Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 8

Breaks down some of the best and worst WR/TE matchups this week to help you build DFS lineups.

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 (rudnicki@footballguys.com) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)

 

FAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs Robert McClain, TB)
Vernon Hargreaves III III was demoted last week to nickel back, which bumped Robert McClain up to a full-time role. That's not necessarily an upgrade as McClain had been giving up plenty of catches and fantasy points over the middle too. Benjamin lines up on the left side most of the time which suggests a primary matchup against the 5'9" McClain. That's a matchup that the 6'4" receiver should easily dominate.

WR A.J. Green, CIN (vs Quincy Wilson, IND)
Rashaan Melvin had been playing well but left last week's game early with a concussion and hadn't been cleared as of Thursday. That points to a likely start for rookie 2nd round pick Wilson, who has been a healthy scratch for the past 3 weeks. Add in the fact the Colts lost their talented free safety Malik Hooker for the year to a torn ACL and this looks like a dream matchup for Green.

WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs Terrence Mitchell, KC)
Thomas and the Broncos offense have been difficult to predict of late. He blew up against a tough matchup in week 6 and was a no-show last week against Casey Hayward and the Chargers. This could be a good spot for him, however, as he gets the same basic matchup that saw Amari Cooper post 11/210/2 last week on Thursday night. He'll likely run some of his routes against the excellent Marcus Peters but not enough to slow him down.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs Shaquill Griffin, SEA)
The Texans offense was on fire and will try to keep it rolling after their bye week. They get a tough matchup against Seattle but Hopkins should spend most of the game matched up with the rookie Griffin while avoiding Richard Sherman (who will try to keep Will Fuller V out of the end zone). The Seahawks are also banged up on the defensive line, so they went out and signed Dwight Freeney to try and add some life to their ineffective pass rush.

WR Keenan Allen, LAC (vs Patrick Chung, NE)
The Patriots have been getting some inspired play from Johnson Bademosi outside the past several weeks without Stephon Gilmore. They have very vulnerable to slot receivers all year, however, so that points to a great matchup for Allen. Eric Rowe was their primary nickel corner but he is out indefinitely with a groin injury. Jonathan Jones is an option but has only been seeing about 20 snaps/game. That suggests we will often see Allen matched up against Chung, but either option should make him a very appealing target for Philip Rivers.

WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs Dontae Johnson, SF)
The 49ers secondary has made a regular appearance here, and this week it's the Eagles chances to take advantage of them. Dez Bryant didn't get a chance to do as much as he could have last week in a blowout win but still managed 7/63/1 playing mostly against Johnson. While Jeffery has been quiet the past few weeks and didn't do much against a depleted Washington secondary on Monday night, this certainly looks like a week where he could play a big role.

WR Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs Kareem Jackson, HOU)
Baldwin is coming off a very strong game against a tough Giants secondary that saw him catch 9 of 12 targets for 92 yards with a touchdown. This week, he's expected to spend most of his time matched up against Jackson in the slot. Even though the Texans have held up pretty well against the pass this year, Jackson is giving up almost 2 yards per route covered per Pro Football Focus which ranks among the worst corners in the league.

TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs Derrick Kindred, CLE)
On the season, opposing tight ends have been targeted a league-high 70 times and they have allowed the 2nd most points to the position. Jabrill Peppers was drafted in the first round to try and shore up their safety position, but he has not played well and has primarily been used in deep coverage anyway. That leaves Kindred or Jamie Collins Sr to matchup with Rudolph here, who has at least 5 catches in the past 3 games.

TE Jason Witten, DAL (vs D.J. Swearinger Sr, WAS)
Witten is having a very productive season with averages of 5 receptions, 47 yards, and .5 touchdowns per game. This week, he gets to take on a Washington defense that has allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to the position. They have been reeling ever since Sua Cravens walked away from the team and are hoping to get DeAngelo Hall back at some point. Pretty much every opposing tight end they have faced has put up great numbers this year and 3 of the last 4 have found the end zone.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Tyreek Hill, KC (vs Broncos cornerbacks)
Hill moves all around the formation, but he actually spends the least amount of time on the left side which is where the Broncos are typically most vulnerable with Bradley Roby. That means Hill will probably see plenty of Chris Harris Jr in the slot and Aqib Talib on the right side, neither of which is advantageous for him.  

WR Michael Thomas, NO (vs Prince Amukamara, CHI)
Thomas had a quiet start to the game against Green Bay last week before waking up in the second half. This week, he'll face a much tougher matchup as Prince Amukamara has played great for a Bears defense that has looked dominant the past two weeks. The Saints offense also appears to have shifted to more of a conservative and run-heavy approach, so Brees will likely be content to get other players like Ted Ginn Jr and Alvin Kamara involved here.

WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (vs Desmond Trufant, ATL)
The Falcons have mostly been vulnerable against slot receivers this year, where Anderson will see some time but not as much as Jeremy Kerley. The 6'3" receiver spends most of his time outside on the right side of the formation, which should match him up directly with Desmond Trufant quite often. The Falcons have not been great on either side of the ball, but Trufant is one of the better shutdown corners in the league and should be able to keep Anderson in check.

WR Brandin Cooks, NE (vs Casey Hayward, LAC)
The Patriots have a lot of weapons to worry about, but it seems likely that Hayward will be asked to shadow Cooks this week. He spends most of his time on the left side, which is also the natural side for Hayward. Chris Hogan could also have his hands full with the impressive Trevor Williams, who has done a great job since filling in for Jason Verrett.

WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs Bashaud Breeland and Josh Norman, WAS)
Washington is expected to have both of their starting corners in the lineup this week, which should help them match up with Bryant. While it's possible Norman could be asked to shadow him, it's more likely they will let him stay on his natural side given how well Breeland has been playing. Either way, Washington has been one of the toughest matchups for outside receivers all season as most of the damage done against them has come in the middle of the field.

TE Rob Gronkowski, NE (vs Jahleel Addae, LAC)
The Chargers have allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to the tight end position in the league this year. While they haven't had the toughest of matchups, they did shut down Travis Kelce and Jared Cook while allowing Zach Ertz to post 5 catches for 81 yards. The secondary has solidified despite the loss of Jason Verrett and they have one of the most potent pass rushers in the league. If Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III can get pressure on Brady early, the Patriots may be forced to keep Gronkowski in to block more than usual. While Gronkowski is an elite talent and matchup-proof to some extent, the trends suggest he could have a down week.

TE Jack Doyle, IND (vs George Iloka, CIN)
The Bengals are only allowing opposing tight ends to post 3.5 catches for 39 yards this year, which ranks among the very best in the league. They have a deep group of pass rushers that teams have to account for and some athletic linebackers that can take away short routes well. Doyle caught 6 of 7 targets last week in a blowout loss to the Jaguars but hasn’t been able to make many big plays this year.


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