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By the Numbers

NFL Week 12 WR/CB Matchups and TE Analysis

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: November 21, 2019, 1:03 pm ET

We're on to Week 12! 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 TE group.

Physical data is courtesy of NFL.com and PlayerProfiler.com, alignment information is from Pro Football Focus while each WR's target share and air yard market share is provided by the fine folks at AirYards.com.


Colts at Texans

Colts Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Zach Pascal 74 219 4.55 12% 20% Johnathan Joseph 71 193 4.32
Slot Chester Rogers 72 185 4.56 9% 11% Justin Reid 73 207 4.4
Right Marcus Johnson 73 204 4.44 N/A N/A Gareon Conley 72 195 4.44

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: T.Y. Hilton (calf, questionable) hasn't been ruled out, but he also started off the week with consecutive absences at practice. Meanwhile, Parris Campbell (hand, out) is reportedly expected to be out until December, and TE Eric Ebron (ankle, questionable) suddenly appears to be at risk of missing game action as well after not practicing on Monday or Tuesday. Stud RB Marlon Mack (hand, out) has already been ruled out for Thursday night and could miss an extended stretch of games.

Be sure to monitor our Week 12 Injury Dashboard for daily practice participation along with estimated and official game statuses for every injured player.

Jam Hilton into fantasy lineups of all shapes and sizes if he's active. The man has absolutely eviscerated the Texans in 16 career matchups and literally wore a clown mask to the Colts' 2018 Wild Card victory over their divisional rival:

  • 3 receptions-78 yards-1 touchdown
  • 4-111-1
  • 7-121-3
  • 8-78-0
  • 9-223-1
  • 4-50-0
  • 5-88-0
  • 3-29-0
  • 3-49-0
  • 9-115-1
  • 5-175-2
  • 3-14-0
  • 4-115-0
  • 9-199-0
  • 5-85-0
  • 6-74-1

Marcus Johnson has played a full-time role in back-to-back weeks and posted a 4-38-1 line on four targets in his first game with Jacoby Brissett under center. Meanwhile, Zach Pascal has underwhelmed with 2-26-0 and 2-17-0 lines over the past two weeks on seven and six targets, respectively. Chester Rogers has posted snap rates of 50% and 47% over the last two weeks with the Colts trending towards using more two-TE sets.

Ultimately, it's tough to get behind any of these WRs as realistic season-long options. Pascal is the best bet due to both opportunity and talent. It's not an intimidating matchup against a Texans Defense that has been much better against the run (No. 10) than the pass (No. 25) this season, although the potential return of Bradley Roby (hamstring) as well as the addition of former-Buccaneers CB Vernon Hargreaves could provide a fairly significant boost considering the various liabilities they've had handle the slot throughout the season.

TE breakdown: Ebron's absence would open up a full-time role for Jack Doyle, although Mo Alie-Cox (thumb) would likely be involved to an extent as well. We actually have the entire 2017 season as evidence of what Doyle is capable of achieving as the offense's undisputed No. 1 TE with Brissett under center. Overall, Brissett featured both Hilton (57-966-4 on 109 targets) and Doyle (80-690-4 on 108 targets) equally as the focal points of the passing game. Doyle finished 2017 as the overall PPR TE7 and should accordingly be treated as an upside TE1 if Ebron winds up watching from the sideline.

Texans Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left DeAndre Hopkins 73 214 4.57 31% 36% Marvell Tell 74 198 4.45
Slot Keke Coutee 70 181 4.43 12% 11% Kenny Moore 69 185 4.52
Right Kenny Stills 72 194 4.38 14% 16% Rock Ya-Sin 72 192 4.51

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Will Fuller (hamstring) is a game-time decision for Thursday night. His return would likely relegate Keke Coutee back to the bench. The Texans already utilized Kenny Stills as a primary slot WR in Weeks 1-4 before Fuller was injured, but they then went back to featuring the former Dolphins WR on the outside in Weeks 7-11. Stills and Fuller should each be treated as boom-or-bust WR4 options until we have a better idea of their health and roles.

Either way: Nuk is the only WR in this offense that truly matters at the moment. Deshaun Watson has fed his BFF at least 11 targets in five consecutive games. Hopkins has caught at least five passes in a league-high 13 consecutive games.

The only problem has been the nature of Nuk's targets:

  • 2013: 14.23 yard average target depth (No. 25 among all WRs to play at least 25% of their offense's snaps)
  • 2014: 13.38 (No. 29)
  • 2015: 14.76 (No. 22)
  • 2016: 12.25 (No. 50)
  • 2017: 13.98 (No. 33)
  • 2018: 12.21 (No. 51)
  • 2019: 10.01 (No. 84)

The good news is that Week 11 showed signs of change: Hopkins' 142 air yards were his highest total since his 8-111-2 explosion in Week 1.

Hopkins has hardly had a problem with the Colts in recent history, posting 6-86-1, 10-169-1, 4-36-1, 5-37-0 and 9-106-1 lines against the Texans' divisional rival since 2017. Continue to treat him as an upside WR1 that is due for a breakout performance.

TE breakdown: Darren Fells has caught more than two passes in just three games this season, largely functioning as a touchdown-dependent borderline TE1. Jordan Akins remains annoyingly involved. Fells is the preferred fantasy option, but there's a low floor here. Fuller's potential return would only add another competent receiver to an already-crowded offense for these complementary TEs to compete with for targets.


 

Broncos at Bills

Broncos Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Courtland Sutton 75 218 4.54 24% 39% Tre'Davious White 71 192 4.47
Slot DaeSean Hamilton 73 203 4.57 9% 8% Taron Johnson 71 192 4.5
Right Tim Patrick 77 210 4.52 11% 16% Kevin Johnson 72 188 4.52

Projected shadow matchups: Courtland Sutton vs. Tre'Davious White

WR/CB breakdown: Only two (maybe three) pass catchers matter in Denver at the moment. Brandon Allen's target distribution in his first two games has been as follows:

Patrick (shoulder) flashed some upside in his season debut, catching 4-of-8 targets for 77 scoreless yards. He possesses enough size and speed to give most CBs problems. Still, this probably isn't the spot to chase the No. 3 pass-game option in a still-meh offense. The Bills join the Cowboys, Chiefs, Chargers, Rams, Patriots and Steelers as the only defenses to allow one or fewer WRs to surpass 100 receiving yards in a game this season.

Sutton is easily the most-talented and well-fed receiver in this offense. He somehow doesn't have double-digit targets in a game this season, but that hasn't stopped the second-year WR from gaining at least 40 yards in every game. Only Tyreek Hill, Michael Thomas, Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper, Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Michael Gallup and Cooper Kupp have averaged more yards per route run than Sutton this season among 48 players with at least 50 targets (PFF).

The only obstacle is the presence of White, who has been good-not-great in shadow coverage this season (Player Profiler):

Continue to fire up Sutton as a WR2 despite the tough matchup.

TE breakdown: It makes sense that the Broncos have gotten their first-round TE more involved as the season has progressed, but note that Fant's recent surge has occurred with Jeff Heuerman (knee) sidelined. It's a similar situation to T.J. Hockenson and Dawson Knox: Fant will work as the offense's undisputed starter with or without Heuerman, but the absence of the team's steady veteran TE would lead to a more fantasy-friendly every-down role. Both of Fant's touchdowns this season have been thanks to his elite ability after the catch, but Allen fed his TE consecutive end-zone targets in Week 11 with the game on the line. Continue to fire up the undisputed No. 2 pass-game option in this offense as a low-end TE1 despite the tough matchup.

Bills Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left John Brown 70 179 4.34 26% 40% Chris Harris Jr. 69 194 4.48
Slot Cole Beasley 68 177 4.54 20% 17% Duke Dawson 71 197 4.46
Right Isaiah McKenzie 67 173 4.41 10% 5% Davontae Harris 71 205 4.43

Projected shadow matchups: John Brown vs. Chris Harris Jr.

WR/CB breakdown: The Smokey Brown blowup game came and went, as he roasted Dolphins CB Nik Needham for nine receptions, 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Up next is a significantly tougher shadow date against Harris, who has mostly bottled up every WR he's faced in shadow coverage this season:

Diggs' performance in Week 11 demonstrated that Harris isn't perfect, particularly when defending shot plays down the field.

Brown also possesses this ability to take the top off of the defense at a moment's notice, so the tough matchup shouldn't severely downgrade Josh Allen's undisputed No. 1 pass-game option.

Cole Beasley has the better CB matchup, but he's failed to surpass 50 receiving yards in 7-of-10 games this season. He possesses a low floor and ceiling as long as RB Devin Singletary and TE Dawson Knox are just as involved in the passing offense.

TE breakdown: Knox has posted 4-55-0 and 2-32-1 lines over the last two weeks. Still, the Bills' third-round rookie has fewer than three receptions in all but three games this season. There's a low floor here, particularly as long as Tyler Kroft continues to siphon away a good chunk of snaps as well as a target or two every game. Treat Knox as more of an upside TE2 against the Broncos' 12th-ranked defense in DVOA against the TE position.


Giants at Bears

Giants Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Darius Slayton 73 190 4.39 15% 30% Prince Amukamara 72 206 4.48
Slot Golden Tate 70 202 4.42 22% 23% Buster Skrine 70 186 4.48
Right Sterling Shepard 70 194 4.48 22% 29% Kyle Fuller 72 190 4.49

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Sterling Shepard (concussion) managed to get in a full practice on Wednesday. His return in Week 12 would relegate Bennie Fowler to the bench.

Daniel Jones' target distribution in one game with both Golden Tate and Shepard was as follows:

Jones has thrown at least 35 passes in 6-of-8 starts this season. It's unlikely the rookie manages to consistently enable three fantasy-relevant WRs while both Engram and Saquon Barkley are healthy, but the volume is theoretically there.

Regardless, this is a tough spot for everyone involved. The Bears have been better against the pass (No. 6 in DVOA) than the run (No. 12) this season and haven't allowed 300 passing yards in a game since Week 6 of 2018. Only Broncos-Bills (37.5) and Steelers-Bengals (39) have a lower game total than Giants-Bears (40.5).

TE breakdown: Engram (foot) wasn't able to practice on Wednesday following the team's Week 11 bye. His continued absence would result in another near full-time role for Ellison (concussion) if he manages to suit up. Still, Ellison would be a thin play as the likely No. 5 pass-game option in this suddenly-crowded offense. Engram is an auto-start TE if active, although expectations should be managed considering the enhanced risk for re-aggravation.

Bears Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Allen Robinson 74 220 4.56 25% 35% Deandre Baker 71 193 4.52
Slot Anthony Miller 71 201 4.55 12% 16% Corey Ballentine 71 196 4.47
Right Taylor Gabriel 68 167 4.45 16% 23% Janoris Jenkins 70 193 4.46

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: A-Rob has sandwiched a decent 6-86-0 outing in Week 10 with 1-6-0 and 4-15-0 performances against the Eagles and Rams, respectively.

The Bears' No. 1 WR remains more than capable of winning one-on-one battles against nearly any CB in the league, but there's a low floor for anyone involved in this passing game as long as Mitchell Trubisky continues to function as one of the worst QBs in the entire league:

  • Adjusted yards per attempt: 5.6 (No. 34 among 35 QBs with at least 100 pass attempts this season)
  • Yards per attempt: 5.6 (No. 34)
  • Yards per game: 175.6 (No. 34)
  • Completion rate: 62.4% (No. 24)
  • TD rate: 3.2% (No. 29)
  • QB rating: 82.2 (No. 27)

Gabriel had 14 targets last week with Trubisky generally refraining from testing Jalen Ramsey. The Bears' field-stretching WR has cleared 50 receiving yards or scored a touchdown in four consecutive games. There are better season-long options to start, but Gabriel is at least enticing at $4,200 on DraftKings as the offense's undisputed deep-ball threat. Rookie CB Deandre Baker is PFF's single-lowest graded CB among 127 qualified players.

Anthony Miller (6-54-0 on 11 targets) also benefited from Ramsey locking up A-Rob in Week 11. I wouldn't chase this production; Miller caught one pass for seven yards in Weeks 9 and 10 combined before last week's decent performance.

TE breakdown: Trey Burton (calf, IR) is done for the season, meaning talented third-year TE Adam Shaheen (foot) should be looking at a full-time role once healthy enough to return to action. Still, the nature of foot injuries suggests we probably shouldn't expect anything more than TE2 production at best from Shaheen in his (potential) first game back in action. Ben Braunecker will continue to start if Shaheen is sidelined, but the career backup and block-first TE is off the fantasy radar. Kudos to safety Jabrill Peppers for experiencing a resurgence of sorts and helping the Giants give up the third-fewest yards per game to opposing TEs this season.

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Steelers at Bengals

Steelers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Diontae Johnson 70 183 4.53 15% 18% William Jackson 72 189 4.37
Slot JuJu Smith-Schuster 73 215 4.54 17% 24% Darqueze Dennard 71 199 4.51
Right James Washington 71 213 4.54 13% 24% B.W. Webb 70 184 4.51

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Mason Rudolph's best statistical performance this season was throwing for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns at home against the Dolphins in Week 8. He's otherwise been held under 250 passing yards in every game. Rudolph's recent stretch of play has been even worse, as the second-year QB has averaged fewer than 6.5 yards per attempt in three consecutive games.

The prolonged absence of JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee, concussion) as well as Diontae Johnson (concussion) in Week 11 led to a complete mess at the WR position (outside of Rudolph's ex-college roommate):

True story: I have no idea who Tevin Jones is.

Anyway, this is clearly a situation to avoid despite the pristine matchup against the Bengals' 31st-ranked defense in pass DVOA. The Steelers are one of just seven teams that has fed a player at least 10 targets in a single game on two or fewer occasions this season. The two instances featured Jaylen Samuels and Donte Moncrief (lol).

Washington can be treated as an upside WR3 if JuJu is ultimately sidelined. I'm inclined to fade this WR group otherwise.

TE breakdown: Vance McDonald has at least seven targets in three consecutive games and has played at least 75% of the offense's snaps in every contest since the team's Week 7 bye. Still, he's worked as just the PPR TE20 during this stretch. Perhaps a matchup with the league's No. 31-ranked defense in DVOA against the TE position will help.

Bengals Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Auden Tate 77 228 4.68 19% 30% Steven Nelson 70 197 4.49
Slot Tyler Boyd 73 197 4.58 24% 25% Mike Hilton 69 178 4.6
Right Alex Erickson 74 203 4.58 11% 13% Joe Haden 71 193 4.62

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Bengals are all sorts of banged up at WR, as Auden Tate (concussion, neck) could join A.J. Green (ankle) on the sideline this week. Stanley Morgan is the next man up, but Damion Willis should see some snaps as well if both Tate and AJG are ultimately sidelined.

That leaves us with Alex Erickson (0-0-0 in Weeks 10-11) and Tyler Boyd (6-62-0) as the offense's only realistic fantasy options.

Realistic might even be too strong of a word. Boyd was goose egged as a receiver in Week 11 in an absolutely pristine matchup against the Raiders because Ryan Finley is horrendous:

  • Adjusted yards per attempt: 3.5 (No. 47 among 48 QBs with at least 50 pass attempts this season)
  • Yards per attempt: 4.6 (No. 48)
  • Yards per game: 141 (No. 43)
  • Completion rate: 47.5% (No. 48)
  • TD rate: 1.6% (No. 44)
  • QB rating: 52.8 (No. 47)

Target volume as well quality of pass-game opportunities are at an all-time low for these Bengals WRs.

Boyd is the only receiver in this offense that deserves even a little bit of fantasy consideration. This is mostly because he's due for positive TD regression, as his 94 targets are tied with D.J. Moore for the most in the league among all players with one or fewer receiving touchdowns. Still, Boyd isn't anything more than an upside WR4 in a not-great matchup as long as the league's single-worst QB is operating under center.

TE breakdown: Tyler Eifert hasn't posted a snap rate of even 40% since the Bengals showcased him as trade bait in Week 8 with a season-high 71% mark. Eifert is off the fantasy radar due to both snap and QB concerns. He'd likely need an injury to C.J. Uzomah to offer any sort of fantasy value down the stretch.

Ian Hartitz

All things NFL. Great day to be great. You can follow Ian on Twitter @Ihartitz.