Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 3

Breaks down some of the best and worst WR/TE matchups this week from a defensive perspective.

The goal of this article will be to break down some of the WR and TE matchups from a defensive perspective to help identify some of the most favorable or unfavorable matchups this week. I will try to project WR vs CB matchups, and also look at defesive units as a whole to hopefully assist you in setting your weekly DFS lineups. Best of luck and feel free to reach out with any questions via email (rudnicki@footballguys.com) or twitter (@a_rudnicki).

 

GOOD MATCHUPS

WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (@ Buffalo)
Fitzerald works primarily out of the slot for the Cardinals, which will help him avoid the Bills outside corners Gilmore and Darby. While both had poor outings against the Jets, they are generally strong cover corners. The same can’t be said for Bills slot CB Nickel Robey, who tends to be the weak link in the Bills secondary. With 3 TDs through 2 games, Fitzgerald is off to a great start this year and should keep it going this week.

WR Julio Jones, ATL (@ New Orleans)
This is a no brainer, but you typically want to start anyone against this defense given how decimated they are at cornerback. Delvin Breaux and and P.J. Williams have both gone on I.R. the past two weeks, which leaves them with a castoff in Sterling Moore and a group of unknowns.

WR Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs CLE)
The Browns have gotten some much better play from Joe Haden on the outside this year, but it has been offset by the struggles of Tramon Williams against slot receivers. He’s not used to playing inside, and was torched by Jordan Matthews in the opener. Landry started to heat up last week and should be in line for another strong week here.

WR Michael Crabtree, OAK (@ TEN)
Crabtree lines up primarily on the right side of the formation, which should match him up directly with Perrish Cox most of the time. He has been a weak spot for the Titans secondary ever since he joined the team last year. Amari Cooper has the tougher matchup with Jason McCourty, and that could lead to some additional targets in Crabtree’s direction.

WR Antonio Brown, PIT (@ PHI)
Another player that is typically a strong play regardless of the matchup, but Brown has two factors in his favor this week. One, he’s coming off a poor outing against the Bengals. Two, he gets to face a secondary led by Nolan Carroll. While the Eagles haven’t given up much through the air this year, their weakness in the secondary has been masked by the terrible offenses they faced (Browns, Bears). That should change this week as the Steelers figure to expose some serious issues at cornerback.

WR Travis Benjamin, SD (@ IND)
Benjamin blew up last week and should take over as the Chargers #1 WR following the injury to Keenan Allen. He now gets to pick on the depleted Colts secondary. Vontae Davis returned to practice, but it was on a limited basis and it’s unlikely he’ll be 100% this weekend if he does play.

TE Jared Cook, GB (vs DET)
While the sample size is indeed small, the Lions have given up 4 TDs to opposing TEs this year. This should be the week that Cook, and potentially Aaron Rodgers, breaks out of their slump.

TE Eric Ebron, DET (@ GB)
While the Packers have been remarkably stingy against the run, they have given up a TD to each opposing TE this year. Ebron has posted solid numbers in both games so far and should again be a key target in the red zone.

TE Delanie Walker, TEN (vs OAK)
The Raiders were one of the worst teams in the league defending the TE last year, and that picked up again last week when they gave up 10 catches for 180 yards with a TD to three Falcons TEs combined. Walker is the #1 target in this offense and the Raiders are giving up over 400 yards/game through the air.


BAD MATCHUPS

WR Sammy Watkins, BUF (vs Arizona)
Watkins is playing through some pain in his surgically repaired foot, and just doesn’t look the same. The Bills fired their offensive coordinator and may try to force him the ball, but a matchup with an elite corner in Patrick Peterson looms so this may not be the best time to try that.

WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI (@ DAL)
The Cowboys defense held up very well against Odell Beckham in the opener and DeSean Jackson in week 2. Brandon Carr is playing great and should match up well with Jeffery, who has played well but missed practice with a knee injury on Wednesday and gets a big downgrade at QB from Cutler to Hoyer.

WR A.J. Green, CIN (vs DEN)
Green is capable of beating any one-on-one matchup, but he’ll have his hands full with this Broncos defense. He posted 5/57/1 against them late in 2015, and figures to draw plenty of attention from their trio of good corners while the pass rush up front gives Dalton little time to get comfortable.

WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (@ CIN)
The Bengals defense just did a great job against Antonio Brown and the Steelers passing offense, and Brandon Marshall was also shut down in week 1. Most of the credit goes to Adam Jones, but Dre Kirkpatrick is also playing great. This has the makings of a low scoring, defensive matchup, so it’s probably a good idea to avoid Thomas or even Sanders this week.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs SD)
Jason Verrett is quietly emerging as a shutdown corner. While Hilton works out of the slot quite often, the loss of Donte Moncrief leaves the Colts short at WR. It would make sense for the Chargers to try and keep their best cover corner on Hilton, but if he sticks on Phillip Dorsett than that would likely make it easier for them to double Hilton on most downs.

WR Julian Edelman, NE (vs HOU)
The Patriots will start rookie Jacoby Brisett at QB this week, but also get Rob Gronkowski back. The QB change during a short week likely warrants a change to their offensive game plan with fewer passes, and Gronk figures to eat into Edelman’s share of targets. Meanwhile, the Texans boast a very tough defense that likely won’t give up a whole lot. Not seeing much upside to this matchup at all.

WR Odell Beckham, NYG (vs WAS)
Josh Norman is playing great, but has grown frustrated by not getting a chance to shadow the opposing team’s #1 WR. That may change this week as Washington is 0-2 and facing a critical divisional matchup. Everybody will be watching for the Beckham vs Norman rematch, and if it’s anything like last year there’s a chance one or both could get ejected from the game.

TE Charles Clay, BUF (vs ARI)
Given the strength of the Cardinals secondary and their use of Deon Bucannon at LB, they are probably the toughest matchup in the league for opposing TEs. Meanwhile, Charles Clay has yet to make much of an impact on the field this year and he’s also dealing with some nagging injuries. Unlikely we’ll see a big game from him here.

TE Martellus Bennett, NE (vs HOU)
The Patriots are dealing with a short week against a tough defense, and have to rely on a rookie 3rd string QB. That suggests we’ll see a more conservative game plan, and Bennett is an excellent blocker so he may see more time than usual in pass protection, especially with the return of Gronkowski.

TE Julius Thomas, JAX (vs BAL)
The Ravens held both opposing TEs they faced to 40 yards or less, and were consistently one of the toughest matchups for TEs throughout 2015. Thomas is off to a solid start with 9 catches for 135 yards and a TD through 2 games, but he should have a quiet game here.


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