Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 15

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 Julio Jones, ATL (vs Brent Grimes and Ryan Smith, TB)
While the trends point to a primary matchup against Grimes, Jones also figures to see plenty of Ryan Smith and Robert McClain as well. This is the same secondary that allowed him to go off for 12/252/2 just a few weeks back. The Lions receivers didn't have a ton of success against them last week but Matthew Stafford still finished with 381 yards as he made more use of his backs and tight ends. Ryan is one of the league's least-sacked quarterbacks in recent weeks and Tampa has almost nobody left to rush the passer, so there really shouldn't be much in the way of another big game for Jones here.

WR Devin Funchess, CAR (vs Damarious Randall, GB)
This is an interesting matchup since the stats suggest Randall has been one of the least effective corners in the league. He shadowed Josh Gordon last week and actually held him to a single catch in man coverage but Gordon had some success when the Packers went to a zone. Funchess continued his stretch of strong games with a solid outing (3/59/1) against Xavier Rhodes and a tough Vikings defense. With Aaron Rodgers expected to return, the game has the potential to be a high scoring affair and Funchess has four touchdowns in his last 4 games as the new #1 WR for Cam Newton.

WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs Quincy Wilson, IND)
Thomas rewarded anyone who took a chance on him last week as he posted one of his best games of the season (8/93/1). With Trevor Siemian back under center, he is certainly worth consideration this week against rookie Quincy Wilson. For some reason, Wilson barely saw any playing time for a bad Colts team until they cut Vontae Davis and lost their top corner Rashaan Melvin to injury. Can't read much into last week's game against the Bills who were down to Joe Webb III at quarterback while playing in a snow globe, but Thomas should have a huge advantage here and remain the primary target for the Broncos passing game. Emmanuel Sanders also has a plus matchup against Kenny Moore here but he's done nothing in recent weeks to earn any trust.

WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs Kyle Fuller, CHI)
Jones had a quiet outing against the Buccaneers last week but still averaged over 20 yards per catch for the third time in the last 4 weeks. Now he gets a matchup against the Bears and Kyle Fuller, who is being targeted more than any cornerback in the league over the past 5 weeks. When these two teams met back in week 11, Jones finished with 4 catches on 7 targets for 85 yards with a touchdown. While he'll see plenty of time matched up against the much better Prince Amukamara as well, he has proven he doesn't need too many targets against an overaggressive corner like Fuller to provide value.

WR Dede Westbrook, JAX (vs Kevin Johnson, HOU)
Westbrook is starting to come on for the Jaguars with 5 or more catches in 3 straight games and an impressive 5/81/1 game against Seattle last week. Now he gets a Texans defense that has been very up and down all year. He figures to spend much of the game matched up against Kevin Johnson, who has not looked good since returning from an early-season injury. Johnson ranks among the most generous corners in the league with .49 fantasy points per route covered and a 75% catch rate allowed.

WR Keenan Allen, LAC (vs Steven Nelson, KC)
While Nelson was supposed to provide an upgrade to the nickel back role after he was activated in week 8, it hasn't necessarily shown up on the field. He may be better than the other options they had, but still is giving up a lot of points. Per Pro Football Focus, he is being targeted on 29% of routes covered and is giving up .48 fantasy points/route. That points to a great matchup for Chargers slot receiver Allen who has gone over 100 yards in four straight games and has 10+ receptions in 3 of them.

WR Robert Woods, LAR (vs Byron Maxwell, SEA)
Seattle's defense isn't the same without Richard Sherman at left cornerback. Byron Maxwell had some success in their system previously but he's clearly the weak spot in their secondary right now with a catch rate of 74% and 2.32 yards allowed per route covered. Now with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright unlikely to play as well, the Rams receivers should find a lot more room. Woods was sidetracked by an injury for the past 3 weeks but clearly looked like the primary receiver for Jared Goff in the weeks prior. He's expected to return this week and should have a nice matchup waiting for him if he's able to go.

WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs Ross Cockrell, NYG)
The Eagles will obviously need to adjust to life without Carson Wentz but Nick Foles is an experienced and capable backup who should be able to keep things rolling this week against the Giants. Ross Cockrell has taken over for the injured Janoris Jenkins and hasn't been terrible, but Brandon Dixon has looked overmatched and Jeffery should spend most of the game working against both outside corners. It's likely that Foles may lock onto a big reliable target like Jeffery more than Wentz who did a great job of spreading the ball around.

WR Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs Ahkello Witherspoon, SF)
Marcus Mariota was ineffective last week due in part to the fact that his top receiver was shut down by Patrick Peterson. The matchup looks much easier this week as both 49ers outside corners rank among the worst in the league at their position. This group allowed DeAndre Hopkins to burn them for 11/149/2 last week despite playing most of the game with a 3rd string quarterback in T.J. Yates.

TE Zach Ertz, PHI (vs Landon Collins, NYG)
Ertz is a risky choice given the fact he's recently come back from a concussion, was held to just 2 catches last week, and now gets a new quarterback. The Giants have improved considerably against tight ends in recent weeks but they did allow Jason Witten to find the end zone against them last week on his only catch. One reason to consider Ertz this week is the fact that Landon Collins suffered an ankle injury last week. Early reports suggested he may be shut down for the year but he says he wants to play through it. If he's less than 100%, that should make this a great spot for Ertz to take advantage of.

TE Charles Clay, BUF (vs Reshad Jones, MIA)
Clay should represent a low priced option this week who carries value due to the matchup. The Dolphins have a strong group of safeties in Jones and T.J. McDonald but coverage isn't exactly the strength for either player. They were helped by the suspension to Rob Gronkowski last week and an easy matchup against the Broncos in week 13 who rarely use their tight ends, but still rank 6th in fantasy points allowed to the position with an average of 5.5 catches/game. The Bills should get a boost from the return of Tyrod Taylor and Clay could see more targets following injuries to Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews.


UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR A.J. Green, CIN (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Rhodes has been one of the top shutdown corners in the league all season and should make this a very tough matchup for Green. Rhodes missed some practice time with a hip injury but he returned on Thursday and should be healthy enough to play. While Green is good enough to beat any corner in man coverage, Rhodes should be up for the task and limit his opportunities enough to scare owners off him this week.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs A.J. Bouye, JAX)
The most fearsome defense for receivers this year has certainly been the Jaguars. They have the best two corners in the league as well as the best pass rush. Now that Hopkins will have to catch contested passes from a 3rd string quarterback against Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, he's a clear fade for this week. Even if he gets 15 targets again like he did in week 1, Hopkins will probably need to find the end zone to provide any real value due to his high cost.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs Aqib Talib, DEN)
The Colts passing game couldn't do anything last week in the Buffalo snow game but Hilton has been a non-factor almost every week since early this season. The Broncos defense hasn't been playing up to their normal standards but they showed up last week and shut down the Jets passing attack. Hilton figures to spend most of the game matched up against Talib or slot corner Chris Harris Jr, which suggests you'll want to look elsewhere.

WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (vs Marshon Lattimore, NO)
Anderson was a non-factor last week after Josh McCown left the game and was replaced by Bryce Petty. While that matchup was against a Broncos defense that finally showed up, now he'll likely take on this year's favorite for defensive rookie of the year in Lattimore. He's played great all season long and helped hold Julio Jones to 5 catches last week even though they did total 98 yards. Given the change at quarterback and the tough matchup, this looks like a good week to avoid Anderson and possibly the Jets offense as a whole.

WR Josh Doctson, WAS (vs Patrick Peterson, ARI)
Apart from a matchup against the Jaguars as a whole, this is probably the matchup you least want to see for a WR. Peterson has been exceptional in a shutdown role once again this year and figures to take Doctson out of the game. With Jordan Reed also placed on injured reserve, Kirk Cousins will probably have to rely heavily on Jamison Crowder in a matchup against Tyrann Mathieu out of the slot. Tramon Williams is also coming off a strong game and the veteran could be a tough matchup for Ryan Grant as well.

TE Greg Olsen, CAR (vs Josh Jones, GB)
The Packers defense has struggled to defend receivers on the perimeter all year but fared much better against tight ends due to the play of their safeties and inside linebackers. Apart from a 2-touchdown game from Cameron Brate (on his only 2 catches) in week 13, the last tight end to post a strong game against them was Jason Witten back in week 5 when he finished with 8 catches for 61 yards. Olsen was shut out last week by the Vikings and doesn't seem to be fully healthy so it's tough to rely on him here.

TE Eric Ebron, DET (vs CHI)
Ebron had been a steady contributor for the Lions until he exploded for 10 catches last week against Tampa. He should find things much tougher this week against Chicago who defend the position very well. Apart from a huge game by Zach Ertz in week 10, they did not allow any other opposing tight end to score or top 50 yards since week 5. Ebron posted 4/49/0 against them back in week 11 and that seems likely to be his ceiling here.


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