Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 14

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 Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs Kenny Moore, CAR)
The Bills planned to feature Benjamin in their offense in the game he suffered an injury but he's expected to return to the lineup this week. Whether it's Tyrod Taylor or Nate Peterman under center, he should provide a very inviting target against a depleted Colts secondary who lost their only decent corner in Rashaan Melvin to injury. Not only do we have a dome team playing in the cold, but we have a 6'5" receiver matched up against a 5'9" cornerback.

WR Josh Gordon, CLE (vs Damarious Randall, GB)
Rookie Kevin King is done for the year so Green Bay will have to stick with Davon House and Damarious Randall as their outside corners. While House has shown some flashes, neither player should pose much trouble here provided DeShone Kizer can deliver the ball accurately. The Packers defense is coming off a strong game but it came against a hobbled Jameis Winston behind an offensive line that couldn't protect him. Gordon had a strong showing in his debut last week despite facing shadow coverage from an elite corner in Casey Hayward and should find things much easier this week.
 
WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs Ross Cockrell, NYG)
Byrant found the end zone last week for the first time since week 7 and has a great chance to do it again here. The offensive line is healthy again and the Giants secondary has been a mess with the rest of the team. Cockrell is filling in for Janoris Jenkins at RCB, which should match him up with Bryant for most of the game. Even better is the fact he could see plenty of another backup in Brandon Dixon if Eli Apple can't play. This Giants team has been decimated by injuries and don't have much left to play for here.

WR Golden Tate, DET (vs Robert McClain, TB)
Vernon Hargreaves has yet to practice this week so it seems unlikely that he'll return to the lineup for the first time since week 10. Tate spends 80% of his time working out of the slot, which points to a likely matchup against McClain this week. Tampa has allowed the most fantasy points to slot receivers all year and McClain is giving up catches on 78% of targets. As long as Matthew Stafford is healthy, Tate should be a very strong option here. Marvin Jones Jr also should have a clear edge over Ryan Smith for part of the game but will likely see plenty of time against the more capable Brent Grimes as well.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs Dontae Johnson, SF)
Hopkins is having a remarkable season and has proven that he can be effective even against tough matchups. He won't have to worry about that this week, however, as the 49ers have a young and unproven secondary. While they have not allowed very many points to opposing wide receivers over the past month, much of that has been driven by matchups. Regardless, Hopkins is going to see a ton of targets here as the Texans will be without their top tight end and slot receiver. Johnson and rookie Akhello Witherspoon don't seem likely to slow him down much.

WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs James Bradberry, CAR)
Diggs didn't take advantage of his great matchup last week and hasn't been very productive for awhile despite some impressive games from Case Keenum. He gets another dream matchup this week though as the Panthers have been getting shredded by just about every receiver they've faced over the past month. Most of the issues for them have come against Bradberry on the left side of the defense, which is where Stefon Diggs lines up most often. Thielen remains a focal point of this offense and should have a plus matchup in the slot against Captain Munnerlyn as well.

WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (vs Xavier Woods, DAL)
Dallas has been struggling in the secondary all year so they decided to change things up last week and use rookie safety Woods as their nickel corner. That's not a recipe for success and should provide the Giants with at least one winnable matchup this week. Shepard was relatively quiet last week against the Raiders but the return of Eli Manning under center should provide a boost as the two players connected 11 times for 142 yards back in week 10.

WR Michael Crabtree, OAK (vs Darrelle Revis, KC)
While the Chiefs hope that Revis can help solve the problems they have had all year at RCB, he didn't offer much help last week when the Jets had two receivers go over 100 yards against them. Crabtree returns from his one-game suspension this week and will also be helped by the fact the Chiefs suspended their best corner in Marcus Peters. Amari Cooper destroyed this secondary back in week 7 but had yet to practice this week as of Thursday, which makes him a much riskier choice.

TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (vs TEN)
The Titans have been middle of the pack in terms of the fantasy points they've given up to opposing tight ends this year, but they appear to be springing some leaks. Over the past 3 games, they have given up strong games to Stephen Anderson (5/79/1), Jack Doyle (7/94/0), and even Jesse James (5/21/1). Jones doesn't see a ton of playing time but he has made the most of it with 9 catches for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns over the last 3 weeks.

TE Cameron Brate, TB (vs DET)
With Jameis Winston back, Brate scored twice last week and now gets a matchup against a defense that has allowed 4 touchdowns to the position over their last 3 games. The Lions lost strong safety Tavon Wilson to a season-ending injury so started nickel corner Quandre Diggs in his place. Diggs is better against the run than the pass and at 5'9", he should have a tough time against the 6'5" Brate here. Furthermore, if Darius Slay can keep Mike Evans in check that should open up more targets for Brate as well.


UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Devin Funchess, CAR (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Funchess has taken over the #1 WR role in Carolina following the trade of Kelvin Benjamin, but he has a very tough matchup this week. He'll almost certainly be shadowed by Rhodes when he lines up outside, which suggests a significant drop in targets and catches. Rhodes has an off week against Marvin Jones Jr on Thanksgiving but shut down Julio Jones to 2/24/0 last week and likely wins this matchup.

WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (vs Patrick Robinson, PHI)
Patrick Robinson has been the best Eagles corner all year and that's reflected in the fact they have allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to slot receivers on the season. Kupp has been a reliable option over the middle for Jared Goff but he could be due for a dropoff here. Robinson has only been targeted on 16% of routes covered and has allowed a 54% catch rate when thrown at. Kupp still lines up outside on about 40% of his routes so he may need to take advantage of those to have a productive game.

WR DeVante Parker, MIA (vs Stephon Gilmore, NE)
Parker continues to be a huge disappointment for the Dolphins and that likely won't change this week. He gets a matchup with Gilmore who has been playing shutdown defense of late. The two matched up back in week 12 and Parker finished with just 1 catch for 5 yards on 3 targets. Kenny Stills has been much more productive but will also have his hands full with Malcolm Butler on the other side.

WR Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs Aaron Colvin, JAX)
Baldwin is clearly the best Seahawks receiver but he hasn't been a huge part of their offense with just 9 catches over the last 3 games. While he spends most of his time in the slot and should avoid the dominant due of A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey (if healthy), Aaron Colvin has played very well inside too. He's only been targeted on 13% of routes covered and ranks among the league leaders in fantasy points per pass route covered. You'd have a hard time finding a slot receiver who came through with a big game against this defense over the past several months so don't expect much from Baldwin or the Seattle passing game this week.

WR Mike Evans, TB (vs Darius Slay, DET)
Evans did not take advantage of the Packers weak secondary last week due in part to the fact Tampa couldn't protect Jameis Winston in the pocket. Now he gets a tougher matchup with Darius Slay, one of the league's best cover corners who figures to shadow him around the field. Slay has put together a very strong season despite playing some of the league's best receivers and he could force Jameis Winston to use his other receivers more this week.

WR Josh Doctson, WAS (vs Casey Hayward, LAC)
Doctson has scored a touchdown in back to back weeks but he has just 5 catches on 9 targets in those two games. He's a good target in the red zone but otherwise doesn't figure to play a big role in this game since he'll likely be shadowed by Hayward. Josh Gordon made some tough catches against Hayward last week, but he remains one of the elite shutdown corners in the league. The Chargers have a strong group of corners overall and should have a clear edge on the defensive line, which could make this a long day for Kirk Cousins.

TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs CAR)
The Panthers pulled into the lead for least fantasy points allowed to the tight end position following several strong games in a row. They have only allowed 1 touchdown to the position since week 6, and have given up just 10 catches for 86 yards to the position in the last 4 games combined. Rudolph has been huge with 8/99/3 over his last 2 games but the Panthers appear more vulnerable on the edges rather than over the middle.

TE Jared Cook, OAK (vs KC)
While the Chiefs defense hasn't played well at all of late, they continue to defend tight end aggressively. Just 1 opposing tight end has found the end zone against them all year and it was the little-used A.J. Derby of Denver. Jared Cook did post 6/107/0 against them in week 7 but he has been a non-factor for the past two weeks despite great matchups against the Broncos and Giants. In those games, he has been targeted 10 times but came through with just 2 catches for 10 yards so it's tough to trust him here.


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