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Week 14 WR/CB mismatches and shadow coverages to leverage in DFS & fantasy football leagues

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) runs the ball against Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes (21) during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Week 14 is here! I'll be breaking down the WR/CB matchups all season long with a focus on figuring out who could be facing shadow coverage as well as the best and worst overall situations. We'll also briefly touch on each team's tight end group.

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The following tables denote every player’s: most frequent alignment, height (inches), weight (pounds), 40-yard dash (seconds) and yards per route run/coverage snap. Note that wide receivers regularly move all around the formation; these are just their primary alignments. Additionally, shadow matchups almost never feature a true 100% matchup rate; general practice in fantasy land is to start your studs as opposed to overweighting a perceived tough matchup.

PIT @ MIN | DAL @ WFT | JAX @ TEN | LV @ KC | SEA @ HOUBAL @ CLE | NO @ NYJ | ATL @ CAR | NYG @ LAC | DET @ DENBUF @ TB |
SF @ CIN | CHI @ GB | LAR @ ARZ

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Minnesota Vikings

Steelers Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Diontae Johnson 70 + 183 4.6 2.23 Cameron Dantzler 74 + 185 4.64 0.81
R Chase Claypool 76 + 227 4.42 1.94 Bashaud Breeland 71 + 195 4.62 1.86
S Ray-Ray McCloud III 69 + 190 4.53 0.83 Mackensie Alexander 70 + 192 N/A 1.35

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Diontae Johnson has posted four consecutive top-12 fantasy finishes and hasn’t finished outside the position’s top-24 in full point-per-reception (PPR) scoring since Week 1. Only Cooper Kupp (12) has more consecutive games with at least 50 receiving yards than Johnson (10). Yes, Ben Roethlisberger has largely been a shell of his former self all season. Also yes, it’s a lot easier to produce with a bad quarterback when you’re averaging a whopping 10.9 targets per game.

Fantasy’s WR7 in PPR points per game has been locked into starting lineups for awhile, but it’s fair to expect more fireworks than usual from Johnson in this week’s borderline erotic spot. Nobody has allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers than the Vikings, as they don’t have a single cornerback ranked among PFF’s top-50 players in coverage grade.

This Vikings defense just allowed 29 points to a Lions offense that hadn’t cracked 20 points in a game since Week 1. Let that sink in.

Johnson is my WR8 on the week in the ole fantasy football ranks, while Chase Claypool (toe) comes in as my WR26. It’d be a lot easier to get behind Claypool in this smash spot if he was healthier; his 63% snap rate against the Ravens in Week 13 was his lowest single-game mark since Week 5. Showdown enthusiasts should prioritize Ray-Ray McCloud (67% snaps in Week 13) over James Washington (37%).

TE breakdown: Pat Freiermuth has been on the position’s more consistent fantasy producers for the better part of the last two months. Overall, he’s peeled off PPR TE11, TE3, TE2, TE15, TE14, TE7 and TE24 finishes since Week 6. Credit to the Vikings for functioning as one of just eight defenses to allow fewer than 10 PPR points per game to opposing tight ends, but Freiermuth has the sort of fairly high-end combination of pass-catching ability and volume to continue to warrant low-end TE1 consideration. He’s my TE9 on the week ahead of guys like Tyler Conklin and Zach Ertz

Vikings Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Justin Jefferson 73 + 202 4.43 2.69 Cameron Sutton 71 + 188 4.52 0.96
R K.J. Osborn 72 + 205 N/A 1.19 Ahkello Witherspoon 74 + 195 4.45 2.22
S Dede Westbrook 72 + 178 N/A 0.74 Arthur Maulet 70 + 190 4.62 0.92

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Adam Thielen (ankle) won’t be out there Thursday night, meaning Justin Jefferson *should* see all the targets he can handle against a Steelers defense that ranks dead last in yards per attempt allowed to targets aligned out wide this season.

There’s little reason to think that this Pittsburgh secondary can limit Jefferson for 60 minutes because at this point it’s tough to see anyone truly contain the Vikings’ stud second-year receiver. All Jefferson has done since entering the league is work as a true top-five player at the position:

  • PFF receiving grade: 91.9 (No. 2 among 119 wide receivers with at least 50 targets since 2020)
  • Receptions: 166 (No. 6)
  • Receiving yards: 2,609 (No. 1)
  • Receiving touchdowns: 14 (tied for No. 7)
  • Yards per reception: 15.7 (No. 13)
  • Yards per route run: 2.67 (No. 3)
  • QB rating when targeted: 124.8 (No. 4)

The only guys I have ranked ahead of Jefferson this week: Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Cooper Kupp. It’s also fair to be higher than usual on K.J. Osborn in this solid enough spot; he’s my WR42 ahead of guys like Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Check out the Tuesday edition of The PFF Fantasy Football Podcast for full thoughts on Osborn and the rest of the week’s top potential waiver wire additions.

TE breakdown: Tyler Conklin has provided four weeks as a top-eight option at the position this season; don’t be surprised if instance No. 5 comes to fruition on Thursday night thanks to more volume stemming from Thielen’s absence. Still, Pittsburgh does deserve credit for only allowing Cole Kmet (6-87-0) and Darren Waller (5-65-0) to surpass 50 receiving yards in a game this season. Conklin is my TE10 on the week behind guys like Dawson Knox, Dalton Schultz and Pat Freiermuth.

New Orleans Saints @ New York Jets

Saints Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Marquez Callaway 74 + 204 4.55 1.22 Javelin Guidry 69 + 193 4.29 1.14
R Kenny Stills 73 + 202 4.38 0.5 Bryce Hall 73 + 200 N/A 1.01
S Tre'Quan Smith 74 + 210 4.49 1.08 Michael Carter II 71 + 190 N/A 1.38

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Jets rank dead last in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs, which is essentially how we should view Hill 1.) probably in general, and 2.) while he’s playing through the pain of a mallet finger injury (the same one which Russell Wilson has dealt with). The good news is Hill doesn’t require surgery, but it’d certainly make sense if his (already meh) passing ability is further reduced while dealing with this issue.

Avoid starting any of these wide receivers if Hill is still under center, particularly with his No. 1 target last week (Deonte Harris) suspended for the next three games. Tre’Quan Smith and (to a lesser extent) Marquez Callaway would rise into WR4 territory with a switch to Trevor Siemian; just don’t be surprised if the Saints are able to coast in this one without needing to press their luck throwing the ball.

TE breakdown: Nick Vannett, Garrett Griffin and Juwan Johnson are splitting targets and snaps alike; none are recommended fantasy options due to volume concerns.

Jets Offense
WR Player H + W 40 YPRR CB H + W 40 YPRR
L Elijah Moore 69 + 185 N/A 1.75 Marshon Lattimore 72 + 192 4.36 1.79
R Denzel Mims 75 + 215 N/A 1.11 Paulson Adebo 73 + 190 N/A 1.42
S Jamison Crowder 69 + 177 4.56 1.22 P.J. Williams 72 + 196 4.57 0.63

Projected shadow matchups: Elijah Moore vs. Marshon Lattimore

WR/CB breakdown: Get your popcorn ready for this one. Lattimore hasn’t completely shut down every receiver he’s faced, but the ultra-talented 25-year-old has at least made a truly elite group of receivers work for every yard.

Moore figures to see even more consistent high-end usage with Corey Davis (groin, IR) done for the season. The rookie has turned in PPR WR1, WR27, WR3, WR40 and WR8 performances over his last five games despite having to deal with a quarterback carousel featuring the likes of Mike White, Josh Johnson, Joe Flacco and Zach Wilson; he’s earned legit WR2 treatment as this (bad) offense’s undisputed No. 1 pass-game option. Moore comes in as my WR21 on the week against the league’s seventh-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers.

Jamison Crowder has caught at least five passes just once since Week 9; there really isn’t a high enough ceiling here when he’s not being absolutely fed targets. Crowder is nothing more than a WR5 at the moment, while Denzel Mims is off the fantasy grid after playing just 36% of the offense’s snaps in Week 13.

TE breakdown: Ryan Griffin has caught two touchdowns this season but has yet to reach even five receptions or 40 receiving yards in a game. C’mon man, find a better option than this.

Related content for you: Fantasy Football: Week 14 Snaps & Efficiency Report for all 32 NFL backfields via Ian Hartitz

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers

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