There are few worse feelings than seeing a player you faded due to a bad matchup score on an 80-yard touchdown in the first-quarter of a game. Fortunately, we are here to help navigate those treacherous waters.
This week features some particularly tasty matchups along with dastardly land mines to avoid. Let's dive in and take a look at some Week 7's wide receivers and tight ends.
John Brown, WR, ARI vs. BAL ($6,700)
Michael Floyd, WR, ARI vs. BAL ($4,900)
Miglio: Despite throwing for 414 yards last week, Carson Palmer and the Cardinals could only muster 13 points. That is only the second time in NFL history a quarterback has thrown for 400-plus yards and scored so few points. Though it was a disappointing day, his receivers did alright. Michael Floyd had the game’s only touchdown, though, and it could have been a sign of things to come for the big wideout. He was targeted eight times -- often in the red zone -- and wound up being a great GPP play. This week he gets an atrocious Baltimore defense at home, as does the rest of that wide receiver corps. While Floyd is strictly a GPP option, John Brown is a nice addition to any cash or GPP lineup.
Rudnicki: The Ravens secondary is a disaster this year. Jimmy Smith can’t seem to cover anybody, and Lardarius Webb sat out last week with a hamstring injury so he may not be 100% here. Brown finally blew up last week with a huge game vs the Steelers (10 catches, 196 yards), and Floyd is coming off his best game of the year as well. Everybody loves Larry Fitzgerald, but these players look like better values.
Jaelen Strong, WR, HOU @ MIA ($5,000)
Miglio: Cecil Shorts -- who originally occupied this spot -- has already been ruled out of Week 7 with an injury, leaving the door open for Jaelen Strong to have another unexpectedly big game. The Miami defense was resurgent last week, but that doesn’t mean the Dolphins can cover wide receivers particularly well. Odds are Brent Grimes will be tasked with trying to stop contain DeAndre Hopkins, and Brice McCain might be out with an injury. That said, Strong wasn’t the lineup much last week -- it would strictly be a GPP play.
Rudnicki: The Dolphins defense looked impressive last week against the Titans as their pass rush finally showed up. Their secondary still lacks depth, however, and Strong should see an increase in playing time due to the injury to Cecil Shorts. Strong is a big play threat who may not need more than a few targets to make an impact, but he hasn’t seen consistent playing time of late so this is a clear boom-or-bust type of pick.
Travis Kelce, TE, KC vs. PIT ($6,000)
Miglio:Travis Kelce is fast.
Pittsburgh’s defense, meanwhile, has overtaken Oakland as the most generous to opposing tight ends. This doesn’t guarantee a whole lot considering the Kansas City offense looks bad, but Kelce has become an integral part of it. He is averaging almost seven targets per game with a 71 percent catch rate. Hopefully he can get into the end zone this week.
Rudnicki: The Steelers have made improvements on the defensive side of the ball over the past few weeks, but they are still giving up lots of catches and yards in the passing game. Safety Will Allen left the game last week with an injury and may be forced to miss this one. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are expected to be without their No. 1 WR in Jeremy Maclin, which should open up more targets for Kelce.
Mike Evans, WR, TB @ WAS ($7,500)
Vincent Jackson, WR, TB @ WAS ($6,800)
Miglio: When will Mike Evans get things going? After a fantastic rookie season eclipsed only by Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr Jr., Evans has succumbed to a sophomore slump. That or injuries and a rookie quarterback have conspired to sink him thus far. A week off and a good matchup should help turn things around, though his price isn’t terribly enticing. Vincent Jackson’s, however, seems far more palatable.
Rudnicki: The Washington secondary is a mess with two starting cornerbacks both injured, and their starting strong safety was wearing a boot after the last game. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland did just about all he could last week, but the Jets still picked them apart. We’ve been waiting for the Tampa passing game to wake up and reach their potential, and this should be a great opportunity for them coming off the bye week.
Antonio Gates, TE, SD vs. OAK ($5,800)
Miglio: The Oakland Raiders cannot cover tight ends, Owen Daniels’ goose egg in Week 5 notwithstanding. Incidentally, he came within a batted ball of scoring yet another touchdown. Antonio Gates is much better than Owen Daniels, and the San Diego’s offense as a whole is operating at a far higher level than Denver’s under shockingly pedestrian Peyton Manning. At $5,800, Gates is a chalk play.
Rudnicki: Starting tight ends who face the Raiders has been a strong play almost every week this year. They shut out the Broncos tight ends in Week 5, but gave up nearly 100 yards and 1.5 touchdowns on average to the four tight ends they faced before that. Gates is an easy call this week at this price point.
Kamar Aiken, WR, BAL @ ARI ($5,600)
Rudnicki: Aiken didn’t have as much success against the 49ers last week as expected thanks in part to Steve Smith stealing the show. He still managed a touchdown late in the game, however, and should be a more appealing option for Joe Flacco here with Patrick Peterson likely to shadow Smith. His upside may not be huge, but this should be another good matchup for him.
Martavis Bryant, WR, PIT @ KC ($6,900)
Antonio Brown, WR, PIT @ KC ($8,300)
Miglio: Losing Ben Roethlisberger has not been kind to Antonio Brown. His myriad statistical streaks tumbled one by one, and he has grown frustrated with Michael Vick’s -- and later Landry Jones’ -- inability to get him the ball. Seeing Martavis Bryant go nuts in his first game back must have been salt in the wound.
Big Ben might actually be back this week, which would be welcome news for Brown and his fantasy owners. But even if he isn’t, the Kansas City Chiefs present such a good matchup that he is worthwhile considering as a contrarian play. Bryant, meanwhile, remains a fantastic option with his explosive ability.
Rudnicki: From my perspective, Antonio Brown is a player to consider regardless of matchup, but his value has clearly taken a hit with Michael Vick under center. Things seemed to improve a bit with Landry Jones, however, and the Chiefs defense has been the most generous in the league to outside receivers this year. There is a small chance that Ben Roethlisberger could be ready to contribute as early as this week, but even without him I think Martavis Bryant is a strong option as he showed us last week he doesn’t need great QB play to be productive thanks to his run after the catch ability.
Delanie Walker, TE, TEN vs. ATL ($5,500)
Fortunately for Walker’s fantasy prospects, he has scored nearly two half-PPR fantasy points per game more with Zach Mettenberger than without over the past two seasons. Add to that the fact Atlanta is giving up the seventh-most fantasy PPG to the position and you have a recipe for a huge game at a nice price for Walker.
Rudnicki: Ben Watson just put up 10 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown against this defense. Not sure if anything more needs to be said, but the Falcons defense appears to be weak over the middle as MLB Paul Worrilow is below average and SS William Moore is also giving up plenty of catches. Walker has emerged as the best receiving option for the Titans, and he should be productive here regardless of who is at quarterback given the Mariota injury.
Willie Snead IV, WR, NO @ IND ($6,500)
Miglio: It seems Vontae Davis no longer owns his own island. His time as an elite cornerback -- one season, really -- was a short one, at least if the past several weeks are any indication. Combine that with ineffectual play from the rest of the Colts secondary and just about any wide receiver can have a big game. Willie Snead IV hasn’t quite lived up to the hype in terms of fantasy production thus far, but it could be his turn to get back into the end zone.
Rudnicki: The Colts secondary is struggling against just about everybody they face this year. Vontae Davis is no longer playing like a shutdown corner on one side, and Greg Toler and Darius Butler are providing very little resistance as well. Lastly, the Colts pass rush is non-existent so Drew Brees should feel comfortable in the pocket in a game that’s expected to be a shootout. All signs point to a strong game for Snead, who has been very consistent from week to week but hasn’t found the end zone since Week 2.
Eric Decker, WR, NYJ vs. NE ($6,200)
Miglio: Quick, name a receiver who has scored a touchdown in every game he has played this season. If you answered Eric Decker, your powers of deduction are intact. That or I need to get a ghostwriter.
Decker won’t likely continue that streak indefinitely, but it’s a good bet he will have a nice game against the Patriots this week. He has been utilized in the slot plenty this year, and that is a good spot to attack New England’s defense. Plus, if the Patriots put up another crooked number, the Jets are going to have to throw the ball to keep up.
Rudnicki: The Patriots are getting better than expected play from their cornerbacks of late, but they still did give up three touchdowns to Colts receivers last week. With the way the Patriots offense is playing, opposing teams have to open up their offense and throw more than they might like to. That should lead to some big games from the Jets receivers here. Brandon Marshall will get most of the attention, but Decker has quietly scored a touchdown in four straight games.
Jordan Matthews, WR, PHI @ CAR ($6,600)
Miglio: Not that you should have a terrible amount of confidence in Jordan “Crisco Hands” Matthews these days, but don’t look for a huge game from him against the Carolina Panthers. He has been unable to produce in far better matchups, and cornerback Josh Norman and Co. will make life more difficult for him in Carolina.
Rudnicki: Matthews works primarily out of the slot for the Eagles so that may help him avoid facing off against the best corner in the league this year in Josh Norman. However, the Panthers defense has only given up five passing touchdowns on the season and figure to make things very difficult for Sam Bradford here.
Larry Donnell, TE, NYG vs. DAL ($5,200)
Miglio: We have come a long way since Larry Donnell lit up Washington for three touchdowns a year ago. Most of that trip has been downhill.
Donnell has had good games here and there, but the Cowboys haven’t been particularly generous. Earlier this season he caught just three passes for 21 yards, and that was before the Cowboys defense improved by way of completed suspensions.
Rudnicki: The Cowboys got some needed reinforcements on defense with the return of Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain from suspensions. They have also been a very tough matchup for tight ends this year as they kept Rob Gronkowski in check before the bye and have only allowed one touchdown to the position in five games. Donnell is mostly being used as a short-yardage passing target for the Giants anyway, so his upside is minimal.
Steve Smith, WR, BAL @ ARI ($6,900)
Miglio: Steve Smith has Old Man Game. He has defied the odds and a broken back to score the eighth-most fantasy points per game. But the only other cornerbacks he has faced that are on Patrick Peterson’s level -- Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr for the Broncos -- held him to two catches for 13 yards in Week 1. This is a trap.
Rudnicki: Steve Smith continues to amaze with the level he is playing at despite his age and recent back injury. So, while it’s tough to bet against him, he should find things much tougher this week in a matchup with Patrick Peterson who held elite receivers like Antonio Brown and Calvin Johnson in check the past two weeks.
Kendall Wright, WR, TEN vs. ATL ($5,700)
Miglio: His price might be enticing, but don’t be fooled -- Kendall Wright is in for a bad matchup. The best you can hope for is another Falcons blowout and some garbage time heroics.
Rudnicki: It just doesn’t like Wright is on the same page with Mariota of late as he has not been able to take advantage of favorable matchups the past two weeks. While Zach Mettenberger may be able to spark the passing game and get Wright back on track, I think he’ll have more success throwing to Delanie Walker and the running backs here. True, the Falcons have given up plenty of yards through the air, but they have only allowed two touchdowns to opposing receivers through six games.
Amari Cooper, WR, OAK @ SD ($7,300)
Miglio: Aside from a long touchdown by Markus F. Wheaton, of all people, few receivers have had much fantasy success against the San Diego defense this year. The Chargers have given up the third-fewest fantasy points to the position thus far, and they will likely allocate their best resources to stop Cooper at home.
Rudnicki: Cooper is a strong candidate for offensive rookie of the year based on how he’s played thus far, but he’s failed to top 50 yards in his last two games. The Chargers are getting exceptional play from their corners this year and they are fully capable of smothering Cooper and Michael Crabtree in this matchup. In fact, it’s tough to find any receiver who has had a strong game against the Chargers all year.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE @ NYJ ($8,200)
Julian Edelman, WR, NE @ NYJ ($8,000)
Miglio: Rob Gronkowski is as matchup-proof as they come, but conquering the Jets defense will be no easy task. That is especially true if New York takes a page from New England’s recent opponents -- Gronkowski’s production has been limited by heavy defensive attention, and the Jets have a good unit to begin with. While that typically benefits guys like Julian Edelman, Jets cornerbacks are no picnic. Whether in the slot or on the boundary, guys like Buster Skrine or Darrelle Revis could make life difficult for the diminutive wideout.
Rudnicki: The Jets defense is playing great as they’ve only allowed one quarterback to go over 200 yards passing against them all year and have given up just six passing touchdowns in five games. So, the Patriots offense figures to have one of the toughest tests of the year. Given the tough matchup, it’s unlikely that either of these high priced options will be able to produce enough to make them a worthwhile choice. The Jets generally defend well against the tight end, and could even consider using Darrelle Revis on Gronkowski at times here. Edelman is great working out of the slot, but the Jets have the personnel and scheme to limit his effectiveness.
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