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Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 5

Breaks down some of the best and worst WR/TE matchups this week to help you build DFS lineups.

This article will try to highlight some of the best and worst matchups for wide receivers and tight ends each week. Using player tracking data from various sources (NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, ESPN, etc.) as well as reviews of recent trends, I look for situations to exploit or avoid when setting your weekly DFS lineups. Given that this article is intended to help across all DFS sites, variations in pricing and scoring systems are not taken into account so obviously the values could shift depending on where you are playing. The main intent of this article is simply to call out some players who could be significantly helped or hurt by their situations each week.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email (rudnicki@footballguys.com) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)

 

FAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Brandin Cooks, NO (vs TB)
Tampa is allowing the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers per game this season. Brent Grimes returned last week and did a great job on Odell Beckham so he's probably the only matchup here to worry about. With a healthy Danny Amendola handling slot duties, the most common lineup will have Chris Hogan to the right matched against Brent Grimes and Brandin Cooks out left matched against Vernon Hargreaves. Hargreaves has been one of the worst corners in the league this year, so that should give a clear edge to Cooks in this matchup.

WR Adam Humphries, TB (vs NO)
The Patriots have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to opposing receivers this year with Malcolm Butler the only corner playing well. Tampa likes to move their receivers around and the Patriots seem to do the same with their outside corners so it's likely Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will split time against Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler, giving neither a clear advantage. That leaves slot receiver Humphries with the best matchup against Jonathan Jones, who will fill in for the injured Eric Rowe. Humphries has 12 catches on 17 targets over the past two weeks and is becoming a reliable target for Jameis Winston.

WR Jaron Brown, ARI (vs PHI)
The Eagles outside corners Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas are giving up a ton of targets and fantasy points this year, which should make this a great matchup for Jaron Brown and John Brown. I like Jaron as the better play given that he's been playing more and averaging almost 10 targets/game over the past 3 weeks. This could certainly be the week that John Brown breaks out though.

WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs GB)
Bryant has been kept in check by some extremely tough matchups this year but should find a lot more room to run this week. The Packers have been asking rookie Kevin King to shadow the opposing team's #1 WR. He held up well against Julio Jones, but then looked outmatched against A.J. Green the following week. He'll have another tough test with Bryant here, and you have to like the veteran's chances against a rookie.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs KC)
The Chiefs are playing very well this year, but they have been giving up a lot to opposing receivers. Marcus Peters typically stays on the left side of the field, which points to a matchup against the speedy Will Fuller. That should leave Hopkins matched up against Terrance Mitchell and make him a very inviting target for Deshaun Watson once again.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs SF)
The 49ers have allowed the 5th most points to opposing receivers this year, so there is some clear potential here for the Colts passing attack. Hilton is the only reliable option at this point and figures to spend most of the game matched up against Rashard Robinson outside or K'Waun Williams in the slot. Don't expect either to slow him down much.

WR Tyreek Hill, KC (vs HOU)
The Texans secondary lost Kevin Johnson to injury in week 2 so they went out and signed Johnthan Banks, who was cut by the Bears earlier this year. He's starting for them now and should have the primary matchup against Tyreek Hill this week. While the Texans pass rush can certainly help mask some of their coverage issues, Hill is the perfect player to offset that given his run after the catch ability.

WR DeVante Parker, MIA (vs TEN)
The Titans have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing receivers this year, so this should be a good spot for Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. The Titans corners are really struggling right now, but I like Parker's chances against rookie Adoree Jackson and Brice McCain outside.  

WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs CHI)
The Bears secondary has sprouted some leaks the past couple weeks and the most vulnerable target is cornerback Kyle Fuller. He has a tendency to play aggressive, which can lead to mistakes and big plays against. That should favor the very fast and shifty Stefon Diggs this week, who has proved that he doesn't need Sam Bradford under center to be productive.

WR Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs MIA)
Matthews has been targeted 18 times over the past two weeks and seems to be clearly emerging as the Titans #1 receiver. Unfortunately, the game got out of hand from the Titans last week and Marcus Mariota left with an injury. He's expected to return this week, however, and should be thrilled to see Matthews matched up against Byron Maxwell whose play has fallen off from where it was a year ago.  

TE Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, LAC (vs NYG)
The Giants continue to be one of the absolute worst defenses against the tight end position. Through 4 games this year, they have given up 5 touchdowns to the position including a pair to the Buccaneers last week. Hunter Henry has not been given as many opportunities in the passing game as expected this year as Antonio Gates continues to be their primary receiving tight end. Regardless, both look like solid options this week as the Giants corners should be able to limit the damage done by the receivers.

TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, NYJ (vs CLE)
The Browns have not had much success against anyone, but they have allowed the 2nd most points to opposing tight ends this year. They haven't exactly faced a particularly strong group of tight ends either, as they gave up two touchdowns to Jesse James in week 1 and did it again last week to Bengals backup Tyler Kroft. Throw in an 8-catch, 91-yard game for nearly 38-year old Ben Watson in week 2 and you can see this is a great spot for Sefarian-Jenkins, who has 9 catches on 10 targets over the past two weeks.


UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS

 

WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs ARI)
Patrick Peterson has been erasing receivers on the outside this year. While Jeffery is good enough to beat him on occasion, this certainly looks like a week to avoid using him in your lineups as he will be overpriced for his expected production. Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor should see an increase in targets against Justin Bethel and Tyrann Mathieu.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs DET)
The Lions defense has played better than expected this year, thanks in part to Darius Slay limiting the damage done by elite receivers like Odell Beckham and Stefon Diggs (who did most of his damage out of the slot). He figures to be matched up against Benjamin this week, who went over 100 yards last week on just 4 targets. I don't see a lot of upside in this matchup, and its likely Cam Newton has more success throwing elsewhere.
 
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (vs PIT)
Lee lines up mostly on the outside but splits his time pretty evenly on the left and right sides of the formation. While Joe Haden isn't the player he used to be and can give up some big plays, Artie Burns has been playing great on the other side and giving up very little this year. This looks like a bad spot for Lee, who hasn't been a big part of the offense the past two weeks anyway with just 6 catches on 10 targets.

WR Keenan Allen, LAC (vs NYG)
The Giants have not looked particularly good in many aspects of the game, but they have allowed the 5th fewest points to the receiver position this year. Janoris Jenkins is a very capable shutdown corner who figures to shadow Allen when he lines up outside. When Allen moves into the slot, he'll have to deal with one of the league's best nickel corners in Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie. Allen does average 10 targets/game but hasn't found the end zone for the past 3 weeks, while the Giants have only allowed two touchdowns to wide receivers in four games.

WR Odell Beckham, NYG (vs LAC)
Beckham is clearly an elite receiver who can beat anyone in one on one coverage. That being said, he'll have his hands full with Casey Hayward this week. He played great for the Chargers last year and has picked back up again this year. Sterling Shepard may have the best matchup working out of the slot against Desmond King.

WR Adam Thielen, MIN (vs CHI)
The Bears have done very well against slot receivers this year thanks to the surprising play of nickel corner Bryce Callahan. He figures to be matched up primarily against Thielen this week, who has been very consistent with 5 catches in each of his past 3 games but he's yet to find the end zone this year.

WR Amari Cooper, OAK (vs BAL)
Cooper continues to struggle for the Raiders and will now have to rely on the inconsistent E.J. Manuel to get him the ball. That could be tough this week in a matchup against Jimmy Smith, who has played very well for the Ravens. With 3 catches on 13 targets over the past 2 games, it is very difficult to have any confidence in Cooper this week.

TE Jack Doyle, IND (vs SF)
The 49ers corners are struggling to slow down opposing receivers, but this defense has played remarkably well against the tight end position and ranks 1st in fewest points allowed. They were likely helped by some weak matchups the past couple weeks but only gave up 3 catches for 19 yards to Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen combined. Could be a tough spot for Jack Doyle, who suffered a concussion last week and has been pretty underwhelming in 3 of 4 games so far.

TE Jason Witten, DAL (vs GB)
The Packers have allowed the 2nd fewest points to the tight end position this year, and now they get to face an ice cold Jason Witten. After posting 10 catches against the Broncos in week 2, he has managed just 2 catches on 6 targets over the past two games. The Packers have been using a big nickel package the past couple weeks, which figures to keep an athletic safety matched up against the much older and slower Witten.