The goal of this article is 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 defensive units as a whole to hopefully assist you in building your weekly DFS lineups by targeting some matchups to avoid or exploit. Best of luck and feel free to reach out with any questions via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter (@a_rudnicki).
WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (@ CAR)
Fitzgerald is having a remarkable season and it should continue this week against the Panthers. As the primary slot receiver for Arizona, he figures to match up most of the time with the much smaller Robert McClain who has been beaten pretty regularly this year.
WR Julio Jones, ATL (vs GB)
Jones can be started almost any week with confidence, but the Packers pass defense has been a sore spot so look for him to take advantage. The Packers may allow Ladarius Gunter to shadow him after a strong showing against Alshon Jeffery last week, but most of that game came with Matt Barkley under center.
WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs PHI)
Bryant is expected to make his return to the lineup this week in a big divisional matchup. While he move around the formation at times, most of his snaps are on the left side. That suggests a primary matchup with Nolan Carroll, who has clearly been the weaker of the two Eagles outside corners all year.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs KC)
The Colts welcome back Donte Moncreif this week, which should draw some attention away from Hilton and allow him to work primarily out of the slot where he is most effective. That should help him to avoid being matched up with Marcus Peters on the right and instead face off against Steven Nelson.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (@ TB)
Tampa is getting some great play from veteran CB Brent Grimes, but the rookie Vernon Hargreaves is going through some growing pains. Cooper should be matched up with him for most of this game, and that’s a clear advantage for the WR.
WR Doug Baldwin, SEA (@ NO)
It’s never a bad idea to look for WRs facing the Saints defense, and that holds true this week. Seattle is coming off a very rough outing against the Cardinals last week that ended in a 6-6 tie, but look for them to get back on track here. There isn’t any CB to fear in this unit, and Delvin Breaux (if he returns) is unlikely to match up with Baldwin inside anyway.
WR Mike Evans, TB (vs OAK)
The Raiders have a pair of big capable corners outside in Sean Smith and David Amerson, but they should have their hands full with Evans. He is a target hog who should see a steady stream of passes thrown his way, and this game has shootout potential.
WR Brandon LaFell, CIN (vs WAS)
This game will be in London, so may not be included in most DFS slates but we can probably expect to see Josh Norman locked up with A.J. Green. That figures to leave LaFell lining up opposite Bashaud Breeland, who is having a rough year.
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU (vs DET)
The Lions have struggled to defend tight ends all season, with just one game where they didn’t allow a TD or at least 70 yards to the opponent’s #1 TE. They will also be without their best cover corner this week in Darius Slay, which means the remaining corners will likely need safety help to deal with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. That should help keep the middle of the field open for Fiedorowicz, who has 11 catches in his last 2 games.
TE Travis Kelce, KC (@ IND)
The Colts have certainly had some difficulty matching up with the tight ends they’ve faced this year. It’s likely driven by a lack of talent and cover skills from their linebackers, but the safety position is not exactly a strength either. Over the last 4 games, opposing #1 TEs have averaged 6/80/.5 TD against them, so this should be a great opportunity for Kelce to get back on track after 2 quiet weeks.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs ARI)
Patrick Peterson helped keep Doug Baldwin in check last week, even though he doesn’t normally work in the slot. This week, he gets a much more typical matchup with a big receiver in Benjamin, which should be right in his wheelhouse as a very physical shutdown corner. If Cam Newton wants to get going this week, he’ll probably have to look elsewhere.
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI (vs MIN)
The Bears are expected to get Jay Cutler back this week, but that may not be enough to offset the very difficult matchup that awaits them. The Vikings have played suffocating defense for most of 2016, thanks to a strong pass rush and excellent play from all 3 of their top corners. Jeffery figures to match up primarily with Xavier Rhodes, who has the size and physicality to make him work for every catch.
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs SD)
The Chargers secondary figured to take a step back when they lost Jason Verrett to a season-ending injury, but Casey Hayward has helped soften the blow. He figures to shadow Thomas, who is struggling to make a consistent impact this year.
WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (@ HOU)
Jones has been a great signing for the Lions and has carried their passing game at times this year. He has cooled off in recent weeks, however, as defenses have focused more attention on taking him out of the game. This week, he figures to match up with A.J. Bouye who has quietly been playing like a shutdown corner all year.
WR Jordy Nelson, GB (@ ATL)
In a game that saw Aaron Rodgers complete nearly 40 passes a week ago, Jordy Nelson was nearly invisible. Not sure anybody ever thought of Tracy Porter as a shutdown corner, but it looked like Aaron Rodgers was taking advantage of better matchups elsewhere so he fed the ball to Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. This week, Nelson figures to get the shadow treatment for Desmond Trufant so we can probably expect another disappointing week from him.
WR Brandin Cooks, NO (vs SEA)
With Willie Snead IV working primarily out of the slot for the Saints, we can likely expect to see Cooks matched up with Richard Sherman quite often this week. If so, look for Drew Brees to focus more heavily on Snead and rookie Michael Thomas.
WR Tyrell Williams, SD (@ DEN)
Williams has been one of the only consistent weapons in San Diego this year, but he faces a brutal matchup this week. When the Chargers use their preferred 2-TE set, he figures to be matched up primarily with shutdown corner Chris Harris. His best hope is to get deep behind Bradley Roby once or twice, but he shouldn’t get many opportunities to do so.
TE Greg Olsen, CAR (vs ARI)
Olsen is obviously one of the elite fantasy tight ends in the league, so he can be productive regardless of the matchup. The Cardinals matchup looks extremely tough for him though, so this may be a good week to fade him and look for a less expensive option. The Cardinals have not allowed an opposing TE to reach the end zone yet this year, and Jimmy Graham was shut down until last week’s game went to OT before finishing with 5/53/0.
TE Coby Fleener, NO (vs SEA)
Seattle is always a really tough matchup for opposing tight ends as they have great safeties and linebackers that work well together to take away any open space in the middle of the field. They haven’t faced any of the league’s elite receiving tight ends this year, and Fleener doesn’t exactly qualify either. He’s shown some flashes this year, but still remains far too inconsistent to be relied upon in a difficult matchup like this.
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