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. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs IND)
The Colts were blown out by the Rams last week and the Rams receiver who did the most damage was rookie Cooper Kupp working out of the slot. With David Johnson no longer around, the Cardinals will need to rely more heavily on their receivers and Fitzgerald should see plenty of targets working against Nate Hairston inside. John Brown and J.J. Nelson should also have plus matchups outside against Rashaan Melvin and T.J. Green with Vontae Davis still injured.
WR Julio Jones, ATL (vs GB)
Jones had quiet outing last week against a Bears defense that has performed well against #1 WRs. The same can't be said for the Packers, who were torched by Jones for 9/180/2 in the NFC Championship game last year. While most of that came against LaDarius Gunter, who was released this week, the cornerback group still looks like a weakness. Damarious Randall was a disaster last year and figures to see the most of Jones this week, but Davon House isn't particularly intimidating either.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs BUF)
The soft Bills secondary was rarely tested by the Jets last week but should find things a bit more difficult this week. Kelvin Benjamin only caught 1 of 5 targets last week, so I'd expect a bounce back game where he is much more involved as the Bills run defense has looked impressive. He should match up against E.J. Gaines, who missed time with a shoulder injury this week and gives up 7 inches.
WR Kendall Wright, CHI (vs TB)
The Bears have lost their #1 and #2 receivers to I.R. the past few weeks, so Kendall Wright looks like the last man standing. He didn't do much against the Falcons last week, but figures to have a very favorable matchup against journeyman corner Robert McClain this week.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (vs PHI)
Tyreek Hill lit up the Patriots great secondary last week, and now faces an Eagles defense that lost their best cornerback Ronald Darby to injury. Hill will move around the formation a lot, so there isn't a clear matchup to target but Jalen Mills gave up 10 catches on 15 targets last week and Patrick Robinson isn't likely to do much better.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (vs WAS)
It's likely that Sammy Watkins will be shadowed by Josh Norman this week, which should open things up for Kupp in the slot. The rookie has quickly established himself as a key part of this offense, and he has a great matchup against nickel corner Kendall Fuller this week.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs LAC)
The Chargers have one of the best cornerback tandems in the league, but neither of them spends much time in the slot. That means that Devante Parker and Kenny Stills will have their hands full with Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett outside while Landry gets to pick on Trevor Williams. The Chargers pass rush looked great last week and should force Jay Cutler to get rid of the ball quickly, which also points to a lot of targets for Landry here.
WR Adam Thielen, MIN (vs PIT)
The Steelers had a relatively easy matchup against the Browns last week, so it's tough to judge their secondary. The Vikings passing attack, however, are coming into this game hot after a great showing against the Saints. Thielen (6'2") is their primary slot receiver and should have a clear edge over the unproven Mike Hilton (5'9). Stefon Diggs also should be able to take advantage of Joe Haden outside.
WR Chris Hogan, NE (vs NO)
If Amendola winds up missing this game as expected, Hogan should take over slot duties and see a great matchup against P.J. Williams. He wasn't the only player to give up big plays to the Vikings last week, but you have to think the Saints will pay extra attention to former teammate Brandin Cooks here. Hogan played more snaps than any other Patriots receiver last week and should find more open space here than he did against the Chiefs and Marcus Peters.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (vs NYJ)
The Jets secondary didn't give up much last week but were facing one of the weakest passing attacks in the league. Amari Cooper should have a very easy matchup with 2nd-year corner Juston Burris this week, while Michael Crabtree has a slightly tougher matchup with the more experienced Claiborne.
WR Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs SF)
Against the run-heavy Panthers last week, the 49ers made very little use of their nickel package. That figures to change this week as Seattle is more likely to spread them out and look for mismatches. Doug Baldwin should be matched up against K'Waun Wiliams, who saw limited playing time last week and missed the 2016 season to injury.
TE Charles Clay, BUF (vs CAR)
Clay was targeted a team-high 9 times by Tyrod Taylor in the opener and had some drops but still posted 4/53/1 against the Jets. Given the lack of downfield threats for the Bills at WR, it looks like Clay is getting a chance to make more explosive plays and that should make him a solid play this week. The Panthers gave up 12 touchdowns to opposing tight ends last year,
TE Tyler Higbee, LAR (vs WAS)
Washington lost their starting strong safety Su'a Cravens just before the season began, and didn't have a clear replacement ready. Zach Ertz went off against them last week with 8 catches for 93 yards, so this looks like a very nice spot for Higbee. The 2nd year pro was a very productive receiver in college and played nearly the entire game last week compared to just 29 snaps for rookie Gerald Everett.
WR Cole Beasley, DAL (vs DEN)
Always avoid Chris Harris Jr. That's really all that needs to be said, but you really can't expect success using a slot receiver against the Broncos. Dez Bryant may be slowed by Harris and Aqib Talib at times also but could have some success against Bradley Roby.
WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs NYG)
The Cardinals used Patrick Peterson to shadow Jones last week while Golden Tate tore up Tyrann Mathieu out of the slot. The Giants could do the same with Janoris Jenkins here, which would likely free up rookie Kenny Golladay to face the less threatening Eli Apple.
WR Jordy Nelson, GB (vs ATL)
Desmond Trufant is a capable shutdown corner, but the Falcons don't always ask him to shadow the opposing team's #1 WR. He was injured for the playoff game last year but figures to be matched up early and often against Jordy Nelson here. In the event he's lined up across from Davante Adams, that would likely make it easier for the Falcons to slide safety help over to Nelson's side and still make this a tough matchup.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs ARI)
Whenever Hilton lines up outside, he'll probably be shadowed by Patrick Peterson. While a matchup with Tyrann Mathieu in the slot seems more promising given what Golden Tate did against him last week, it's hard to feel comfortable with any Colts receiver given their quarterback situation right now.
WR Devante Parker, MIA (vs LAC)
Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett are two of the best shutdown corners in the league, so it may not matter which side of the field Parker lines up on. Parker has the size to beat them on jump balls, but it's not a matchup I'd expect Jay Cutler to have much success throwing to.
WR Odell Beckham, NYG (vs DET)
While there seemed to be some chance he would play last week, it's clear that Beckham is much less than 100% healthy at this point. If he does play, he'll almost certainly see shadow coverage from Darius Slay and the Giants offensive line may not provide much protection for Eli Manning anyway.
WR Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs JAX)
The Jaguars are another team that boasts two great cover corners in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. That points to a down week for Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews outside and could mean a bump in targets for Eric Decker and Delanie Walker over the middle.
WR Terrelle Pryor, WAS (vs LAR)
Pryor had his way with Jalen Mills last week but should find things much tougher against Trumaine Johnson this week. He is one of few corners in the league who can match up with Pryor physically, and could force Kirk Cousins to look elsewhere.
TE Travis Kelce, KC (vs PHI)
It was widely reported that the Patriots focused on taking away Kelce from the Chiefs attack last week, and that helped contribute to some huge games by Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill. The Eagles probably won't focus on him as much now, but they have always been a very tough matchup for tight ends. On average, they gave up fewer than 3 catches and 30 yards per game to the position in 2016.
TE Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs HOU)
The Texans only gave up 3 touchdowns to opposing tight ends last year and none since week 12 of 2016. They have three pass rushers that offenses have to be aware of, and the Bengals offensive line lost two of their best players in the offseason. That could result in Eifert being kept in to block more than usual to try and keep Andy Dalton upright. He was injured during the preseason and only managed 1 catch for 4 yards in the opener, so likely best to avoid him in this Thursday night matchup.
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