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 Adam Thielen, MIN vs MIA (Bobby McCain)
Thielen has cooled off slightly with just 10/98/1 over his previous two games combined, but he should be a focal point this week against the Dolphins. He’ll match up against McCain, who helped Julian Edelman to a 9/86/1 game last week and Zay Jones to a 4/67/2 game the week prior. If Xavien Howard can’t go, Minkah Fitzpatrick still figures to give Stefon Diggs some trouble on the outside.
WR Brandin Cooks, LAR vs PHI (Rasul Douglas)
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR vs PHI (DeVante Busby)
The Eagles have remained one of the best matchups for perimeter receivers all year long, and they have only gotten weaker due to a rash of injuries. Last week, we saw Amari Cooper punish them for 10/217/3 in a key divisional matchup. This week, they take on an angry Rams team looking to rebound from a poor showing against a tough Bears defense. While Robert Woods should remain a solid option out of the slot, both Cooks and Reynolds deserve a clear upgrade here. The Eagles simply don’t have the bodies to match up with the Rams outside.
WR Jarvis Landry, CLE vs DEN (Justin Simmons)
While the volume wasn’t there last week, Landry still came through with 57 yards and a touchdown on just 4 targets while also adding a touchdown and 54 yards as a runner. This week, he’ll face a weakened Broncos defense without Chris Harris. Free safety Justin Simmons figures to take on most of the responsibility for covering slot receivers now, which should be a significant downgrade. Slot receivers have been productive against Denver for 4 weeks in a row now and Landry should have little trouble keeping that streak going.
WR Dede Westbrook, JAX vs WAS (Greg Stroman)
Westbrook had a very strong game in an ugly loss to the Titans last week and looks like the top target in this offense. Cody Kessler isn’t great but should be good enough to take advantage of a Washington defense that doesn’t seem to have much left. The main weakness of that secondary is their nickel corner Stroman, a 7th round rookie who has been forced into a larger role than he’s ready for. With Westbrook lined up against him, the Jaguars should look to exploit that matchup whenever they are forced to throw.
WR Robert Foster, BUF vs DET (Mike Ford)
Foster has proven to be a big-play threat when paired up with Josh Allen and the release of Kelvin Benjamin opened up more playing time for him last week. He took advantage with an impressive 7/104/0 game against the Jets and should continue to see several deep targets again this week. The Lions don’t figure to shadow anyone with Darius Slay this weekend but Foster should spend most of his snaps lined up opposite Mike Ford. He’s allowed 19 catches on 20 targets over the last 4 weeks for an average of nearly 16 yards per catch, which points to another strong game for Foster.
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN vs OAK (Nick Nelson)
The Bengals offense isn’t likely to scare anybody without A.J. Green but Boyd has been a reliable target over the middle and hasn’t shown much of a dropoff since Jeff Driskel replaced the injured Andy Dalton a couple weeks ago. While he had a quiet game last week against a very tough Chargers matchup, he should find things much easier against the Raiders. While the Raiders have gotten some improved play from their outside corners Garon Conley and Rashaan Melvin, they can still struggle over the middle and lack any type of pass rush which should allow Driskel to find Boyd early and often.
TE C.J. Uzomah, CIN vs OAK
The matchup didn’t spark a huge game from Vance McDonald last week as expected but the Steelers tight ends still combined for 6/65/0. This has clearly been the weakest defense against opposing tight ends all year long so that bodes well for Uzomah, who hasn’t stood out much of late but did have a 13-target game against Browns in week 12.
TE Eric Ebron, IND vs DAL
Ebron has been a huge factor all year long with 12 touchdowns and he should be in line for another strong game this week. The Cowboys didn’t let Zach Ertz beat them last week but still gave up 4/44/1 to Dallas Goedert. They’ve allowed opposing tight ends to score 5 touchdowns over the last 6 games, including a huge 10/145/2 game to Ertz in week 10. With T.Y. Hilton questionable, there’s even more reason to believe that the Colts offense will go through Ebron this week.
WR Julio Jones, ATL vs ARI (Patrick Peterson)
Tough to fade Julio in any week regardless of the matchup, especially coming off perhaps his best game of the year when he posted 8/106/2 against the Packers. He was nearly invisible the week before by a tough Ravens secondary though. While the Cardinals aren’t a tough defense, they do have perhaps the league’s best shutdown specialist in Peterson. He’s only allowed one touchdown all year and has given up 2 or fewer catches in 6 of his last 7 games. Assuming Peterson shadows Jones this week, look for the Falcons to rely more heavily on Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu against much easier matchups.
WR Antonio Brown, PIT vs NE (Stephon Gilmore)
Gilmore has played at an elite level for most of the year but probably isn’t good enough to truly slow down one of the league’s elite receivers in Brown. That being said, he does figure to shadow Brown on perimeter routes this week and that may be enough to prevent Brown from reaching his full potential in a key AFC matchup. Juju Smith-Schuster should find things much easier going against J.C. Jackson or Jason McCourty.
WR Mike Evans, TB vs BAL (Jimmy Smith)
Evans hasn’t been able to take advantage of some plus matchups the past two weeks and now takes on perhaps the toughest defense in the league. The Ravens have the best group of corners in the league right now so they don’t need to shadow anybody but it’s likely Evans will match up with Smith for most of the game. At 6’2”, he’s one of the few top corners who have the size to match up well with Evans and he hasn’t allowed a touchdown since week 7 against the Saints.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET vs BUF (TreDavious White)
The Lions passing game has shown very little signs of life lately and Golladay limps into this matchup after being held to just 2/5/0 by Patrick Peterson. Now he faces another elite corner in White, who has slipped a bit the past couple weeks but remains perfectly capable of erasing a receiver. Either way, there isn’t a lot of reasons for optimism with regard to Golladay this week.
TE Evan Engram, NYG vs TEN
Amazingly, the Titans have yet to allow a single touchdown to an opposing tight end this year. While they haven’t faced the toughest set of opponents, they have only allowed an average of 36 yards per game to the position. With Odell Beckham already ruled out for this weekend, Engram figures to take on a larger role coming off a strong 3/77/0 game last week but the Titans defense may be up for the challenge.
TE Ian Thomas, CAR vs NO
The rookie Thomas has emerged as a popular target for Cam Newton with 14 catches over the past two games. He faces a tough matchup this week, however, as the Saints have only allowed an average of 3.5 catches and 35 yards to the tight end position all year. This includes matchups against Zach Ertz (2/15/0), Austin Hooper (5/31/0 and 3/23/0), Kyle Rudolph (4/39/0), Jordan Reed (1/21/0), David Njoku (4/20/0), and O.J. Howard (2/54/0).