The Week 14 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m. ET.
In this piece, I highlight wide receivers who stand out in our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically our FantasyLabs Models. While the Models are built for daily contests, this is an all-purpose fantasy article with actionable information for all formats.
As news breaks throughout the week and we adjust our projections, where players rate in our Models will change. For updates, visit the Models directly.
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Top Wide Receivers in the FantasyLabs Models
There are five wide receivers atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek), Ryan Hodge and I have constructed.
Here’s where they place within our Week 14 fantasy football rankings (as of Thursday morning).
- Davante Adams: No. 1 (PPR) | No. 1 (Half PPR) | No. 1 (STD)
- D.K. Metcalf: No. 4 (PPR) | No. 3 (Half PPR) | No. 3 (STD)
- Tee Higgins: No. 29 (PPR) | No. 27 (Half PPR) | No. 22 (STD)
- Nelson Agholor: No. 50 (PPR) | No. 50 (Half PPR) | No. 48 (STD)
- K.J. Hamler: No. 62 (PPR) | No. 62 (Half PPR) | No. 64 (STD)
Of these five, the two who stand out most to me are Adams and Higgins. The other guys I will highlight as needed in the section on players with week-winning upside.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
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Davante Adams: Green Bay Packers (-7.5) at Detroit Lions (55 Over/Under)
Let’s start with what’s obviously most important: I’m betting on the Packers this weekend.
I’m a pretty simple person: I like to bet on quarterbacks who win, and that’s what Aaron Rodgers is. A discount double-check winner.
For his career, he’s 117-82-5 ATS (15% ROI).
And he has been especially dominant against the NFC North. When facing divisional opponents, Rodgers is 45-26 against the spread (ATS), good for a 24.1% return on investment (ROI, per our Bet Labs database). You can bet on this game at FanDuel.
Although he was fired just a couple of weeks ago, former Lions head coach Matt Patricia’s ghost will haunt the organization for some time. I doubt the Lions we see this week will differ much from the team we’ve seen since Patricia replaced Jim Caldwell in 2018.
In the post-Caldwell era, the NFC North is 9-6-1 ATS (17.3% ROI) against the Lions.
The Packers have a slate-high 31.5-point implied Vegas total, and I expect Rodgers to dominate the Lions with an onslaught of attempts to his No. 1 receiver.
There’s no way of putting this gently: The Lions are bad. They are No. 31 with a 33.9 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus). And that ranking feels generous.
On top of that, the Lions will be without No. 1 cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring, IR) and maybe also No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah (shoulder).
Oruwariye is a second-year fifth-rounder who has allowed 8.9 yards per target for his career.
Roberts is a subpar slot defender who has allowed a 72.7% catch rate this year and been forced to play on the perimeter because of injuries in the secondary.
Adams should have no problems against either cornerback.
In his two full games against Patricia’s defense, Adams has gone off.
- Week 5, 2018: 29.0 PPR, 20.0 STD | 9-140-1, 12 targets
- Week 17, 2019: 22.3 PPR, 15.3 STD | 7-93-1, 13 targets
Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.
In the post-Jordy Nelson era, Adams has been exceptional: Since 2018, he has been the NFL’s most reliably productive wide receiver on a per-game basis (including postseason).
- Fantasy Production: 22.2 PPR points (1st) | 14.6 STD points (1st)
- Football Production: 7.6 receptions (2nd) | 95.1 yards (2nd) | 0.85 touchdowns (1st)
Over the past two-plus seasons, Adams is No. 1 with 11.0 targets per game.
On a per-snap basis, he has been a top-five producer.
- 2020 (10 games): 0.47 PPR points (1st) | 0.32 standard points (1st)
- 2019 (14 games): 0.34 PPR points (2nd) | 0.21 standard points (5th)
- 2018 (15 games): 0.34 PPR points (3rd) | 0.23 standard points (4th)
This year he is No. 1 with 3.02 yards per route. Last year, he was No. 2 with 2.61.
Even though Adams played just half of Week 2, leaving the game early with a hamstring injury that sidelined him through the Week 5 bye, Adams is still Nos. 1 & 2 at the position with 20.0 expected fantasy points and 146 air yards and yards after the catch (AirYAC) per game.
AirYAC is a leading indicator of fantasy production and can be found in the RotoViz NFL Player Statistical Summary.
He’s No. 1 in the league with a 0.76 WOPR.
In his nine full games this year, Adams is 81-993-13 receiving on 18 targets. In only two games has he had fewer than 10 targets. In only one game has he not scored a touchdown.
Adams is about to harvest a handful of honey.
Adams is a locked-in every-week top-three WR1 in season-long leagues and a strong pay-up play in DFS, especially in cash games. Adams leads all wide receivers in our Models with his median, ceiling and floor projections.
You can use our FantasyLabs Correlations Tool to research the overlapping production of receivers and passers, and over the past year Adams and Rodgers have a 0.58 correlation. For guaranteed prize pools, use our Lineup Builder to stack Adams with his quarterback.
Adams is the No. 1 wide receiver in the Bales, CSURAM88, Koerner and SportsGeek Models for FanDuel, where he has a position-high nine Pro Trends.
Tee Higgins: Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys (42.5 O/U)
This is the first week that Higgins has topped some of our Models, but we’ve been heading in this direction for a good long while.
So I woke up today, had a medium-sized cup of decaf coffee, did some jumping jacks and pushups, and then finally, while sitting down to write a fantasy article, looked at some stats and said:
“Tee Higgins is the WR1 in Cincinnati, and A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd aren’t.”
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) October 22, 2020
I for one could not be happier.
He was supremely undervalued entering the season as both an NFL receiver and fantasy asset.
Here’s a (lengthy) excerpt of my post-draft analysis on Higgins in our 2020 dynasty rookie rankings.
Higgins sure looks like a future No. 1 receiver.
Of course, I’m saying all of this as an extreme Higgins optimist. You’ve been warned.
Although he went No. 33 overall as the first pick in Round 2, I think Higgins probably should’ve been selected in Round 1.
Higgins saw his draft stock drop after a mediocre pro day, but I still expect him to have a successful NFL career thanks to his difference-making ability.
It’s LOL adorable that #NFLTwitter evaluators think Higgins’ athleticism is a problem. Athleticism is extremely overrated for wide receivers, especially for big guys with a respectable amount of draft capital and good college production (Higgins is 118-2,103-25 receiving, 1-36-1 rushing over the past two years).
Based on age, size, speed, college production and draft position, here are the five NFL prospects of the past decade to whom Higgins is most comparable:
- Courtland Sutton: 2.40 (2018) – 6’3″ | 218 pounds | 4.54-second 40 time
- JuJu Smith-Schuster: 2.62 (2017) – 6’1″ | 215 pounds | 4.54-second 40 time
- Davante Adams: 2.53 (2014) – 6’1″ | 212 pounds | 4.56-second 40 time
- Allen Robinson: 2.61 (2014) – 6’2″ | 220 pounds | 4.60-second 40 time
- DeAndre Hopkins: 1.27 (2013) – 6’1″ | 214 pounds | 4.57-second 40 time
That’s not a bad cohort, no?
Over the past two years, Higgins has been a top-10 receiver with PFF grades of 90.5 and 87.7.
In perusing the SIS Football Rookie Handbook, one can see easily that Higgins compares well to the top-tier duo of Jeudy and Lamb in key statistics, such as yards per target (YPT), yards per route (YPR), average depth of target (aDOT), expected points added per target (EPA) and positive play rate vs. man coverage (PVM) for the 2019 season.
- Tee Higgins: 12.8 YPT | 3.7 YPR | 14.3 aDOT | 0.68 EPA | 62% PVM
- Jerry Jeudy: 10.6 YPT | 3.2 YPR | 10.8 aDOT | 0.53 EPA | 48% PVM
- CeeDee Lamb: 14.3 YPT | 3.9 YPR | 11.2 aDOT | 0.64 EPA | 48%PVM
It’s overwhelmingly positive that Higgins has had so much success against man coverage, which he’s likely to see in the NFL.
With a wide receiver class this stacked, it’s tempting to look at Higgins and imagine the ways in which his athletic shortcomings will limit him. In the big picture, though, it seems foolish to anticipate anything other than NFL success for a productive 21-year-old big-bodied star-recruit Clemson receiver.
Pretty much nailed it.
Since his Week 3 breakout, Higgins — not Tyler Boyd or A.J. Green — has been the top receiver for the Bengals.
- Tee Higgins (10 games): 50-694-5 receiving | 121 AirYAC per game
- Tyler Boyd (10 games): 62-692-3 receiving | 101.5 AirYAC per game
- A.J. Green (10 games): 27-277-1 receiving | 83.5 AirYAC per game
In the four games since the Week 9 bye, Higgins has a team-high 23% market share of targets. He is the true No. 1 receiver.
His matchup is terrific. Opposing wide receiver units are No. 2 against the Cowboys with 28.9 fantasy points per game on 143-1,988-21 receiving.
And at cornerback the Cowboys will be without starter Trevon Diggs (foot, IR) and perhaps also top backup Anthony Brown (ribs).
In their absence, practice squad journeyman Rashard Robinson has seen action over the past three weeks, allowing 9.7 yards per target and two touchdowns.
If Higgins has the opportunity to match up with Robinson, he could have a massive performance.
Since his Week 3 breakout, Higgins has been no worse than a high-end fantasy WR3 in 60% of his games (per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
Higgins is a borderline WR2/3 with upside in season-long leagues and the No. 1 receiver in the Bales, CSURAM88, Raybon, SportsGeek, Hodge and Freedman Models for DraftKings, where he has a position-high eight Pro Trends.
Wide Receivers With Week-Winning Upside
In this section, I highlight some wide receivers who I think will outperform expectations and whom I especially like as upside season-long and DFS tournament plays.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (-7) at Miami Dolphins (49.5 O/U): The Dolphins have a strong cornerback tandem in Xavien Howard and Byron Jones and are No. 6 with a -5.0% pass-defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders), but Hill is in peak form with a league-high 149.1 AirYAC per game. Since head coach Andy Reid joined the franchise in 2013, the Chiefs have been the league’s most profitable road team, going 39-21-1 ATS (27.9% ROI). You can bet on this game at DraftKings.
Hill has averaged 93.4 scrimmage yards and 0.90 all-purpose touchdowns in his 40 full games with quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Hill is the No. 1 receiver in Hayden Winks’ Week 14 Fantasy Usage Model.
D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks (-13.5) vs. New York Jets (47 O/U): Metcalf is Nos. 2 & 3 in the NFL with 93.3 yards receiving and 144.5 AirYAC per game. The Jets are without cornerbacks Blessuan Austin (neck, IR) and Brian Poole (knee, IR), so Metcalf will run most of his routes against “The Other Lamar Jackson,” an undrafted rookie backup who in five starts has allowed five touchdowns, the most recent of which you’ve probably seen …
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) December 6, 2020
… and for the season he has allowed 11.2 yards per target.
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers (+2.5) vs. Atlanta Falcons (49 O/U): Since target-dominant back Austin Ekeler returned in Week 12, Allen has just a 20% market share, but the longer trend probably matters more, and in his 10 healthy games with quarterback Justin Herbert, Allen has dominated.
- Week 2 (vs. KC): 16.6 PPR, 9.6 STD | 7-96-0, 10 targets
- Week 3 (vs. CAR): 30.2 PPR, 17.2 STD | 13-132-1, 19 targets
- Week 4 (at TB): 14.2 PPR, 6.2 STD | 8-62-0, 11 targets
- Week 7 (vs. JAX): 22.5 PPR, 12.5 STD | 10-125-0, 13 targets
- Week 8 (at DEN): 21.7 PPR, 12.7 STD | 9-67-1, 11 targets
- Week 9 (vs. LV): 25.3 PPR, 16.3 STD | 9-103-1, 11 targets
- Week 10 (at MIA): 12.9 PPR, 9.9 STD | 3-39-1, seven targets
- Week 11 (vs. NYJ): 34.5 PPR, 18.5 STD | 16-145-1, 19 targets
- Week 12 (at BUF): 16.0 PPR, 12.0 STD | 4-40-1, 10 targets
- Week 13 (vs. NE): 9.8 PPR, 4.8 STD | 5-48-0, 11 targets
In this 10-week sample, Allen is No. 3 with a 30% target share. Opposing wide receiver units are No. 4 against the Falcons with 28.0 fantasy points per game on 177-2,493-11 receiving.
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Los Angeles Chargers (49 O/U): His two injury-shortened games set aside, Ridley has done well this year when healthy (per RotoViz Game Splits App).
In each of his nine full games, Ridley has at least either 90 yards or a touchdown.
A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans (-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (53 O/U): Since his 2019 rookie season, Brown is No. 1 in the league with 11.4 yards per target. The Jags are No. 31 with a 25.6% pass-defense DVOA and will likely be without cornerbacks C.J. Henderson (groin, IR), Sidney Jones (Achilles), D.J. Hayden (hamstring, IR) and Chris Claybrooks (shoulder, IR). In quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s 22 regular-season starts with the Titans, the over is 18-3-1 (85.7% ROI). You can bet on this game at William Hill.
Brown (ankle) is dealing with an injury, so monitor his status entering the weekend.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (-13.5) vs. New York Jets (47 O/U): Not since Week 7 has Lockett had even 70 yards receiving, but the Jets are No. 32 with a 28.1% pass-defense DVOA, and they are starting three backups at corner. In the slot, Lockett is slated to face Arthur Maulet, a special-teams journeyman with a 42.2 PFF coverage grade this year. Even with his recent underperformance, Lockett is still pacing for his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (44 O/U): Since last year, Thomas is tied for No. 1 in the league with a 32% target share, and in his three weeks with quarterback Taysom Hill he has an NFL-high mark of 39%. Thomas is slated for a matchup with cornerback Darius Slay, who has allowed 16-269-2 receiving on 20 targets over the past two weeks while shadowing D.K. Metcalf and Davante Adams. For the season, Thomas is No. 1 with a 0.77 WOPR.
Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears (+1) vs. Houston Texans (45 O/U): The Texans are without No. 1 cornerback Bradley Roby (suspension), so Robinson will match up with Vernon Hargreaves III and Phillip Gaines on the perimeter. Hargreaves has allowed 9.2 yards per target for his career and has a dirty 39.7 PFF coverage grade on the year, and Gaines has yielded 10.8 yards per target and five touchdowns with a 72.0% catch rate this season. Robinson is on pace to surpass last year’s 98-1,147-7 receiving campaign.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team (+3.5) at San Francisco 49ers (43.5 O/U): Despite his disappointing 2-14-0 receiving performance last week, McLaurin is still Nos. 4 & 5 in the league with a 0.69 WOPR and 127.5 AirYAC per game. The 49ers might be without cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring) and K’Waun Williams (ankle). McLaurin is the slate’s top receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 14 Air Yards Buy-Low Model.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Los Angeles Chargers (49 O/U): In his Week 13 return from injury, Jones was 6-94-0 receiving on 10 targets. He has missed some time this year, but …
In Julio Jones’ 7 full games this year, he has averaged exactly 100 yards.
That’s down from his 2013-19 per-game average of 102.8 yards.
He’s clearly slowing down.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 7, 2020
… he’s No. 4 at the position with 2.60 yards per route and still one of the league’s best receivers.
Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers (-3.5) vs. Denver Broncos (46.5 O/U): The Broncos are without top cornerbacks A.J. Bouye (suspension) and Bryce Callahan (foot, IR), and Anderson should see extra targets without wide receivers D.J. Moore (ankle/COVID-19) and perhaps Curtis Samuel (COVID-19). For the season, Anderson is Nos. 8 & 9 in the league with a 27% target share and 118 AirYAC per game.
Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (-1) at Chicago Bears (45 O/U): Last week’s 5-65-0 receiving performance was something of a letdown as Cooks (concussion?) played through what looked like a head injury, but he still saw eight targets in the absence of wide receivers Will Fuller (suspension), Kenny Stills (released) and Randall Cobb (toe, IR). In his eight games since the firing of head coach Bill O’Brien, Cooks is 47-646-3 receiving on a team-high 65 targets.
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (53 O/U): The difference between Davis and second-year superstar A.J. Brown has been minimal this season.
- A.J. Brown (10 games): 23% target share | 44-723-8 receiving
- Corey Davis (10 games): 24% target share | 53-801-4 receiving
OK, four touchdowns is a big difference — but touchdowns are also pretty random, and Davis has the edge in receptions and yards, and he has been more efficient (11.4 yards per target vs. 10.1). Seriously, what’s the difference?
Which one of these players is A.J. Brown, and which one is Corey Davis?
– Player A: 0.57 WOPR
– Player B: 0.57 WOPR
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 10, 2020
Davis is the Arbitrage A.J. Brown.
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers (-3) vs. Washington Football Team (43.5 O/U): In his return to action last week, Aiyuk was 5-95-1 receiving on nine targets, and teammate Deebo Samuel (foot) is dealing with an injury that caused him to miss Wednesday practice. Over his past eight games, Aiyuk is 38-520-4 receiving and 5-61-2 rushing with a team-high 103.6 AirYAC per game.
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans (-1) at Chicago Bears (45 O/U): In the absence of wide receivers Will Fuller (suspension), Kenny Stills (released) and Randall Cobb (toe, IR), Coutee last week was 8-141-0 receiving on nine targets. In his eight career games with a 70% snap rate, Coutee has averaged 8.3 targets, 6.3 receptions, 70.3 yards and 0.25 touchdowns.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys (42.5 O/U): I look forward to the day when I’m no longer expected to write blurbs on Boyd. Until then, I should remind you that Boyd has back-to-back seasons with 1,000 yards receiving, last week he had a 72-yard touchdown in an ejection-shortened game and the Cowboys are No. 28 with a 41.4 PFF coverage grade.
CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals (42.5 O/U): In his four full games with quarterback Andy Dalton, Lamb has averaged 8.3 targets. The Bengals rank No. 28 with a 23.8% pass-defense DVOA.
Nelson Agholor, Las Vegas Raiders (+3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (51.5 O/U): In nine games since becoming a regular contributor in three-wide sets in Week 3 (minus an extremely wind-impacted Week 8), Agholor is the No. 1 wide receiver on the team with 31-493-5 receiving and 879 AirYAC. Last week he had a season-high 11 targets.
Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos (+3.5) at Carolina Panthers (46.5 O/U): Since returning from injury in Week 8 (and removing the unrepresentative Week 12 “Kendall Hinton game”), Patrick is a team-best 17-253-3 receiving over the past four games. The Panthers are No. 29 with a 40.3 PFF coverage grade.
Chad Hansen, Houston Texans (-1) at Chicago Bears (45 O/U): Three Texans receivers? In this economy? Hansen was 5-101-0 receiving on seven targets last week in his first NFL action since 2017, and with his performance he now ranks No. 6 in the league with 124 AirYAC per game (albeit in the smallest of samples).
AirYAC (air yards + yards after catch) per game entering Week 14:
1. Tyreek: 149.1
2. Davante: 146
3. Metcalf: 144.5
4. Ridley: 142.5
5. McLaurin: 127.5
6. C. Hansen: 124 👀
7. Diggs: 121.4
8. Mims: 118.3
9/10. Robby & DJM: 118
11. Kelce: 117.9 💪
12. Keenan: 117.2
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 10, 2020
Given that quarterback Deshaun Watson is playing at an All-Pro level, Hansen could have more big performances in the future, and it’s not as if he’s total nobody. Here’s an excerpt of my post-draft evaluation of Hansen in 2017 after the Jets selected him in Round 4.
He exploded in 2016 as a 21-year-old redshirt junior, serving as the No. 1 target for quarterback Davis Webb en route to a brilliant 92-1,249-11 campaign in 10 games. With average size (six feet two inches, 202 pounds) and speed (4.53-second 40-yard dash), Hansen displayed tremendous agility at the combine with a 6.74-second three-cone drill.
Ideally suited to play in the slot, Hansen is basically Austin Collie, except younger, more athletic, and without a Hall-of-Fame quarterback throwing him the ball.
Framed differently: He’s maybe Cooper Kupp, if Kupp had played in the Pac-12, entered the league at a significantly younger age, been drafted by a totally dysfunctional franchise and not played football for three years.
Breshad Perriman, New York Jets (+13.5) at Seattle Seahawks (47 O/U): Since returning from injury in Week 9, Perriman is 12-256-3 receiving with an average of 120 AirYAC over four games. Opposing wide receiver units are No. 1 against the Seahawks with 29.2 fantasy points per game on 229-2,707-13 receiving. Teammate Denzel Mims (personal) seems unlikely to play, so Perriman could have enhanced target volume. On DraftKings, Perriman has a position-high +4.78 Projected Plus/Minus.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals (42.5 O/U): In his four full games with quarterback Andy Dalton, Gallup has averaged 7.5 targets, and last week he was 7-86-1 receiving on 11 targets. With No. 1 cornerback William Jackson likely to shadow teammate Amari Cooper, Gallup should run most of his routes against cornerback Darius Phillips, who has allowed 9.4 yards per target in his two seasons in defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s scheme.
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears (+1) vs. Houston Texans (45 O/U): Since Week 8, Mooney has enjoyed enhanced usage, barely trailing No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson in snap rate (90% vs. 87%) and surpassing him in AirYAC (482 vs. 472). The Texans rank No. 27 with a 45.4 PFF coverage grade.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys (42.5 O/U): If anything can get Green going for one more game, it’s the presence of former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on the other sideline.
K.J. Hamler, Denver Broncos (+3.5) at Carolina Panthers (46.5 O/U): If you remove the unrepresentative Week 12 “Kendall Hinton game,” Hamer has 31 targets and three carries over his past four games. Against slow slot cornerback Corn Elder (4.55-second 40-yard dash), the speedy Hamler might get enough opportunities to break a long play.
The Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, Freedman is commonly called the Oracle & the Labyrinthian.
Pictured above: Davante Adams
Photo credit: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images