Exposed (WR/TE matchups) - Week 16

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 DeAndre Hopkins, HOU vs PHI (Rasul Douglas)
You certainly don’t need a great matchup to start Hopkins in any given week, especially coming off a week that saw him post 10/170/2 against the Jets. He should certainly get a boost from this matchup though as the Eagles secondary has been ravaged by injuries. This same group just gave up a 10/217/3 game to Amari Cooper two weeks ago. While they weren’t hurt too badly by the Rams last week, this defense has been especially weak against perimeter receivers all year long and Hopkins should be able to take full advantage.

WR Davante Adams, GB vs NYJ (Morris Claiborne)
While the Packers season hasn’t gone as expected, Adams certainly isn’t at fault as he comes into this week with an average of nearly 100 yards and a touchdown per game. He is always a strong option but now he takes on a Jets defense that has been among the weakest in the league against receivers of late. They seem particularly susceptible to giving up big plays now that they are missing free safety Marcus Maye on the back end, and they are among the weakest teams in the league at generating pressure on the quarterback. Claiborne has played well at times but probably isn’t good enough to stop Adams when Rodgers has time in the pocket.

WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI vs HOU (Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson)
The quarterback switch to Nick Foles certainly looks like it provided a boost to Jeffery as he caught all 8 of his targets last week for 160 yards. The two of them were not on the field together earlier this seasons as Jeffery was injured but they were also productive in the playoffs last year. The Texans pass defense has struggled of late and they have allowed the most fantasy points to perimeter receivers over the last four games. Jeffery spends an equal amount of time on the left and the right but should have an advantage over either outside corner this week.

WR Allen Robinson, CHI vs SF (D.J. Reed)
The Bears are a difficult team to predict because they seem to spread the ball around well on offense and mostly rely on their defense. The 49ers secondary is struggling of late, however, and they have allowed 7 touchdowns to opposing receivers over their last 3 games. They are particularly susceptible to the slot, where Robinson has lined up more than anywhere else. He figures to have a clear advantage over the rookie Reed, who has replaced K’Waun Williams as the primary nickel corner the past two weeks.

WR Calvin Ridley, ATL vs CAR (Donte Jackson)
With Julio Jones officially a game-time decision this week, there is an opportunity for Ridley to see a much larger target share than he’s had in recent weeks. He figures to be matched up primarily against fellow rookie Jackson, who has excellent speed but tends to give up big plays. Jackson gave up over 100 yards receiving in two of his past three games while allowing nearly 20 yards per catch.

TE Chris Herndon, NYJ vs GB
There aren’t many reliable tight ends with favorable matchups this week but Herndon looks intriguing. He hasn’t found the end zone since week 8 but has topped 50 yards in 3 of 6 games since then. Sam Darnold has shown improvement under center and the re-emergence of Robby Anderson as a deep threat should open things up underneath. While they haven’t given up any huge games to the position, the Packers have allowed 6+ catches and 50+ yards to opposing tight ends in 3 of their last 4 games so Herndon should have a strong opportunity to contribute this week.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS

WR Mike Williams, LAC vs BAL (Jimmy Smith)
Williams is coming off a huge 3-touchdown game against the Chiefs but he figures to find things much more difficult against the Ravens this week. While they have given up 100-yard games to Mike Evans and Tyreek Hill the past two games, this is the deepest group of cornerbacks in the league and they have played at a high level all year. They haven’t allowed a receiver to score a touchdown in their last 4 games. Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey handle most of the outside work but Brandon Carr also rotates in with little dropoff, so there shouldn’t be much room for either Williams receiver this week.

WR Stefon Diggs, MIN vs DET (Darius Slay)
Diggs failed to top 50 yards in two of his last three games as the Vikings passing game looks like a shell of itself from early this season. He figures to draw the toughest matchup of the Vikings receivers this week, with Slay expected to shadow him on the outside while Adam Thielen should find more room out of the slot against Nevin Lawson. Per ProFootballFocus, Slay has only allowed 4 catches for 42 yards on 16 targets over the past two games, although those games came against weaker matchups in Buffalo and Arizona.

WR Kenny Golladay, DET vs MIN (Xavier Rhodes)
Golladay came through with an unexpected huge game (7/146/0) against a tough Bills defense last week. The Vikings defense hasn’t played up to expectations this year but they have a very talented group of pass rushers up front and a shutdown corner in Rhodes. Golladay is listed as questionable on the injury report, but if he’s able to play he’ll likely be shadowed by Rhodes this week. Josh Gordon (3/58/1) and Davante Adams (5/69/1) are the only receivers in recent weeks who had some success against this matchup, so don’t expect much from Golladay this week.

WR Brandin Cooks, LAR vs ARI (Patrick Peterson)
Cooks was a disappointment last week with just 6/59/0 on 7 targets in a matchup with the Eagles. That leaves him with three underwhelming games in a row and makes it tough to trust him in any matchup. With Patrick Peterson likely to shadow him this week, there is even less reason to stick with Cooks. An injury to Todd Gurley also figures to slow down the Rams offense, who hasn’t been themselves over the past couple games. Robert Woods against Budda Baker or Josh Reynolds against Brandon Williams both have much easier matchups this week.

WR Chris Hogan, NE vs BUF (TreDavious White)
The surprise suspension for Josh Gordon likely moves Chris Hogan back into a key perimeter role for the Patriots. He’s been quiet with no more than 2 catches in a game since week 7 but should see an uptick moving forward. That may not amount to much this week, however, as he’ll likely be matched up for much of the game with TreDavious White. While has shown some cracks in his game the past couple weeks, he remains one of the top cover corners in the league.

WR Kenny Stills, MIA vs JAX (Jalen Ramsey)
Stills had a huge game against the Patriots (8/135/1) in week 14 but was erased by Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings last week. This week figures to be more of the same regardless of whether he’s shadowed by Jalen Ramsey or splits time being covered by him or A.J. Bouye. The Jaguars are struggling as a team but their cornerbacks remain a strength of the team and they haven’t given up a touchdown to a receiver in the past three games.

TE George Kittle, SF vs CHI
Kittle is coming off a relatively quiet game against Seattle in which he still went over 50 yards. He is good enough to produce against any matchup but the Bears look particularly worrisome given their strong pass rush. They haven’t allowed a touchdown to an opposing tight end since week 8, but they also haven’t faced a particularly challenging schedule either. You likely don’t need to downgrade Kittle too much, but there is certainly limited upside here given the matchup.