Exposed (WR/TE matchups) - Week 8

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 NO (P.J. Williams)
Another week, another favorable matchup for Thielen to take advantage of. The Saints made a move to try and upgrade their secondary by trading for Eli Apple this week but he will likely need some time to get acclimated before he can make a significant contribution. With Marshon Lattimore likely to shadow Stefon Diggs on the perimeter, Thielen should be left to work against P.J. Williams out of the slot.

WR Davante Adams, GB vs LAR (Troy Hill)
The Rams defense is clearly one of the best in the league and Aaron Donald and company made things miserable for the 49ers offense last week. This pass defense has struggled defending receivers since Aqib Talib went down with an injury though. From week 3 to week 7 (5 games), the Rams have given up 10 touchdowns to opposing receivers. Meanwhile, as the top weapon for Aaron Rodgers, Adams has averaged 12 targets and 1 touchdown per game and should have a clear advantage over Troy Hill this week.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND vs OAK (Daryl Worley)
Hilton moves around the formation a lot so he’ll likely matchup against all the Raiders cornerbacks at times. While Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie has played well on limited snaps since joining the lineup, the rest of the group has been pretty bad. Rashaan Melvin and Gareon Conley were benched but Daryl Worley hasn’t been much of an upgrade. Hilton only had 4 catches last week against the Bills but he converted two of them into touchdowns should be able to take full advantage of this matchup.

WR Jarvis Landry, CLE vs PIT (Mike Hilton)
Mike Hilton’s numbers look good individually but the Steelers as a unit have been extremely vulnerable to plays over the middle this year. They are coming off a bye week but allowed three touchdowns to slot receivers Mohamed Sanu and Tyler Boyd combined in their last two games. Landry himself also finished with 7 catches for 106 yards on 15 targets when the two teams met back in week 1.

WR Brandin Cooks, LAR vs GB (Tramon Williams)
Cooks is one of the fastest receivers in the league and should have a clear advantage over 35-year old cornerback Tramon Williams this week. Facing a similar matchup in week 6, former track star Marquise Goodwin took apart the Packers defense for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns.

WR Doug Baldwin, SEA vs DET (Teez Tabor)
With Darius Slay likely to shadow Tyler Lockett on the perimeter this week, that should leave Baldwin working mostly out of the slot against Tabor. Danny Amendola caught 6-of-7 targets for 84 yards with a touchdown last week against this matchup. Meanwhile, Baldwin is coming off his best game of the season back in week 6 before the bye when he caught 6-of-8 targets against the Raiders. The extra week of rest should help him get back to his normal level of play this week.

WR Tyler Boyd, CIN vs TB (M.J. Stewart)
His numbers are helped by a two-touchdown game against the Steelers, but Boyd has averaged just 44 yards per game over the past three weeks. He should get a big matchup boost this week, however, as Tampa continues to be the most generous team in the league to opposing slot receivers. Rookie corner Stewart showed some improvement last week against the Browns but Jarvis Landry still finished with 10/97/1 after a late rally.

TE C.J. Uzomah, CIN vs TB
Tampa has given up the most fantasy points to the tight end position this year and the last four tight ends to face them have all found the end zone. Tampa’s defense will be weakened even further by the loss of their middle linebacker Kwon Alexander this week, so look for Uzomah to find plenty of room in the middle of the field as the safeties have to pay added attention to A.J. Green outside.

TE Charles Clay, BUF vs NE
The Bills don’t have a lot of weapons in the passing game and Kelvin Benjamin has a very tough matchup against Stephon Gilmore this week. That should force them to rely more heavily on their tight ends here, in a game where they will likely be forced to pass the ball much more than they’d like to. The Patriots have been particularly vulnerable to tight ends of late with two players going over 100 yards against them (Eric Ebron, Travis Kelce) and four touchdowns allowed to the position in the last three games. Derek Anderson isn’t anything special but he should give the passing game a boost from what they did under Josh Allen.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS

WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI vs JAX (Jalen Ramsey)
Jeffery has certainly produced like the Eagles number one receiver since he returned from injury in week 4. He’s posted 3 strong games and one weak game and they have aligned very well with the difficulty of the matchup as he was kept in check by Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings. Now he gets another tough matchup against the Jaguars, who have shown some cracks in their defense due in part to their struggles on offense. Ramsey hasn’t played to an elite level this year but he hasn’t been too far off with just 2.5 receptions and 33 yards allowed per game.

WR Devin Funchess, CAR vs BAL (Brandon Carr)
Michael Thomas had a solid outing against the Ravens tough secondary last week, but he did most of his damage against Jimmy Smith instead of Brandon Carr. Funchess has been very reliable with at least 4 catches and 50 yards in 5 straight games, but he has benefited from some relatively weak matchups. He’ll likely find things more difficult this week if the Ravens ask Carr to shadow him as expected. Carr has played great all year with just 18 catches, 33 yards per game, and no touchdowns allowed through 7 games.

WR Stefon Diggs, MIN vs NO (Marshon Lattimore)
Lattimore returned from a concussion last week and posted a strong game. He was thrown at 8 times but only gave up 3 catches for 28 yards, with a touchdown given up to a much bigger tight end. He’ll likely on Stefon Diggs this week, unlike last year’s NFC Championship game when he mostly followed Adam Thielen around. Diggs has big-play potential but comes into this game off two poor outings in a row, including last week when he only converted 14 targets and 8 catches into 33 yards against a banged-up Jets secondary.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, BUF vs NE (Stephon Gilmore)
Gilmore is playing exceptionally well for the Patriots this year, allowing just 13 catches on the year and only 18 yards per game. That includes matchups against DeAndre Hopkins in week 1, Sammy Watkins in week 6 and Allen Robinson last week. Benjamin showed signs of life last week with the move to Derek Anderson at quarterback but don’t expect a repeat performance on Monday night if Gilmore shadows him as expected.

WR Josh Gordon, NE vs BUF (TreDavious White)
Gordon had a breakout game last week with 100 yards against the Bears, but he figures to be matched up with one of the best corners in the league this week. White has only allowed 12 catches through 7 games for an average of 21 yards per game despite several tough matchups against elite receivers.

TE Zach Ertz, PHI vs JAX
This is one of the most interesting matchups of the week as the Eagles have the league’s most productive tight end and the Jaguars rank 31st in fantasy points allowed to the position this year. Their numbers are likely helped in part by the fact they haven’t faced many top tight ends thus far, except for Travis Kelce who posted 5 catches for 100 yards against them in week 5. The Jaguars have the type of athletic linebackers and safeties that should help them match up with Ertz and make him earn everything he gets.

TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN vs NO
The Saints have been very tough against tight ends this year. They only gave up one touchdown to the position and it came last week to the Ravens, whose three tight ends combined for just 2 catches and 16 yards. They also shut down Jordan Reed, Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and O.J. Howard, so it’s not a factor of facing weak matchups. Rudolph, meanwhile, has played a minor role in the passing game the past couple games and was held to just 1 catch against the Jets last week.


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