Exposed (WR/TE matchups) - Week 7

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 Adam Thielen, MIN vs NYJ (Parry Nickerson)
The Jets are still expected to be without their nickel corner Buster Skrine this week, which leaves the rookie Nickerson matched up with the league’s leading receiver. That’s a mismatch that Kirk Cousins will likely go back to over and over again on Sunday. No reason to fade Thielen yet given the incredible run he’s on. The Jets are also shorthanded given the injury to free safety Marcus Maye and outside corner Trumaine Johnson, which may leave Stefon Diggs matched up primarily with Morris Claiborne, who has played very well this year.

WR Julio Jones, ATL vs NYG (Janoris Jenkins)
Jenkins has been one of the better cover corners in the league at times but he’s going through a pretty clear rough patch. He’s given up 4 touchdowns over the past two games and has allowed a catch rate over 70% this season. Jones has over 700 yards without a touchdown this year, but Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu both left last week’s game with injuries so he looks like the best option here in a Monday night matchup.

WR Jarvis Landry, CLE vs TB (M.J. Stewart)
The Tampa secondary caught a break last week when Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley both left the game with injuries, but this is still one of the best matchups in the league for opposing wide receivers. They are particularly vulnerable inside where the rookie Stewart has given up four touchdowns over the last two weeks and an overall catch rate of 90% on the season. Landry had a very disappointing game against the Chargers last week with 2 catches on 9 targets for just 11 yards, but should find things much easier this week.

WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET vs MIA (Bobby McCain)
The Dolphins have a potential shutdown corner in Xavien Howard but only asked him to shadow a receiver in week 3 against Amari Cooper. Given the emergence of Kenny Golladay for the Lions, we should probably expect Howard to stay in his normal left cornerback position and limit him for most of the game. With Golden Tate working out of the slot against an impressive rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick, that leaves Jones with the best matchup this week. McCain is expected to return to the lineup this week after missing the last two games with an injury, and while he’s an upgrade over Torry McTyer, he should still provide a plus matchup for Jones. Jones has not been very productive this year but does have three touchdowns in his last four games.

WR Brandin Cooks, LAR vs SF (Jimmie Ward)
Cooks missed most of week 5 with a concussion and was held in check by a tough Broncos defense last week so he’s a few weeks removed from his last big game. With Cooper Kupp out this week, there should be some additional targets available for him though and he has a great matchup against Jimmie Ward and the 49ers. He’s allowing an average of 20 yards per catch this year so look for Cooks to hit some deep balls against him. Robert Woods also figures to spend more time in the slot against K’Waun Williams, which likely leaves Josh Reynolds to deal with the very tough Richard Sherman.

WR Marquise Goodwin, SF vs LAR (Troy Hill)
It may seem counterintuitive to consider a matchup against the Rams defense as favorable, but Hill is a clear downgrade from Aqib Talib and possibly Sam Shields as well. Hill is coming off a dismal performance against the Broncos last week that saw him give up 8 catches for nearly 200 yards. Goodwin is also coming off a huge game against the Packers last week that saw him hook up with C.J. Beathard for several big plays and finish with 126 yards and 2 touchdowns.

WR Jermaine Kearse, NYJ vs MIN (Mackensie Alexander)
With Quincy Enunwa injured, Jermaine Kearse has taken over as the primary slot receiver. He caught nine of ten targets last week against the Colts and should be very active again this week. Kearse should mostly face off against Alexander, who is allowing a catch rate of nearly 90% on the season. Xavier Rhodes may not need to shadow either outside receiver but will likely want some help to protect against Robby Anderson getting deep.

WR Mike Williams, LAC vs TEN (Malcolm Butler)
Williams comes into this game with very little momentum after catching just 5 of 11 targets over the past 3 games. Based on matchups, however, this could be the week he turns things back around. Malcolm Butler has been arguably the worst cornerback in the league this year, which is surprising given his track record and the huge contract he signed as a free agent. In any case, Williams lines up on the left most often of all the Chargers receivers and should see plenty of Butler, who has given up a 70% catch rate with an average of nearly 17 yards per catch.

WR Paul Richardson Jr, WAS vs DAL (Chidobe Awuzie)
Richardson has had a quiet start to his tenure in Washington but has found the end zone in two of his last three games. Without Jamison Crowder in the lineup, there should be a few more targets to spread around and that may be enough to make him a consideration this week. He should match up with Awuzie, who has been one of the only weak spots in a very effective Cowboys defense this year. He missed time in week 5 with an ankle injury and could be well below 100% if he plays through it this week.

TE David Njoku, CLE vs TB
Tampa is allowing the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year and that trend held up last week as Austin Hooper went off on them to the tune of 9/71/1. Njoku has at least 6 catches in back-to-back weeks and found the end zone last week as well so he appears to be in sync with Baker Mayfield coming into this matchup.

TE C.J. Uzomah, CIN vs KC
The Chiefs perimeter corners have shown signs of improvement lately but the safety spots are still a glaring weakness. They kept Rob Gronkowski in check for much of the game as the Patriots relied heavily on their run game but he still finished with 97 yards on 3 catches. For five games in a row, the Chiefs have had an opposing tight end go over 50 yards so Uzomah makes a nice sleeper pick this week. He put up 6/54/0 against the Steelers last week and should benefit from the Chiefs focusing much of their attention on A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS

WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU vs JAX (Jalen Ramsey)
WR Will Fuller V, HOU vs JAX (A.J. Bouye)
In a key divisional matchup, the Texans receivers get a clear downgrade against the great Jaguars tandem. Hopkins made one great catch against TreDavious White last week to score but was otherwise kept in check. Now he’ll get to face a similarly tough matchup with Jalen Ramsey, who should get some help from a Jaguars pass rush taking on a leaky Texans offensive line. Hopkins found the end zone in both matchups against Jacksonville last season but only caught 11 of 29 targets. Meanwhile, Will Fuller V has been mostly invisible the past two weeks with just 4 catches on 6 targets for a measly 48 yards despite some favorable matchups.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND vs BUF (TreDavious White)
Hilton hasn’t played since week 4 but is expected to return this week against a very tough Bills defense. White has been a standout at corner and has only allowed 11 catches on 20 targets through 6 games, which includes matchups against some very good receivers like Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, and DeAndre Hopkins. The Colts may move Hilton into the slot to try and free him up at times, but overall this looks like a good week to avoid him if you can.

WR Michael Thomas, NO vs BAL (Brandon Carr)
Tough to consider sitting Thomas against any defense, but the Ravens continue to have one of the best pass defenses in the league with an extremely deep group of corners. Since getting torched by the Bengals in week 2, this group hasn’t allowed any single wide receiver to go over 70 yards and that includes a matchup against Antonio Brown. Thomas moves around a lot but figures to match up primarily against Carr who has been the Ravens best cover corner all year.

WR Michael Crabtree, BAL vs NO (Marshon Lattimore)
Marshon Lattimore suffered a concussion in week 5 but had the bye week to recover and was returned to a full practice this week. While he hasn’t always played up to his rookie year standard, he hasn’t allowed a touchdown since week 1 and has held his own against Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. The matchup with Crabtree should not be that big of a challenge for him, and it’s likely the Ravens will want to go after Ken Crawley on the other side who will be matched up with John Brown most of the time.

WR Allen Robinson, CHI vs NE (Stephon Gilmore)
The Patriots have made frequent use of shadow coverage this season but Gilmore hasn’t always taken on the clear #1 wide receiver. For example, he matched up with Sammy Watkins last week while Tyreek Hill torched the Patriots defense primarily on crossing routes. This week, he’s expected to stick with Allen Robinson who has been outshined by Taylor Gabriel in recent weeks. If so, Gabriel should have the much easier matchup against Jason McCourty this week so that trend could continue as Gilmore has given up no more than two catches for four consecutive games.

WR Corey Davis, TEN vs LAC (Casey Hayward)
Davis was almost completely shut out by the Ravens last week as he caught just one of four targets for 24 yards. Now he faces a Chargers defense that will look to get after Marcus Mariota, who was sacked 11 times last week. Hayward may not be playing at the same level he did in 2017, but he’s a shutdown specialist who can take a player out of a game and is likely to be locked onto Davis this week.

TE Greg Olsen, CAR vs PHI
Olsen isn’t fully healthy but he returned last week and saw a full workload against Washington while posting 4/48/0 on 7 targets. He should have a tough time improving on those numbers this week, however, as the Eagles rank dead last in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. The Eagles are very vulnerable on the perimeter but their linebackers and safeties have allowed them to keep all tight ends they’ve faced but one below 45 yards.


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