To all of you still returning to the column at this stage in the year, congratulations on your fantasy success and survival of the Quarterback carnage sweeping across the NFL. Let’s hope we don’t lose any more starting QBs in Week 14 as we look to the season-long fantasy postseason!
The elites outside – Week 14 wide receiver matchups
Los Angeles Rams vs. Baltimore Ravens
After setting a new Rams rookie receiving yardage record last week, Puka Nacua will look to build on his breakout season against a sturdy coverage group from the Ravens.
Nacua will split time on the outside against Brandon Stephens and Ronald Darby, with occasional snaps coming against safety Kyle Hamilton in the slot. Fade Nacua this week; this group of Ravens has held up well in YAC situations, a category in which Nacua comes in at number eight overall among receivers with 398 total yards (PFF).
Nacua’s aDoT of 9.5 is deeper than only Hamilton’s; the short catches with YAC do not align with the strength of these corners. Cooper Kupp has a nearly even split on his alignments, with 54.4% (PFF) of snaps coming out of the slot. This sets up more snaps across from Hamilton, who has allowed just one touchdown on 501 coverage snaps in 2023 and has a competitive passer rating of 58.0 (PFF). The Ravens have earned the 3rd best coverage grade this season for a reason.
It would appear both Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr. will spend most of their day on the outside, matched up with Akhello Witherspoon and Derion Kendrick of the Rams. Together, Witherspoon and Kendrick limit receptions, allowing them on 45.5% and 58.0% of targets, respectively (PFF). They do, however, have issues bringing down receivers as they both come into this game inside the top 15 among corners in missed tackles (PFF).
Buy Zay Flowers in this game; he is number six overall among receivers, forcing 14 missed tackles in 2023, and has compiled 292 YAC thus far (PFF). With an aDoT that will keep in front of both Rams defenders, Flowers should have opportunities to catch the ball and force both Witherspoon and Kendrick to bring him down in open space.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s aDoT is going to bring him closer to Witherspoon and Kendrick; the fade is on for OBJ, he has only three contested catches on the year (PFF). Also, OBJ has just two receptions on routes over 20 yards in 2023 and is outside the top 50 among receivers in YAC; there is little hope he will produce for managers on a deep shot or make plays in space similar to his teammate Flowers.
Matchup Winners: Zay Flowers
Matchup Losers: Puka Nacua, Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Las Vegas Raiders
NFL fans have been anticipating the return of Justin Jefferson to the gridiron, and it appears the reigning offensive player of the year is set to play in Week 14 against the Raiders.
Jefferson is likely to play out wide for most of the game, where he will draw Amik Robertson and Jack Jones of the Raiders. Jones has taken over on the left side after Marcus Peters was let go by the team prior to Week 12, and has been asked to defend just 13 targets on the year (PFF). Buy Jefferson in this matchup. He significantly outgrades both Robertson and Jones (PFF) and is likely to be targeted outside their comfort zone with the deeper aDoT.
Jack Jones is allowing receptions on 76.9% (PFF) of targets he defends and conceding a monster passer rating of 134.8(PFF). This should make Joshua Dobbs’ job easier to get Jefferson the ball if the Vikings are able to move him around to find Jones.
Jordan Addison will have a similar split against Robertson and Jones but will not have the same advantage on talent alone. Fade Addison, as the longer throws may be limited for Dobbs, and Addison has scored all of his touchdowns on routes over 10 yards (PFF).
T.J. Hockensen will see a mix of Raiders linebackers Robert Spillane and Divine Deablo, as well as corner Nate Hobbs when he takes snaps out of the slot. Buy Hockensen as his aDoT of 7.3 (PFF) will be friendly to his quarterback and he will be taking Spillane and Deablo down the field as they both carry aDoTs of 4.6 (PFF). Spillane is prone to allowing YAC, conceding 236 yards in the category this season (PFF), which could open the door for chunk plays for the stellar Vikings tight end. Nate Hobbs has given up two touchdowns and allows receptions on 78.9 % of targets he defends; if Hockensen is able to draw the Raiders slot corner in the red zone, the ball should be coming his way.
Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers have been spending the majority of their season out wide with more snaps coming on the left for Adams, and on the right for Meyers (PFF). This sets up a matchup between Adams and Vikings corner Akayleb Evans; buy Adams as he has the deeper aDoT, and Evans has conceded three touchdowns and a passer rating of 115.1 (PFF).
This is a marquee matchup for the Raiders on all trips to the red zone. Jakboi Meyers will draw the other wide corner of the vikings, Byron Murphy Jr., on the opposite side. Buy Meyers as well; Murphy Jr. leads all NFL corners in missed tackles by a wide margin with 13 total whiffs in 2023 (PFF). Murphy Jr. is also in the top five among corners in touchdowns allowed with six on the year (PFF). Both Raiders receivers are set up for success regardless of where they lineup this week.
Matchup Winners: Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockensen, Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers
Matchup Losers: Jordan Addison
Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 14 brings the renewal of an AFC rivalry as the Bills and Chiefs square off on Sunday. Stefon Diggs continues to split snaps outside and in the slot, introducing multiple matchups in this game.
L’Jarius Sneed is a staple for the Chiefs on the outside, and they appear to be rotating Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams opposite him. Diggs will have advantages against Watson and Williams. Together, these two Chiefs corners have allowed seven touchdowns and passer ratings north of 115.0 (PFF). In the slot, Diggs will see Trent McDuffie, who has allowed two scores and receptions on 70.9% of targets he defends (PFF). L’Jarius Sneed is yet to allow a touchdown in 2023 for the Chiefs, and quarterbacks are logging a passer rating of just 59.5 (PFF) on the targets he defends. None of these players allow a ton of production after the catch, and there is a chance that Sneed travels with Diggs at times. To avoid Diggs being neutralized, the Bills may play him out of the slot more than normal, where he should be able to produce up against McDuffie, so buy Diggs as normal.
Gabe Davis should be able to earn the favorable matchups out wide against Watson and Williams, and his aDoT of 14.5 (PFF) will take their coverage further down the field than where they normally play. Bet on Davis getting the deep looks from Josh Allen and buy him this week; on routes over 20 yards this season Davis has scored three times and holds an elite receiving grade of 98.0 (PFF).
Dalton Kincaid is likely to match up with safety Justin Reid of the Chiefs and Trent McDuffie at times, as the majority of Kincaid’s snaps continue to come out of the slot. Both Reid and McDuffie carry aDoTs 9.4 in comparison to 5.7 for Kincaid (PFF). With both Reid and McDuffie limiting YAC, Kincaid could struggle to put together a solid yardage total and will be relying solely on scoring a touchdown in a short-yardage situation to stand out as a fantasy tight end this week, so fade him.
Buy Travis Kelce this week. He has taken 52.5% (PFF) of his snaps out of the slot this season, and most of the slot coverage for the Bills is handled by corner Taron Johnson. If the Bills dare to put Johnson on Kelce, he will be giving up six inches in height, and over 50 pounds. Johnson is also fifth-worst across the league among corners in allowing receptions, conceding them on 83.0% of the targets he defends (PFF). The Bills may try to avoid this mismatch and send either safety Jordan Poyer and linebacker Terrel Bernard to cover Kelce. Poyer concedes a competitive passer rating of 105.9 (PFF), which will not bode well against a generational quarterback. Terrel Bernard is fifth worst among all linebackers in the NFL in allowing YAC, giving up 323 yards in the category this season (PFF).
Rashee Rice leads the Chiefs receivers in targets by a wide margin and is putting together a respectable rookie campaign. Nonetheless, fade Rice this week. He is likely to see Christian Benford and Rasul Douglas on the outside from the Bills. Douglas outgrades Rice in receiving vs. coverage, and Benford has allowed just a single touchdown on the season. Benford also has held opponents to 50 total YAC in 2023. Expect the offense to move through Kelce for the Chiefs in Week 14.
Matchup Winners: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Travis Kelce
Matchup Losers: Dalton Kincaid, Rashee Rice
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (SNF)
The stakes are high in the race for the NFC East on Sunday Night as the Eagles travel to Jerry-World to take on the Cowboys. A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith will be split out wide against DaRon Bland and Stephon Gilmore of the Cowboys. Both of the wide corners of the Cowboys continue their excellent seasons with both keeping their reception rates south of 55% while defending targeted players.
All things considered, Brown could give DaRon Bland issues similar to the way DK Metcalf did recently as a big and physical receiver. Buy Brown; he received 13 targets in week 13 against another excellent secondary of the 49ers (PFF). The Eagles seem to be looking to him to help combat some of the more physical corners in the NFL, and Stephon Gilmore ranks 10th among all corners in pass breakups, with seven in total in 2023 (PFF). If he is able to overpower Bland with his size, he will be in for a productive day.
Fade Devonta Smith; he will not have the physical advantage over either Bland or Gilmore and has tallied just one contested catch this season (PFF). The Cowboys defense should be motivated to limit action in the air after giving up 35 points in their last outing, and Brown definitely has the better chance of being the one to produce.
CeeDee Lamb will be moving around between the slot and outside in this game as he normally does. On the outside, he will face the normal wide duo of the Eagles, James Bradberry and Darius Slay. Buy CeeDee Lamb this week, he is fifth overall among receivers in touchdowns this season with seven, and will have chances against James Bradberry (PFF). Bradberry has allowed seven touchdowns on the year, and when Lamb is matched up with Darius Slay on the opposite side, he will look to replicate the six catches for 76 yards he posted against Slay in week 9 (PFF).
Brandin Cooks has scored in consecutive weeks and is buy this week as well, opposite of Lamb. Cooks has a deeper aDoT than both Bradberry and Slay at 12.6 (PFF). While he was not able to produce in the Week 9 matchup, he has emerged as a bigger piece of this Cowboys offense late in the year, and his explosive speed makes him a threat to catch a deep touchdown with Lamb demanding attention across from him.
Jake Ferguson will be matched up with Zach Cunnigham and Nicholas Morrow as linebackers for the Eagles, and also Kevin Byard at safety. Buy Ferguson in this one; Morrow has shown some vulnerability recently, allowing two touchdowns and now a competitive passer rating of 117.8 (PFF). When Byard comes over to Ferguson, he will find a safety, allowing completions on 80.4% (PFF) of the targets he defends, and should be able to supplement his production against the linebackers with additional receptions.
Matchup Winners: A.J. Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Jake Ferguson
Matchup Losers: Devonta Smith
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