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Keenan Allen
AP
By the Numbers

NFL Week 16 WR/CB Matchups and TE Analysis

by Ian Hartitz
Updated On: December 20, 2019, 12:56 am ET

We're on to Week 16! This is the last edition of this column of 2019. I'll still touch on all WRs and TEs moving forward, but it'll be courtesy of a DFS-specific breakdown in Week 17 since most season-long leagues will be done after this week.

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.



Texans at Buccaneers

Texans Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left DeAndre Hopkins 73 214 4.57 30% 35% Jamel Dean 73 206 4.3
Slot Kenny Stills 72 194 4.38 12% 13% Sean Bunting 70 195 4.42
Right Will Fuller 72 186 4.32 22% 31% Carlton Davis 73 206 4.53

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The entire Texans Offense has taken a fairly large step forward when Deshaun Watson has had his ace field-stretching WR over the years, including Hopkins. The Texans' long-time No. 1 WR has actually been a more-productive WR despite a decrease in targets with his sidekick compared to without:

  • Hopkins per game with Fuller and Watson (21 games): 9.4 targets, 6.4 receptions, 90.4 receiving yards, 0.8 TD, 20.3 PPR
  • Without (24 games): 11.7 targets, 7.3 receptions, 91.4 receiving yards, 0.6 TD, 19.9 PPR

Nuk is locked in as a top-three WR this week against the Buccaneers' league-worst defense in PPR per game allowed to the position. Treat both Fuller and Stills as boom-or-bust WR3s that are plenty capable of making their handful of fantasy-friendly targets per game count in a big way against this putrid secondary.

TE breakdown: Darren Fells is largely only being used in the flats on RPO's as a receiver. He's finished with fewer than 15 yards in six games this season while clearing 50 yards just twice. Part of the problem has been the presence of Jordan Akins, who is always a threat to steal away five-or-so targets himself. Neither should be treated as anything more than touchdown-dependent TE2s or GPP dart throws despite the strong matchup.

Buccaneers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Breshad Perriman 74 212 4.3 10% 15% Bradley Roby 71 194 4.39
Slot Justin Watson 75 225 4.49 4% 5% Vernon Hargreaves 70 204 4.5
Right Ishmael Hyman 72 196 4.5 N/A N/A Johnathan Joseph 71 193 4.32

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Mike Evans (hamstring, IR), Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Scotty Miller (hamstring, IR) are each expected to spend Saturday's matchup against the Texans on the sideline. This leaves Week 15 three-TD hero Perriman with the second-year Watson and AAF-champion Hyman.

Be sure to check out our Week 16 Injury Dashboard for estimated and official game statuses along with daily practice participation for every injury player.

Coach Bruce Arians has already said the team's RBs and TEs will have to be more involved in the passing game, so don't expect too much from Hyman due to the likelihood of fewer three-WR sets.

Still, this leaves Perriman and Watson in a winnable matchup with the league's single-most fearless gunslinger. Overall, Jameis Winston's 5,624 intended air yards this season is nearly 1,000 yards higher than second-place QB Dak Prescott (4,788). Fire up both players as upside WR3s against the Texans' underwhelming secondary.

TE breakdown: Winston spread the ball around in his first start of the season without Evans, but honed in on O.J. Howard (8 targets) and Cameron Brate (7) more frequently than anyone other than Godwin (7). Expect more of the same in another great matchup against the Texans' mediocre defense against TEs.


Bills at Patriots

Bills Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left John Brown 70 179 4.34 25% 39% Stephon Gilmore 72 190 4.4
Slot Cole Beasley 68 177 4.54 21% 18% Jonathan Jones 69 186 4.33
Right Isaiah McKenzie 67 173 4.41 10% 6% J.C. Jackson 70 201 4.46

Projected shadow matchups: John Brown vs. Stephon Gilmore, Cole Beasley vs. Jonathan Jones

WR/CB breakdown: Gilmore has six interceptions and two touchdowns this season. He's locked up every single No. 1 WR that the Patriots have asked him to travel with:

Note that the above figures represent those WR's entire game log, so not all of that scoreless production came in the direct coverage of Gilmore.

Slot CB Jones (groin) isn't 100%. The Bills went out of their way to target him back in Week 4, as Cole Beasley caught 7-of-13 targets for 75 yards.

Both Smokey Brown and Beasley are good enough to win their respective matchups in spots. Still, this hasn't been a secondary to mess with all season, and this game boasts the week's lowest over/under. Keep expectations in check for everyone involved.

McKenzie flashes his speed every few weeks, but he's well off the fantasy radar with fewer than 50 receiving yards in all but one game this season.

TE breakdown: Upside rookie Dawson Knox flashes either as a blocker or receiver nearly every week, but he's battled drops all season and played just 48% of the offense's snaps in Week 15. The presence of both Lee Smith (48%) and Tyler Kroft (29%) renders all three players as non-viable fantasy options.

Patriots Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left N'Keal Harry 74 228 4.53 7% 6% Levi Wallace 72 179 4.63
Slot Julian Edelman 70 198 4.57 25% 30% Taron Johnson 71 192 4.5
Right Mohamed Sanu 74 211 4.67 14% 12% Tre'Davious White 71 192 4.47

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Patriots finally seemed to settle on a three-WR set in Week 15, handing Mohamed Sanu (86% snaps), Julian Edelman (62%) and N'Keal Harry (58%) full-time roles over the likes of Phillip Dorsett (14%) and Jakobi Meyers (11%).

Harry has demonstrated some of his tantalizing upside since returning from the injured reserve in Week 11. Still, he's yet to see more than four targets or 20 yards in a game. Sanu has failed to reach even 25 yards in this offense other than his fluky 10-81-1 performance in Week 9 against the Ravens.

That leaves us with Edelman, who had a 2-9-0 dud on just five targets in Week 15. Previously, he'd racked up double-digit pass-game opportunities in eight consecutive contests. His 4-30-0 performance in Week 4 against the Bills doesn't inspire much confidence, but the overall PPR WR4 on the season still deserves matchup-proof WR1 treatment. This is especially true this week considering the Bills have never moved White into the slot for extended stretches of a game.

TE breakdown: Both Matt LaCosse (75% snaps) and Ben Watson (52%) played a majority of the offense's snaps in the Patriots' blowout win over the Bengals. Only LaCosse (3-22-0) was utilized in the pass game. Neither are realistic fantasy options with Tom Brady typically prioritizing the offense's WRs and RBs before either TE.

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Rams at 49ers

Rams Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Brandin Cooks 70 189 4.33 13% 23% Ahkello Witherspoon 75 198 4.45
Slot Cooper Kupp 74 204 4.62 22% 21% D.J. Reed 69 188 4.51
Right Robert Woods 72 201 4.51 22% 23% Emmanuel Moseley 71 184 4.47

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Woods (100% snaps in Week 15) and Kupp (92%) were the offense's full-time WRs in the Rams' loss to the Cowboys, while Cooks (71%) lost some snaps to Josh Reynolds (36%).

Up next is a matchup against a 49ers defense that isn't even close to healthy at the moment:

  • LB Kwon Alexander (pec, IR) is out for the season.
  • DE Dee Ford (hamstring) could miss the remainder of the regular season.
  • S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) hasn't been practicing and could miss more time.
  • CB Richard Sherman (hamstring) is tentatively expected to suit up Saturday.
  • CB K'Waun Williams (concussion) is tentatively expected to suit up Saturday.

Jared Goff completed 13-of-24 passes (54%) for 78 scoreless yards (3.25 YPA) when the Rams took on the 49ers in Week 6. This performance, combined with his historically brutal home/away splits, doesn't inspire much confidence in a rebound.

Approach both Woods and Kupp as upside WR3s in one of the league's most-inconsistent offenses. Cooks is presently nothing more than a boom-or-bust WR4.

TE breakdown: Tyler Higbee was always fine. He didn't miss a game in 2017 (25-295-1) or 2018 (24-292-2). Then Gerald Everett hurt his knee in Week 12. All Higbee has done with his every-down role is ball out to the highest of levels with 7-107-1, 7-116-0 and 12-111-0 performances. Only Robert Woods, Michael Thomas, Christian McCaffrey and Allen Robinson have more targets during this span. Continue to treat Higbee as a high-end TE1 if Everett remains sidelined. Still, I'd rather start guys like Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz, who are truly their passing game's No. 1 option.

49ers Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Deebo Samuel 71 214 4.48 17% 20% Troy Hill 70 182 4.55
Slot Kendrick Bourne 73 203 4.68 10% 12% Nickell Robey-Coleman 67 169 4.53
Right Emmanuel Sanders 71 180 4.41 16% 27% Jalen Ramsey 73 209 4.41

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Ramsey has shadowed Julio Jones (6-93-0), JuJu Smith-Schuster (3-44-0), Allen Robinson (4-15-0), DK Metcalf (6-78-0) and Amari Cooper (1-19-0) since joining the Rams. He's mostly stayed put as the defense's left CB otherwise in matchups against the Bengals, Ravens and Cardinals.

The 49ers' run-first offense that features TE George Kittle as their No. 1 pass-game option doesn't seem to be a spot to expect the Rams to ask their No. 1 CB to shadow a specific man, particularly due to the fairly even target distribution and performance between Sanders and Samuel since Kittle returned to the lineup in Week 12:

Treat both Sanders and Samuel as upside WR3s that are plenty talented enough to put together big performances, but keep in mind they're always at risk of seeing minimal volume in an offense that keeps the TE, RB and FB plenty involved in the passing game.

TE breakdown: Maybe DC Wade Phillips has some tricks up his sleeve, but he's been incapable of slowing down Kittle in past matchups. Overall, the 49ers' No. 1 pass-game weapon has posted 4-100-0, 5-98-1, 9-149-1 and 8-103-0 in his last four games against the Rams. Continue to fire up one of the league's best overall players as a top-three TE in fantasy formats of all shapes and sizes.


Bengals at Dolphins

Bengals Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left John Ross 71 188 4.22 16% 27% Nate Brooks 72 187 4.67
Slot Tyler Boyd 73 197 4.58 24% 25% Jomal Wiltz 70 180 4.48
Right Alex Erickson 74 203 4.58 12% 14% Nik Needham 71 194 4.67

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Boyd (86% snaps in Week 15) and Erickson (76%) played full-time roles last week, while TEs C.J. Uzomah (70%), Tyler Eifert (55%) and Cethan Carter (48%) worked ahead of Ross (38%). Still, coach Zac Taylor did note that he wouldn't immediately expose Ross to a full game's worth of snaps in his comeback from the injured reserve.

Boyd (3-26-0) got shut down by Stephon Gilmore last week. Previously, he'd continued to largely offer WR3 value with occasional WR1 pop weeks with Andy Dalton under center:

  • Week 1: PPR WR31
  • Week 2: WR9
  • Week 3: WR37
  • Week 4: WR58
  • Week 5: WR8
  • Week 6: WR73
  • Week 7: WR47
  • Week 8: WR28
  • Week 13: WR20
  • Week 14: WR33
  • Week 15: WR64

Treat Boyd as a borderline WR2 this week against a Dolphins Defense that has been dusted by notable high-usage slot WRs such as Jarvis Landry (10-148-2), JuJu Smith-Schuster (5-103-1), Jamison Crowder (8-83-1) and Golden Tate (1-51-1).

TE breakdown: Tyler Eifert played more than half of the offense's snaps for just the second time all season in Week 15. Coincidentally, it came against the Patriots, who were rumored to be in talks to acquire his services around the trade deadline. The other game that Eifert was used on a majority of the offense's snaps came ... right before the trade deadline. I wouldn't chase his mediocre production as long as C.J. Uzomah continues to dominate reps and see a few targets himself on an every-week basis.

Dolphins Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left DeVante Parker 75 209 4.45 20% 31% William Jackson 72 189 4.37
Slot Albert Wilson 69 202 4.43 11% 7% Darqueze Dennard 71 199 4.51
Right Allen Hurns 73 198 4.55 9% 11% B.W. Webb 70 184 4.51

Projected shadow matchups: DeVante Parker vs. William Jackson

WR/CB breakdown: Parker (94% snaps in Week 15) and Wilson (80%) worked well ahead of both Hurns (46%) and No. 4 WR Isaiah Ford (44%).

The Bengals have had Jackson shadow Robby Anderson (7-101-0) and Odell Beckham (2-39-0) this season. The talented third-year CB deserves credit for helping this defense allow the fifth-fewest PPR per game to opposing WRs through 15 weeks. Still, this could very well be more of a game script issue considering only the Dolphins (-194) have a worse point differential than the Bengals (-148) this season.

Parker is capable of skying over any CB in the league and coming down with the ball. He has five games with double-digit targets this season and has more than earned the trust of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Continue to treat him as a borderline WR1 despite the tough matchup in this sneaky-shootout spot that carries a 47.5-point game total.

Wilson is an underrated streaming option due to his new-found role. Fire him up as a borderline WR3 from the friendly confines of the slot.

TE breakdown: The Dolphins have used Mike Gesicki as more of a pure WR this season, as he's lined up in the slot or out wide on 79% of his snaps through 15 weeks. The second-year "TE" has at least five targets in seven straight games and, like Parker, has earned Fitzpatrick's loyalty in contested-catch situations. Treat Gesicki as a borderline TE1 in this spot.


Steelers at Jets

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% Blessuan Austin 73 198 4.74
Slot JuJu Smith-Schuster 73 215 4.54 17% 24% Nate Hairston 72 196 4.52
Right James Washington 71 213 4.54 16% 31% Maurice Canady 73 193 4.49

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: JuJu (knee) appears to have a real shot at returning this week. This would further muddle up an already unclear pecking order at receiver.

Players with more than three targets since Week 13

Devlin Hodges AKA Duck has attempted 20, 21, 19 and most recently 38 passes in his four starts this season. It's a great matchup, but these talented WRs aren't likely to have many opportunities to show what they can do. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether Johnson, Smith-Schuster or Washington will have the bigger day.

TE breakdown: McDonald (concussion) could clear the protocol by Sunday, but there isn't much reason to expect a breakout at this point. The once-explosive TE hasn't surpassed 40 yards in any of his 12 games to this point. McDonald is a touchdown-dependent TE2 at best and off the fantasy radar if Jamal Adams (foot) returns.

Jets Offense

Position WR Height Weight Speed Tgt Share Air Yard Share CB Height Weight Speed
Left Robby Anderson 75 190 4.41 19% 36% Steven Nelson 70 197 4.49
Slot Jamison Crowder 68 185 4.56 23% 22% Mike Hilton 69 178 4.6
Right Demaryius Thomas 75 224 4.41 16% 19% Joe Haden 71 193 4.62

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Since their Week 7 bye the Steelers Defense hasn't allowed an offense to surpass even 220 passing yards: Each of the Dolphins (170), Colts (189), Rams (218), Browns (189), Bengals (158), Browns (173), Cardinals (165) and Bills (131) have largely been shut down through the air.

Crowder (6-90-2) managed to make the most out of his tough matchup against the Ravens in Week 15, while Anderson has averaged a 5.5-92.5-0.5 line on eight targets per game over the past four weeks. Both are talented enough to win this matchup, but it won't be easy.

Vyncint Smith replaced Thomas (hamstring) in three-WR sets last week. He managed a solid-enough 3-40-0 line on five targets, but neither him nor DT if active are realistic fantasy options as the offense's No. 4 (at best) pass-game option in this tough spot.

Approach everyone involved in this spot with extreme caution. Bills-Patriots (37.5 points) and Lions-Broncos (38.5) are the only games even comparable to Steelers-Jets (37.5) in terms of game totals.

TE breakdown: The Jets split reps between Daniel Brown (49% snaps in Week 15) and Trevon Wesco (49%) in their first full game without Ryan Griffin (ankle, IR). Neither TE is a realistic fantasy option as a part-time player in this tough matchup.

Ian Hartitz

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