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 Robert McClain, TB)
Tampa's pass defense has not had much success slowing down anybody this year. John Brown and Jaron Brown figure to split time lined up outside against the capable Brent Grimes and the ineffective Vernon Hargreaves. Working out of the slot, however, Fitzgerald should have a consistently favorable matchup against nickel corner McClain. All three Cardinals receivers warrant serious consideration this week.
WR Taylor Gabriel, ATL (vs Byron Maxwell, MIA)
Julio Jones had the bye week to rest up and should have a clear advantage over Xavien Howard, but he has an advantage over just about anybody so that's not saying much. The matchup you may want to look at here is Gabriel vs Byron Maxwell. Gabriel had a very disappointing showing against the Bills in week 4, but has the speed to get behind the much slower Maxwell for some big plays. There has been some reports that Maxwell lost his starting job to rookie Cordrea Tankersly, but that's also a matchup that I would expect Matt Ryan to attack.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (vs Jalen Mills, PHI) - Thursday Night
The Eagles made some changes to their secondary last week by bumping Patrick Robinson outside and allowing safety Malcolm Jenkins to cover Larry Fitzgerald in the slot. Robinson has been playing exceptionally well this year, so he could slide over to take on Kelvin Benjamin here. That would leave Funchess with the much more attractive matchup against Jalen Mills, who is the most targeted corner in the league this year.
WR Golden Tate, DET (vs P.J. Williams, NO)
In their last game before the bye, the Saints appeared to bench corner P.J. Williams for disciplinary reasons and used safety Kenny Vaccaro to cover Jarvis Landry in the slot. Landry was held to 6 catches for 40 yards, but he was facing zone defenses most of the time. Assuming P.J. Williams is back in the lineup, he should provide a nice matchup for Tate in the slot while Marvin Jones Jr and Kenny Golladay will have to deal with the much-improved play of outside corners Ken Crawley and Marshon Lattimore outside. Crawley, in particular, has helped spark the defense, allowing just 7 catches on 16 targets for 66 yards over the last two games.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs Eli Apple, NYG)
The Giants are in free-fall and benched Eli Apple for the first three series of the Chargers game last week due to his struggles thus far. Then, slot corner Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie left the team and has been suspended indefinitely. Janoris Jenkins typically lines up on the right side when not shadowing a receiver so he figures to spend most of this game matched against Demaryius Thomas. That should leave Sanders matched up with Apple here and make him a clear #1 target for Trevor Siemian.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs Adoree' Jackson, TEN)
The Titans got a reprieve last week against Jay Cutler and the Dolphins, but have given up huge games to opposing receivers nearly every week. Adoree' Jackson is going through the normal struggles for a rookie and being targeted often by opponents. Hilton is spending more time outside this year than we've seen in the past so he'll be able to avoid Logan Ryan and see plenty of Jackson this week. Jacoby Brissett has pumped new life into the Colts passing game and Hilton has gone over 150 yards twice in his last two games so he should be able to keep things rolling here.
WR Adam Thielen, MIN (vs Quinten Rollins, GB)
Stefon Diggs was a non-factor on Monday night as he finished with just 1 catch for 4 yards and seems to be dealing with an injury. That leaves Thielen as the top weapon for the Vikings as they take on a Packers pass defense that could be without two key pieces in rookie corner Kevin King and strong safety Morgan Burnett. If both players are unable to play, that would likely force Green Bay to rely on Rollins inside and he's allowed catches on every target so far this year (16 for 16).
WR Pierre Garcon, SF (vs Quinton Dunbar, WAS)
Washington is coming off their bye while the 49ers have to make their second cross country trip in a row after a long overtime game. That being said, Garcon has a very favorable matchup here against Dunbar, who will be filling in for the injured Josh Norman this week. The former college receiver was converted to cornerback after reaching the NFL so he has only played the position for a few years and has not played much this year. On the other side, Bashaud Breeland has played very well this year and should help limit Marqise Goodwin.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (vs K'Waun Williams, SF)
The 49ers pass defense ranks among the worst in the league and there really isn't any particular matchup here that looks that difficult. Jay Gruden has said they really want to get Crowder more involved though and he's had time to heal during the bye week, so he should see a significant bump in targets. Fortunately, he also gets to face a corner who has been giving up a lot of completions this year in Williams and that should lead to a big week. Terrelle Pryor could also have success outside, but Dontae Johnson is one of the few corners who matches up well with him physically.
TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, NYJ (vs NE)
Sefarian-Jenkins has 15 receptions over his last 3 games and led the team with 8 targets in week 5 against the Browns. He gets another great matchup this week as the Patriots have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to the tight end position this year. Over the last 3 games, the opposing tight end has gone over 60 yards and two of them have found the end zone. If game script goes as expected, there should be plenty of pass attempts for the Jets this week as well.
TE Delanie Walker, TEN (vs IND)
Walker has posted at least 3 catches in every game this year but has yet to find the end zone. He had a long touchdown called back last week and could get a bigger boost if Marcus Mariota returns this week. Even with Matt Cassel, this looks like a great matchup for him as the Colts have allowed the 5th most fantasy points to the position this year. Their inside linebacker group is among the worst in the league, and they just gave up 7/83/1 to George Kittle last week.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs Janoris Jenkins, NYG)
Thomas is coming off a very disappointing game against the Raiders in week 4 and should have a much tougher matchup this week than his counterpart Emmanuel Sanders. Janoris Jenkins likely won't shadow Thomas this week, but he should spend most of the game matched up with him based on their normal alignment.
WR Jordy Nelson, GB (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Xavier Rhodes did not allow a target last week, but the Packers and Jordy Nelson figure to provide a much tougher test. He's emerged as a very capable shutdown corner, although Nelson posted 9/154/2 in this matchup late last year. Aaron Rodgers is always willing to take what the defense gives him, and it's likely that Davante Adams against Trae Waynes or Randall Cobb against Terrence Newman will provide more appealing matchups this week.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (vs Trumaine Johnson, LAR)
The Jaguars rely very heavily on their running game and defense so there typically aren't a lot of targets available for their receivers. Lee has just 4 catches over the past two weeks and shouldn't expect much success this week either. Trumaine Johnson hasn't been consistent each week but he's certainly good enough to shut down Lee here.
WR Sammy Watkins, LAR (vs A.J. Bouye, JAX)
The Jaguars are quickly becoming the new Denver Broncos thanks to their elite cornerbacks. Sammy Watkins has just 1 catch on 6 targets over the past two weeks and it seems likely he'll have his hands full with Bouye this week while Robert Woods has to deal with Jalen Ramsey. Looks like a tough spot for Jared Goff and the Rams will likely need Todd Gurley to carry them.
WR Danny Amendola, NE (vs Buster Skrine, NYJ)
The Jets have been getting some surprisingly good play from their corners this year. Morris Claiborne has done a good job while often shadowing the opposing team's #1 WR, but it's not clear if he will spend more time on Brandin Cooks or Chris Hogan this week. Meanwhile, Buster Skrine struggles when he plays outside but is doing excellent while working out of the slot where the Jets have allowed the fewest fantasy points in the league. That points to a tough matchup against Amendola here (who has caught 14 of 15 targets over the past two games).
WR Mike Evans, TB (vs Patrick Peterson, ARI)
This will be an interesting matchup to watch as Peterson has been one of the very best shutdown corners in the league this year, but Jameis Winston isn't afraid to force the ball to his top receiver. Peterson has the size and physical skills to give Evans all he can handle here, and I think you are probably best looking to DeSean Jackson against Justin Bethel or Adam Humphries against Tyrann Mathieu in the slot.
TE Jordan Reed, WAS (vs SF)
The 49ers rank among the worst pass defenses in the league, but it has almost all come from receivers and running backs as they have been remarkably tough against tight ends. Some of that is weak competition they've faced in recent weeks, but they did a great job against Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham in weeks 1. Reed hasn't been himself this year and only saw 13 snaps in week 4 before the bye, so he's a risky choice against what looks like a tough matchup.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs GB)
The Packers lost several key players to injury last week including strong safety Morgan Burnett. They have allowed the 2nd fewest points in the league to the tight end position this year though, so be careful with Rudolph here. He seemed to wake up last week when Case Keenum came into the game and had 9 targets but still managed just 45 yards (with a touchdown) so probably not a lot of upside.
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