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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)
WR Michael Thomas, NO vs PHI (Rasul Douglas)
The Eagles were already one of the most vulnerable teams in the league to outside receivers and now they lost their top cornerback in Ronald Darby to Injured Reserve. Sidney Jones may get a chance to replace him but he hasn’t played in over a month and was primarily a nickel corner prior to his injury. Jalen Mills is also still injured, so they may be down to their 3rd or 4th best options this week. That is a great sign for Michael Thomas and likely Tre'Quan Smith as well.
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI vs OAK (Leon Hall)
Fitzgerald has had three of his most productive weeks over his last three games. He has averaged 10 targets per game in that span and the change at offensive coordinator has brought some new life to the offense. They get a rare chance to take on a weaker team this week as the Raiders come to town. There aren’t any matchups in the Raiders secondary to be scared of but they have been vulnerable to slot receivers with 34-year-old Leon Hall as the main target.
WR Sammy Watkins, LAR vs KC (Marcus Peters)
Watkins sat out last week’s game with a foot injury but should be rested and ready to go this week. He’ll likely get to match up against Peters, who has been a shell of himself for much of this year. Watkins is certainly capable of getting behind Peters and breaking some big plays in what figures to be a shootout of the league’s two best teams.
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG vs TB (Javien Elliott)
Tampa has struggled against receivers all year and have been particularly vulnerable to slot receivers due to the struggles of rookie corner M.J. Stewart. He sat out last week and will miss this week’s game as well, so Tampa will once again turn to Elliott. Over the last two weeks, while receiving significant playing time, he’s given up a catch every time he’s been targeted. Shepard hasn’t been very reliable this year but is only a few weeks removed from a huge 5/167/0 game against the Falcons and has some clear upside this week. Odell Beckham Jr should remain a strong option against the outside corners as well.
TE Austin Hooper, ATL vs DAL
Hooper has proven to be a reliable check-down option for Matt Ryan this year and posted a strong 10/56/1 game last week against the Browns. He’ll take on a Cowboys team that lacks talent at the safety position, which is partly why Zach Ertz just went off for 14/145/2 against them last week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG vs TB
Tampa has great matchups all over the field and Engram should be able to take advantage here. In particular, the fact that Tampa will be without their top two linebackers in Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David should really open up the middle of the field.
WR Julio Jones, ATL vs DAL (Byron Jones)
Tough to downgrade Jones against any matchup but Jones has clearly been one of the league’s best cornerbacks all year. He may not shadow Jones as he typically stays on one side of the field, however, so that will still leave Jones with some opportunities against the struggling Chidobe Awuzie.
WR Adam Thielen, MIN vs CHI (Bryce Callahan)
Thielen had an incredible run to start the season with plenty of great matchups along the way. While he found the end zone in his last game against the Lions, he also posted just 22 yards on 4 catches in that game. He’ll have a tough matchup this week against Callahan and a Bears secondary that has allowed just one touchdown to an opposing receiver in the last 3 games. On the season, Callahan has played great all year but he has stood out of late with just 43 yards allowed over his last 3 games.
WR Keenan Allen, LAC vs DEN (Chris Harris Jr)
Allen remains the primary target for Philip Rivers but he only has one touchdown and one 100+ yard game since week 1 when he did both. He figures to be matched up primarily with Harris this week, who is one of the league’s best slot corners. In both matchups last year, Allen combined for just 8 catches and 76 yards with a touchdown.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR vs DET (Darius Slay)
Slay missed last week’s game against the Bears and it showed as Allen Robinson tore them apart. He should be back in the lineup this week and should be able to limit the damage done by Funchess, who hasn’t scored a touchdown or topped 44 yards in the last three games.
WR Allen Robinson, CHI vs MIN (Xavier Rhodes)
Robinson finally had a breakout game last week but it came against the Lions without their top corner. He won’t have that type of advantage this week when the Vikings come to town. Their pass rush gets a boost from the recent return of Everson Griffen and Rhodes should be tasked with shadowing Robinson throughout the game.
WR Courtland Sutton, DEN vs LAC (Casey Hayward)
Sutton was expected to emerge as a primary target once the team traded away Demaryius Thomas but he only caught 3-of-5 targets for 57 yards in week 9. With Emmanuel Sanders the primary slot receiver, he should be able to avoid a matchup with Hayward this week. Look for Hayward to have a clear edge over the rookie receiver here.
TE Jack Doyle, IND vs TEN
TE Eric Ebron, IND vs TEN
The Titans have allowed the fewest fantasy points to the tight end position all season. Looking at the players they’ve faced, only one tight end put up anything close to good numbers and that was Zach Ertz back in week 4. The Colts have relied heavily on their tight ends this year, however, so it will be interesting to see which side wins out here. Given that both tight ends figure to share the workload against a tough matchup though, it may be a good week to look elsewhere.
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