NFL

10 Wide Receivers With Great Cornerback Matchups in Week 14

Every year as a kid, my parents would ask me what I want for my birthday meal, and without fail, I would answer “Chinese food”. I love American Chinese takeout with all sorts of wrapped treats, sauced meats, and rice-supported deliciousness that only an order of Kung Pao chicken and steamed dumplings can impart to an empty stomach.

I know the old joke is that Chinese food has you coming back for seconds later on, but I always find my appetite sated with my favorite genre of food.

Week 14 might have your tummy rumbling in the lead-up; it’s the first round of the fantasy playoffs, and you want to make sure you get your order right. That’s why we present a fully MSG-free wide receiver menu for you every week, helping you figure out which sumptuous cornerback matchup to devour for your fantasy lineups.

We’ll leave your lineup full, but I can promise you’ll want even more fantasy wide receiver goodness. Which cornerback matchups are lì hài (Mandarin Chinese for "awesome") for your fantasy wide receivers in Week 14?

Five Lineup Locks

Jamison Crowder vs. Malcolm Jenkins -- There are few moments where one of the top receivers in fantasy meets up with one of the most permitting cornerbacks in fantasy, but that’s what we get here in the divisional matchup between Washington wideout Jamison Crowder and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.

Per Pro Football Focus, Jenkins has allowed a whopped 3.38 fantasy points per target -- the most among Week 14 starters -- but has managed to keep his target rate on coverage snaps at just 13 percent. Still, Crowder has been targeted on 20 percent of routes to the tune of 2.15 fantasy points per target -- one of just 12 starters this week earning over 2.00 fantasy points per target.

Crowder should feast against Jenkins.

Tyler Boyd vs. Tramon Williams -- A few divisional slot matchups bear watching, like Cincinnati Bengals' Tyler Boyd against the Cleveland BrownsTramon Williams. The two players are on the opposite ends of their NFL careers: Boyd a rookie and Williams an 11-year veteran, which makes this matchup all the more compelling from a narrative standpoint.

We don’t even need that perspective to love this for fantasy, though: Williams is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per target on a 16 percent target rate, and the Browns’ defense as a whole ranks dead last in our schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. With Boyd’s newfound volume, he’s a lock-and-load option.

T.Y. Hilton vs. Kareem Jackson -- The Indianapolis Colts got a steal in the 2012 NFL Draft with T.Y. Hilton, who fell to the third round but has matured into an impactful and consistent producer. Hilton’s 23 percent target rate on routes mixed with a near-2.00 fantasy points per target is a fantasy difference-maker, and his cover man this week will augment -- not dent -- that production.

Houston Texans slot cornerback Kareem Jackson has given up the 8th-most fantasy points per target this year on a sizable 19 percent target rate. Houston may come in at 12th by our Defensive Passing NEP per play analytics, but Jackson is a weak point in that defense that Hilton should exploit.

Larry Fitzgerald vs. Bobby McCain -- I am genuinely proud to say I live in the same city Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is from, as he is nationally famous for being a great athlete and an even better person. The former student at Minneapolis’ Academy of Holy Angels gets a karma rebate on the football field this week, as he faces Miami Dolphins slot cornerback Bobby McCain, who has given up the 10th-most fantasy points per target this season.

Sure, McCain has been targeted at just a 12 percent rate, but Fitz -- at a 22 percent target rate on his routes -- is the heart and soul of this passing attack. He’ll be a strong start in Week 14.

Doug Baldwin vs. Micah Hyde -- The damage done to the Seattle Seahawks’ secondary actually makes their passing offense something to invest in; since there’s less of a chance they completely lock down this game, they may need to vie with the Green Bay Packers for the lead.

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin will be the main target, and slot cornerback Micah Hyde draws the assignment on him. Hyde is allowing the 11th-highest fantasy points per target on a 20 percent target rate, and the Packers’ secondary as a whole ranks eighth-worst by Defensive Passing NEP per play. If the game script goes well, Baldwin will be a big beneficiary.

Five Good Stocks

Dontrelle Inman vs. Leonard Johnson -- The Carolina Panthers are phoning in the rest of this season; you can see it after their essential elimination last week. That means teams should get plenty of chances to beat up on this demoralized secondary, and the San Diego ChargersDontrelle Inman is a likely recipient of that success.

His cornerback cover man, Leonard Johnson, is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per target. Inman is a sneaky-good starter for this week.

Tyler Lockett vs. Damarious Randall -- Take everything about the Packers from the previous blurb and apply it here. If you need to catch up quick, huck the ball downfield to Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett. Lockett will draw Damarious Randall, who is allowing the 12th-most fantasy points per target on a 20 percent target rate. This is the boom part of “boom-or-bust”.

Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Davon House -- The Minnesota Vikings have had their share of passing struggles, but the Jacksonville Jaguars present a good get-right moment for them. Despite a 10th-place ranking by numberFire’s analytics, cornerback Davon House will have issues stopping Cordarrelle Patterson. House is allowing the 14th-most fantasy points per target.

Jordan Matthews vs. Kendall Fuller -- There is no receiving show in town for the Eagles besides Jordan Matthews, so it’s likely he will see the ball funneled to him in the slot against Washington’s Kendall Fuller. Fuller is allowing the 17th-most fantasy points per target going into this week.

Taylor Gabriel vs. E.J. Gaines -- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel has seen a ton of targets and even more touchdowns over the past few weeks, and he could continue that trend here. The Los Angeles Rams also don’t match up to their top-half Defensive Passing NEP per play ranking, as E.J. Gaines is giving up the 23rd-most fantasy points per target on a 24 percent target rate.

Flammables, meet flame.

Two Smoking Craters

Rishard Matthews vs. Aqib Talib -- The Tennessee Titans’ offense has budded over this season, and wide receiver Rishard Matthews has been a sneakily startable fantasy option as a result of that. Against Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, however -- who allows the second-fewest fantasy points per target among cornerbacks with at least 100 routes covered -- that will be a different story.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings -- The Jaguars also need a get-right game, but it won’t come against the Vikings, whose secondary ranks second-best in Defensive Passing NEP per play -- just behind the dominant Broncos.

Terence Newman (third-lowest fantasy points per target) should easily keep Marqise Lee quiet, and Xavier Rhodes is expected to shadow star Allen Robinson. Rhodes allows the seventh-fewest fantasy points per target on a 20 percent target rate, while Robinson has slipped to a measly 1.27 fantasy points per target this year. Look elsewhere in your playoff matchup.