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 Robert McClain, TB)
Tampa continues to struggle in their secondary as they were torched by the Dolphins last week with Kenny Stills going off for 7/180/1. Julio Jones has just 1 touchdown on the season but he remains a focal point of the offense with 5 or more catches in 5 of his last 6 games. While he moves around the formation, he spends the vast majority of his time outside so he will likely be matched up primarily against McClain and Brent Grimes. Over his last 4 games against Tampa, Jones has averaged 8/108/.75 so this certainly looks like the perfect week for him to break out.
WR Jeremy Maclin, BAL (vs Kareem Jackson, HOU)
WR Mike Wallace, BAL (vs Jonathan Joseph, BAL)
The Texans have not been able to slow down many of the receivers they've faced in recent weeks. Over the last 4 games, we have seen Larry Fitzgerald (9/91/1), Robert Woods (8/171/2), T.Y. Hilton (5/175/2), and Paul Richardson Jr (6/105/2) all post incredible numbers. Maclin had a quiet game last week in a blowout win but has started to emerge as the primary target for Joe Flacco. Mike Wallace is also showing signs of life with a 2-game touchdown streak. Both are likely to see plenty of the two cornerbacks who have given up the majority of those yards and touchdowns in recent weeks and should represent nice value.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Phillip Gaines, KC)
It's difficult to count on anybody in the Bills passing game right now but Jones could be worth a flier here. With Tyrod Taylor expected to start and Kelvin Benjamin likely out with a knee injury, Jones should spend much of the game matched up against Gaines. The Chiefs benched Gaines earlier this year but went back to him last week after Terrance Mitchell and Kenneth Acker both struggled as well. Steven Nelson has upgraded their defense against slot receivers while Marcus Peters will likely be able to keep Deonte Thompson in check. That should leave Jones as the best option, and he's coming off two of his best games with 10/121/1 over the last two weeks.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs Obi Melifonwu, OAK)
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs Sean Smith, OAK)
The Broncos fired their offensive coordinator and promoted Bill Musgrave, who had success with the Raiders offense a year ago. They will also bench the ineffective Brock Osweiler and turn the reins over to former first-round pick Paxton Lynch. If he can spark some life into this offense, both Broncos receivers should find very favorable matchups this week. The Raiders cornerback depth has been decimated by injuries to their top corner David Amerson and 1st-round pick Gareon Conley. Last week, they started rookie safety Obi Melifonwu at corner out of desperation but he was no match for Tom Brady. T.J. Carrie has played well but spends most of his time in the slot, so that should leave Sanders and Thomas matched up against some combination of Melifonwu, Smith, or Dexter McDonald outside.
WR Jordy Nelson, GB (vs Coty Sensabaugh, PIT)
The Packers offense under Brett Hundley has not been effective at all and now they get a tough matchup against one of the league's best pass defenses. If there is a weakness, however, it's at LCB where Coty Sensabaugh has taken over for the injured Joe Haden. Last week, Rishard Matthews took advantage with a 5/113/1 game and that points to a great setup for Nelson here. Obviously, with 5 catches for just 44 yards over the last two games, he's not exactly a reliable option though.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs Adoree' Jackson, TEN)
The Titans have a clear problem at cornerback and it showed up the past two games with 5 touchdowns allowed to opposing receivers, including 3 for Antonio Brown last week. Rookie Adoree' Jackson has flashed some talent at times but is still very inconsistent, and Logan Ryan has a tendency to give up big plays. Hilton figures to spend most of the game going up against those two but will also get some work against LeShaun Sims, who is allowing catches on nearly 80% of targets this year. Both Donte Moncrief and Chester Rogers should be worth considering this week as well, especially after Rogers just put up 6/104/1 last week against a tough Steelers defense.
WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs Jonathan Jones, NE)
The Patriots have been extremely vulnerable to slot receivers this year, regardless of who has been covering them. Their numbers have tightened up in recent weeks but that may also be because they have faced some teams like the Raiders and Broncos that don't really have a reliable slot receiver. The Dolphins do, however, and Landry continues to put up strong numbers regardless of who is at quarterback. While he hasn't posted the huge reception numbers we have come to expect from him, he has found the end zone in 6 of his last 7 games and averages over 10 targets/game. With Miami likely to be playing from behind for much of this game and the outside receivers likely contained by the strong CB tandem of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore, Landry should see a heavy workload.
WR Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs K'Waun Williams, SF)
The last time we saw the 49ers in week 10, they gave up 11/142/0 to Giants slot receiver Sterling Shepard. Their defense has been ravaged by injuries, particularly at the safety position which should help open up more space in the middle of the field for Baldwin. He does most of his work out of the slot and has shown the past two games that he doesn't need a huge target load to be productive. Williams has ranked as one of the worst corners in the league all season and should have a really hard time containing one of the league's best inside receivers here.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (vs Pierre Desir, IND)
The rookie has teased us with his talent thus far but can't seem to break through for a big game. It certainly could be coming this week with a matchup against the Colts and their decimated secondary. They cut underperforming Vontae Davis recently and turned over his spot to Desir, who has played physically but also ranks among the league leaders in fantasy points allowed per route covered. With 17 targets over his last two games, Davis is getting chances but Mariota hasn't always been on target against some tough matchups. He should find things much easier this week, and Davis should be the player most likely to benefit as Rishard Matthews will have a much tougher matchup with Rashaan Melvin.
TE Vernon Davis, WAS (vs Landon Collins, NYG)
While Travis Kelce didn't find the end zone last week and ended the Giants streak of giving up a touchdown in every game this season, he still managed to put together a strong showing with 8 catches for 109 yards. This week, Davis will look to start a new streak as he has quickly become one of the most important pieces of this Washington passing game. He's gone over 65 yards in three straight games and always seems to come up with big plays when they need it.
TE Jared Cook, OAK (vs Justin Simmons, DEN)
Tyler Kroft did not put up great numbers against this matchup last week but still manage to find the end zone. The Broncos have allowed an opposing tight end to score four times in a row and in 7 of 10 games overall this year. While Simmons has the ability to match up well with tight ends in coverage, he may not always get the chance to do so given all the other leaks that are opening in the Broncos defense of late. The Broncos cornerbacks typically do well at slowing down the outside receivers so that will likely force Derek Carr and the Raiders to rely on Cook. The Raiders offense was abysmal last week against the Patriots but should be able to rebound here after firing their offensive coordinator.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs Aaron Colvin, JAX)
While Fitzgerald works out of the slot and that should help him avoid A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey most of the time, this still looks like a pretty ugly matchup for him. The Jaguars pass rush is deep and talented, and they also have the linebackers and safeties that can help out if needed. He's been the only reliable target for Arizona all year but Jacksonville has given up the fewest fantasy points to slot receivers this year.
WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs Casey Hayward, LAC)
Some players are matchup-proof but Bryant doesn't appear to be one of them. He's gone up against many of the league's toughest corners this year and doesn't have a whole lot to show for it. Even on days like last week when he gets 14 targets against an Eagles secondary that looked beatable, he only converted them into 8 catches for 63 yards with no touchdowns. He will almost certainly see shadow coverage from Casey Hayward this week, who continues to play at a high level and gets help from a great pass rush up front.
WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Jones has been a regular in this section all season, although he really started to heat up a month or so ago when his matchups seemed to weaken. He gets one of the toughest matchups in the league this week, however, as he figures to be shadowed by Rhodes all game. While some shutdown corners still give up short pass plays, Rhodes rarely even has the ball thrown in his direction so Jones will likely need to hit on a big play or two to reach full value.
WR Marqise Lee, JAX (vs Patrick Peterson, ARI)
While DeAndre Hopkins found the end zone last week against Peterson, that is not something that we can probably expect to happen twice in a row. He is perhaps the league's premier shutdown corner and he figures to take on Lee this week. That certainly suggests the Jaguars will need to rely on their running game and perhaps get some other receivers involved since Allen Hurns seems unlikely to play.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs Darius Slay, DET)
Slay has been very good for awhile but he has often toiled on some bad teams without much help so it frequently went unnoticed. He's playing at a high level once again this year and has a strong track record against Diggs. With Case Keenum at quarterback, Diggs hasn't been a huge focal point of the offense lately anyway and that should continue with Slay shadowing him this week.
TE Jason Witten, DAL (vs Jahleel Addae, LAC)
Witten hasn't seen the surge in targets many expected following the suspension to Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys offense doesn't look the same as what we've come to expect from them, and Witten was a complete non-factor last week with just 1 catch on his only target of the game. Now he takes on a Chargers defense that ranks 2nd to last in fantasy points allowed to tight ends this year. That pass rush likely means he'll need to focus more on his blocking than his receiving this week.
TE Charles Clay, BUF (vs Daniel Sorenson, KC)
The Chiefs may not defend the tight end as well as they did when Eric Berry was healthy but they still pose a very tough matchup for the position. They gave up just a single catch to Evan Engram and Jason Witten the past two weeks so this certainly looks like a difficult matchup for Clay. While the return of Tyrod Taylor should provide a boost to the offense, he is just as likely to run for a first down as to throw it.
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