Exposed (WR/TE matchups) - Week 9

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 DET (Nevin Lawson)
Thielen is trying to set the all-time record for consecutive 100+ yard receiving games this week and has a great chance against a Lions secondary that has struggled of late. While Doug Baldwin didn’t take advantage of a similar matchup last week, game script hurt him as Seattle got out to an early lead and focused heavily on the run. Per ESPN, the Lions have allowed the 4th most points to opposing slot receivers over the last 4 weeks. Lawson is a below-average corner who will probably need some help from the safeties to try and slow down Thielen here.

WR Michael Thomas, NO vs LAR (Marcus Peters)
Marcus Peters shadowed Davante Adams last week and did not have much success, giving up over 100 yards and a touchdown on 6 targets. If that trend continues this week, he’ll likely take on another of the league’s best receivers in Michael Thomas. While Peters has a well-earned reputation as a playmaker, he has a tendency to give up big plays as well. He’s also playing through an injury, which should give Thomas a clear edge in this matchup.

WR Cooper Kupp, LAR vs NO (P.J. Williams)
Kupp returned to practice this week following an MCL sprain that forced him to miss the past two weeks. He’s expected to return to his normal role in a huge matchup against a Saints defense that hasn’t fully worked out their issues yet. Marshon Lattimore figures to cover Brandin Cooks and keep him in check while newcomer Eli Apple will likely be matched up against Robert Woods. While P.J. Williams is coming off perhaps the best game of his career that saw him named NFC Defensive Player of the week, he still allowed 8 catches on 9 targets for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jared Goff should be thrilled to get his favorite red zone target back this week for this matchup.

WR Courtland Sutton, DEN vs HOU (Kareem Jackson)
With the trade of Demaryius Thomas to Houston, Sutton moves into a full-time role in 2WR sets. The additional snaps should result in a steady dose of downfield targets for him, and he has a nice matchup here against a secondary that will likely be without three of their top corners due to injuries. Kareem Jackson has been moved over from safety to corner to fill-in while safety Tyrann Mathieu figures to draw Emmanuel Sanders in 3-WR formations.

WR Devin Funchess, CAR vs TB (Carlton Davis)
WR D.J. Moore, CAR vs TB (Brent Grimes)
Funchess is coming off a very quiet game last week against a tough Ravens secondary, but he’s been able to take advantage of easy matchups as he did in week 6 (5/74/1) against Washington and week 7 (6/62/1) against Philadelphia. D.J. Moore replaced an injured Torrey Smith last week and enjoyed a breakout game with 90 yards against the Ravens. Both receivers look like excellent options this week against a defense that hasn’t been able to slow anybody down all year. Both receivers figure to see some time working out of the slot, where Tampa lost struggling nickel corner M.J. Stewart to a season-ending injury.

WR Willie Snead IV, BAL vs PIT (Mike Hilton)
WR Michael Crabtree, BAL vs PIT (Artie Burns/Coty Sensabaugh)
Neither Ravens receiver offers much upside but both should get a boost from the matchup this week. Snead has been a reliable possession receiver who should be able to find openings over the middle against a defense that has given up a ton of points to slot receivers. Joe Haden remains the only bright spot in this secondary and should be matched up primarily with the explosive John Brown. That should leave Crabtree matched up with Coty Sensabaugh or Artie Burns for much of the game. Burns has struggled this year and was benched last week for being late to a team walkthrough while Sensabaugh left last week’s game early with an injury.

WR Danny Amendola, MIA vs NYJ (Buster Skrine)
The Jets welcomed nickel back Skrine back to the lineup last week, who had been out of the lineup since week 5 with a concussion. He was only targeted three times in the game but did give up a touchdown to Anthony Miller. Meanwhile, Amendola comes into the game riding a hot streak with 19 receptions and a pair of touchdowns over the past 3 games. Brock Osweiler has relied heavily on him to try and move the chains, and that should continue here given the impressive play from the Jets outside corners Morris Claiborne and Darryl Roberts.

TE O.J. Howard, TB vs CAR
The Panthers have allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends in the league with 5 touchdowns allowed to the position in 7 games played. They upgraded at safety with the signing of Eric Reid and got Thomas Davis back after a 4-game suspension, but this team has given up 20 catches to the position over the past two games. Howard has been playing very well with at least 4 catches and 60 yards in the last three games and he should benefit from the quarterback change to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

TE Greg Olsen, CAR vs TB
Tampa’s defense has also allowed 5 touchdowns to the tight end position this year. While Cincinnati failed to take advantage of them last week, that has been the only game all year where a tight end didn’t put up impressive production against this defense. Olsen has found the end zone in back to back games and should see lighter coverage thanks to the emergence of a deep threat like D.J. Moore outside.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS

WR Davante Adams, GB vs NE (Stephon Gilmore)
While Gilmore gave up a 40-yard catch to Kelvin Benjamin on a back shoulder throw, it really didn’t matter in the game and he was excellent otherwise. This continues to be a great season for Gilmore, who has only allowed 18 catches all season. He should get a chance to shadow Adams all over the field this week, and while Adams is good enough to come out ahead at times his upside should be pretty limited here.

WR Stefon Diggs, MIN vs DET (Darius Slay)
Slay hasn’t quite been himself this year and had a particularly bad game against Davante Adams and the Packers in week 5. He still can play shutdown defense when he’s at his best, however, and has had success against Diggs in the past. Note that Diggs also missed practice this week with a rib injury that he suffered last week against the Saints so there’s a chance that he might be at far less than 100% even if he is able to play.

WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET vs MIN (Xavier Rhodes)
Rhodes sat out last week’s game with a foot injury but he’s expected to return to the lineup this week. While he hasn’t played at his normal shutdown level for much of the season, he’s still one of the best corners in the league and should be able to slow down Jones if he gets a chance to shadow him here. Some may recall that Jones had an incredible game against Rhodes on Thanksgiving a year ago so Rhodes will likely be looking for some revenge here.

WR Tyler Lockett, SEA vs LAC (Casey Hayward)
Per Pro Football Focus, Hayward has given up 10 yards or fewer in his last three games. While he hasn’t faced a tough slate (OAK, CLE, TEN), that’s still very impressive and suggests that he’s back playing in top form coming into this game. Hayward often shadows the opposing team’s #1 wide receiver and he has been excellent against Corey Davis and Amari Cooper so far this year. Lockett, meanwhile, is having an amazing season with 6 touchdowns through 7 games. He’s clearly a big-play threat who doesn’t need much of an opening to score but Hayward should be able to limit those opportunities.

WR Taylor Gabriel, CHI vs BUF (TreDavious White)
The Bills defense bounced back from a terrible game against the Colts and held the Patriots in check. TreDavious White continues to play at an elite level. Allen Robinson sat out last week and looks unlikely to play again this week, which should leave White matched up with Gabriel instead. He’s been the most reliable Bears receiver all season but has often avoided the type of coverage he’ll likely see this week.

WR Corey Davis, TEN vs DAL (Anthony Brown)
This Dallas defense has allowed the 2nd-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers this year and the Titans offense has been a huge bust. Apart from a breakout game against the Eagles (9/161/1), Davis has been a non-factor in nearly every game this year. Whether he’s matched up against Brown or Byron Jones this week, he should find very little room out there.

TE Rob Gronkowski, NE vs GB
Gronkowski doesn’t exactly look like himself and is probably playing at less than 100%. He’s been a non-factor in the red zone all year and the Patriots are finding more success throwing to players like James White and Julian Edelman. The Packers defense has not given up a touchdown to a tight end all year, including matchups against George Kittle, Jordan Reed, Kyle Rudolph, and Trey Burton. The trade of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix this week should weaken the secondary but it’s far from a sure thing that Gronkowski will be able to take advantage.


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