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 Julio Jones, ATL (vs Johnson Bademosi, NE)
The Patriots are expected to be without Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and Eric Rowe (groin) again this week, which could force special teamer Bademosi into a key matchup with Jones. Malcolm Butler could be asked to shadow him but he has a huge size disadvantage. Bademosi was asked to play a huge role last week against the Jets and held up reasonably well, but not sure that can prepare him for this.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR (vs Kyle Fuller, CHI)
The Bears are getting solid play out of Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan, but Kyle Fuller remains a liability. He hasn't been tested much by the Ravens or Vikings the past two games, but the Panthers have two capable outside receivers. Funchess spends most of the time lined up on Fuller's side and comes into the game with 7 or more targets in 5 straight games so he has the best chance to take advantage here.
WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs Dontae Johnson, SF)
Bryant wasn't able to take full advantage of his matchup against the Packers in week 5, but he did find the end zone at least. He gets another great matchup here as the 49ers have had a lot of trouble getting stops from their secondary. All 3 corners have struggled at times, but Dontae Johnson and slot corner K'Waun Williams have been particularly vulnerable and Bryant should see plenty of both. This should be a great spot for Cole Beasley also but he has not seen many targets thus far.
WR Randall Cobb, GB (vs Kenny Vaccaro, NO)
The change from Aaron Rodgers to Brett Hundley likely hurts Cobb's value as he finished the 2nd half last week with 0 targets after putting up 3 in the first half. That being said, the Saints are most vulnerable over the middle as they have gotten improved play from their outside corners Ken Crawley and Marshon Lattimore but are mainly relying on strong safety Vaccaro to cover slot receivers. The Packers are also having issues protecting the quarterback which should result in quicker passes, and that favors a player like Cobb.
WR Robert Woods, LAR (vs Justin Bethel, ARI)
With Patrick Peterson banged up but expected to shadow Sammy Watkins in this London matchup that should leave Robert Woods matched up against Justin Bethel. Woods isn't always an exciting option but has put up solid numbers in 3 of his last 4 games and should have a significant advantage here.
WR Adam Thielen, MIN (vs Lardarius Webb, BAL)
Thielen is putting together a very strong season regardless of who is at quarterback for the Vikings. He primarily works out of the slot which points to a matchup with 32-year-old Lardarius Webb. While the Ravens have gotten excellent play out of Jimmy Smith at times, Webb has been a clear weakness in their secondary.
WR Danny Amendola, NE (vs Brian Poole, ATL)
Brian Poole is a promising young corner, but the Falcons have been giving up a lot of points to receivers out of the slot this year. Amendola had a quiet game against the Jets last week but has been a reliable possession receiver for the Patriots this year and did catch 8 of 11 with a touchdown when these teams met in the Super Bowl.
WR Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr, NO (vs Davon House and Damarious Randall, GB)
Thomas was very quiet last week as he drew tough coverage from Darius Slay and the Saints controlled the game with their running attack. This week he should find much easier sledding against a depleted Packers secondary that hasn't been able to slow many teams down this year. Davon House returned to practice after sitting out last week's game with a hamstring injury, but he is unlikely to slow down Thomas here. Ted Ginn Jr also came to life last week and looks like he could be in for another strong showing against Damarious Randall.
WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs Quinton Dunbar, WAS)
The Eagles could be without both of their starting corners this week as Bashaud Breeland and Josh Norman were limited participants in practice on Thursday. So, you're probably looking at a matchup with Quinton Dunbar. The converted receiver did a good job against Pierre Garcon last week, but Jeffery and this Eagles offense figures to be a much tougher assignment. Jeffery only caught 4 of 10 targets last week against Carolina and should be able to improve significantly on those numbers on Monday night.
TE Jimmy Graham, SEA (vs Landon Collins, NYG)
The Giants have a great group of corners but have struggled against tight ends for some time. Landon Collins is a great player when asked to play like an extra linebacker on the field but he can get lost out in space sometimes. Opposing tight ends have accounted for 432 yards and 7 touchdowns through 6 games, both of which rank as the worst in the league. Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham has yet to really get going this year but he does have 17 catches on 25 targets over his last 3 games before the bye.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL (vs Patrick Chung, NE)
There may be some better matchups this week but they involve great tight ends who can produce regardless of who they are facing. Hooper looks like a nice sleeper considering that New England has allowed a touchdown to an opposing tight end in 5 of 6 games this year. Their cornerbacks have been depleted by injuries so they will likely want to deploy a safety to Julio Jones side of the field. That will likely help open things up further for Hooper in the middle of the field, who can build off his 7-catch performance last week.
WR Mike Wallace, BAL (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Wallace missed practice on Thursday but expects to play this week. With an expected matchup against shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes, however, he may not get a chance to do much though. While there have been some signs of Wallace pulling out of his early season funk lately, the injury combined with matchup make him a strong fade this week.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs Jalen Ramsey, JAX)
Hilton moves around the formation quite a bit but has been lining up outside on approximately two-thirds of his snaps this season. That points to him spending plenty of time matched up against Jalen Ramsey with some additional time against A.J. Bouye. That's not exactly a recipe for success, although Ramsey was limited in practice this week with a calf injury.
WR Keenan Allen, LAC (vs Chris Harris Jr, DEN)
Allen works out of the slot most of the time, which points to a clear matchup against the league's top slot corner in Harris this week. He was also limited in practice with a shoulder injury this week and hasn't found the end zone since week 1 when he posted 5/35/1 against the Broncos.
WR Sammy Watkins, LAR (vs Patrick Peterson, ARI)
Peterson has been a nightmare for opposing receivers this year and says he will be able to play despite a nagging quad injury. Meanwhile, Watkins has been forgotten in the Rams offense with just 2 catches on 10 targets over his last 3 games. Expect Jared Goff to keep looking elsewhere as Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp should have a lot easier matchups.
WR Chris Hogan, NE (vs Desmond Trufant, ATL)
Hogan was a no-show last week against the Jets and he could be headed for another disappointing game again this week. He's clearly been a favorite target for Tom Brady this year with 5 touchdowns in 6 games, but there are plenty of weapons so he won't need to force anything here.
WR Paul Richardson Jr, SEA (vs Janoris Jenkins, NYG)
Janoris Jenkins struggled against Demaryius Thomas last week, but that is a rare occurrence for one of the league's best shutdown corners. The Seahawks outside receivers probably don't warrant shadow treatment here so expect Jenkins to stay on his natural right side and line up against Richardson most of the time. Eli Apple also is coming off his best game of the year, so the Giants strong secondary should help keep the Seattle passing game in check with Doug Baldwin likely remaining their best option against Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie. With just 8 receptions over his last 3 games, Richardson hasn't been a huge part of the Seattle offense anyway.
TE Jason Witten, DAL (vs Eric Reid and Jaquiski Tartt, SF)
The 49ers can't seem to slow down receivers on the outside but they have done an excellent job against opposing tight ends. Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed did manage to pick up some big plays against them last week, yet this defense has still given up 0 touchdowns to the position. It seems likely Dallas will be able to control this game with their running game and some occasional throws to Dez Bryant so we can probably expect a quiet game from Witten.
TE Cameron Brate, TB (vs Micah Hyde, BUF)
Brate is on a 4-game touchdown streak and is making it very difficult for rookie O.J. Howard to emerge. This week, however, he'll have to take on a defense that has yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing tight end. The Bills haven't really been tested much given their matchups against players like Austin Hooper and Tyler Kroft, but their zone defense and athletic safeties should help limit the opportunities for Brate and possibly end his streak.
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