This article attempts 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 Jourdan Lewis, DAL)
The Cowboys corners have played better than most would have expected them to this year, but they are still pretty green on the outside. Rookie Jourdan Lewis figures to be the primary matchup for Jones this week, which is a key matchup that Matt Ryan should look to take advantage of. Jones posted 118 yards a week ago and should be able to get deep behind this secondary, assuming he's healthy enough to play (he missed practice on Thursday). The Cowboys have been vulnerable to slot receivers this year despite using their best corner Orlando Scandrick inside, so this could be a great spot for Mohamed Sanu as well.
WR A.J. Green, CIN (vs Adoree' Jackson, TEN)
Green was ejected early from last week's game against Jacksonville after Jalen Ramsey got under his skin and should be in line for a huge bounce-back game. He spends slightly more time lined up our right where he should see the rookie Adoree' Jackson but LeShaun Sims also provides a plus matchup on the other side. The Bengals offense doesn't give many reasons to believe in them but this Titans cornerback group is not impressive and will likely be no match for Green.
WR Sammy Watkins, LAR (vs Kevin Johnson, HOU)
The Rams passing offense has exceeded everybody's expectations this year and now they get a Texans defense that has been shredded by Russell Wilson and Jacoby Brissett and big plays the past two weeks. Robert Woods leads the team in targets but is more of a possession receiver and has the toughest matchup against Jonathan Joseph this week. Given how T.Y. Hilton (5/175/2), Paul Richardson Jr (6/105/2), and Tyler Lockett (6/121) have done the past two games, this looks like a great spot for Sammy Watkins. He'll be matched up primarily against Kevin Johnson who ranks among the worst corners in the league in terms of targets and fantasy points allowed per route.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs Captain Munnerlyn, CAR)
As a high-volume slot receiver, Landry has surprisingly been very active in the red zone and has found the end zone in four of his last 5 games. He gets a great matchup against Munnerlyn this week who ranks as one of the weakest corners in the league per Pro Football Focus and is allowing catches on 75% of targets.
WR Adam Thielen, MIN (vs Kendall Fuller, WAS)
Thielen has at least 5 catches in every game this year and remains one of the safest fantasy options in the league. With Stefon Diggs likely to have a tough matchup against Josh Norman, Thielen should remain the primary target with a great matchup against Kendall Fuller inside. Doug Baldwin just went off for 7/108/1 in the same matchup a week ago, and we can likely expect this defense to funnel a lot of plays towards the middle.
WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (vs Brent Grimes, TB)
While Tampa is expected to get Brent Grimes back this week, it's unlikely to make much of a difference for a secondary that has been one of the worst in the league all year. Meanwhile, Anderson comes into the game on fire with a touchdown in three straight games. He has shown he doesn't need a lot of targets to be productive and he moves around the formation enough that he should get plenty of chances to beat Robert McClain and Vernon Hargreaves even if Grimes is able to keep him in check.
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE (vs Brandon Marshall, DEN)
The Broncos have an elite group of corners and a potent pass rush, but they are likely no better than average at their inside linebacker and safety positions. That tends to create additional opportunities for the tight ends they face, which is why they rank among top-5 in most catches, yards, and touchdowns allowed to the position. Few teams have anyone that can match up with Gronkowski in man coverage but Denver has been particularly vulnerable to the position so this looks like a great opportunity for him to blow up.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs D.J. Swearinger Sr, WAS)
Washington welcomed back DeAngelo Hall last week who will likely provide some stability to the back of their defense. He's unlikely to play up near the box very often, however, and that should leave most of the coverage responsibility for Rudolph to Swearinger or the inside linebackers. While this unit has shown improvement in recent weeks as they kept Jimmy Graham (5/59) and Jason Witten (3/31) in check, Rudolph has 5 or more catches in 4 straight games and should remain a very reliable option for Case Keenum.
WR Golden Tate, DET (vs Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CLE)
The Lions passing attack has been very productive over the past few weeks and the winless Browns certainly don't look like a tough matchup. Tate comes into the game with 3 strong games in a row (7 catches and 86+ yards in each) but will often face Boddy-Calhoun when lined up in the slot. While Adam Thielen had a strong game last week working mostly out of the slot, Boddy-Calhoun has only been targeted on 9% of routes covered this year. Marvin Jones Jr could also have a tough matchup against Jason McCourty outside if he returns as expected this week.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (vs Casey Hayward, LAC)
Lee has been the only reliable receiver on a run-heavy Jaguars offense this year but he's facing a pretty tough matchup against shutdown corner Hayward this week. In fact, the Chargers defense has not allowed an opposing receiver to go over 60 yards the past 3 weeks and only Michael Crabtree has found the end zone while players like Amari Cooper, Demaryius Thomas, and Chris Hogan have been kept in check.
WR Tyrell Williams, LAC (vs A.J. Bouye, JAX)
WR Travis Benjamin, LAC (vs Jalen Ramsey, JAX)
This is a brutal matchup for the Chargers as the Jaguars boast the league's best pass defense thanks to a ferocious pass rush and a pair of great corners. Benjamin comes into the game with a touchdown in his last two games before the bye but he'll probably need some luck to keep that streak alive. Williams hasn't been able to build on his breakout season and has just 6 catches over his last 4 games but this also doesn't look like the week for him to break that slump.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs Josh Norman, WAS)
Diggs returned to the lineup in week 8 and has now had the bye to recover from his injury. He won't catch any breaks with the matchup this week as he's likely to be lined up across from Josh Norman for most of the game. Norman and fellow outside corner Bashaud Breeland have both played very well this year and rank among the best in the league in fewest fantasy points allowed to outside receivers. This defense plays great on the edges and funnels things to the slot receivers and tight ends over the middle, so Diggs may need to hit some big plays on crossing routes or the limited number of snaps he takes over the middle to hit full value.
WR Danny Amendola, NE (vs Chris Harris Jr, DEN)
The Patriots love to feature their slot receiver in most matchups but this is a clear week for them to look elsewhere. With Chris Hogan unlikely to play, Amendola should be due for an uptick in targets but he'll most likely get them against the league's premier slot corner in Chris Harris Jr. Looking back at recent weeks, there really hasn't been any slot receiver who has had a strong game against the Broncos this year and the best they've faced in Keenan Allen has been held to 8 catches for 76 yards with 1 touchdown over 2 games. This is a much better spot for Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots running backs.
WR Josh Doctson, WAS (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Doctson hasn't quite emerged as a reliable option for Kirk Cousins yet although he has flashed some of the ability that made him a 1st round pick with 3 touchdowns on just 22 targets. That suggests he may not need a lot of targets to be productive, but he's also most likely to draw coverage from Xavier Rhodes this week. Minnesota has been extremely tough defending the left side of the field where Doctson lines up most of the time, and few receivers have been able to beat Rhodes when matched up in man coverage. The expected return of Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder also figure to reduce the number of targets available for the outside receivers like Doctson.
TE Charles Clay, BUF (vs Vonn Bell, NO)
Clay is expected to return to the lineup but has been limited in practice this week so may not be fully recovered from his knee injury. Meanwhile, the Saints have allowed 4 touchdowns to tight ends this year but still rank in the bottom-5 in fantasy points allowed to the position as only one tight end has reached 30 yards receiving against them (Gronkowski back in week 2). Kenny Vaccaro has been playing well of late but may not be able to play, although his replacement Vonn Bell should not be a significant downgrade.
TE Jason Witten, DAL (vs Keanu Neal, ATL)
Witten has been pretty quiet the past two games and could see an uptick in targets due to the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. The Falcons have been one of the toughest matchups for opposing tight ends this year, however, with their only touchdown allowed to the position coming last week to little-used Eric Tomlinson. This unit held Rob Gronkowski to 3 catches for 51 yards in week 7, so you have to think they are very capable of shutting down Witten here as well.
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