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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter (@a_rudnicki).
WR Julio Jones, ATL (vs SD)
Jones does have his fair share of down games as we saw against New Orleans back in week 3, but that’s not likely to happen here. The Chargers are down two of their top 2 corners, so they will look to Casey Hayward primarily to slow down Jones with some expected safety help. Hayward has held up pretty well, but he’s not a shutdown corner and more likely to give up the catch and then wrap up the player. Jones really should dominate this matchup and be worth paying up for this week.
WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs WAS)
Jones has just 6 catches on 11 targets for 47 yards combined over the last two weeks, but he has been effective in the red zone with 2 TD catches. He should get a favorable matchup this week against Bashaud Breeland, who returned from an ankle injury last week but had a very rough start to the season. With Golden Tate expected to match up against Josh Norman on the other side most of the time, look for Stafford to get Jones more involved this week.
WR Jeremy Maclin, KC (vs NO)
Maclin has been pretty quiet the past 3 games as the Chiefs relied heavily on their running game and defense. They may have to open things up a bit this week, however, if they want to keep pace with Drew Brees and the Saints. That should lead to a strong outing from Maclin, who should have a strong edge over Ken Crawley or Sterling Moore.
WR Odell Beckham, NYG (vs LA in London)
Beckham blew up last week for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and he’ll look to keep that momentum going. The Rams are not playing up to their normal standards on defense as they allowed 4 TDs to Lions WRs a week ago, and another pair to the Bills wideouts a week earlier. Beckham has been spending most of his time on the outside, which means he should get to pick on Troy Hill and E.J. Gaines equally.
WR Mike Evans, TB (@ SF)
Evans is usually a lock for 10+ targets each week as the focal point of the Buccaneers passing game, and that should be enough for him to post one of the best stat lines of the week here. The 49ers are really struggling against the run, which tends to mask some of their struggles in pass defense. Over the last 5 games, they have allowed an average of 2 TDs/game to opposing WRs.
WR Kendall Wright, TEN (vs IND)
Wright exploded for 8 catches (on 9 targets) for 133 yards and a touchdown last week vs the Browns. That has to make him a much more appealing target for Marcus Mariota as they take on the Colts in a key divisional matchup. Wright figures to spend most of his time in the slot operating against Patrick Robinson, who is becoming a very inviting target for opposing QBs.
WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (vs DET)
Crowder has seen his role reduced in recent weeks, but he figures to bounce back against the Lions. Jordan Reed has been ruled out, so that should make Crowder the primary target over the middle of the field and Lions nickel CB Quandre Diggs has been one of the worst corners in the league this year.
WR Michael Thomas, NO (@ KC)
The Chiefs have earned a reputation for playing strong defense and they are led primarily by Marcus Peters at LCB. He should see more time against Brandin Cooks this week, which means Thomas will match up primarily with Steven Nelson. That side of the field is also where Amari Cooper (10/129/0), Antonio Brown (4/64/2), and DeAndre Hopkins (7/113/1) play most of their snaps so this looks like a solid matchup for Thomas, who has posted a TD for 3 straight games.
TE Hunter Henry, SD (@ ATL)
Henry is quickly emerging as the focal point of the Chargers passing attack. He has posted a touchdown in 3 straight games and is proving to be far more effective than Antonio Gates at this stage of his career. Meanwhile, the Falcons have had a really hard time slowing down any TEs they have faced this year. They have been banged up at LB and are relying heavily on two rookies at MLB and SS.
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE (@ CIN)
The Bengals have not played the same type of defense of late that we have come to expect from them. They were embarrassed by Rob Gronkowski last week, and could be vulnerable over the middle here. Meanwhile, the Browns look like they could be without their new #1 WR in Terrelle Pryor this week, which could allow Barnidge to see a spike in targets as they will likely be playing from behind for much of the game.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (@ KC)
When Willie Snead is in the lineup, he gets most of the snaps working out of the slot so Cooks figures to line up primarily on the right side. That places him right in the crosshairs of Marcus Peters, who already has 5 interceptions on the season and is quickly becoming one of the most feared corners in the league. He did miss time last week with a shoulder stinger, but is expected to be active and figures to make Cooks earn anything he gets.
WR Michael Floyd, ARI (vs SEA)
With John Brown listed as doubtful this week, we could see Richard Sherman decide to shadow Larry Fitzgerald. It’s more likely, however, that they will leave him outside to keep Floyd in check. Based on how the season has been going, that’s also not likely to be too difficult as Floyd has posted just 5/58/2 over his last 3 games combined.
WR Golden Tate, DET (vs WAS)
Tate finally made an impact last week as he went off for 8/165/1 against the Rams. He faces a much tougher matchup this week, however, as he’s expected to be lined up across from Josh Norman much of the time.
WR Tajae Sharpe, TEN (vs IND)
Sharpe has seen his target rate and production drop off a cliff in recent weeks, and that doesn’t figure to change this week. He figures to see a heavy dose of Vontae Davis, who is rounding into form as one of the top cover corners in the league again.
WR Tyrell Williams, SD (@ ATL)
Williams had a huge game against the Raiders, but has mostly failed to take advantage of the great situation he’s in. Now he faces a pass defense that has been playing surprisingly well, and there’s a good chance he’ll be matched up against Desmond Trufant for most of the game.
WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (vs MIN)
The Vikings defense is probably a matchup you’ll want to avoid for most positions, but they have been particularly tough against WRs. The pass rush has been great, which makes things much easier for their unheralded CB group. This unit has only allowed 2 TDs to opposing WRs all year, and have had the bye week to come up with a game plan for rookie QB Carson Wentz.
TE Jimmy Graham, SEA (@ ARI)
Graham has been one of the hottest tight ends in the league, but he faces one of the absolute toughest matchups on the board this week. The Cardinals defense has been extremely tough against TEs this year, although they have benefitted from some easy matchups. While Tyrann Mathieu hasn’t played up to his normal level, he’s an excellent cover safety who should team up with Deone Bucannon and others to limit the damage that Graham does here.
TE Kyle Rudolph, MIN (@ PHI)
The Eagles have only given up 10 receptions for 102 yards to opposing TEs through 5 games. They’ve been helped by several favorable matchups, including last week when they faced Washington without Jordan Reed. Safety Michael Jenkins is a former corner and could see a lot of time matched up against Rudolph here, who was held to just 2 catches in his last game.
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