Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Week 15

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). 

 


FAVORABLE MATCHUPS


WR Mike Wallace, BAL (vs PHI)
The Eagles defense has not played up to expectations, and their secondary has been a weak spot in particular. Over the past 3 games, they have given up 5 TDs to outside WRs with 4 different players hitting 90 or more yards. This week, I think a case can be made for either Wallace or Steve Smith against this matchup, but I prefer Wallace given recent trends that favor outside WRs and the fact Smith plays a significant number of snaps out of the slot. Wallace should have several opportunities to get deep behind Nolan Carroll or Leodis McKelvin.

WR Jordy Nelson, GB (vs CHI)
As Aaron Rodgers has elevated his play, Nelson has re-emerged as an elite fantasy WR again. With 4 TDs over his last He’s gone over 90 yards or scored a TD in 7 straight games, and he should have little difficulty with a Bears defense that has little to play for. Tracy Porter has played pretty well for the Bears this year and nearly shut out Nelson the last time these teams met in week 7, but he’s dealing with a knee injury and may not be close to 100% at game time. This is a game the Packers have to win, and I expect Rodgers to rely heavily on his most reliable WR.

WR Tyreek Hill, KC (vs TEN)
Hill has been one of the hottest players in the league, and now he gets to face a secondary that ranks among the worst against WRs in the league. The Titans cut Perrish Cox, who was getting beaten by everybody, but replacing him with Antwan Blake is not necessarily an upgrade. The Broncos top-2 WRs combined for 21/226/1 against this group last week, and Hill is likely the only Chiefs WR reliable enough to consider using.

WR Dolphins WRs (vs NYJ)
The Dolphins are a difficult team to figure out given that they will be forced to make a change at QB this week. They are also playing on Saturday so may not be available in standard game slates, but Jarvis Landry is likely worth consideration. He’s been productive the past two weeks with 15/190/0, and should be able to get open against inside corner Buster Skrine. Fellow slot WRs Jeremy Kerley (5/50), T.Y. Hilton (9/146), and Julian Edelman (8/83) have all performed well against him in recent weeks.

WR Sterling Shepard, NYG (vs DET)
The rookie WR has been quiet with just 7 catches over his last 3 games, but he should be much more involved this week given the matchup. The Lions lost their slot CB Quandre Diggs for the season, and don’t really have anyone capable of filling that role. They are likely to use one of their safeties, which should give Shepard an edge just as we saw last week when Cameron Meredith led all Bears WRs with 6/72/1 while working primarily out of the slot.

WR Michael Crabtree, OAK (vs SD)
The Chargers have gotten great play from Casey Hayward in recent weeks as they’ve asked him to shadow the opposing team’s #1 WR. It’s likely that trend continues this week with Hayward locked onto Amari Cooper, which should leave Crabtree matched up against undrafted rookie CB Trevor Williams.

WR Jordan Matthews, PHI (vs BAL)
The Ravens have a strong run defense, but can be inconsistent against the pass. They have been particularly vulnerable against inside WRs of late, who have had success against CB Jerraud Powers. He left the game with a concussion last week so wasn’t responsible for the long TD scored by Chris Hogan, but he figures to be matched up with Matthews a lot this week. Meanwhile, Matthews returned to action last week and caught 8 of 10 targets for 79 yards, so he should be in line for a similar workload here.

WR Jermaine Kearse, SEA (vs LA)
Kearse has not been very reliable with just 7 catches on 20 targets over his last 3 games, but this is a matchup he should be able to take advantage of. The Rams secondary has several capable corners in Lamarcus Joyner and Trumaine Johnson, but the 3rd member of that group E.J. Gaines has been victimized just about every week. He figures to be lined up across from Kearse most often this week, so that should give him several opportunities to hit a big play.

WR Jamison Crowder, WAS (vs CAR)
The Panthers have been using the veteran Leonard Johnson as their nickel corner, and he’s been a clear weak spot while their two young outside corners have generally played well. That points to a great matchup for Crowder this week, and the fact that Jordan Reed is playing through an injury doesn’t hurt either.

TE Ladarius Green, PIT (vs CIN)
Green isn’t yet a full-time player for the Steelers, so his upside is limited but this looks like a great matchup for him. The Bengals don’t have much talent at safety and have given up some more yards to the TE position than any team in the league.

TE Greg Olsen, CAR (vs WAS)
Olsen may have cooled off in recent weeks, but he’s got a great matchup this week. Washington had no answers for the Eagles tight ends last week as Zach Ertz and Trey Burton combined for 17/177 against them. In weeks prior, they also gave up big games to Jared Cook, Kyle Rudolph, and Tyler Eifert so look for Olsen


UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS

WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs WAS)
Benjamin appears to have hit a wall as his production has dropped to almost nothing the past two games. Now he gets a matchup against one of the league’s elite shutdown corners in Josh Norman, which should make him an obvious fade option.

WR Marvin Jones Jr, DET (vs NYG)
Jones hasn’t been nearly as productive in recent weeks as he was early this season. The Giants boast a pretty strong secondary that is led by Janoris Jenkins, who continues to play at a high level and give up very little to opposing WRs. He figures to see plenty of Jones this week, so that’s likely enough reason to avoid him in your lineups without even considering the hand injury that Matthew Stafford is going to try and play through.

WR Allen Robinson, JAX (vs HOU)
Robinson has become a forgotten option in the Jaguars passing attack with just 6 catches over his last 3 games. That doesn’t figure to improve much this week as he’ll be lined up primarily against Texans CB A.J. Bouye, who has played as well as any other corner in the league this year.

WR Julian Edelman, NE (vs DEN)
The Broncos were fortunate that Chris Harris Jr escaped any serious injury last week, and he figures to play a key role this week. While Edelman has returned to his normal levels of production since the injury to Rob Gronkowski, he’ll have to earn his catches against Harris and company.  

WR Michael Thomas, NO (vs ARI)
Thomas sat out last week with a foot injury, but is expected to return to the lineup this week. He could very well find himself matched up against Patrick Peterson though, and that may reduce him to little more than a decoy. If he’s hobbled, the Cardinals could also shift Peterson over to cover Cooks, which likely makes slot WR Willie Snead IV the safest option in this matchup.

WR Amari Cooper, OAK (vs SD)
Cooper has not been very productive over the past month, and now he’s expected to face Casey Hayward who has been successful at shutting down some of the league’s best WRs of late. While Cooper is better than he’s shown, it’s hard to trust him in a tough matchup given the poor game we saw from Derek Carr last week.

WR Antonio Brown, PIT (vs CIN)
Brown is matchup-proof, but he should have a good battle with Adam Jones this week. The two met up way back in week 2 and Brown was held to just 4 catches on 11 targets for 39 yards in his lowest output of the season. Going back to last year, Brown did not have much success against Jones then either so you may find better options if you want to pay up at WR this week.

WR Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs KC)
Matthews was shut down by the Broncos last week as expected, and now he’s expected to match up with Marcus Peters. That’s not generally a matchup most QBs will want to deal with, so look for Marcus Mariota to get other players involved if possible.

TE Coby Fleener, NO (vs ARI)
The Cardinals gave up their first TD to an opposing tight end last week, but Dion Sims only managed a 2/9/1 line against them. They’ve faced some of the league’s better tight ends, but none have topped the 5 catches for 53 yards that Jimmy Graham posted back in week 7. Fleener has had some flashes for the Saints this year, but is far too unreliable to use in a tough matchup like this.

TE Delanie Walker, TEN (vs KC)
Walker faced a very tough Broncos defense last week and was held to just 2 catches for 30 yards. Now he takes on the Chiefs and safety Eric Berry, who have stifled almost every tight end they’ve gone up against this year. Greg Olsen finished with 39 yards on 5 catches against them, and that was pretty much the best performance any tight end they’ve faced.


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