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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs SF)
Fitzgerald seems to find his way into this article often. He didn't take advantage of strong matchups the first two weeks but came to life in week 3 on national television with a 13/149/1 game against the Cowboys. Now he gets a primary matchup against a 49ers secondary that had no answers for the Rams last week. Fitzgerald at 6'3" should have a significant advantage over the 49ers 5'9" nickel back K'Waun Williams.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (vs KC)
Crowder is only averaging about 45 snaps per game, but he caught all 6 of his targets last week and has found the end zone twice in 2 games. Since he plays out of the slot almost exclusively, he should be able to avoid Marcus Peters and will see Phillip Gaines most of the time. Gaines rates as one of the weakest corners in the league, so Crowder should provide a reliable option for Cousins as he attempts to get rid of the ball quickly to negate the strong Chiefs pass rush.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (vs TB)
WR Brandon Marshall, NYG (vs TB)
Odell Beckham figures to draw the toughest matchup here against Brent Grimes and that could be enough for Eli Manning to make better use of his other targets. Shepard posted a huge game last week and has a great matchup against Robert McClain out of the slot. Marshall hasn't quite looked like himself this year but showed signs of life last week with 8 catches on 11 targets and he should have success against Vernon Hargreaves.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs NO)
The Saints defense wasn't as generous last week as we've come to expect but much of that was likely due to the ineffectiveness of Cam Newton and the Panthers. Miami is coming off a disastrous outing against the Jets and will try to turn things around in this week's London game. Saints nickel corner P.J. Williams could not slow down slot receivers Adam Thielen and Chris Hogan already this year, so Landry should be in line for another high-reception game.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (vs MIA)
Sticking with the London game, the Saints outside receivers both appear to have favorable matchups as the cornerback position is a glaring weakness for Miami. Xavien Howard is not likely to have much success against Michael Thomas on the left, while Ted Ginn Jr is also likely to get behind Byron Maxwell several times. The return of Willie Snead IV to the slot also should help open up the downfield passing game more, but he'll face off against Bobby McCain who has been impressive thus far.
WR Travis Benjamin, LAC (vs PHI)
The Chargers passing offense hasn't been as prolific as we expected thus far, but should have success against a weak Eagles cornerback group this week. Benjamin likely earned a bigger role in the offense with his performance last week (5/105/0 on 8 targets) against the Chiefs. He lines up primarily on the outside right most of the time which points to a primary matchup against Jalen Mills, who was targeted an incredible 21 times last week. The other Chargers receivers have solid matchups as well this week, so this may be a good week to take a chance on Philip Rivers.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs OAK)
The Broncos had more difficulty than expected with the Bills but should find things easier against Oakland this week. Emmanuel Sanders looks to have the better matchup out right against David Amerson. Sanders is also coming off a game that saw him targeted 15 times (he finished with just 7 catches for 75 yards but also had a deep catch overturned on a questionable replay challenge), so Trevor Siemian clearly will be looking his way early and often. Demaryius Thomas also should be in line for a solid outing with a matchup against the rookie Gareon Conley.
WR DeSean Jackson, TB (vs NYG)
With Janoris Jenkins expected to shadow Mike Evans, Jackson could become the top target for Jameis Winston in a matchup against Eli Apple. While Apple has flashed some ability, he is still inconsistent and a clear weak spot among the top-3 Giants cornerbacks. A hobbled Olivier Vernon up front could also slow down the Giants pass rush and provide extra time for Jackson's deep routes to develop.
TE Travis Kelce, KC (vs WAS)
Kelce had a miserable game last week as he was rarely targeted, but he should be a major focal point this week. Washington has given up 3 straight strong games to opposing tight ends and Kelce should have a huge advantage over safety D.J. Swearinger Sr.
TE Cameron Brate, TB (vs NYG)
The Giants boast a strong group of cornerbacks but haven't solved their issues defending opposing tight ends. Landon Collins is a great player against the run but does struggle in coverage. This should be a week to consider Brate, as he found the end zone last week and faces a defense that has allowed a league-high 23 receptions (with 3 touchdowns) to the tight end position already.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (vs DEN)
WR Michael Crabtree, OAK (vs DEN)
The Bills had some success against the Broncos secondary last week, but that's unlikely to become a trend. Meanwhile, the Raiders offense could not get anything going against a Washington secondary that should have been vulnerable. This looks like a brutal road matchup for the Raiders with Crabtree likely going up against Aqib Talib, while Cooper may be helped slightly by facing Bradley Roby more often than Chris Harris Jr.
WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (vs JAX)
WR Jermaine Kearse, NYJ (vs JAX)
The Jets passing game came into the year with very low expectations but they have had some productive games. That is unlikely to happen this week, however, as both outside receivers will be locked down by A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. They erased the Ravens receivers last week and could be headed for a repeat performance.
WR Pierre Garcon, SF (vs ARI)
Garcon looked great against the Rams on Thursday night, but he figures to draw shadow coverage from shutdown specialist Patrick Peterson this week. While Garcon is a crafty veteran who could find some cracks, it's still probably wise to look elsewhere. Marquise Goodwin on the other side should have a plus matchup against Justin Bethel, but he seems like a tough receiver to count on.
WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs MIN)
I'm not sure any receiver has had a tougher string of matchups to start 2017 than Jones. He did avoid Janoris Jenkins due to injury in week 2, but has matched up against Patrick Peterson and Desmond Trufant and now figures to go against Xavier Rhodes. That's just not a recipe for success and Matthew Stafford will most likely look elsewhere this week.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs DET)
Diggs has posted two huge games this year, including last week with Case Keenum at quarterback. This week, however, he figures to face a very tough matchup against Darius Slay of the Lions. He did a respectable job on Julio Jones last week and could force the Vikings to rely more on the run game and Adam Thielen in the slot.
WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs LAR)
Bryant is another receiver who has faced an extremely tough lineup of corners to start the season, and his overall numbers have suffered as a result. Last week, he was shut down by Patrick Peterson but forced his way into the end zone on play out of the slot. While Trumaine Johnson looked lost against Pierre Garcon last week, he'll likely rebound here and limit the chances for Bryant.
TE Zach Miller, CHI (vs GB)
Miller was expected to be a primary target for a conservative Bears offense that lost their top receivers to injury. He had a quiet showing against Pittsburgh last week and now gets a much tougher matchup against the Packers. They used a 4-safety lineup last week against Cincinnati and should have the athletes to match up very well with Miller here.
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE (vs CAR)
Gronkowski is good enough to win against just about any matchup, but Carolina has been defending opposing tight ends very well this year. Through 3 games, they have given up just 10 catches for 74 yards with 0 touchdowns. Those games have come against George Kittle, Charles Clay, and Coby Fleener so not exactly elite weapons, but the Panthers have some of the best cover linebackers in the league.
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