Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 16

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 Mike Wallace, BAL (vs Quincy Wilson, IND)
Wallace hasn't found the end zone since week 11 but he's posted at least 5 catches or 72 yards in the past 4 games. The Ravens passing game hasn't been great all year but they are likely headed to the playoffs as long as they can take care of the depleted Colts this week. Wallace figures to match up primarily with the rookie Wilson who has not played well, but the other Ravens receivers have plus matchups as well. The Broncos couldn't take full advantage of the matchup last week but still had three receivers hit 60 yards.

WR Devin Funchess, CAR (vs Ryan Smith, TB)
Funchess left last week's game with a shoulder injury and hasn't practiced this week but is still expected to play. If so, he has a great matchup against Smith to look forward to. Tampa's cornerbacks have shown improvement in recent weeks but Funchess has been productive against much tougher matchups. The return of Greg Olsen should also help draw some defensive attention away.

WR Keelan Cole, JAX (vs Dontae Johnson, SF)
An injury to Marqise Lee has elevated Cole into the starting lineup and he has proven he belongs with a touchdown in 3 straight games plus a huge 7/186/1 blowup game last week against Houston. The 49ers have shown new signs of life thanks to the addition of Jimmy Garappolo but their outside corners have been among the worst in the league all year. Cole figures to see most of his snaps against Dontae Johnson while Dede Westbrook will often go against rookie Ahkello Witherspoon. Westbrook is a riskier choice given his no-show last week but both matchups look great here.

WR Robert Woods, LAR (vs Adoree' Jackson, TEN)
Woods found the end zone last week in his return to the lineup after sitting out a few weeks while recovering from a shoulder injury. While the Rams can spread the ball around, Woods clearly looks like their top receiver (5 TDs in his last 4 games) and he'll likely see shadow coverage from the rookie Jackson. Marquise Goodwin saw similar treatment last week and finished with 114 yards on 10 catches.

WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs Steven Nelson, KC)
Keenan Allen had this same matchup last week but was forced to leave the game early with a back injury so could not capitalize. Darrelle Revis has provided a boost to the cornerback spot opposite Marcus Peters, which leaves Nelson as the clear weak spot in the secondary. Landry has shown in the past two weeks that he is a huge part of the offense regardless of the game script as he posted 8/46/2 in a week 14 win over the Patriots and then 10/99 in a loss to the Bills.

WR Adam Thielen, MIN (vs Josh Hawkins, GB)
Thielen had a quiet game last week as the Vikings dominated the Bengals and didn't have to throw the ball much. The Packers secondary has been a great matchup for receivers all season long and they just gave up four touchdowns to Cam Newton in week 14. Thielen has spent more time lined up outside of late, which points to a great matchup against Josh Hawkins if Davon House is not healthy enough to return. When he lines up in the slot, he should also have a clear advantage over safety Morgan Burnett who has been targeted on nearly a third of routes covered.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (vs Kevin Johnson, HOU)
Without Antonio Brown hogging all the targets in this offense, there should be a lot more opportunities for Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant. The former has been more reliable and should have the slightly easier matchup against Johnson, although Bryant should also have a significant speed advantage against the 33-year-old Jonathan Joseph.

TE Delanie Walker, TEN (vs LAR)
Walker has just 3 touchdowns on the season but they have all come in the past 4 weeks. He's also been very consistent with 4 or more catches in 9 straight games. The matchup this week may not look great on the surface as the Rams boast a dominant pass rush, but the Titans have a strong offensive line that should buy Marcus Mariota time in the pocket. The Rams lost their best cover linebacker Mark Barron to an injury last week so he may be hobbled even if he's able to play. Additionally, they have been particularly vulnerable to the tight end position with 3 touchdowns given up to opposing tight ends in the past two games.


UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Julio Jones, ATL (vs Marshon Lattimore, NO)
Jones was limited in practice this week with an ankle injury so he may not be close to 100% for the rematch with the Saints from week 14. He posted 5/98/0 on 11 targets in that game while often receiving very tight coverage from the rookie corner. That may be his upside here as Lattimore has played as well as any corner in the league and doesn't give up much. Plus, Matt Ryan has often been content to look for better matchups rather than force things to his #1 WR.

WR A.J. Green, CIN (vs Darius Slay, DET)
Green is coming off a tough matchup with Xavier Rhodes and now gets to go against Darius Slay this week. Slay has been a solid cover corner for years but he has taken his game to a new level this year thanks to some improved play from those around him. He'll still give up some big plays as Detroit doesn't give him much help but Green likely won't get many easy catches this week.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs Josh Norman, WAS)
Per Pro Football Focus, Norman has only been targeted on 11% of routes covered this year which basically puts him at the very top of the league in a tie with players like Aqib Talib and Patrick Peterson. He typically stays on the left side of the defense which should give him a primary matchup against Sanders this week, although he'll also see plenty of Demaryius Thomas too.

WR Jordy Nelson, GB (vs Xavier Rhodes, MIN)
Nelson couldn't take advantage of the matchup last week even with Aaron Rodgers back under center. This week the Packers will go back to Brett Hundley and his favorite receiver Davante Adams has been ruled out with a concussion, so Nelson should see a few more targets. That may not matter much as he'll likely be shadowed by Rhodes, who has done a great job of shutting down nearly every receiver he has faced.

WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (vs Casey Hayward, LAC)
Anderson has cooled off with just 8 catches for 67 yards over the past two weeks. The targets have still been there for him (12 last week against the Saints), but the injury to Josh McCown really limits his upside. Throw in a matchup against one of the best shutdown corners in the league this week and you'll probably be better off looking elsewhere.

WR Marquise Goodwin, SF (vs A.J. Bouye, JAX)
Goodwin has picked up the slack created by the injury to Pierre Garcon and benefited from the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco. With 16 catches on 25 targets over the past two weeks, he's proven to be more than just a deep threat. That being said, matchups with the Jaguars are never very fun for receivers and he should have a tough time getting open against Bouye, who is only allowing .16 fantasy points/route covered and living up to the big free agent contract he signed.

WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (vs Chris Harris Jr, DEN)
Crowder found the end zone last week but hasn't been nearly as effective this year as he was a year ago. While he has benefited from some great matchups at times, that won't be the case this week as he takes on the best slot corner in the league. After some struggles in midseason, the Broncos secondary has righted the ship and held all opposing receivers to just 9 catches for 72 yards in the last two games combined.

TE Evan Engram, NYG (vs ARI)
Engram has posted strong numbers as a rookie tight end and is coming off a great game that saw him catch 8 of 13 targets for 87 yards. The Cardinals have always defended the tight end position well, however, due to their talent at safety and mobility at linebacker. Over their last 5 games, they have only given up 1 touchdown to the position and only allowed one tight end to go over 20 yards receiving against them.


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