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 lineups. Given that this article is intended to help across all sites (both DFS and season-long), 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. I will also try to sort them in order of most favorable or least favorable where possible, but obviously, the quality of the player needs to be factored in as well when making your decisions.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN vs ATL (Brian Poole)
A.J. Green may not be healthy enough to play, which will put most of the offensive focus on Boyd. He has emerged as a playmaker out of the slot and has caught 12-of-16 targets the past two weeks for 223 yards and two touchdowns. This week, he gets a great matchup against a depleted Falcons defense that has lost both starting safeties to injury as well as their best linebacker. Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are above-average corners outside which forces most teams to go inside and pick on nickel corner Poole. Per ProFootballFocus.com, he has allowed 16 catches on 20 targets for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns this year.
WR Allen Robinson, CHI vs TB (M.J. Stewart)
Robinson moves all around the formation, which makes it difficult for defenses to key on him. With rookie Anthony Miller likely to miss this week with a shoulder injury, however, it’s likely that Robinson will spend more time than usual working out of the slot with Kevin White and Taylor Gabriel working on the perimeter. That should give him a primary matchup against the extremely vulnerable rookie M.J. Stewart in the slot, who has struggled since taking over for Vernon Hargreaves. Robinson had a quiet game against Patrick Peterson last week but should bounce back here.
WR Michael Crabtree, BAL vs PIT (Coty Sensabaugh or Artie Burns)
The Steelers secondary has been a disaster this year, allowing a league-high 10 passing touchdowns and 15 plays of 20 yards or more. Top corner Artie Burns has been so bad that he was benched last week in favor of perennial turnstile Coty Sensabaugh. Per ESPN, the Steelers have given up more points to left wide receivers than any team in the league and that is Crabtree’s primary position. With 10 targets in each of the past two games, he’s a key piece of this offense and should be able to hit some big plays against a reeling secondary.
WR Jarvis Landry, CLE vs OAK (Leon Hall)
The Browns passing game got a lift when Baker Mayfield was inserted into the lineup and that should help boost the numbers for Landry. He’s yet to face a tough matchup this year and has been primarily working out of the slot in 3-WR formations, which points to a matchup against 33-year old Leon Hall. Per ESPN.com, the Raiders have allowed the fourth-most points to opposing slot receivers so Landry should remain a high-volume target with considerable upside.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Ahkello Witherspoon and Jimmie Ward)
The 49ers have had to shuffle their secondary around following an injury to Richard Sherman. That means the recently benched Akhello Witherspoon will be moved back into the starting lineup along with his replacement Jimmie Ward. All Chargers receivers are strong options this week, but Williams is the best target given his strong start to the year. He moves around the formation quite a bit but figures to spend most of his time on the perimeter matched up with Witherspoon or Ward. The two players have combined to allow catches on 17 of 26 targets for 236 yards and 5 touchdowns this year.
WR Courtland Sutton, DEN vs KC (Steven Nelson)
The 49ers couldn’t take advantage of a weak Chiefs secondary last week but this is still one of the weaker groups in the league. The main area to attack is clearly Steven Nelson, who plays almost exclusively at right cornerback this year. Per ProFootballFocus, he’s allowed 16 catches on 24 targets for 194 yards and two touchdowns. The player likely to face him for much of the game is rookie Courtland Sutton, who has been quiet thus far but may be due for a breakout game after a strong preseason. Emmanuel Sanders (vs Kendall Fuller) and Demaryius Thomas (Orlando Scandrick) don’t have particularly difficult matchups here either but Sutton should get the biggest upgrade.
WR Dede Westbrook, JAX vs NYJ (Buster Skrine)
The Jaguars passing game stumbled last week against the Titans but should have more success against the Jets this week. With a strong group of corners outside in Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne, the best area to attack the Jets is over the middle. Both Golden Tate (7/79/1) and Jarvis Landry (8/103/0) have had success against Buster Skrine out of the slot, which is where Westbrook has lined up nearly 90% of the time. With Leonard Fournette likely back and drawing most of the defensive attention, that should create more chances for Westbrook to move the chains and extend drives.
TE Trey Burton, CHI vs TB
Tampa has allowed a league-high 25 receptions and 329 yards to opposing tight ends this year and they just lost their starting strong safety Chris Conte to injury. Burton has been quiet so far but has 4 catches in consecutive games and this should be a great spot for him to break out.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL vs CIN
The Bengals didn’t allow much to rookie Ian Thomas of the Panthers last week but have been among the most generous defenses to opposing tight ends this year. Hooper had a quiet game against the Saints while Calvin Ridley got most of the work but he should be in line for more targets this week as the Bengals focus much of their attention on slowing down those outside receivers of the Falcons.
WR Golden Tate, DET vs DAL (Anthony Brown)
WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET vs DAL (Byron Jones)
The Cowboys defense has allowed the fourth fewest passing yards in the league this year, so this could be a tough spot for Matthew Stafford and company. Dallas has been particularly tough on the left and slot receivers due to the play of Jones and Brown. Brown has only been targeted 7 times in 3 games and has given up just 5 catches for 29 yards while Jones has given up catches on just 7 of 16 targets for 51 yards. The only area opponents are really having success against Dallas is when throwing to the right against Chidobe Awuzie, who should be matched up primarily with Kenny Golladay this week.
WR Davante Adams, GB vs BUF (Tre’Davious White)
White has flown under the radar this year due to the blowout losses the Bills suffered in weeks 1 and 2, but he was instrumental in shutting down Stefon Diggs last week. On the season, White has only been targeted 9 times on 131 coverage snaps and has given up just 5 catches for 29 yards. The Bills use a lot of zone defense so he’ll likely get some help from the safeties, but look for White to shadow Adams this week and possibly force Aaron Rodgers to use his other weapons.
WR Robby Anderson, NYJ vs JAX (Jalen Ramsey)
Anderson has almost been a forgotten man in the Jets offense this year after carrying it a year ago. The emergence of Quincy Enunwa and change at quarterback have combined to limit his role compared to what was expected. He’s now got a brutal matchup this week against the Jaguars and will likely find limited space against Jalen Ramsey outside. Ramsey probably won't need to shadow Anderson here, but A.J. Bouye isn't a much better alternative. The one potential weakness for the Jaguars is their slot corner D.J. Hayden, who may give up some plays to Enunwa over the middle.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA vs NE (Stephon Gilmore)
Parker is coming back from a broken finger on his hand, which may limit his effectiveness in catching the ball. He’ll also have to deal with Gilmore, who hasn’t played up to his normal standards thus far this year but almost completely shut down Parker in both head-to-head matchups last year. Probably wise to wait at least a week to see how Parker looks before counting on him given how Miami has spread the ball around of late.
WR Odell Beckham, NYG vs NO (Marshon Lattimore)
Lattimore got off to a very poor start this year but seemed to get some solid footing last week against Atlanta when he helped keep Julio Jones in check (which opened things up for Calvin Ridley). The Saints defense has been struggling and now lost slot corner Patrick Robinson to injured reserve, but Lattimore is certainly capable of keeping Beckham in check when he’s at his best. Don’t downgrade Beckham too much, however, as he could see more time in the slot this week to take advantage of P.J. Williams since Lattimore rarely moves inside.
TE George Kittle, SF vs LAC
With the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, many will probably steer clear of Kittle anyway but the matchup this week also looks particularly challenging. The Chargers are getting excellent play from their 1st round pick Derwin James and have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends despite matchups against Travis Kelce in Week 1 and Charles Clay in Week 2. Kittle will probably become a favorite target for C.J. Beathard at some point but maybe not this week.
TE Zach Ertz, PHI vs TEN
Much of their success could be driven by weak matchups but the Titans have only given up 7 catches for 69 yards total to opposing tight ends through three games. Those games have come against the Dolphins, Texans, and Jaguars and Austin Seferian-Jenkins topped the list with 3 catches for just 18 yards. Ertz is an elite fantasy option and the best receiver on the Eagles so we’ll find out this week if the Titans are for real or not.
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