashee Rice (KC)-Taron Johnson (BUF)
numberFire Projection: 9.0 points (WR27)
- 47.3 Yards
- 4.2 Receptions (6.5 Targets)
- O/U 51.5 Yards
- O/U 4.5 Receptions
- +160 Any Time Touchdown Scorer
Rice's route participation has increased two weeks in a row and was up to a season-high 72% last week. He's absolutely dominated the targets over that span, averaging 9.5 per game via a 31% share (compared to Travis Kelce's 6.0 per game and 19% share).
He exploded for 20.7 fantasy points in Week 12, snagging 8 of 10 targets for 107 yards and a score. He didn't get in the end zone last week but still finished with 8 receptions, 64 yards, and 10.4 fantasy points.
Following those two big games, Rice now leads all rookies and ranks 11th among all WRs in yards per route run (2.60).
Buying into rookie receivers late in the season is a tried and true strategy, and Rice certainly has the matchup to continue his ascension this week.
Coming into Week 14, Buffalo had let up the ninth-most adjusted fantasy points per target to WRs. The Bills have allowed receivers to be targeted at the second-lowest rate in the league, but they're also allowing a 68% catch rate (third-highest). Given Rice's gaudy target numbers, he could conceivably flirt with seven or eight receptions yet again this week.
Schematically, Buffalo utilizes zone coverage at the ninth-highest rate in the NFL, per NextGenStats. That bodes well for Rice considering his 84.8 PFF receiving grade against zone ranks 11th among receivers. Against zone, leads all WRs with a 94.3% catch rate while his 2.92 YPRR ranks fifth.
Most of his work against zone comes around the line of scrimmage, hence his 3.1-yard average depth of target (aDOT). However, Rice is an after-the-catch wiz. Matched up with zone coverage, Rice averages the fourth-most yards after the catch among all WRs.
Individually, Rice should see a lot of Taron Johnson this week. Johnson has decent all-around numbers, but he's been shaky in the slot. Opposing slot receivers have caught 31 of 37 targets against him, while opposing quarterbacks have a 120.8 passer rating when targetting Johnson.
It doesn't hurt that the Kansas City Chiefs' 25.0-point implied team total is the fourth-highest of the week -- nor that the game's 48.5-point total is second-highest. That gives Rice -- owner of 22% of KC's red zone targets -- a nice opportunity to get in the end zone, as well.
With a growing role and fantasy-friendly matchup on deck, Rashee Rice is a quality WR2 in Week 14.
Jayden Reed (GB)-Cordale Flott (NYG)
numberFire Projection: 8.7 points (WR30)
- 45.6 Yards
- 3.5 Receptions (6.0 Targets)
Jayden Reed was quiet last week, catching five receptions for just 16 yards. His 3.6 fantasy points were his second-fewest of the season.
But Reed still commanded a 14% target share -- third on the Green Bay Packers -- despite his snap share dipping below 50%. That ended a streak of three games where Reed played over 50% of snaps, during which he averaged 15.7 fantasy points per game.
While his playing time has fluctuated all season, the matchup is there for him to thrive in Week 14 against the New York Giants.
The Giants rank 19th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to WRs. For the season, they've let up the highest target rate, second-most YPRR, and 11th-highest catch rate to opposing receivers.
On top of that, they've struggled mightily to defend the slot -- where Reed lines up over 73% of the time. According to Razzball, the Giants have given up the third-most fantasy points per game (16.9) to the slot over the last three weeks.
Schematically, New York plays man coverage at the second-highest rate in the NFL. That will pit him up against Cordale Flott, New York's highest-graded cornerback. Despite his favorable PFF grade, Flott has given up a 66% catch rate and a pair of touchdowns in the slot this season.
Reed has only caught eight of his 22 targets against man, but he's averaged 14.3 yards per reception and scored three touchdowns. He has the second-highest PFF receiving grade against man coverage on the Packers, only behind a banged-up Christian Watson.
Watson left last week's game with a hamstring injury and did not return. He did not practice Thursday, so a Monday absence would only bump Reed up the rankings. The rookie commanded a 21% target share, posted a 2.14 YPRR, and averaged 10.4 points per game with Watson out the first three weeks of the season.
Regardless of whether or not Watson is cleared, Reed has the right matchup to thrive against the slot-averse Giants. He's a strong flex, but could sneak into the WR2 conversation if Watson sits.
Brandin Cooks (DAL)-Philadelphia Eagles
numberFire Projection: 8.0 points (WR35)
- 42.3 Yards
- 3.5 Receptions (5.4 Targets)
- O/U 46.5 Yards
- O/U 3.5 Receptions
- +170 Any Time Touchdown Scorer
Brandin Cooks played seven games from Weeks 6-13.
He finished as a top-24 receiver in five of them. From a points-per-game perspective, Cooks has been the 16th-best wide receiver in fantasy over the last eight weeks.
Within that sample, Cooks has averaged 4.0 receptions, 4.7 targets (17% share), and 58.1 yards per game. He's scored five touchdowns.
That torrid stretch has a chance to continue this week in his matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles rank just 21st in adjusted fantasy points allowed to receivers. numberFire's schedule-adjusted defensive metrics have them 23rd against the pass and 25th overall, so this isn't a defense we should be scared of in fantasy. That's further highlighted by Dallas' 27.5-point implied team total, the third-highest of the week.
Philly lets up the second-highest WR target rate in the NFL, so Cooks should be busy early and often. Because Philly plays man coverage at a top-10 rate, Cooks will likely see a ton of James Bradberry, but also some Darius Slay when CeeDee Lamb is in the slot. The two held Cooks to just one reception the last time these teams met, but I wouldn't expect that to hold this time around.
Both have PFF coverage grades outside the top 60 corners and they've played a big role in Philly allowing a league-worst 320.2 passing yards per game over the last six weeks.
Dak Prescott is playing like an MVP candidate right now, and the Eagles haven't shown any resemblance of a pass defense over the last month. That should propel Brandin Cooks to another quality outing, so we can lock him into season-long and DFS lineups alike. He's a rock-solid flex in Week 14.
Elijah Moore (CLE)-Jacksonville Jaguars
numberFire Projection: 6.9 points (WR44)
- 38.8 Yards
- 3.3 Receptions (6.1 Targets)
There are a lot of variables surrounding Elijah Moore's fantasy stock in Week 14, but there's a real chance he'll be a WR2 if everything breaks his way.
The biggest question mark is whether Joe Flacco or Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR) will start at quarterback. Flacco started in place of the concussed DTR last week, completing 23 of 44 passes for 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He posted a stellar 12.1 aDOT, finishing with an asinine 531 air yards.
257 of those air yards went in the direction of Elijah Moore -- the most from any player in a single game this season. Moore only finished with four receptions, 83 yards, and 10.3 fantasy points. However, he saw a season-high 29.3% target share and finished with an absurd 20.9 aDOT. On top of that, he had the fifth-biggest gap between his actual (10.3) and expected (15.8) fantasy points, per PFF's expected points model.
Obviously, Moore shareholders would prefer Flacco to start, but there's still upside with DTR given their matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jacksonville entered Week 14 ranked 29th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to WRs. They're fresh off surrendering 354 passing yards to Jake Browning -- the sixth time they've given up over 300. In fact, the Jags have let up over 300 yards through the air in three of their four true road games.
This is not a secondary to fear.
The other variable is Amari Cooper. Cooper has left each of their last two games early but was limited to just 33.3% of snaps last week. He's dealing with a concussion and rib injury and is questionable for Sunday. Like with the QB situation, Moore would benefit from Cooper's absence, but he should still see a nice role even if he's active. The two have a nearly identical target share in their last four games (23% for Moore; 18% for Cooper).
Moore's situation still has a lot up in the air. He's a solid WR3 at minimum but could sneak into the WR2 range if Flacco starts and Cooper sits out.
The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.