Receiver plays are a week-to-week thought process in NFL DFS due to a variety of outside factors impacting receiver performance. One way to predict who will break out is by examining their secondary opponents for that individual game. Every week of the season, Sam Smith will take a look at advantageous matchups for receivers against vulnerable secondaries, whether it be schematic advantage or merely a weaker cornerback head up on a star receiver. Let’s get into some NFL Matchups and give out some Week 14 NFL DFS picks for your daily fantasy football lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Week 14 DraftKings NFL DFS Picks: WR-CB Matchups
Corey Davis vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Corey Davis is finally entering chalk stud territory. The fourth-year receiver is getting top-seven value projections from Awesemo, and while ownership on him is projecting a little lower than that, he is comfortably exceeding his higher-profile teammate A.J. Brown. Davis’ run to the top of NFL DFS value metrics has been a slow burn, but a trio of high-efficiency splashes have pushed him to WR1 status. Just last week he turned in 11 catches for 192 and a score on 12 targets, and in each of the two weeks before he averaged over 22 yards per reception. In these last three weeks, only Tyreek Hill had more yards, and Hill needed 15 more targets than Davis to get there.
Meanwhile, Brown has slumped behind Davis, not so much in volume but in output. Brown only has two fewer targets in that time, but he has over 100 fewer yards and seven fewer receptions. Maybe it is just an unsustainable hot streak, and maybe the pendulum will swing back to Brown, but Davis looks more comfortable than ever in the role of ace receiver. Plus, he has now ascended to the No. 3 spot in PFF receiving grade, for whatever that is worth. Of course, Tennessee is a run-first team, and their reliance on Derrick Henry will always dampen the median production of their receivers. But it is not as if Davis is priced up to coincide with this recent stretch; he is only $5,700 on DraftKings, 29th among receivers. And this matchup, while it may look like major blowout potential on paper, actually lends an air of confidence to Tennessee’s passing game.
The Jaguars are regulars in this column, a weak secondary combined with a passable passing offenses that throws a decent amount. Basically they are the poor man’s Raiders or Falcons when looking to game-stack. Their pass DVOA only surpasses the Jets, and nearly every defensive back with significant playing time has a targeted passer rating over 100. All nine of them have surrendered at least one touchdown. And though Jacksonville has committed the second-most pass interference penalties in the NFL this year, their exploitability downfield (7.7 net yards per attempt, dead last) shows that their defensive backs are getting burned consistently whether they get grabby or not.
Even though the matchup is sound, we always need to be wary of attacking the Titans passing game given their play calling. Henry is a distant first in the NFL in carries, and Tennessee throws on just 51.7% percent of plays. That said, Henry carried at least 27 times in two of those three games where Davis took off, and Davis dominated usage in the third while the Titans were fighting back against Cleveland. That last game script is unlikely since the Titans should win comfortably, but it is reasonable to think Davis could still put out a strong fantasy game even in a Henry-centric script. At under $6,000 as the new WR1, there is little risk and substantial upside in Davis as an NFL DFS pick, especially on DraftKings.
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Cincinnati Receivers vs. Dallas Cowboys (DraftKings Only)
Here’s the thing about the Bengals: There’s no denying that they have had a lackluster passing offense, even when Joe Burrow was the one doing the throwing. Despite ranking seventh in total pass attempts this year, they are in the bottom third in yards passing and touchdowns. And their passing efficiency certainly has not improved since Brandon Allen took over under center, with only 271 total yards passing in Allen’s two starts. So needless to say, this matchup with a comparably squalid Cowboys offense is not ideal from a stacking perspective.
Where Cincinnati’s receivers make ground this week, however, comes from DraftKings pricing everyone down dramatically in anticipation of more offensive ineptitude. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are both a tick under $5,000 in Week 14, and A.J. Green is the flat min after recording no catches on four targets the last two weeks. Boyd and Higgins jump out a bit more than Green since they each have double-digit total targets in Allen’s two starts with a touchdown apiece, and both are projecting for middling ownership. But Green is not a total lost cause either despite his recent goose eggs. He has several 10-target games this year, and those have typically come immediately following two-week stretches of duds. His quarterback also said that the Bengals should be looking Green’s way more, and the fact that Higgins has been questionable this week could open up a bit more opportunity for the veteran.
The main thing working in the Bengals’ favor is Dallas’ putrid secondary, which only got worse with Chidobe Awuzie hitting the COVID/reserve list. While Awuzie has not been particularly good in limited time this year, the corners behind him, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown, have allowed a combined 600 yards and four touchdowns on 83 targets this year. They are both bottom-20 corners in PFF coverage grade as of writing, though they have also committed eight combined penalties, curbing a bit of matchup upside.
As a unit, Dallas’ coverage has been exploitable due to the efficiency they allow, not so much the volume. They have allowed the second-most touchdowns passing and the 12th-most yards per attempt, but the sixth-fewest yards due to teams exploiting their equally poor run defense. The Bengals are a more pass-centric team, even with Allen at quarterback, so I would expect Zac Taylor to attack the Dallas secondary a bit more. They rank 23rd in pass DVOA and 27th in PFF coverage grade, so Cincinnati receivers will have room to work. The question would just be Allen’s viability in getting them the ball.
Between the three of Higgins, Green and Boyd, my preference would be Boyd comfortably No. 1, followed by Green then Higgins. Though Higgins has had the most success with Allen, his injury issues and slightly lower value metrics place him behind the other two for me. None are all that viable on FanDuel, however.
Tim Patrick vs. Carolina Panthers
Amidst the hype of Denver’s stud rookie receivers, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick has surprisingly emerged as the unit’s alpha dog. Despite seeing 21 fewer targets than Jeudy, Patrick leads the Broncos in receptions, yards and touchdowns. That has come with entirely mediocre quarterback play too. He has not been a week-to-week slate breaker, or even a consistent target hog, but Patrick makes the most of his opportunities with 9.8 yards per target, the 12th-best mark among receivers with at least 40 targets. He has three 100-yard games this year, and he saw seven, eight and seven targets in those three. Of course, he also has plenty of four-target games thrown in, and those games have made him a bit more touchdown-dependent. But since he is Denver’s WR1 from a fantasy perspective and getting priced like a backup, Patrick is one of the best values at his position in Week 14.
It is also worth noting that Patrick’s three highest-volume outputs came against secondaries that I have targeted in this column multiple times: The Jets, Patriots and Dolphins. That provides some credence to the thought that Patrick can take advantage of poor secondaries, and he has especially been good at taking the tops off bad coverage units. Patrick’s 10 catchable deep targets, 10 deep receptions and 331 deep yards are all top six among NFL receivers. And Denver’s Week 14 opponent, Carolina, has been exploitable at all levels, with six different defensive backs being targeted at least 34 times. Seven Panther defensive backs have surrendered at least 230 yards in coverage. There is not one area in the secondary where Carolina has defended the pass well, and they have the league’s seventh-worst pass DVOA and fourth-worst coverage grade to show for it.
Like with the Bengals receivers, Patrick may be at the mercy of his quarterback since Drew Lock has hardly wowed in his second year. He has, however, thrown the ball quite a bit this season, and while his deep passing has been abysmal (18.4 passer rating), any quality downfield throws have gone Patrick’s direction. I do not see Patrick quite as beholden to his quarterback as Boyd and Green are, and he is priced in the same ballpark. For me, he is the best receiver value on the slate due to his role and matchup, and Awesemo views him as the best value of any receiver under $5,000 on DraftKings.
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