We’ve been working on something massive behind the scenes at Fantasy Points this year. We have an exceptional team of charters led up by Brett Whitefield and Chris Wecht — two guys we’re convinced are superstars in this field — who have been gathering data native to the website.
Eventually, that data will be available on the site in raw form and in pretty charts and graphics (everyone loves pretty graphics!), but building the foundation of the database has been the big focus for everyone.
With Fantasy Points Data — a project that we’ve had in the works for the better part of a year — we wanted to answer one big question: what if we tailored all of the data our team has gathered (hand-charted from our team of experts) directly to the fantasy player?
Based on years of playing season-long fantasy, dynasty, and DFS — and using all the charted data out there to build models and try to gain an advantage in a game where the margins are shrinking — we believe we’ve found where we can do things better. And we have tools in development that we think fantasy players will go absolutely crazy for. We believe, in all humility, we’re going to do this better than anyone else, and it will unequivocally blow your mind.
I’ll break this article every week into two sections — a macro look at offensive lines vs. defensive lines, and a micro look at wide receivers vs. secondaries — highlighting both the best and worst matchups every week.
(NOTE: All data is from a range of the most recent five weeks unless otherwise noted.)
Top Run Game Mismatches
Our “RUSH GRADE” is based simply on a formula measuring an offense’s average yardage before contact on non-QB rush attempts (a catch-all way to eliminate scrambles) versus a defense’s average yards per contact allowed on non-QB rush attempts.
Best Week 14 Run Blocking Matchups
There’s nothing notable about the Browns being featured here, as they’ve become a staple of the “Best Rush Grades” week after week. They helped Dameon Pierce get off his schneid last week, after all. But what is notable is that the Bengals have gotten a fantastic performance in back-to-back weeks from Samaje Perine in the place of Joe Mixon (concussion). Will the Bengals give Mixon his pseudo-bell-cow role back, or has Perine earned more looks?
Like the Browns, the Chargers are an absolute fixture here. But Miami is interesting — the Dolphins didn’t even try to run the ball against the 49ers last week, with Raheem Mostert (7) and Jeff Wilson (1) combining for just 8 carries (Mostert getting seven times the work than Wilson in his return from a knee injury was… unexpected). The Dolphins’ offensive line woes crushed them against the Niners, probably in a way the Chargers just can’t take advantage of. With Tua Tagovailoa (ankle) and Jaylen Waddle (leg) dinged up, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Miami get back to basics in this glorious matchup.
The Cowboys are currently 17-point favorites against the Texans, who — just like the Browns and Chargers — are often featured here. Not only is this a great spot for Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, but this looks like the kind of environment for Malik Davis to get a garbage-time score, just like last week.
Despite a down game on Thanksgiving, I am very interested to see Buffalo’s usage of James Cook here. Cook is coming off the best game of his young career, pacing the backfield in carries (14), catches (6), scrimmage yards (105), and FP (16.5) on a season-high 43% snap share in a victory over the Patriots in Week 13. It looks like the Bills are slowly starting to trust him more as they look for him to be their lead back in 2023. I don’t think this matchup against the Jets is as good as the numbers indicate here, but Cook is clearly on the flex radar right now.
Philly’s ground game got stifled by Tennessee’s elite run defense last week. No matter, because Jalen Hurts crushed them through the air. Against the Giants, look for Miles Sanders to bounce back. New York let Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson run for 135 yards last week.
Worst Week 14 Run Blocking Matchups
Zonovan Knight has emerged as a true waiver-wire gem for the Jets, and his big role is expected to continue even when Michael Carter returns from injury. But this matchup against Buffalo? Not so hot. He’ll likely need to continue producing in the passing game to reach value. He caught 5 passes for 28 yards against the Vikings last week.
The fact that James Conner scored 18 touchdowns last year very loudly obfuscated the fact that he didn’t run for 100 yards in any single game. He finally had his first such performance in the Cardinals’ Week 12 game before last week’s bye. The issue is that it was against the Chargers’ atrocious run defense. This week’s matchup with the Patriots is not nearly as juicy.
The Vikings have been on this list quite a bit because they haven’t been opening holes — their 0.69 YBC/ATT are the fewest in the NFL over the last five weeks. But you’re still playing Dalvin Cook. The Lions’ defense has seriously improved in recent weeks, though.
If the Ravens don’t have Lamar Jackson this week, what do they have? Their run game has had moments of being very good, but also being atrocious. Gus Edwards was awful last week and ceded work to Kenyan Drake. But Drake has also had some absolutely awful moments, and JK Dobbins might return to the fold soon to make this a brutal committee. The Steelers’ defense is not one I’d be attacking with this cornucopia of crap.
Travis Etienne was indeed fine in Week 13 after his Week 12 foot injury. In fact, he played a season-high 88% of the snaps against the Lions! Unfortunately, he’s got a brutal matchup against a Titan run defense the Eagles didn’t even try to attack last week (they, of course, did not need to attack it).
Top Pass Game Mismatches
Our “PASS GRADE” is a formula developed using “QB Pressure Rate Over Expectation.” It measures how much a quarterback should be expected to face pressure, adjusted for the quarterback’s average time to throw (a quarterback with a 3.0-second aT2T should be expected to be pressured more than one with a 2.0-second aT2T, for instance).
The higher the number, the worse it is for an offense, and the better it is for a defense.
Best Week 14 Pass Rush Matchups
Normally I’d scoff at Carolina having our top Pass Grade of the week, and in fact, I still might, but I actually thought Sam Darnold played pretty well before Carolina’s Week 13 bye. Seattle’s pass rush has shown a few signs of life recently, which is notable, because Darnold’s average time to throw in Week 12 was 3.19, the highest among all QBs. That’s a stark contrast to what the Panthers were doing with PJ Walker, getting the ball out of his hands quickly.
San Francisco is not actually a “good matchup” for Tampa Bay. Tom Brady just gets the ball out of his hands super quickly. His average time to throw of 2.33 on his 54 attempts on Monday night against the Saints ranked 4th-fastest in Week 13. As I’ve noted multiple times, Brady’s sacrificing more efficient throws for quicker ones. Those issues will be exacerbated with Tristan Wirfs (ankle) still likely out against this nasty 49er pass rush, which saw Arik Armstead return against the Dolphins last week.
The Titans are a much easier matchup through the air than on the ground, as the Eagles proved last week. But the Jaguars’ numbers here are skewed by their recent plan of attack — over the last five weeks, Trevor Lawrence’s aT2T of 2.12 is by far the fastest of QBs with 100 or more dropbacks (Brady is next at 2.28). So the Jags will likely be getting the ball out quickly and often, as this matchup dictates.
The Vikings have given up 300 or more passing yards in four consecutive games, including in the last two to Mac Jones and Mike White. Over the last five weeks, only the Seahawks are generating pressure over expectation at a lower rate than the Vikings are. It’s a legitimately great week to stream Jared Goff.
The Browns sacked Joe Burrow four times in Week 8, the last time these two squads met (also, the last time the Bengals lost). Since then, the Browns have delivered pressure at the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL, while it doesn’t even matter for Burrow — per our data team, he was under pressure on 50% of his dropbacks against the Chiefs last week and still completed 81% of his passes for 286 yards and 2 TD.
Best Week 14 Pass Rush Matchups
Kansas City pressured Joe Burrow on 50% of his dropbacks last week — it’s hard to blame the Chiefs’ loss on the rush. Burrow just had himself an insane performance in a brutal atmosphere. I would not expect similar results from the 2022 version of Russell Wilson.
Pray for Kyle Allen against the Cowboys. There’s really nothing else to say.
The Chargers have so many issues on the offensive line, with Rashawn Slater already out for the year, Trey Pipkins (knee) still day-to-day per Brandon Staley and Corey Linsley still in concussion protocol. Justin Herbert has been absolutely under siege lately and that will not change against Miami’s Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips this week.
Through injuries and some missteps, but mostly injuries/retirements, the Rams might have the worst offensive line in football. And the Raiders’ pass rush, already led by the nasty Maxx Crosby, got a boost when Chandler Jones woke up last week to the tune of 3 sacks, after posting all of one half a sack in the first 11 games of the season. That’s bad news for John Wolford. Or Bryce Perkins. Or new Ram Baker Mayfield (!).
It’s not all his fault because the Browns do have some injuries on the offensive line, but Deshaun Watson was up to his old tricks in Week 13, often creating his own pressure by holding the ball too long and running into it. The Texans pressured Watson on 50% of his dropbacks, the highest rate the Browns have allowed in a single game this year.
Top WR/CB Mismatches
NEW on Fantasy Points is our WR/CB Matchup Tool, sortable with loads of matchup data!
A note on our process: there are very few situations in the NFL in which one receiver will match up with one corner for the vast majority of his routes. So honestly, WR/CB matchups in the traditional sense are perhaps the most overrated form of fantasy analysis.
We aim to do them better: our process breaks down how many routes a receiver runs from a certain alignment, and assigns a weighted score based on how much that receiver is expected to see a given defender based on those alignments. So it will measure how often we expect a receiver to face all defenders in a matchup, not just one particular defender, and weigh a score by those expected percentages.
So really, this is more of a WR/Secondary breakdown, as opposed to individual WR/CB matchups. And if we do believe there could be a shadow situation, I will mention that.
I will write up what I feel to be some of the more interesting matchups, not necessarily every top or bottom matchup.
Best Week 14 WR/CB Matchups
Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase (Cin) vs. Martin Emerson and Denzel Ward (Cle) — Chase did not play the last time these two teams hit the field in Week 8, which was as I mentioned above the last time the Bengals lost a game. Higgins scored in that game, but also led the Bengals with just 49 yards receiving. I’ve contended in this piece the last few weeks that the Browns’ CBs are playing better than the numbers indicate, especially Emerson, who is a really impressive rookie. But this is a nasty, nasty matchup, with Chase looking like himself last week against the Chiefs. And among CBs over the last five weeks, Emerson is giving up the 21st-most FP/coverage snap, and Ward the 28th (of 105 qualifiers).
Richie James vs. Josiah Scott (Phi) — Scott is another guy who is playing much better than the numbers indicate. He gave up Treylon Burks’ touchdown catch last week, but it was a perfect throw by Ryan Tannehill and an insane catch by Burks given the circumstances (the hit from Marcus Epps knocked him out for the rest of the game with a concussion). Nonetheless, the slot is where you want to attack the Eagles to avoid the Death Duo of Darius Slay and James Bradberry on the perimeter. However, we also need to note for James’ prospects in this game that the Eagles’ regular slot corner, the excellent Avonte Maddox, is eligible to come off of IR this week. He’s spent four games on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. That would make this matchup much more difficult, presuming Maddox isn’t rusty.
Treylon Burks with an UNREAL catch 😳 pic.twitter.com/hPr426xOMH— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) December 4, 2022
George Pickens vs. Marcus Peters (Bal) — The Ravens’ CBs play sides, and the Steeler WRs don’t. Pickens plays RWR about 47% of the time, and LWR 40% of the time. But that still means the plurality of his routes will be lined up on the Ravens’ LCB, who happens to be Peters (Peters aligns over the RWR over 90% of the time). Over the last five weeks, Peters is giving up 0.48 FP/CS, the third-most among 105 qualified corners. Pickens was openly upset about his lack of targets against the Falcons last week, when he caught just 1 pass for 2 yards on 2 looks. Mike Tomlin is an old-school coach and I’m feeling a “grease the squeaky wheel” situation here.
Elijah Moore (NYJ) vs. Taron Johnson (Buf) — This isn’t necessarily a “good” matchup, but for those playing DFS, I do want to highlight it. In Week 13, Moore ran 74.4% of his routes from the slot, well above his previous average of 30.7%. He also ran close to a full route share, which suggests his usage is increasing. That would put him on slot CB Johnson the majority of the time, which is the “easiest” matchup in this Buffalo secondary by the numbers. With his increased usage and the Jets’ pass-heaviness with Mike White at QB, I’m expecting Moore to be a popular “last man in” for DFS lineups this week.
Worst Week 14 WR/CB Matchups
CeeDee Lamb (Dal) vs. Tavierre Thomas (Hou) — No, you’re never going to bench Lamb, who is in the best stretch of football of his career. But Thomas, a very underrated slot player, is giving up just 0.13 FP/CS over the last five weeks, 10th-fewest among all qualified CBs and third-fewest among primary slot CBs over that span. And as pointed out above, this matchup is basically inviting the Cowboys to hand it off to their horses in the backfield and get out with an easy win.
Jerry Jeudy (Den) vs. Kansas City — This one is entirely dependent on what the Broncos choose to do if Courtland Sutton (hamstring) misses time. With Jeudy back against the Ravens in Week 13, Kendall Hinton moved to the outside from the slot. Coincidentally, that gave Jeudy the toughest matchup, against Ravens’ slot CB Marlon Humphrey. Against the Chiefs, you’d much rather run routes against LCB Joshua Williams (27th-most FP/CS over the past five weeks) than slot CB L’Jarius Sneed (47th-most) or rookie RCB Trent McDuffie (13th-fewest). Will the Broncos keep Jeudy inside or put him outside, where Williams roams?
Gabe Davis (Buf) vs. New York Jets — We project that Davis will see more of Sauce Gardner than any other Bills WR. And Buffalo will certainly want to keep Stefon Diggs running a large portion of his routes in the slot if Jets underrated slot CB Michael Carter II (ankle) can’t play. Over the past five weeks, Gardner is giving up the 15th-fewest FP/CS of all corners. Davis is very touchdown-dependent right now, and likely will continue to be in this matchup. Gardner has surrendered 2 TD this year… but to Amari Cooper and Ja’Marr Chase.
Week 14 Potential Shadow Situations
Davante Adams (LV) vs. Jalen Ramsey (LAR) — One of the biggest fantasy misconceptions of recent years is that Ramsey is a Revis-style shadow CB. That couldn’t be much further from the truth — you can make the argument that Ramsey has “shadowed” only twice this year, against DK Metcalf and DeAndre Hopkins, and even still he faced Metcalf on just 57% of his routes and Hopkins on 62%. The other misconception might be that he’s a shutdown guy, or at least still is. Over the last five weeks, the 260 yards Ramsey has surrendered in primary coverage are 4th-most among all CBs, while the 4 TDs are tied for most. If he does shadow Adams, that’s not a reason to really shy away here.
Justin Jefferson (Min) vs. Jeff Okudah (Det) — This is based entirely on Week 3 from this year, when Okudah aligned over Jefferson on 80.5% of his routes, and did a fantastic job on him overall, holding him to 3 catches for 14 yards in primary coverage (that was Jefferson’s full stat line for the game). Given Okudah’s success in that matchup, there’s little reason to think Detroit DC Aubrey Pleasant won’t try the same thing. It’s also foolish to expect that Jefferson can’t top 14 yards this time.