Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 12

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

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 (rudnicki@footballguys.com) or twitter (@a_rudnicki).

 

GOOD MATCHUPS:

WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL (vs ARI)
With Patrick Peterson expected to shadow Julio Jones throughout the game (likely with some safety help at times), Sanu should see single coverage against some favorable matchups. When he works out of the slot in 3WR formations, he should see Tyrann Mathieu who has not played well this year and is returning early from a shoulder injury suffered in week 8. When he works outside, he’ll likely go against Marcus Cooper who should also provide minimal resistance.

WR Tyler Boyd, CIN (vs BAL)
With A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard out of the lineup, there are a lot of targets that need to go somewhere in this passing attack. The most likely player to see a big increase is probably Boyd, who caught 6 of 8 with a touchdown last week and now faces a secondary that gave up 3 TDs to the Cowboys WRs last week. Jimmy Smith figures to solidify the outside coverage, but Boyd should have an edge over Jerraud Powers inside.

WR Jordy Nelson, GB (vs PHI)
If you look at what #1 WRs have done vs the Eagles in recent weeks, it looks pretty clear this is a great matchup for Nelson. Since he lines up on the right most of the time, he should see Leodis McKelvin there and that’s a matchup that Aaron Rodgers will want to take advantage of. Per Pro Football Focus, McKelvin has given up more fantasy points per route than any other corner in the league.

WR DeVante Parker, MIA (vs SF)
With Jarvis Landry banged up and listed as questionable to play this week, there could be a huge opening for Parker here. He’s coming off two strong games in a row (5/103/0 and 8/79/1), and now gets a matchup against one of the worst defenses in the league. The 49ers corners haven’t played terribly, but the defense will likely try to stack 8 in the box to slow down Jay Ajayi and that should leave their corners exposed for some big plays.

WR Julian Edelman, NE (vs NYJ)
With several key players missing last week, Edelman blew up with an amazing 17 targets. While he only converted 8 of them into catches, it was still one of his most productive games of the year. He should be able to continue that trend again this week, as the Patriots try to beat up on the sinking Jets. Statistics indicate the Jets pass defense has been playing better of late, but they’ve also benefitted from facing some of the worst passing attacks in the league (LA, MIA, and CLE). Edelman may be shadowed by Darrelle Revis, but he’s not the shutdown corner he used to be and figures to have trouble with a shifty WR like Edelman anyway.

WR Michael Thomas, NO (vs LA)
Thomas and the Saints have faced some tough matchups in recent weeks, but things should open up here in a home game vs the Rams. The weak link in the Rams secondary is RCB E.J. Gaines, and that’s who Thomas should line up against most of the time here. Drew Brees obviously feels comfortable spreading the ball around, but Thomas should make a very appealing target for him.

WR Odell Beckham, NYG (vs CLE)
Beckham figures to be locked up with Joe Haden all game, but that’s not necessarily a matchup to be concerned about. He’s coming off a quiet game against the Bears, but should be able to bounce back against one of the worst defenses in the league this week.

WR Amari Cooper, OAK (vs CAR)
Cooper still managed to find the end zone last week despite a very tough matchup against the Texans and A.J. Bouye. Now he gets a Carolina defense, who has looked better of late but his primary matchup should be rookie RCB Daryl Worley. With 32 tackles over the last 4 games, it seems pretty clear that opposing QBs are going after him. With Michael Crabtree banged up on the other side, I’d expect a big game from Cooper here.

WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (vs GB)
The Packers secondary has been really struggling of late, as they’ve given up 3 TDs to opposing WRs in the last 2 weeks. Matthews continues to see most of his work out of the slot, which points to a matchup with Micah Hyde who was moved from safety to corner due to a rash of injuries but has not played well. The Packers just don’t have many healthy bodies left at cornerback, and Matthews remains a focal point of the Eagles offense.

WR Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs TB)
Baldwin only had 5 targets last week, but still converted them into 4 catches and 104 yards. Tampa just lost their primary slot corner Jude Adjei-Barimah to a 4-game suspension, so they are expected to move rookie Vernon Hargreaves inside with Alterraun Verner taking over for him outside. Neither player has been effective this year, so this looks like a matchup that Baldwin should be able to take full advantage of.

TE Zach Ertz, PHI (vs GB)
The Packers have really struggled against opposing tight ends in recent weeks as their defensive secondary has been spread thin due to injuries. They have given up at least 5 catches to an opposing TE for 4 straight weeks, and Ertz comes into the game with 6 or more catches in 3 straight games. This looks like a great combination of a player heating up just as he gets to face a defense that can’t seem to stop anybody of late.

TE Will Tye, NYG (vs CLE)
If you are looking for a low cost flyer at the position, Tye should make a fine choice this week. He found the end zone last week, and has emerged as the clear #1 TE in the Giants offense. While the Browns do tend to give up yards to a lot of positions, they have been particularly vulnerable to tight ends all year long.  The addition of Jamie Collins Sr at linebacker has likely helped them somewhat, but they are still relying heavily on some inexperienced safeties.


BAD MATCHUPS:

WR Julio Jones, ATL (vs ARI)
Jones is obviously good enough to produce regardless of the matchup, but the Falcons are smart enough to take what the defense gives them rather than forcing the ball to their best player. We saw that happen back in week 8, when Jones only posted 3/29 on 5 targets vs the Packers. Patrick Peterson typically shadows the opposing team’s #1 WR so we should see the two go head to head on just about every snap this week. While certainly a fascinating matchup to watch against two of the league’s best players, it’s not one you likely want to rely on from a DFS perspective.

WR Mike Wallace, BAL (vs CIN)
Wallace has proven to be an effective weapon for the Ravens this year, but he figures to have a tough matchup against Adam Jones for much of the game this week. While he does move around a fair amount, he has mostly lined up on the left side which puts him directly opposite Jones, the Bengals best corner.

WR Brandon Marshall, NYJ (vs NE)
The Jets are expected to turn back to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB this week, but it may not matter as he wasn’t playing all that well before his injury. Marshall has also been one of the most disappointing WRs in the league of late with 5 straight weeks of underwhelming production. Now he figures to see shadow coverage from Malcolm Butler, who continues to play at a very high level.

WR Tyrell Williams, SD (vs HOU)
Williams has become the go-to WR for Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense, but he should have a very tough time against Texans CB A.J. Bouye this week.  Allen Robinson had a strong game against this matchup 2 weeks ago, but it came without Bouye in the lineup.

WR Mike Evans, TB (vs SEA)
Evans will move around the formation frequently in this game, but there’s a good chance that Richard Sherman will follow him. The shutdown corner isn’t always asked to shadow the opposing team’s #1 WR, but this looks like a perfect opportunity to employ that strategy given the lack of secondary options.

TE Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs BAL)
The injuries to A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard do point to Eifert taking on a bigger role in this offense, but this looks like a pretty tough matchup for him. The Ravens rank near the middle of the league in targets to opposing TEs, but they have allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to the position all year. In fact, there’s only one tight end they’ve faced all year that had what could be considered a good game (Jordan Reed posted 8/53/0 back in week 5).

TE Travis Kelce, KC (vs DEN)
Kelce has hit 100+ yards in 2 of his last 4 games, but he figures to find things much tougher this week against a stingy and rested Broncos defense. They’ve only allowed two touchdowns to opposing TEs all year, and both were scored by the Chargers. In his last 3 games against the Broncos defense, Kelce has averaged just 4 catches for 43 yards with 0 touchdowns.


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