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Fantasy Football: Week 14 key wide receiver questions and tight end analysis

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) makes a catch as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Robert Spillane (41) defends during the first quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Estimated reading time: 38 minutes

It’s truly a great day to be great.

What follows is a fantasy football-themed breakdown of each and every wide receiver and tight end group. The following seven categories will be analyzed for all 30 teams playing this week:

  • Week 13 WR Fantasy Rankings: Where the wide receiver falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • WR Usage: Every team’s top-three wide receivers in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Week 13 Matchup: Opponent’s rank in PPR points allowed to opposing wide receivers as well as their team PFF coverage grade. Higher numbers are better for wide receivers; “32” illustrates the worst defense in a given category, and “1” is the best.
  • Shadow Matchups: Denotes whether or not any wide receivers are expected to be “shadowed” by a specific cornerback.
  • Week 13 TE Fantasy Rankings: Where the tight end falls in my fantasy ranks. Updated ranks can be found throughout the week on PFF.com as well as the new PFF app.
  • TE Usage: Every team’s top-two tight ends in terms of last week’s route rate alongside their season-long marks in targets per route run and yards per route run.
  • Key question: One key question for every team that is on my mind.

JUMP TO A TEAM:

ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CINCLE | DEN | DAL | DETHOU | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH



ARIZONA CARDINALS

  • Week 14 WR Fantasy Ranking: DeAndre Hopkins (WR7), Marquise Brown (WR20), A.J. Green (WR70)
  • WR Usage: Marquise Brown (97% routes, 0.23 targets per route run, 1.75 yards per route run), DeAndre Hopkins (88%, 0.27, 2.48), A.J. Green (68%, 0.13, 0.46)
  • Week 14 WR Matchup: NE: 9 in PPR per game to WR, 12 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 14 TE Fantasy Rankings: Trey McBride (TE14)
  • TE Usage: Trey McBride (71% routes, 0.07 targets per route run, 0.3 yards per route run), Stephen Anderson (12%, 0.1, 0.06)
Key question: Just how good has DeAndre Hopkins been since returning from suspension?

Pretty, pretty, pretty good. Overall, the artist known as Nuk has peeled off PPR WR8, WR2, WR21, WR12, WR12 and WR15 finishes in his first six games of 2022, gaining at least 90 yards and/or scoring a touchdown in every game along the way.

Perhaps the most impressive part has been Hopkins’ ability to achieve all of this production with elite efficiency. He ranks eighth on the yards per route run leaderboard this season, only trailing truly elite studs at the position:

Marquise Brown and potentially Rondale Moore‘s (groin) return could condense targets for everyone involved more than ever, so Hopkins will need to maintain this high-end efficiency to make the most out of his rest-of-season value.

The next three weeks aren’t exactly layups against the Patriots, Broncos and Buccaneers, although it’d also make sense if Kyler Murray plays some of his best ball of the season down the stretch now that he’s close to having a fully healthy wide receiver room. Continue to fire up Hopkins as a no-doubt WR1, while Hollywood is more of a mid-tier WR2 at the moment who will slide down just a tad should Moore wind up being active.


BALTIMORE RAVENS

  • Week 14 WR Fantasy Ranking: Demarcus Robinson (WR44), Devin Duvernay (WR45), DeSean Jackson (WR66)
  • WR Usage: Devin Duvernay (96% routes, 0.14 targets per route run, 1.2 yards per route run), Demarcus Robinson (83%, 0.19, 1.33), DeSean Jackson (42%, 0.25, 3.13)
  • Week 14 WR Matchup: PIT: 30 in PPR per game to WR, 18 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 14 TE Fantasy Rankings: Mark Andrews (TE2)
  • TE Usage: Mark Andrews (90% routes, 0.26 targets per route run, 1.93 yards per route run), Isaiah Likely (31%, 0.2, 1.36)
Key question: What should fantasy managers expect from this passing game with Tyler Huntley under center?

Huntley’s target distribution in relief of Lamar Jackson (knee) was as follows last week:

Don’t sweat the lack of a boom from Andrews: All the stud tight end did in four extended appearances with Huntley last season was go for 8-73-0, 11-115-1, 10-136-2, 6-89-0 and 8-85-0 receiving lines.

The bigger story down the stretch could be Robinson emerging as a low-key solid WR3 in fantasy land. He’s posted PPR WR31, WR71, WR6, WR90 and WR37 finishes over the past five weeks, and Duvernay has just one finish inside fantasy’s top-40 receivers since Week 5. The Ravens boast the single-most fantasy-friendly schedule for wide receivers in Weeks 15-to-17 during the fantasy playoffs, so don’t be afraid to add Robinson to the bench on WR-needy squads in deeper leagues.


BUFFALO BILLS

  • Week 14 WR Fantasy Ranking: Stefon Diggs (WR4), Gabe Davis (WR24), Isaiah McKenzie (WR40)
  • WR Usage: Gabriel Davis (89% routes, 0.15 targets per route run, 1.48 yards per route run), Stefon Diggs (86%, 0.28, 2.71), Isaiah McKenzie (70%, 0.16, 1.22)
  • Week 14 WR Matchup: NYJ: 3 in PPR per game to WR, 2 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 14 TE Fantasy Rankings: Dawson Knox (TE12)
  • TE Usage: Dawson Knox (89% routes, 0.12 targets per route run, 0.92 yards per route run), Tommy Sweeney (14%, 0.05, 0.33)
Key question: Should Stefon Diggs fantasy managers be especially worried about stud rookie CB Sauce Gardner?

Not specifically. Gardner hasn’t followed a specific receiver around all season – including when these teams met back in Week 9. He’s spent 78% of his snaps this season as the defense’s left cornerback, so Diggs and Gabriel Davis should see a mix of Gardner and the rest of the Jets’ elite secondary.

The latter point is the bigger concern for Diggs and company: This defense in general has simply been awesome against opposing passing attacks.

  • EPA allowed per pass play: -0.12 (No. 4)
  • Explosive pass play rate allowed: 10.9% (No. 1)
  • Passer rating allowed: 81.5 (No. 2)
  • Yards per attempt allowed: 6.4 (No. 3)

Of course, this is a Josh Allen-led passing game that we’re talking about here. Fire up Diggs as his usual sky-high WR1 self, as the recently turned 29-year-old receiver is on pace for a rather incredible 129-1,702-14 receiving line this season. Davis is also someone who should continue to be started in far more fantasy lineups than not due to his week-winning-caliber boom upside. Heck, even Isaiah McKenzie is a reasonable FLEX as long as he continues to work as the offense’s clear-cut No. 3 wide receiver.


CAROLINA PANTHERS

  • Week 14 WR Fantasy Ranking: DJ Moore (WR23), Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR48)
  • WR Usage: D.J. Moore (100% routes, 0.22 targets per route run, 1.64 yards per route run), Terrace Marshall Jr. (90%, 0.17, 1.66), Laviska Shenault Jr. (75%, 0.36, 3.04)
  • Week 14 WR Matchup: SEA: 7 in PPR per game to WR, 23 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 14 TE Fantasy Rankings: Tommy Tremble (TE27) 
  • TE Usage: Tommy Tremble (65% routes, 0.11 targets per route run, 0.57 yards per route run), Ian Thomas (30%, 0.18, 1.28)
Key question: How have the overall returns on the Sam DarnoldD.J. Moore connection been?

Surprisingly solid. Things went better than you remember for the Darnold-Moore partnership last season. At a minimum, it looks better after experiencing the living hell that has been most of this season: Moore peeled off PPR WR31, WR11, WR12, WR3, WR49, WR28, WR21, WR40, WR47, WR44, WR64 and WR26 finishes in his 12 games with Darnold under center.

Are there plenty of duds in there? Absolutely, but Moore did put together seven finishes as the WR36 or better. Ultimately, Moore averaged 5.7 receptions for 70.7 receiving yards and 0.25 touchdowns on 9.8 targets per game during the sample compared to his 4-46-0.27 average on just 7.5 targets this season before Darnold returned to action.

Moore’s productive Week 12 (4-103-1) with Darnold back under center was particularly impressive considering plenty of his receptions came in Patrick Surtain II’s direct coverage. Nothing is guaranteed in this low-floor Panthers offense regardless of who is under center, but Moore is back on the WR2 borderline thanks to his usual WR1-caliber volume and talent combined with a relatively improved situation under center thanks to Darnold. Please note the word *relatively* there; Moore’s career quarterback carousel would make Allen Robinson and Terry McLaurin blush.


CINCINNATI BENGALS

  • Week 14 WR Fantasy Ranking: Ja'Marr Chase (WR6), Tee Higgins (WR14), Tyler Boyd (WR38)
  • WR Usage: Tee Higgins (97% routes, 0.2 targets per route run, 2.16 yards per route run), Tyler Boyd (94%, 0.14, 1.45), Ja'Marr Chase (92%, 0.22, 2.06)
  • Week 14 WR Matchup: CLE: 15 in PPR per game to WR, 19 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 14 TE Fantasy Rankings: Mitchell Wilcox (TE26)
  • TE Usage: Mitchell Wilcox (64% routes, 0.07 targets per route run, 0.56 yards per route run), Devin Asiasi (19%, 0.13, 0)
Key question: Is the ceiling the roof for everyone involved in this passing attack as long as Joe Burrow keeps cooking?

Absolutely. The Bengals have won four straight games, including back-to-back victories over 2021 playoff foes in the Titans and Chiefs. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Burrow’s consistent excellence has been a big reason for the hot stretch, as he’s (once again) worked as anyone’s idea of one of the league’s most-efficient passers through 13 weeks:

  • PFF passing grade: 86.0 (No. 3 among 38 quarterbacks with 100-plus dropbacks)
  • Passer rating: 103.7 (No. 5)
  • Yards per attempt: 7.8 (No. 7)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 78.3% (No. 6)
  • Big-time throw rate: 3.8% (No. 22)
  • Turnover-worthy play rate: 1.9% (No. 5)

Absolutely egregious drops by Tyler Boyd aside, this passing attack has been clicking better than ever in recent weeks and should only get better with a healthy Ja’Marr Chase back in action. Don’t be surprised if they manage to connect on more than a few deep shots against a secondary that has struggled mightily against the deep ball this season.

Browns defense on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield
  • EPA allowed per play: +0.657 (No. 25)
  • Yards per attempt: 14.9 (No. 26)
  • Passer rating: 111.6 (No. 26)
  • Explosive pass-play rate: 42.2% (No. 22)

Burrow is still looking for his first career win against the Browns, but that hasn’t stopped him from posting some productive 316-3-0, 406-3-1, 282-0-2 and 232-2-1 passing lines against the Bengals’ AFC North rival in four career matchups. Fire up Chase and Tee Higgins as their usual top-15 selves against the Browns’ 27th-ranked scoring defense.


CLEVELAND BROWNS

  • Week 14 WR Fantasy Ranking: Amari Cooper (WR12), Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR31), David Bell (WR72)
  • WR Usage: Amari Cooper (100% routes, 0.25 targets per route run, 2.07 yards per route run), Donovan Peoples-Jones (96%, 0.16, 1.59), Demetric Felton (67%, 0.21, 0.16)
  • Week 14 WR Matchup: CIN: 4 in PPR per game to WR, 13 in PFF coverage grade 
  • WR/CB Shadow Matchups: None.
  • Week 14 TE Fantasy Rankings: Harrison Bryant (TE21)
  • TE Usage: Harrison Bryant (67% routes, 0.16 targets per route run, 0.88 yards per route run), Pharaoh Brown (38%, 0.19, 1.17)
Key question: How were the early returns on Deshaun Watson in his first game since 2020?

Pretty terrible. One doesn’t need to go too far into the advanced stats to know that a 54.5% completion rate and 5.95 yards per attempt isn’t exactly the sort of performance that the Browns ponied up $230 million guaranteed for. Of course, it makes sense that Watson would be rusty and not operating at 100 percent, especially considering he had to play against his former team in his first game back.

Ultimately, I’m siding with the large enough sample size from 2017-to-2020 that tells us Watson is an elite quarterback. The ex-Texans signal-caller posted top-tier marks in PFF passing grade (90.6, No. 8), QB rating (104.5, No. 4) and yards per attempt (8.3, No. 2) among 68 quarterbacks with 300-plus dropbacks from 2017 to 2021.

Browns-Bengals certainly has the feel of a shootout should Watson manage to catch his stride. I’m drinking the Kool-Aid and riding with Amari Cooper as a legit WR1 coming off an impressive 41% target share in his first game with Watson. Donovan Peoples-Jones is also someone who shouldn’t be shied away from, as the third-year receiver has gained at least 40 yards in all but one of his last nine games and profiles as a Cleveland version of Will Fuller with Watson under center.


DALLAS COWBOYS

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