Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 17

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 James Bradberry, CAR)
You don't usually need a great matchup to consider paying up for an elite receiver like Jones, but he should have a clear advantage here. Bradberry has been asked to shadow opposing #1 receivers this year but hasn't had much success with the role, including last week when he allowed 6/106 to Mike Evans. In a game that has playoff implications for both teams, we can at least expect a full effort here and that's key in week 17.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs Johnathan Joseph, HOU)
The Texans have allowed 5 touchdowns to opposing receivers in the past two weeks and 4 different receivers have gone over 60 yards against them in the same span as well. Hilton has mostly underwhelmed in the second half of the season but he showed some signs of life last week when he caught 6 of 12 targets for 100 yards. He'll move around the formation but should have a clear advantage over any corner he faces in man coverage.

WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs Leonard Johnson, BUF)
Landry has found his way into these write-ups often this year and does so again this week. The Bills have found a gem in rookie corner TreDavious White and gotten improved play from E.J. Gaines as well. Nickel corner Leonard Johnson is the player most teams go after, which should mean another 10+ target game for Landry. He posted 10/99 against them back in week 15 after the Dolphins fell behind early, and should be in line for another productive game here.

WR Michael Thomas, NO (vs Ryan Smith, TB)
While Tampa hasn't given up any huge games since allowing Julio Jones to burn them for 12/253/2 back in week 12, they are still vulnerable. Thomas lines up to the left about half the time, which should give him a primary matchup against the very beatable Ryan Smith. Although he was held in check by the Falcons last week, Thomas had scored in 3 straight games prior and has the potential to put up a huge game against the league's worst pass defense this week.

WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (vs Darryl Morris, NYG)
The Giants secondary has gone from a strength to a weakness as they lost Janoris Jenkins to injury and suspended Eli Apple. Last week, their normal nickel corner Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie was playing behind Darryl Morris as they attempt to get more playing time for their young guys. If that continues again this week, that should lead to a big game from Crowder. He hasn't been as productive as expected for most of the season but found the end zone in each of the past two games. Furthermore, fellow slot receivers Larry Fitzgerald (9/119/1) and Nelson Agholor (7/59/1) both posted great games against this matchup the past two weeks.

TE Charles Clay, BUF (vs MIA)
Clay has 19 targets over the last two weeks as he's been a focal point of the Bills passing attack. Although the Dolphins have a talented group of safeties, they are tied for the most receptions and 3rd most fantasy points to the tight end position all season. With the Bills still clinging to playoff hopes and the Dolphins just playing out the season, Clay should be able to repeat the game he had 2 weeks ago when he posted 5/68 against them.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Mike Wallace, BAL (vs William Jackson III III, CIN)
The Bengals took Jackson in the first round of the 2016 draft but he missed his rookie season with an arm injury. He has been impressive all year and has taken on a bigger role due to the absence of Adam Jones. Jackson gives up just .09 fantasy points per route covered and is allowing a very low 38% catch rate. Wallace has been a reliable contributor with 60 or more yards in 4 straight games, but he should have a very tough matchup this week.

WR Kenny Stills, MIA (vs TreDavious White, BUF)
Stills has done very little in recent weeks, including a dismal showing against the Bills in week 15 (1 catch for 8 yards on 6 targets). White is a strong contender for defensive rookie of the year and the Patriots showed respect by rarely throwing in his direction last week. Don't look for much to change here as Jay Cutler seems content to throw safe and short passes to Jarvis Landry rather than taking many shots downfield to Stills.

WR Amari Cooper, OAK (vs Casey Hayward, LAC)
WR Michael Crabtree, OAK (vs Trevor Williams, LAC)
This should be a tough matchup for both Raiders receivers. Cooper had a solid showing last week against the Eagles but he'll almost certainly face shadow coverage from Hayward this week. That's what happened during the last meeting between these two teams when Cooper posted 5 catches on 6 targets for just 28 yards. Meanwhile, Crabtree will have to deal with Williams on the opposite side but saw his workload and effectiveness greatly diminished last week after suffering a hamstring injury. Tough to rely on either player this week.
 
WR Mike Evans, TB (vs Marshon Lattimore, NO)
Another rookie corner who is playing at an All-Pro level, Lattimore has played lights out and helped turn around a Saints secondary that has struggled for years. Despite facing plenty of tough matchups against opposing team's #1 wide receivers, Lattimore is only allowing .19 fantasy points per route covered. Last time these two teams met in week 9, Evans finished with just 1 catch on 6 targets for 13 yards. New Orleans can also control things with their dominant running game and keep the Tampa offense off the field, further limiting the opportunities for Evans and company.

WR Corey Davis, TEN (vs A.J. Bouye, JAX)
WR Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs Jalen Ramsey, JAX)
The Jaguars don't seem to have anything to play for this week but have said they don't plan to take the game lightly and will play to win. If that's true, it's probably tough to count on either receiver this week as they will match up with the best cornerback duo in the league. The best chances for either or both player to have value is if the Jaguars treat this game like a preseason affair and rest their key starters in the second half.  

TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs CHI)
Rudolph has seen his role in the offense decline significantly in recent weeks and may be playing at far less than 100%. He was invisible last week against the Packers as he caught just 1 pass on his only target for 6 yards. The Vikings are still playing for a first-round bye so don't expect them to take their foot off the gas in this matchup, but the Bears have defended the tight end position well and rank 26th in fantasy points allowed to the position.


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