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 (vs WAS)
While Fitzgerald will likely see some time matched up against Josh Norman, he figures to spend most of the game working out of the slot against rookie corner Kendall Fuller. While he’s shown flashes this year, QBs have had plenty of success throwing in his direction.
WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs NO)
While the Saints defense has improved, they are still particularly vulnerable to big plays through the air. Jones is the Lions best deep ball threat and he has the type of size and speed that can give these Saints Saints corners trouble. Jones was targeted 11 times last week but faced a tough matchup in Minnesota. He won’t need quite that many to put up big numbers in a game that should see a lot of points put up.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs GB)
Sure, it’s been a mostly forgettable and disappointing season for Hopkins, but the Packers corners present one of the easiest matchups in the league right now. The Eagles couldn’t take full advantage given their lack of downfield weapons, but Hopkins is still an elite weapon who should have little difficulty getting open against Ladarius Gunter or Damarious Randall. If there was ever a time for him to come through with a big game in 2016, this should be it.
WR Malcolm Mitchell, NE (vs LA)
With 3 TDs in the past 2 games, Mitchell is one of the hottest WRs in the league. He’s emerging as a popular target for Tom Brady in the red zone, and he should have a very easy matchup against Rams CB E.J. Gaines this week. Last week, another rookie WR Michael Thomas of the Saints had the same matchup and all he did was post 9/108/2.
WR Willie Snead IV, NO (vs DET)
The Lions have tightened up their pass defense in recent weeks, but they have given up some big games to opposing slot WRs. Lions nickel corner Quandre Diggs remains one of the weakest corners in the league, and that is who Snead should be matched up against for most of the game.
WR Michael Crabtree, OAK (vs BUF)
Crabtree came into last week’s game as a game-time decision, but still managed to post big numbers. Now he gets a Buffalo team, who has seen improved play from their secondary lately but who will likely be without Ronald Darby this week. Corey White replaced him last week but the Bills appear set to start rookie Kevon Seymour outside this week. He started week 9 against Seattle but played in the slot so this should be his first extensive playing time at outside corner. He figures to be lined up against Crabtree most of the time, while Amari Cooper will have a much tougher matchup against Stephon Gilmore.
WR Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs CAR)
The Raiders didn’t really have a great slot receiver to take advantage of the Panthers weakness inside, but that’s not the case with Seattle. They had a very puzzling and disappointing no-show on the road in Tampa last week, but are likely to bounce back at home here. Meanwhile, Baldwin should have little trouble dominating his matchup with Leonard Johnson inside, who has been mostly ineffective and playing through an injury.
TE Coby Fleener, NO (vs DET)
Fleener has been pretty quiet of late, but this is a prime matchup for him. The Lions have been one of the most generous matchups for opposing tight ends all season. While they have shown recent improvements as the play of their safeties have stabilized, it looks like their best LB Tahir Whitehead could be limited with a knee injury.
TE Jimmy Graham, SEA (vs CAR)
The Seattle offense failed to show up last week in Tampa, but they should rebound at home and Graham figures to be a focal point. The Panthers have struggled against tight ends, and figure to be even weaker if Luke Kuechly can’t return to the lineup this week. His replacement A.J. Klein doesn’t have nearly the same range or cover skills, and the safeties are a weak spot.
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs SEA)
Mike Evans was not slowed down at all by Richard Sherman and the Seahawks last week, but everything about that game looked like an outlier. Benjamin has come through with some big plays, but he has just 5 catches (on 10 targets) in the past 2 weeks combined and doesn’t seem to be a focal part of the Panthers offense. Richard Sherman figures to shadow him here and will get a boost from the home crowd and an improved pass rush with Michael Bennett expected to return.
WR Dez Bryant, DAL (vs MIN)
Bryant is likely going to get shadow treatment from Xavier Rhodes, who has emerged as a shutdown corner for the Vikings this year. The great Cowboys offensive line may help buy some time for Bryant to get open, but he will have to work for his yards in this matchup and there are very likely better options to consider.
WR Davante Adams, GB (vs HOU)
Adams enjoyed a pretty amazing game on Monday night as he posted 5/113/2 on just 6 targets. Things figure to get much tougher for him this week as the Texans boast one of the league’s best pass defenses. Additionally, Adams has a projected matchup with A.J. Bouye, who had a rough outing last week against San Diego but has been one of the best cover corners all year.
WR Allen Robinson, JAX (vs DEN)
Not many people are going to be interested in taking any WR against the Broncos defense anyway, but Robinson comes into the game with very little momentum. He only managed 5 catches combined against Detroit and Buffalo the past two weeks, and now gets to run his routes against Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr and company with that ferocious pass rush giving Bortles little time to throw.
WR DeSean Jackson, WAS (vs ARI)
Jackson has found the end zone in each of his past two games, but he is likely to draw shadow coverage from Patrick Peterson this week. The shutdown corner has a reputation for taking out the opposing team’s best WR, and that suggests this is a good week to fade Jackson. Jamison Crowder looks like a much better option out of the slot, as Tyrann Mathieu continues to struggle in coverage.
TE Vernon Davis, WAS (vs ARI)
The Cardinals have yet to allow a single TD to an opposing tight end all season. With Jordan Reed unlikely to play, many may see Davis as a great option here but this is a very tough matchup. The Cardinals have several multi-dimensional safeties and linebackers that they use well to limit opportunities for tight ends over the middle of the field. Jimmy Graham posted 5/53/0 against them and that was the best game any TE had vs this matchup all season.
TE Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs PHI)
Eifert figured to see a boost in targets following the injury to A.J. Green, but it also allows defenses to focus more attention on him. He put up a solid game against a tough Ravens matchup last week, but should find things more difficult against the Eagles this week. No tight end has put up more than the 5/55/0 Kyle Rudolph had against them back in week 7.
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