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 Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs KC)
The Chiefs are generally strong in the secondary, but Phillip Gaines has been getting picked on. With Marcus Peters playing opposite him, QBs are finding Gaines to be the much more appealing target so any WR lined up against him should see a higher than normal target rate. This week, that player should be Benjamin, who has not found the end zone since week 4 despite posting 70 or more yards in 4 straight weeks.
WR Alshon Jeffery, CHI (vs TB)
Jeffery posted a respectable 4/63/1 in a tough matchup with the Vikings last week in Jay Cutler’s return. Things should be considerably easier for both of them this week, as they get a Tampa defense that has allowed 3 WRs to go over 100 yards in the past 2 weeks. Jeffery figures to match up with rookie CB Vernon Hargreaves most of the time, so look for Cutler to target him regularly.
WR Brandon Marshall, NYJ (vs LA)
Marshall is struggling due in part to issues the Jets are having at QB, so prices have come down considerably on him from where they were a month ago. The uncertainty at QB this week makes him a risky choice, but the matchup looks great. He’s projected to see a lot of E.J. Gaines, who has been one of the worst corners in the league this year.
WR Jordy Nelson, GB (vs TEN)
Nelson has seen an uptick in his production the past two weeks, with back to back games of 94 yards and a TD. The lack of a running game is putting the entire offense in the hands of Aaron Rodgers, who generally does a great job of attacking an opponent’s weakness. This week, that should be Perrish Cox lined up across from Nelson.
WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs PIT)
The Steelers moved 1st round pick CB Artie Burns into their starting lineup last weekend. He showed flashes of potential, but also made a poor decision to go for an interception and wound up allowing a 95-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace. This weekend, he figures to be matched up with Bryant who was a non-factor last week in a blowout win over the Browns. This game figures to be much more competitive and high scoring, so Bryant has a good chance to see double digit targets.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs NO)
WR Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs NO)
The Saints corners have held up pretty well the past few weeks, but they have been matched up against a lot of run-heavy offenses. Now they get a struggling Broncos team who relies heavily on their two outside receivers. Trevor Siemian is averaging nearly 40 pass attempts/game and you have to think the Saints offense can put points on the board at home, so there should be plenty of opportunity for Sanders and Thomas this week.
WR Mike Wallace, BAL (vs CLE)
Wallace has been a very effective big play target for Joe Flacco this year, and he gets a very favorable matchup this week. If Joe Haden shadows Steve Smith as expected, that should leave Wallace lined up against Tramon Williams much of the time. Wallace torched the Browns for 2 touchdowns when these teams faced off back in week 2.
TE Dennis Pitta, BAL (vs CLE)
The Browns have not been beaten up by every tight end they’ve faced this year, but most have done very well. Just last week, Jason Witten turned back the clock with an 8/134/1 game. Pitta has seen a dropoff in his production of late, but he could be worth a look given the young safeties the Browns have.
TE Travis Kelce, KC (vs CAR)
The Panthers boast some of the best cover LBs in the league, but their safeties and corners have struggled for much of the year. They have been particularly vulnerable to tight ends as we just saw Lance Kendricks post 7/90 against them a week ago. The Chiefs have gotten him more involved the past two weeks, and that should continue here
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (vs HOU)
Robinson found the end zone last week, but he is still struggling and making things seem harder than they need to be at times. Now this week, he gets a brutal matchup against the Texans and breakout CB A.J. Bouye. There have been very few WRs who have gotten the best of Bouye this year, so it should be safe to ignore Robinson when building your lineups this week.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs WAS)
Diggs was the focal point of the Vikings offense last week, but he only managed 80 yards (with 0 TDs) on his 13 catches. We can likely expect him to see plenty of Josh Norman this week, so I’d expect Sam Bradford to look elsewhere.
WR Willie Snead IV, NO (vs DEN)
As the Saints primary slot receiver, Snead figures to match up against Chris Harris Jr this week. Harris is an elite shutdown corner who works in the slot, so expect Drew Brees to focus more heavily on his outside WRs instead.
WR DeSean Jackson, WAS (vs MIN)
Jackson has failed to make an impact for the past 5 games in a row. The former big play threat just hasn’t shown any chemistry with Kirk Cousins, and now he gets a tough matchup with the Vikings. Since he lines up most of the time on the right side of the formation, he should go against the savvy veteran Terence Newman who continues to play at a very high level.
TE Gary Barnidge, CLE (vs BAL)
Barnidge seemed like he would get a boost with the return of Josh McCown at QB, but the winless Browns have decided to stick with rookie Cody Kessler instead. The return of Corey Coleman has also reduced his share of targets in this offense, and now he gets a very tough matchup against the Ravens. They haven’t allowed an opposing TE to score this year, and the best game against them was the 8/53/0 that Jordan Reed had back in week 5.
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE (vs SEA)
Gronkowski is hard to fade since he’s so dominant, but this looks like the type of matchup that may be able to keep him in check. Seattle is expected to get Kam Chancellor back in the lineup this week, so that should provide a nice boost to a defense that has only allowed 1 TD to an opposing TE all year.
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