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 Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs Kareem Jackson, HOU)
WR John Brown, ARI (vs Johnathan Joseph, HOU)
The Cardinals are expected to start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback this week as backup Drew Stanton suffered a knee injury last week. At 34 years of age, Fitzgerald is on pace for one of the best seasons of his career in terms of receptions and yardage. Coming off a week where he saw 14 targets against Seattle, he should have little difficulty against Kareem Jackson in the slot. John Brown has been very unreliable this year but also should have a plus matchup against Johnathan Joseph when lined up on the right. This Texans defense has allowed 7 touchdowns to opposing receivers over the past 3 weeks and Gabbert is at least an experienced backup who should be good enough to take advantage.
WR Mike Wallace, BAL (vs Davon House and Kevin King, GB)
Wallace can't seem to get anything going this season along with the rest of the Ravens passing game but they had the bye week to sort out some issues and get a very nice matchup this week. Davon House has been productive since entering the lineup a few weeks ago but that is mainly because he has been giving up so many catches. He ranks among the worst corners in the league in fantasy points per route against and rookie Kevin King isn't much better. Wallace splits his time pretty evenly between the left and the right and both matchups should give the speedy receiver an opportunity to connect on big plays.
WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs Jalen Mills, PHI)
Bryant played hurt and was not much of a factor in last week's embarrassing loss to the Falcons but should be healthier this week in a key divisional matchup with the Eagles. With Ronald Darby expected to return and take over at left cornerback, Jalen Mills should slide back over to the right where he will see plenty of Bryant this week. While Mills has shown some improvement after a horrendous start to the season, he remains a below-average starter and the most targeted corner in the league this season. Without Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys will need to rely on their best player so look for Bryant to see 10+ targets and post one of his better games of the season as long as his health holds up.
WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs Kyle Fuller, CHI)
Kyle Fuller has drawn some praise for his bounce-back season this year in Chicago but the former 1st round pick still takes a lot of chances. That can lead to some big plays against when he guesses wrong and he has been the most vulnerable piece of a secondary that continues to play surprisingly well. Matthew Stafford has been playing extremely well and Jones was putting up huge numbers until he hit a tough matchup with Jason McCourty in week 10. This looks like a very nice matchup for Jones but Golden Tate could also get a boost if nickel back Bryce Callahan sits out again with a knee injury.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (vs Jamar Taylor, CLE)
Lee has emerged as the primary weapon in the Jaguars passing game and has managed to produce despite some difficult matchups. That won't be the case this week as Lee figures to line up against Jamar Taylor most of the game, who has been the weakest of the Browns cornerbacks by far. With Allen Hurns injured, Lee should dominate target share once again and have little difficulty building on his streak of four straight games with at least 70 yards or a touchdown.
WR Tyreek Hill, KC (vs NYG cornerbacks)
The Giants defense may have given up on the season as they appear to be playing well below their capabilities. The Chiefs are coming off a bye week so should be well rested and will likely have their way with this group. Given the way the Giants are playing there isn't a bad matchup and Hill moves around the formation regularly so they won't be able to key on him anyway. He has only posted 2 catches in the past two games but is averaging over 25 yards per catch and doesn't need many targets to hit full value due to his game-breaking ability.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs Vernon Hargreaves, TB)
Tampa's secondary has been a sieve all year and they have recently demoted Hargreaves from starter to nickel corner due to his struggles in coverage. He's missed practice this week so may not be able to go but that would leave Tampa with a likely worse player in Javien Elliott. Either way, this should be a phenomenal matchup for Landry who has been the only productive player on this offense in 2017. The possession receiver has been wildly effective in the red zone and now has a touchdown in 5 of his last 6 games.
WR Brandin Cooks, NE (vs Dexter McDonald, OAK)
With Chris Hogan missing time, Cooks has a chance to emerge as a focal point of the Patriots downfield passing game. He figures to match up against Dexter McDonald who has started the past several games and has been one of the most generous corners in the league with .45 fantasy points allowed per route run against him. McDonald may have the speed to stick with Cooks in a straight line but his inexperience gives Cooks a huge edge.
WR Mike Evans, TB (vs Xavien Howard, MIA)
Evans had a tough time with the Saints in week 9 and was later suspended for a cheap shot in the game. He'll return this week to face a Dolphins secondary that has given up 6 touchdowns to opposing receivers in the past 4 weeks. Despite facing a Panthers offense that had few weapons on Monday night, they still gave up two touchdowns to Devin Funchess. That suggests a similar but much better player in Evans should have his way here. Xavien Howard has flashed potential at times but is still very inconsistent and the Dolphins pass rush has not been very effective at all in recent weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick offers a downgrade at quarterback but he's aggressive and makes quick decisions with the football, which should work well with a big target like Evans.
WR Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs Coty Sensabaugh, PIT)
The Steelers lost Joe Haden to an injury last week so they will turn to Coty Sensabaugh, who hadn't played a snap until last week. He was ineffective during his previous stint as a starter with the Titans and bounced around to several teams before landing in Pittsburgh. While Thursday night games tend to be pretty sloppy, this looks like a great spot for Matthews who should see Sensabaugh for about half the game.
TE Travis Kelce, KC (vs Landon Collins, NYG)
Kelce is obviously an elite tight end and he gets the benefit of a dream matchup this week, which could make him one of the highest owned players in DFS. The Giants have allowed at least one touchdown to an opposing tight end in every game this season, including lesser lights like Garrett Celek, Tyler Higbee, and Jeff Heuermann. Unless this game gets out of hand, Kelce should be a very safe option to pay up for.
TE Tyler Kroft, CIN (vs Justin Simmons, DEN)
Kroft isn't as talented as Tyler Eifert but he provides a very reliable option for Andy Dalton in the Bengals offense. While the Broncos corners often help shut down opposing wide receivers, this defense has had trouble stopping tight ends. They have allowed a touchdown to the position in 4 of their last 5 games 6 of 9 overall. Justin Simmons is a promising young cover safety but he is giving up a catch on 67% of targets. Given how the Bengals running game has struggled and the tough matchup for A.J. Green outside, it's likely that Kroft will see an increase in targets here.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, BUF (vs Casey Hayward, LAC)
Benjamin hasn't had much time to get acclimated to his new team and now has to adjust to a new quarterback as well. The Bills announced they will bench Tyrod Taylor and start rookie Nathan Peterman this week. With Casey Hayward likely to shadow Benjamin here, look for the Bills to rely heavily on LeSean McCoy and their tight ends.
WR Davante Adams, GB (vs Jimmy Smith, BAL)
It hasn't gotten much attention due to the struggles of the Ravens offense this year but Jimmy Smith has put together a very strong season for them. He plays almost exclusively on the right and the Ravens rank among the best teams in the league in fewest points allowed to receivers lined up on the left. While Adams does move around the formation at times, he spends most of his time on the left so look for him to have his hands full here. Jordy Nelson has a much more favorable matchup against Brandon Carr here and may be underowned due to his recent lack of production with Brett Hundley at QB.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs Patrick Peterson, ARI)
This is probably the easiest fade on the schedule this week as Peterson is one of the most reliable and consistent shutdown corners in the league. He will lock down Hopkins this week and force the Texans to use their other options.
WR Sammy Watkins, LAR (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Watkins continues to be a disappointment despite playing in one of the league's best offenses. It's not clear whether the Vikings would even bother having Rhodes shadow Watkins but their natural positions suggest this is the most likely matchup. Robert Woods has been great of late and should have an easier matchup against Trae Waynes.
WR Ted Ginn Jr, NO (vs Josh Norman, WAS)
Washington has some very capable cornerbacks this year without much help in the middle. Michael Thomas should have an edge over Bashaud Breeland on one side but Ginn is likely to draw Josh Norman whenever he lines up to the right, which he does most of the time.
TE Ben Watson, BAL (vs Josh Jones, GB)
The Packers continue to boast one of the best defenses against tight ends in the league as they have yet to allow a touchdown to the position. Despite injuries to Morgan Burnett and other players, they continue to give up very little over the middle. At nearly 38 years of age, Watson has been surprisingly productive and is coming off a season-high 10 target game in week 9 before the bye. While he may provide a safe check-down option for Joe Flacco, the Ravens will likely want to take more chances downfield against this suspect group of corners and avoid the strength of the defense which is their safeties.
TE Charles Clay, BUF (vs Jahleel Addae, LAC)
The Chargers have been very strong against opposing tight ends this year with only one touchdown allowed (to Rob Gronkowski in week 8). They have some capable cover safeties in Addae and Tre Boston but perhaps the biggest factor in their favor is their exceptional pass rush. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III likely force offenses to keep a tight end in to block more often than they'd prefer. Clay still isn't fully healthy anyway and it's unlikely the move to a rookie QB will be enough to get him on track against a difficult matchup.
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