Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 13

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

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

 

FAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Davante Adams, GB (vs Ryan Smith, TB)
Adams has been the only productive receiver in Green Bay since Brett Hundley took over for Aaron Rodgers, and that should continue this week. Hundley clearly has some chemistry with Adams and should have no trouble getting him to 10 or more targets against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Ryan Smith has been trying to hold down the fort on the outside but has been picked on regularly by opposing quarterbacks. Even if they replaced him with Robert McClain or Vernon Hargreaves, this looks like a great matchup for Adams.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs Adoree' Jackson, TEN)
Hopkins has been dominant this year despite facing some tough matchups and dealing with inconsistency at quarterback. He should have little difficulty with the rookie Jackson here posting strong games against Jimmy Smith and Patrick Peterson the past two weeks. Jackson had a strong game against the Colts last week but he was helped tremendously by the Titans pass rush who sacked Jacoby Brissett 8 times. That is unlikely to happen here and Hopkins can almost certainly be counted on for 10+ targets and a very productive outing.

WR Marqise Lee, JAX (vs Kenny Moore, IND)
The Colts lost their best cover corner in Rashaan Melvin last week so they will likely turn to 5'9" Kenny Moore. The former undrafted free agent is surprisingly playing ahead of 2nd round rookie Quincy Wilson, who hasn't played since week 2. Either way, this looks like a potential blow up spot for Lee who has easily been the most reliable and consistent weapon in the Jaguars passing game this year. He was completely shut down by Patrick Peterson last week but should be headed for a big bounce-back week against a depleted Colts secondary.

WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (vs Tyrann Mathieu, ARI)
Robert Woods seems unlikely to play again this week and Sammy Watkins will most likely be neutralized by Patrick Peterson. That should leave Kupp as the primary target for Jared Goff after he put up 8/116/0 on 11 targets a week ago. Mathieu has shown some recent improvement but has not been particularly good in man coverage for the past two years so Kupp should have an advantage here.

WR DaVante Parker, MIA (vs Brendan Langley, DEN)
The Broncos will be without their best outside corner in Aqib Talib this week due to a suspension so they will turn back to Langley. He had a very rough outing last week after being thrown into the lineup unexpectedly and it's tough to imagine one week of prep being enough to change that. He'll most likely draw Parker this week, who has been a disappointment but seems to work better with Jay Cutler than Matt Moore. With Chris Harris Jr likely taking away Jarvis Landry more than usual and Parker having the great matchup, this looks like a potential breakout week for him.

WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (C.J. Goodwin or Ricardo Allen, ATL)
Diggs has not been nearly as productive on the outside with Case Keenum under center but he has also been limited by some difficult matchups in recent weeks. He should catch a break this week as Desmond Trufant suffered a concussion last week and remained in the protocol as of Thursday. If he's not cleared to play, which seems likely, they will most likely turn to C.J. Goodson or move safety Ricardo Allen out to corner. Either way, that should be enough reason to bump up Diggs. Adam Thielen also likely has a favorable matchup inside against a hobbled Brian Poole who was limited in practice but seems likely to play.

WR Brandin Cooks, NE (vs E.J. Gaines, BUF)
Cooks has become a very reliable downfield weapon for the Patriots with 6 catches in 3 straight games and touchdowns in his last 2. While the Bills defense showed improvement last week against the Chiefs, they had given up some huge games to opposing team's #1 WRs for much of this year. Gaines has not been the huge liability in Buffalo that he was with the Rams, but he has been targeted and beaten much more than rookie Tre'Davious White this year.

WR Michael Thomas, NO (vs Daryl Worley, CAR)
Robby Anderson just blew up against this secondary last week for 6/146/2, and Michael Thomas posted 7/87/1 against them back in week 3. The Panthers play a lot of zone defense so it may not matter much who is lined up across from Thomas, but this is a secondary that has a tendency to give up big plays. Despite zero touchdowns since week 4, Thomas has been very productive just about every week and this looks like a good spot for him as the Panthers should be able to slow down that running game and force Brees to throw more than he has been doing.

WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (vs T.J. Carrie, OAK)
The Raiders secondary has been a disaster for some time and that doesn't seem likely to change now. Even if they get David Amerson back at corner this week, he's unlikely to provide much help. T.J. Carrie handles slot duties and may not jump out as a huge weak spot for them but they have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to slot receivers over the last 4 games. Players like Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Danny Amendola, and Andre Holmes have all found the end zone against them in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Shepard is expected to be back this week after sitting out two games with migraines. He posted 11/142 in his last game and should remain the top target for Geno Smith as the Giants begin their youth movement this week.

WR Mike Evans, TB (vs Kevin King, GB)
The Packers have been a matchup to target for receivers all season and that should continue again this week. They gave up three touchdowns to the Steelers receivers last week and have allowed 7 to WRs over their last 4 games. The rookie King at 6'3" is one of the few corners in the league who is not at a huge size disadvantage when facing Mike Evans but he has been going through the normal rookie struggles with some flashes of ability. With Jameis Winston back under center this week, look for him to rely heavily on his favorite target in a matchup against a rookie corner.

TE Jared Cook, OAK (vs Landon Collins, NYG)
The Giants shut down Vernon Davis last week on Thursday night, which raises questions about whether they have perhaps solved their defensive issues against the tight end position. Similarly, Jared Cook was a huge disappointment against the Broncos despite the Raiders losing both of their star receivers early in that game. He'll get a chance to redeem himself this week against another defense that has been atrocious against the position, and should be a bigger part of the game plan since the team will once again be without their two top receivers.

TE Hunter Henry, LAC (vs Derrick Kindred, CLE)
The Chargers tight end has mostly underwhelmed this season but he looked great last week against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Now he gets a very easy matchup against the Browns, who have allowed the most TE receptions in the league this year and have given up a touchdown to the position in four straight games.  The Browns lost their best cover linebacker in Jamie Collins Sr to I.R. and will need to rely on a young safety like Kindred who is giving up catches on 75% of his targets in coverage.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Julio Jones, ATL (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Jones is obviously coming off one of the best games of his career so it would be tough to fade him. Throw in the fact that Xavier Rhodes was lit up by Marvin Jones Jr for two touchdowns on Thanksgiving and this matchup starts to look a lot less intimidating. We can probably expect some regression from both players though as the matchup will be much tougher for Jones here, and Rhodes is likely to bounce back from one of the only poor games he's had all season. The Falcons offense gets Devonta Freeman back this week, and don't typically force the ball to Jones when there are better matchups available.

WR Mike Wallace, BAL (vs Darius Slay, DET)
Wallace failed to produce last week despite a great matchup and plenty of targets against the Texans. He should find things much more difficult here with Darius Slay expected to shadow him all over the field. Per ESPN, Wallace and Slay have gone against each other 34 times over their careers and Wallace has caught 5 of 6 targets for just 43 yards with no touchdowns. Given how much Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game has struggled, it is hard to feel comfortable with them in this matchup considering the Lions have only allowed one touchdown to a wide receiver in the last 4 games (and only 1 opposing WR has gone over 70 yards in that same time span).

WR Corey Coleman, CLE (vs Casey Hayward, LAC)
The Browns will get Josh Gordon back in the lineup this week, who figures to steal some targets away from Coleman who has 19 over the last two weeks. Even more concerning though is the expected matchup with Hayward. The Chargers defend perimeter receivers as well as almost any team in the league and their pass rush up front figures to make things uncomfortable for DeShone Kizer. The Chargers have only allowed 1 touchdown to an opposing wide receiver over their last 5 games (to Marqise Lee) so be careful with either talented Browns receiver in this matchup.

WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs Jimmy Smith, BAL)
This is another matchup that looks less scary if you just consider what both players did a week ago. Jones had a great game against Xavier Rhodes while DeAndre Hopkins put up strong number against Smith. Those seem like outliers, however, as Jones has been limited by other top corners he's faced this year and Smith has played exceptionally well all year. Since Smith typically stays on the right side and doesn't shadow opposing receivers, Jones should also see plenty of routes against Brandon Carr. He has played well this year too but has been much more beatable, so that's likely where Jones will need to hit if he's going to put up another big week.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs Jalen Ramsey, JAX)
Despite playing at less than 100%, Ramsey often shadowed Larry Fitzgerald last week and even followed him into the slot at times. That suggests that Hilton will almost certainly have Ramsey on him for much of this game as well, as he did the last time these two teams met in week 7 when Hilton caught 2 of 6 for 27 yards. The Jaguars pass defense is the best in the league and it's helped a great deal by their ferocious pass rush who should make life miserable for Jacoby Brissett this week. Hilton has posted no better than 2 catches for 30 yards in 5 of his last 6 games so steer clear of him this week if you can.

WR Sammy Watkins, LAR (vs Patrick Peterson, ARI)
Watkins has found the end zone in 3 of his last 4 games but he has just 10 catches in those games. He did see a significant increase in targets last week due to the absence of Robert Woods, but that's unlikely to continue this week as he'll be shadowed by Peterson. While Watkins is good enough to beat Peterson on occasion, it's asking a lot for him to get open regularly against him and for Jared Goff to trust him enough to target him on those plays. Most likely, the Rams will continue to rely heavily on Todd Gurley and Cooper Kupp here rather than forcing anything to Watkins.

WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs Chris Harris Jr, DEN)
Landry has been surprisingly effective in the red zone with 6 touchdowns over his last 8 games but he now takes on the league's best slot corner in Harris. While the normally stingy Broncos defense has fallen apart and given up 12 touchdown passes over their last 4 games, only 5 of those have gone to receivers and almost all of them have come on big plays. That's not Landry's strength, and it makes sense that Jay Cutler will focus more attention on his outside receivers who have much more favorable matchups this week due to the Aqib Talib suspension.
 
TE O.J. Howard, TB (vs Morgan Burnett, GB)
The rookie 1st round pick has started to emerge as the primary tight end in Tampa over the past two weeks, but he should be headed for a tough matchup this week. The Packers do not defend receivers well at all but have consistently been the top unit against tight ends all year long. With two of their top offensive linemen expected to miss the game this week as well, that could also force Tampa to keep Howard in as a blocker more often. With the Packers offense still far from reliable under Brett Hundley, the Buccaneers may not get the game script needed that forces them to open up and throw the ball as much as you might expect either.

TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (vs Mark Barron, LAR)
The Cardinals have gotten a boost from the young tight end over the past two weeks and figure to give him a bigger role. Despite playing just 25 snaps combined over the last two games, he has come through with a handful of big plays and posted 7 catches for 126 yards and 3 touchdowns. He'll likely have a tougher time this week, however, as defenses will now be better prepared to defend him and the Rams defense has only given up one touchdown to the tight end position over their last 6 games.


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