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Chris Godwin
By the Numbers

NFL Week 15 WR/CB Matchups and TE Analysis

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: December 12, 2019, 4:29 pm ET

Jaguars at Raiders

Jaguars Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left D.J. Chark 75 199 4.34 22% 35% Daryl Worley 73 204 4.64
Slot Dede Westbrook 72 178 4.44 19% 17% Lamarcus Joyner 68 184 4.55
Right Chris Conley 74 213 4.35 15% 28% Trayvon Mullen 73 199 4.46

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Chark (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday and appears to be at major risk of missing game action. He'd be replaced in three-WR sets by Keelan Cole if ultimately inactive.

The Jaguars have scored 3, 13, 20, 11, and 10 points in their last five games. You don't have to ignore this offense (particularly against the Raiders), but recognize there's a low floor for everyone involved.

Conley boomed in Week 1 (6-97-1) and Week 8 (4-103-1), but otherwise hasn't found the end zone and has demonstrated a near-zero point floor.

Westbrook is the better streamer option if Chark is ultimately sidelined. He's been fed an average of 7.5 targets per game since the Jaguars' Week 10 bye and is set up brilliantly against Joyner, who has been a liability in slot coverage for most of the season:

  • Yards allowed: 417 (No. 47 among 50 qualified CBs in slot coverage)
  • Receptions allowed: 41 (No. 47)
  • QB rating allowed: 101.9 (No. 37)
  • Yards allowed per cover snap: 1.35 (No. 38)
  • Snaps per reception allowed: 7.6 (No. 42)

Treat Westbrook as an upside WR3, while Conley is more of a boom-or-bust WR4.

TE breakdown: Nick O'Leary has at least four targets in all three of his games since joining the Jaguars. Still, his 4-30-1 performance in Week 14 seems like it might've been a ceiling game for the no-gloved maven. Treat O'Leary as touchdown-dependent TE2 in this spot against a Raiders Defense that's allowed the fourth-most yards per game to the position this season.

Raiders Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Tyrell Williams 75 204 4.48 16% 34% A.J. Bouye 72 186 4.6
Slot Keelan Doss 74 211 4.61 8% 11% D.J. Hayden 71 191 4.45
Right Zay Jones 74 201 4.45 9% 12% Tre Herndon 71 186 4.52

Projected shadow matchups: Tyrell Williams vs. A.J. Bouye

WR/CB breakdown: Hunter Renfrow (ribs, lung) remains without a timetable for return. Doss (44% snaps in Week 14) is losing snaps to Rico Gafford (19%) and Marcell Ateman (3%). None are realistic fantasy options this week even if the Raiders wind up utilizing more three- and four-WR sets with TE Foster Moreau (knee, IR) out for the season.

The absence of both Renfrow and Moreau could feasibly force Derek Carr to focus more on Williams, who ranks 22nd in yards per target among 68 WRs with at least 50 pass-game opportunities this season. Unfortunately, Williams ranks just 61st in targets through 14 weeks.

Carr has just seven instances of feeding a player at least eight targets in a game this season. Renfrow is responsible for one of those, while Darren Waller has the other six.

Further complicating matters is the fact that Bouye has been solid in shadow coverage despite having some brutal matchups this season:

Williams is nothing more than a low-ceiling WR3 with these types of volume concerns. Jones is off the fantasy radar with fewer than 30 yards in seven consecutive games to start his Raiders career.

TE breakdown: Waller was already playing a near every-down role with Moreau in the lineup. Now he'll face less competition for targets inside the red zone. The PPR TE7 through 14 weeks, Waller should be locked into lineups as a strong TE1 against the Jaguars' 30th-ranked defense in DVOA against the position.

Browns at Cardinals

Browns Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Odell Beckham 71 198 4.43 25% 37% Patrick Peterson 72 219 4.34
Slot Jarvis Landry 71 205 4.65 26% 30% Byron Murphy 71 190 4.55
Right Damion Ratley 75 190 4.44 9% 10% Kevin Peterson 70 181 4.66

Projected shadow matchups: Odell Beckham vs. Patrick Peterson

WR/CB breakdown: OBJ is reportedly playing through a sports hernia injury. He's also one of just six WRs with a catchable deep-ball rate of 25% or less among 58 qualified players (PFF). The only QB with a lower percentage of on-target passes than Baker Mayfield is Mason Rudolph (Pro Football Reference).

Yes, Beckham has been a massive disappointment this season. Also yes, it's not entirely his fault.

A bounce-back performance isn't out of the question against Peterson, who has struggled to limit alpha WRs in three shadow dates this season:

Still, it's Week 15 and Beckham has only scored against the Jets and Dolphins. He's an upside WR3 with a low floor in this spot.

Landry has scored and/or gained at least 65 yards in every game since the Browns' Week 7 bye. Up next is a matchup against Murphy, who is PFF's No. 116 highest-graded CB among 131 qualified players this season. Treat Landry as a top-10 option at the position in this smash spot.

Higgins didn't play a snap last week. Damion Ratley (29% snaps) and KhaDarel Hodge (23%) instead worked as the offense's No. 3 WR. Neither are realistic fantasy options with this miniscule usage on an offense that has utilized plenty of two-TE and two-RB formations in recent weeks. 

TE breakdown: The Browns utilized a three-TE committee in Week 14 between Stephen Carlson (73% snaps, 1 target), David Njoku (38%, 3) and Ricky Seals-Jones (20%, 1). It's tough to trust Njoku in this smash spot against the Cardinals' league-worst defense against opposing TEs unless we receive word from the coaching staff or beat writers that he'll see a full-time role moving forward. This is particularly true after Njoku popped up on the injury report with a knee injury and was limited in practice Wednesday. Treat the talented third-year TE as an upside TE2.

Cardinals Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Damiere Byrd 69 180 4.32 11% 15% Greedy Williams 74 185 4.37
Slot Larry Fitzgerald 75 225 4.48 20% 21% T.J. Carrie 72 206 4.48
Right Christian Kirk 71 201 4.47 24% 31% Denzel Ward 71 183 4.32

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Kyler Murray and company have scored just 24 combined points in back-to-back tough matchups against the Rams and Steelers since the Cardinals' Week 12 bye.

The good news is that Murray has focused his targets on two teammates in particular during these games:

Kirk hasn't found the end zone aside from his 6-138-3 explosion back in Week 10. Still, his average of 8.8 targets per game ranks 13th among all WRs this season. Treat him as a volume-induced WR3 against a Browns Defense that ranks 19th and 23rd in DVOA against No. 1 and No. 2 WRs, respectively, this season.

Old-man Fitz ripped off back-to-back games with over 100 yards to start the season ... and hasn't managed to clear even 75 yards in a game since. He's nothing more than a low-ceiling WR4 against Carrie, who has allowed the fifth-fewest receptions per snap in slot coverage among 50 qualified CBs this season.

The Cardinals are essentially rotating their No. 3 WR by the week. Byrd (43% snaps) played ahead of Cooper (28%) and Isabella (22%) in Week 14, but none are realistic fantasy options with this sort of part-time role.

TE breakdown: Both Clay and Williams have exactly one game this season with more than two targets. Neither are realistic fantasy options.

Rams at Cowboys

Rams Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Brandin Cooks 70 189 4.33 12% 22% Byron Jones 73 199 4.48
Slot Cooper Kupp 74 204 4.62 23% 23% Jourdan Lewis 70 195 4.54
Right Robert Woods 72 201 4.51 23% 24% Chidobe Awuzie 72 202 4.43

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: This offense is a completely mystery at WR right now behind Woods:

  • Woods (99% snaps in Week 14, 9 targets)
  • Josh Reynolds (66%, 0)
  • Cooks (39%, 2)
  • Kupp (29%, 4)

It's still unclear why Kupp played such a small role last week, particularly after considering athletic TE Gerald Everett (knee) remains sidelined.

Woods has ripped off 7-95-0, 6-97-0, 13-172-0 and 7-98-1 lines in his past four games. He's a borderline WR1 against the Cowboys' 24th-ranked defense in pass DVOA. Cooks and (somehow) Kupp are best approached as boom-or-bust WR3s as long as they aren't on the field for even half of the offense's snaps.

TE breakdown: Everett's absence has enabled Tyler Higbee to great heights. Overall, he's posted 7-107-1 and 7-116-0 lines on a combined 19 targets over the past two weeks while getting snap rates north of 90% in both games. Up next is a Cowboys Defense that ranks 29th in DVOA against the TE position and generally invites opposing QBs to check the ball down. Continue to fire up Higbee as a strong TE1 as long as Everett remains sidelined.

Cowboys Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Michael Gallup 73 205 4.51 21% 27% Troy Hill 70 182 4.55
Slot Randall Cobb 70 192 4.46 15% 17% Nickell Robey-Coleman 67 169 4.53
Right Amari Cooper 73 211 4.42 20% 26% Jalen Ramsey 73 209 4.41

Projected shadow matchups: Amari Cooper vs. Jalen Ramsey

WR/CB breakdown: Ramsey has been asked to shadow an individual WR on four separate occasions since being traded to the Rams:

He'll face his toughest test yet in Cooper, who has done nothing except ball the hell out at Jerry World since being traded to the Cowboys:

  • 5 receptions-58 yards-1 TD
  • 8-180-2
  • 8-76-0
  • 10-217-3
  • 4-20-0
  • 7-106-0
  • 6-106-1
  • 6-88-2
  • 11-226-1
  • 5-106-0
  • 11-147-1
  • 8-85-0

I'm trusting volume and elite route-running ability to win this matchup and firing up Cooper as a low-end WR1.

Obviously both Gallup and Cobb are set up exceptionally well with Ramsey occupied. They've worked as the PPR WR16 and WR25, respectively, since the Cowboys' Week 8 bye. Treat Gallup as a low-end WR2 and Cobb as a high-end WR3.

TE breakdown: Dak Prescott has averaged 8.58 yards per target when targeting Blake Jarwin during his career -- good for the fifth-highest mark among 14 players with at least 25 targets. Witten's average of 6.67 yards per target ranks ... 14th. Continue to treat the Cowboys' 37-year-old TE as a touchdown-dependent TE2 that hasn't had a fantasy ceiling for years.

Falcons at 49ers

Falcons Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Julio Jones 75 220 4.39 22% 34% Emmanuel Moseley 71 184 4.47
Slot Russell Gage 72 184 4.55 11% 10% K'Waun Williams 69 189 4.58
Right Olamide Zaccheaus 68 188 4.54 2% 5% Richard Sherman 75 195 4.6

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The 49ers' dominant secondary is at less than 100%, as neither Sherman (hamstring) nor Williams (concussion) are guaranteed to suit up.

The problem is that the same is true for the Falcons' WR room. Zaccheaus (31% snaps in Week 14) replaced Calvin Ridley (abdominal, IR) last week and scored an electric 93-yard touchdown, but he lost plenty of snaps to both Christian Blake (17%) and Justin Hardy (17%). None of these complementary WRs are realistic fantasy options in this tough draw. 

If there was ever a time for Matt Ryan to feed Julio all the targets he can handle, this is it. I'm continuing to treat Jones as a sure-fire WR1 despite a scoreless drought that has now reached a career-long nine consecutive games.

Gage figures to work as the offense's No. 3 pass-game option behind both Jones, Austin Hooper and maybe even Devonta Freeman. It's tough to guess who will be peppered with underneath targets once the Falcons are inevitably in comeback mode, but the ceiling is low regardless. Only the Jets (14.75) and Bengals (15.25) are presently implied to score fewer points than the Falcons (17.5, per FantasyLabs).

TE breakdown: Hooper posted a season-low 65% snap rate in his Week 14 return, catching 2-of-6 targets for 32 scoreless yards. I've mocked Hooper's inability to produce except when the Falcons are trailing by multiple scores all season, but this appears to be the most-likely scenario in Week 15. The 49ers have been incredibly tough on opposing passing games through 14 weeks, although the secondary is banged up and they just allowed three touchdowns to Saints TEs in Week 14. Fire up Hooper as a mid-tier TE1.

49ers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Deebo Samuel 71 214 4.48 18% 21% Isaiah Oliver 72 201 4.5
Slot Kendrick Bourne 73 203 4.68 10% 12% Kendall Sheffield 71 193 4.4
Right Emmanuel Sanders 71 180 4.41 17% 28% Blidi Wreh-Wilson 73 195 4.53

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The entire 49ers' passing attack will benefit from the absence of Desmond Trufant (forearm, IR).

The only concern here is volume. Jimmy Garoppolo has proven capable of putting up numbers in shootouts, but he's also had five games with 25 or fewer pass attempts inside of the 49ers' run-first offense.

His target distribution since getting George Kittle back in Week 12 is as follows:

The Falcons rank 31st and 25th in most yards per game allowed to opposing No. 1 and No. 2 WRs, respectively. The volume isn't ideal, but coach Kyle Shanahan has consistently schemed his playmakers into success all season. Both Samuel and Sanders are borderline WR2s, while Bourne is a touchdown-dependent WR3.

TE breakdown: Kittle has averaged 2.91 yards per route run this season after posting a 2.82 rate in 2018. Those are the two-highest marks among all TEs with at least 50 targets in a single season over the past 10 years (PFF). You don't need me to tell you that Kittle is a weekly top-three fantasy option at the position and one of the most-valuable non-QBs in the entire league. Be sure to check out Josh Norris' wonderful piece highlighting the top-10 plays of the Saints-49ers' entertaining shootout from Week 14.

Bills at Steelers

Bills Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left John Brown 70 179 4.34 24% 37% Steven Nelson 70 197 4.49
Slot Cole Beasley 68 177 4.54 21% 17% Mike Hilton 69 178 4.6
Right Isaiah McKenzie 67 173 4.41 10% 6% Joe Haden 71 193 4.62

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Tyler Boyd (5-101-1 in Week 12) is the only WR that has managed to clear 100 yards on the Steelers this season.

Smokey possesses the type of big-play ability to become the second, but his once-high floor has disappeared with 2-39-1, 3-26-0 and 3-26-0 performances over the past three weeks.

Meanwhile, Beasley has at least four catches in five consecutive games and has scored a career-high six touchdowns on the season.

The Steelers have really hit their stride in recent weeks and haven't allowed more than 220 passing yards in a game since before their Week 7 bye. Brown and Beasley are each best approached as low-ceiling WR3s in this cold prime-time matchup. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has (deservingly) gotten a lot of praise for spearheading this defensive turnaround, but the Steelers' plethora of talented CBs also deserve some credit:

  • Nelson: PFF's No. 12 highest-graded CB in coverage among 131 qualified corners
  • Cameron Sutton: No. 14
  • Haden: No. 28
  • Hilton: No. 32

TE breakdown: Dawson Knox mixes in a spectacular catch or great block with a brutal drop seemingly every week. The rookie has flashed some tantalizing talent this season, but it'll probably take until 2020 until we see anything resembling consistent fantasy production. Overall, Knox has far more games with fewer than 25 yards (8) than he does with more (5). He's a boom-or-bust TE2 against Fitzpatrick and company.

Steelers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Diontae Johnson 70 183 4.53 17% 20% Levi Wallace 72 179 4.63
Slot JuJu Smith-Schuster 73 215 4.54 17% 24% Taron Johnson 71 192 4.5
Right James Washington 71 213 4.54 15% 28% Tre'Davious White 71 192 4.47

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: JuJu (knee) is reportedly expected to return in Week 15. He should avoid shadow treatment from White, who has never spent more than a handful of snaps in the slot during the course of a game.

The problem: volume. Devlin Hodges AKA Duck has attempted 20, 21 and 19 passes in his three starts this season.

The lack of certainty around whether or not Smith-Schuster will be limited casts a shadow of doubt around the snaps and targets alike of the Steelers' top-three WRs. Incredibly scarce volume, combined with a brutal matchup, leads me to believe that none of JuJu, Johnson nor Washington should be viewed as anything more than a boom-or-bust WR4.

TE breakdown: Vance McDonald (concussion) should be considered questionable for Sunday. Nick Vannett would likely inherit a full-time role if McDonald is ultimately sidelined. Unfortunately, only the 49ers have allowed fewer receiving yards per game to opposing TEs than the Bills. Neither McDonald nor Vannett are worthy of anything more than touchdown-dependent TE2 treatment.

Colts at Saints

Colts Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Ashton Dulin 73 215 4.43 0% 0% Eli Apple 73 199 4.4
Slot Zach Pascal 74 219 4.55 14% 22% P.J. Williams 72 194 4.57
Right Marcus Johnson 73 204 4.44 N/A N/A Marshon Lattimore 72 193 4.36

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Lattimore didn't travel with either Emmanuel Sanders or Deebo Samuel in Week 14. It seems unlikely that the Saints ask him to track Pascal this week. Regardless, Lattimore has played six or fewer snaps in the slot during every game this season, so Pascal would be able to avoid the matchup for a good portion of the game.

Parris Campbell (foot, IR) is done for the season, while T.Y. Hilton (calf) is still considered week to week. It's unlikely either Dulin or Chad Williams provides anything resembling consistent fantasy production as the No. 5 (at best) pass-game option in this run-first offense.

That leaves us with Pascal and Johnson, who posted 5-74-1 and 3-105-1 lines, respectively, against the Buccaneers' brutal secondary last week.

Jacoby Brissett has numerous games with fewer than 30 pass attempts this season. Still, he's thrown 40 and 36 passes over the last two weeks with the Colts struggling to slow down opposing passing games. This *should* again be the case in Week 15 against Drew Brees and company.

Pascal has posted 5-76-1, 2-26-0, 2-17-0, 0-0-0, 7-109-0 and 5-74-1 lines in six games since Hilton originally started dealing with his calf injury. The recent production has been great, but the demonstrated floor still makes Pascal a risky play. Treat him as an upside WR3 in this spot.

Johnson is the offense's deep threat at the moment and is a prime DFS-showdown option. Still, there's also a low floor here, and the Saints' speedy and talented outside CBs shouldn't be confused with anyone employed by the Buccaneers. Treat the third-year WR as a boom-or-bust WR4.

TE breakdown: Doyle has posted 6-73-1 and 2-27-0 lines since Eric Ebron (ankle, IR) was lost for the season. Still, we have the entire 2017 season as evidence that Brissett is more than capable of enabling Doyle to consistent TE1 production without Ebron in the picture. Continue to fire up Doyle as a low-end TE1 through the fantasy playoffs.

Saints Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Michael Thomas 75 212 4.57 31% 37% Rock Ya-Sin 72 192 4.51
Slot Tre'Quan Smith 74 203 4.49 6% 10% Kenny Moore 69 185 4.52
Right Ted Ginn 71 180 4.43 12% 29% Pierre Desir 73 198 4.59

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Thomas has 16 games with double-digit receptions since entering the league in 2016. Antonio Brown (11) is the only other player with at least 10-such games.

Currently averaging the 11th-most PPR per game in a single season among all WRs over the past 50 years, Thomas earned matchup-proof overall WR1 treatment a long time ago.

Smith still doesn't have even 50 yards in a game this season, while Ginn's 4-50-0 performance in Week 14 marked the first time that he reached that threshold since Week 1. Neither are worthy of anything more than boom-or-bust WR4 treatment.

TE breakdown: Jared Cook (concussion) caught both of his targets for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just eight snaps in Week 14 before exiting the game. He's earned high-end TE1 treatment if active as Drew Brees' undisputed No. 3 pass-game option behind only Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Josh Hill has surpassed 50 receiving yards in just 3-of-100 regular season games and likely won't command the same volume as Cook if the Saints' starting TE is ultimately sidelined. Treat Hill as a touchdown-dependent TE2 if Cook is inactive.

Ian Hartitz

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