Exposed (WR/TE matchups) - Week 5

Breaks down some of the best and worst WR and TE matchups this week to help craft your 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 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 (rudnicki@footballguys.com) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)

FAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Julio Jones, ATL vs PIT (Artie Burns)
The Steelers have been looking for answers across from Joe Haden as Artie Burns struggled in coverage early on and seemed to lose confidence. Coty Sensabaugh has shared time with him but hasn’t been much better so it looks like Burns is likely to win back the job after a solid outing against the Ravens. Either way, this looks like a great matchup for Jones coming off a 9-catch, 173-yard effort against the Bengals.

WR Brandin Cooks, LAR vs SEA (Tre Flowers)
The Rams offense has been productive enough to keep all their receivers involved each week. Cooks has been very efficient with 21 catches on 25 targets for a catch rate of 84% over the last 3 games, and he’s turned those into 365 yards. He should be in for another big game this week while matched up primarily against the rookie Flowers who is still learning the position. The loss of Earl Thomas in the back of the secondary should also open up more opportunities for Cooks to get deep.

WR Stefon Diggs, MIN vs PHI (Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby)
Diggs spends most of his time lined up outside but he’s seen an almost identical number of snaps lined up on the left and the right. So, he’s likely to spend most of the game going against the two Eagles cornerbacks who have struggled considerably this year. Darby has been the most targeted cornerback in the league and Mills isn’t far behind. Mills has been particularly vulnerable but the coaches don’t have any better options so he figures to be picked on often this week. Corey Davis torched this same matchup a week ago for 9/161/1, and Mike Evans and Julio Jones both had 10-catch games against the Eagles earlier this year as well.

WR Golden Tate, DET vs GB (Jaire Alexander)
Tate continued his strong start to 2018 with a huge game against a tough Cowboys matchup last week. Meanwhile, the Packers weren’t really tested by the Bills last week but should have their hands full here. Back in week 2, they had no answers for the Vikings as Adam Thielen (12/131/1) and Stefon Diggs (9/128/2) did whatever they wanted. Tate operates primarily out of the slot which should give him a very winnable matchup against the rookie corner Alexander.

WR Nelson Agholor, PHI vs MIN (Mackensie Alexander)
Starting cornerback Trae Waynes has struggled this year but he’s also missed a lot of time with various injuries and is dealing with a concussion that could keep him out this week. That should force rookie Mike Hughes into a starting role outside and increase the snap count for Alexander in the slot as well. The only Vikings cornerback playing well enough to be concerned about is Xavier Rhodes and he figures to shadow Alshon Jeffery outside, which should leave Agholor with a great matchup. He was a bust last week with just 4 catches and several drops on 12 targets against the Titans, but this matchup just gave up 9/162/2 to Rams slot receiver Cooper Kupp.

WR Jamison Crowder, WAS vs NO (P.J. Williams)
WR Paul Richardson Jr, WAS vs NO (Ken Crawley)
Neither Crowder nor Richardson has been very productive during their first few games with Alex Smith but they are coming off a bye week that should allow them to get in sync. If there’s a matchup they can take advantage of though, this should be the one. The Saints secondary has been one of the weakest in the league and they lost their excellent nickel corner Patrick Robinson to I.R. That leaves Crowder in the slot working primarily against P.J. Williams, who has given up 14 catches on 15 targets and 3 touchdowns. Richardson should line up across from Ken Crawley primarily, who has been just as bad with 4 touchdowns allowed.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, BUF vs TEN (Malcolm Butler)
It’s very hard to have much confidence in Benjamin or the Bills offense right now, but this is a great matchup for him. Butler is a tenacious defender who signed a huge contract with the Titans this offseason, but he’s been beaten by just about everyone he’s faced this year. He’s allowed 21 receptions on 27 targets for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns. If you are looking for a longshot at receiver this week, consider Benjamin.

TE Austin Hooper, ATL vs PIT
The Steelers continue to have no answers against opposing tight ends this year, likely due in large part to the loss of Ryan Shazier. They’ve allowed a league-high 30 catches to the position, including 10 last week to the Ravens. Hooper has seen his target-share decline over the last two weeks as the Falcons have relied more heavily on their downfield receivers but this looks like a great week for him to get back on track.

TE Geoff Swaim, DAL vs HOU
Swaim is emerging as a reliable target for Dak Prescott in a Cowboys offense that doesn’t use their receivers very much. He’s collected 8 catches on 12 targets over the past two weeks and found the end zone last week against the Lions. Houston has a very potent pass rush but don’t have a lot of talent in their secondary and have given up 3 touchdowns to tight ends this year, so Swain should have a chance to continue his string of solid performances.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Tyreek Hill, KC vs JAX (A.J. Bouye, Jalen Ramsey)
Teams that face the Jaguars probably won’t require much of a writeup as everybody knows that defense can be a nightmare to play against. Hill moves around the formation so won’t be matched up exclusively with Bouye, but should spend most of the game matched up with him or Ramsey on the perimeter and neither corner has allowed a touchdown yet this year. It’s also likely the Jaguars will move Ramsey inside at times to try and keep Hill in check rather than leave him matched up with Tyler Patmon or D.J. Hayden.

WR Davante Adams, GB vs DET (Darius Slay)
Adams missed practice on Thursday and there’s a good chance he won’t be able to play this week or will play at far less than 100%. Even if healthy though, he should have a tough matchup against Slay to look forward to. Through 4 games, Slay has only allowed 7 catches on 14 targets although he hasn’t really been tested by any of the league’s elite receivers thus far with matchups against teams like the Jets, 49ers, and Cowboys.

WR A.J. Green, CIN vs MIA (Xavien Howard)
With 5 touchdowns through 4 games, Green has been a very productive #1 wide receiver for the Bengals. He’s likely to be shadowed by Howard this week, who has given up some big plays but is only allowing one reception for every 20 snaps in coverage. The Dolphins secondary has played surprisingly well this year and should match up well with the Bengals this week. Minkah Fitzpatrick has been great and should help limit Tyler Boyd in the slot, which likely leaves whoever replaces the injured John Ross going against the weakest link in Cordrea Tankersley.

WR Corey Davis, TEN vs BUF (Tre’Davious White)
Davis is coming off a huge breakout game last week (9/161/1) against the Eagles but should find things much tougher against the Bills. Given the huge dropoff to their #2 cornerback, the Bills have been asking White to shadow the opponent’s top receiver each week. He helped limit Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, and Keenan Allen the past three games and should be locked onto Davis here. Per ProFootballFocus, White has given up just 10 catches on 17 targets for 118 yards with no touchdowns despite facing some very good receivers.

WR Quincy Enunwa, NYJ vs DEN (Chris Harris Jr)
Enunwa has quickly emerged as the primary target for Sam Darnold with at least 4 catches and 50+ yards in all 4 games, including a tough matchup last week against the Jaguars. Things don’t get much easier for him this week, however, as he’ll likely be matched up for most of the game with Chris Harris Jr. He hasn’t played up to his normal standards but remains one of the elite slot corners in the league and helped limit Tyreek Hill to just 54 yards on 9 catches last week.

WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI vs MIN (Xavier Rhodes)
Jeffery provided a much-needed spark to the Eagles offense last week and posted 8/105/1 while matched up primarily with Malcolm Butler. He’ll likely be shadowed by the Vikings top corner Rhodes this week, who hasn’t played up to his normal level of late but should match up well with Jeffery and encourage Carson Wentz to focus on his other receivers with easier matchups.

TE Travis Kelce, KC vs JAX
The Jaguars have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to the tight end position this year and that includes matchups with Evan Engram and Rob Gronkowski. Kelce has been highly productive for three straight games along with the entire Chiefs offense but it’s probably not realistic to expect that to continue against this defense.

TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN vs PHI
The Eagles have been vulnerable on the perimeter this year but they have given up remarkably little to opposing tight ends. O.J. Howard had success against them in week 2 with 96 yards and a touchdown on just 3 catches. Overall, the Eagles have allowed just 12 catches to the position through 4 games. Rudolph comes into the game with at least five catches in three straight games but it’s likely the Vikings will find more success attacking the struggling Eagles cornerbacks.


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