Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 5

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 Steve Smith, BAL (vs WAS)
Smith spends some time outside and will get some matchups against Josh Norman, but he works primarily out of the slot when the Ravens are in 3-WR sets. That suggests he’ll see plenty of rookie Kendall Fuller this week, who played well last week but that was against the Browns. Smith comes in with 8 catches in each of the past two games, and should be in line for another strong workload.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs TB)
The Panthers seem likely to be without Cam Newton this week, but that could mean more reliance on a player like Benjamin. He’ll get a favorable matchup against Tampa rookie CB Vernon Hargreaves. Note the Buccaneers have allowed 9 TDS to opposing WRs this year, so this should be a great opportunity for Benjamin to get back on track after a speed bump the past two weeks.

WR Jordy Nelson, GB (vs NYG)
The Giants secondary is banged up as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was held out last week, and was limited in practice this week.  That makes it a little tough to predict who Nelson will face most of the time, but Janoris Jenkins or Leon Hall are probably not going to slow him down much either. Packers are coming off a bye and Nelson has 4 TDs in 3 games, so he should once again be a very strong option.

WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs CHI)
Hilton has at least 10 targets in all 4 games this year, but he has been much more productive with them the past two weeks. The Bears defense has held up better than expected, but their top corner Tracy Porter has been limited with a knee injury lately. If he is asked to shadow Hilton, that could get pretty ugly.

WR DeVante Parker, MIA (vs TEN)
Parker is a young receiver still finding his way, and he hasn’t been helped by an inconsistent Dolphins offense that lacks a running game. That being said, the Titans have been particularly vulnerable on the right side, which is where Parker should be lined up against Perrish Cox much of the time. Will Fuller, Michael Crabtree, and Marvin Jones Jr have all victimized Cox of late, so this is a great spot for Parker to break out.

WR Quincy Enunwa, NYJ (@ PIT)
The Jets new primary slot receiver has been a pleasant surprise and a reliable target for Ryan Fitzpatrick this year. The Steelers enjoyed a blowout win over the Chiefs last week, despite playing without their normal nickel back in rookie Sean Davis. He should be able to play this week, but that’s not necessarily a huge boost as he’s a natural safety playing out of position somewhat.

WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (@ DET)
Sometimes it feels like Matthews is written up in this column quite often, as it’s generally beneficial to line up as a slot WR against what is typically the 3rd best CB on the opposing team. Coming off the bye, Matthews should be in line for another steady dose of targets and catches against Lions nickel back Quandre Diggs. Eddie Royal just posted 7/111/1 against this matchup last week.

WR DeSean Jackson, WAS (@ BAL)
Neither Ravens cornerback is particularly intimidating, but Shareece Wright has been particularly vulnerable on the left side. Michael Crabtree, Allen Robinson, and Corey Coleman have each posted multi-TD games against this secondary the past 3 weeks. The Ravens also typically defend the TE well, so if they keep Jordan Reed in check, Jackson should rebound in a big way from last week’s low output.

WR Julian Edelman, NE (@ CLE)
Everybody is expecting the Patriots to come out firing this week with the return of Tom Brady at QB. While the tight ends are solid options, Edelman should be in line for a big game as well. When he lines up out of the slot, he’ll have little trouble shaking nickel CB Tramon Williams.

TE Zach Ertz, PHI (@ DET)
Ertz practiced fully this week and is expected to make his return to the Eagles lineup. He’s been out since week 1, but returns just in time to face a defense that has allowed 6 TDs to opposing TEs in 4 games. The Lions back 7 is one of the weakest in the league, and he should have little trouble exploiting it.

TE Cameron Brate, TB (@ CAR)
It’s surprising given the talent they have on defense, but Carolina has given up 4 TDs to opposing tight ends over the past 3 games. Meanwhile, Brate has quietly emerged as a reliable option for an offense that has averaged well over 40 pass attempts/game.




BAD MATCHUPS

WR John Brown, ARI (vs SF)
Brown exploded last week for 10 catches and 144 yards on 16 targets in a crazy game against the Rams. With Carson Palmer ruled out, I expect a more conservative game plan against the undermanned 49ers. The 49ers also got a great effort from rookie Rashard Robinson at corner last week, as he was targeted 6 times but only gave up 3 catches for 20 yards while breaking up 3 passes. That’s the most likely matchup for Brown, but I think all Cards WRs are likely worth avoiding this week.

WR Julio Jones, ATL (@ DEN)
Tough to fade a WR who just posted one of the best games in NFL history, but the Broncos are probably smart enough to double him. Even if they choose to use one of their great corners on him in man coverage, the pass rush they generate up front is likely going to force Matt Ryan to get rid of the ball quickly. The only TD this defense has given up to a WR all year came back in the opener against Carolina.

WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs ATL)
The Falcons pass defense probably doesn’t scare anybody, but Desmond Trufant is a very capable shutdown corner. He figures to match up primarily with Thomas this week, and when you add in the change to a rookie QB under center, that’s probably enough to stay away.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (@ MIN)
The Vikings have been getting some very impressive play from their corners this year, so there isn’t a clear weak spot in the secondary. They are helped by perhaps the best front 7 in football, which should make things difficult for Brock Osweiler. Only 1 TD has been scored by an opposing WR against this unit, and no WR has even gone over 80 yards against them.

WR Torrey Smith, SF (@ ARI)
Smith hasn’t exactly emerged as the #1 WR he was expected to become this year. He has just 9 catches on 22 targets, and figures to see plenty of CB Patrick Peterson this week. That’s a matchup Blaine Gabbert will likely be happy to avoid.

WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI (@ IND)
The Colts gave up a couple touchdowns to Jaguars WRs last week, but certainly didn’t make things easy for them. Vontae Davis is getting healthy and figures to be matched up frequently with Jeffery this week. Since Brian Hoyer has taken over and sparked the Bears offense, Jeffery has not been a major factor. He has yet to find the end zone and saw just 5 targets last week in a game where Hoyer threw the ball 36 times.

TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs HOU)
The Texans defense may not be the same without J.J. Watt up front, but they have not given up anything to opposing TEs all year. They have faced some very good ones too, including Delanie Walker (2/34/0), Martellus Bennett (2/10/0), and Travis Kelce (5/34/0). Rudolph is playing well for the surprising Vikings, but this looks like a tough spot for him.

TE Jordan Reed, WAS (@ BAL)
The Ravens as a group have always done very well against opposing TEs and this year they once again rank among the toughest matchups for the position. There is some hope for Reed, however, as he is coming off a huge game last week and the Ravens haven’t really faced any TE in his class. The best they’ve faced were Charles Clay (2/40/0), Gary Barnidge (4/37/0), and Julius Thomas (2/13/0).


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