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 (email@example.com) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)
WR Adam Thielen, MIN vs ARI (Budda Baker)
Thielen has gone over 100 yards in all 5 games this year and it seems unlikely the Cardinals are going to be the team to slow him down. The Vikings running game hasn’t been able to do much all year so they have relied heavily on Thielen to move the chains. With Patrick Peterson likely to shadow Stefon Diggs outside, Thielen should remain a target-hog out of the slot with a primary matchup against a safety Baker. While Baker is a talented young safety, he’s not exactly a shutdown corner and had a rough game against Trent Taylor of the 49ers last week so Thielen should have a clear edge against him.
WR Davante Adams, GB vs SF (Jimmie Ward)
Adams showed once again last week that he’s matchup-independent with a strong 9/140/1 game against Darius Slay and the Lions. Richard Sherman is expected to return this week and was excellent before his injury, but he lines up on the left 98% of the time which should allow Adams to avoid him for most of the game. Jimmie Ward should return from a hamstring injury that kept him out last week and may provide a slight upgrade over Akhello Witherspoon but neither player figures to provide much resistance here.
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN vs PIT (Mike Hilton)
The Steelers will likely ask a rejuvenated Joe Haden to shadow A.J. Green this week after he helped shut down Julio Jones last week. He’s been their best cornerback by far and gives them a chance to keep Green in check. John Ross or Alex Erickson project to match up against a struggling Artie Burns but neither receiver has been a reliable target. That leaves Boyd on Mike Hilton as the best matchup to target in this game. Hilton returned to the lineup last week where Falcons slot receiver Mohamed Sanu turned in the best game with 4/73/1. That points to another big game for Boyd, who is well on his way to a breakout season.
WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL vs TB (M.J. Stewart)
This has the makings of a high-scoring affair with two defenses that can’t really seem to stop anybody. Tampa had their bye week to try and shore up their defense but it seems unlikely that rookie slot corner M.J. Stewart will show considerable improvement. He’s been one of the worst corners in the league this year and figures to be matched up primarily against Sanu, who has 10 catches for 184 yards and a touchdown in the last two games. There’s nothing wrong with the matchups for Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley outside but the middle of the field is where Tampa has been the most vulnerable.
WR Michael Crabtree, BAL vs TEN (Malcolm Butler)
This has been a rough year for Butler with the Titans as he’s been one of the most victimized corners in the league with over 400 yards allowed and 4 touchdowns. He doesn’t deserve too much credit for a strong showing against a pathetic Bills passing game last week and should find things a bit more difficult here. The Ravens aren’t exactly setting the world on fire either but they do have the second most pass attempts in the league this year. Crabtree has been plagued by drops but continues to see a high number of targets that should give him a high floor with considerable upside this week.
WR Taylor Gabriel, CHI vs MIA (Torry McTyer)
The Dolphins secondary is getting strong play from Xavien Howard, who figures to shadow Allen Robinson this week. The Bears are coming off a bye week and could get Anthony Miller back in the slot, although he should also have his hands full with fellow rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick. That should leave Gabriel with a primary matchup against Torry McTyer who has been filling in for the injured Bobby McCain. Gabriel has 13 catches over his last two games and exploded for 104 yards with 2 touchdowns against Tampa in week 4.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK vs SEA (Shaq Griffin)
WR Jordy Nelson, OAK vs SEA (Tre Flowers)
The strength of the Seattle defense is over the middle but their perimeter corners are struggling this year. Shaq Griffin is one of the most targeted corners in the league and was torched by the Rams last week. Tre Flowers, a converted safety, is a sound tackler who has shown signs of improvement but he still grades out very poorly in coverage. With Seth Roberts taking over slot duties, that should keep Cooper and Nelson outside more this week. Cooper was shut down by the Chargers last week but has alternated big games with bad games all year. Nelson, meanwhile, will try to extend his touchdown streak to a fourth game.
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE vs KC
Gronkowski obviously doesn’t need a great matchup to be productive but he looked healthy last week and clearly has one of the best matchups this weekend. The Chiefs are struggling to defend the position without Eric Berry and now seem likely to be without his replacement Eric Murray as well. This defense gave up 10 catches for 92 yards to the Jaguars tight ends last week and the last 4 starting tight ends they’ve faced have all exceeded expectations. On the other side, this may be a great matchup for Travis Kelce as well since the Patriots just gave up 3 touchdowns to the Colts tight ends a week ago.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL vs TB
Hooper came through against a great matchup last week when he caught 9-of-12 targets for 77 yards against the Steelers. Now he’ll get another great matchup this week as Tampa is giving up an average of 7/104/.5 to the tight end position. The corners in Tampa Bay aren’t particularly good either, but it’s likely the safeties will be somewhat preoccupied with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley and that could create many favorable matchups for Hooper (and Sanu) over the middle.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU vs BUF (TreDavious White)
TreDavious White continues to play at a high level as he has done a great job against Davante Adams and Corey Davis the past two weeks. He’s allowing very few targets, catches, and yards and will have a great test from one of the league’s elite receivers this week. Hopkins comes into the game on pace for nearly a 2000-yard season and isn’t likely to be shut down but this looks like his toughest matchup of the season to date.
WR A.J. Green, CIN vs PIT (Joe Haden)
The Steelers asked Haden to shadow Julio Jones last week and he did a very good job holding him without a catch until the game was out of reach. Green is an elite receiver who isn’t likely to be stopped completely but he figures to have the toughest matchup of the Bengals receivers this week.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR vs DEN (Chris Harris Jr)
Kupp left last week’s game with a concussion but early reports were positive and it sounds like he has a chance to play this week. If he does though, he’ll return to a tough matchup against the league’s premier slot corner in Chris Harris Jr. He has yet to allow a touchdown this season and the only receiver that gave him any trouble so far was probably Tyreek Hill. Kupp is the primary red zone target for Jared Goff and comes into the game with 4 touchdowns in his last 3 games but Harris should be able to limit him here.
WR Corey Davis, TEN vs BAL (Marlon Humphrey)
The Ravens are loaded at cornerback so they don’t really have any reason to shadow this week. They had been allowing Brandon Carr to often go against the other team’s #1 receiver but they let Humphrey follow Antonio Brown in week 4 and he did reasonably well. He’s not a shutdown corner but has gotten off to a good start this year. They also welcomed Jimmy Smith back to the fold last week from a suspension who could be in line for more playing time and may provide an additional upgrade here. Either way, the Titans offense is coming off an abysmal showing against a short-handed Bills secondary and the Ravens have only allowed two receiver touchdowns over the past 3 games so Davis may struggle again.
WR Allen Robinson, CHI vs MIA (Xavien Howard)
Howard’s play has slipped a bit over the past two games but he remains a very capable shutdown corner. He’s projected to shadow Robinson, who hasn’t really emerged as the #1 wide receiver the Bears were hoping for thus far.
TE Eric Ebron, IND vs NYJ
The Jets may not have faced an impressive lineup of tight ends this year but they rank 32nd in fantasy points allowed to the position. They have one of the best young safety tandems in the league, who should allow them to match up well with Ebron. Without T.Y. Hilton, Ebron has clearly emerged as a primary target for Andrew Luck and comes into the game with 3 touchdowns over the past two weeks. He’s missed some practice time this week while dealing with a variety of injuries but is expected to play.
TE Jared Cook, OAK vs SEA
The Seahawks no longer have Earl Thomas but Tedric Thompson has played well in his place. Their corners have struggled to defend outside receivers this year but this group has given up very little to opposing tight ends, ranking 27th in fantasy points allowed to the position thus far. Cook has been a very productive player for the Raiders this year but its likely Derek Carr will rely more heavily on his outside receivers this week.
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