Exposed (WR/TE matchups): Playoffs Week 3

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 Taylor Gabriel, ATL (vs GB)
Gabriel only plays about a third of the offensive snaps for Atlanta in most weeks, but they like to get him involved whenever he’s out there. Given that Julio Jones has been missing practice all week with a toe injury, Gabriel should be a key piece of the Falcons game plan. Meanwhile, he’s expected to be matched up primarily with Damarious Randall, who has struggled to find his game all season.

WR Julian Edelman, NE (vs PIT)
Edelman has been one of the most productive receivers in the league for some time now, and is coming off back to back games with 8 catches for 100+ yards. He’s likely to be matched up against 32yo corner William Gay, who has played well at times but won’t be any match for the much quicker Edelman. With some uncertainty surrounding many of the other Patriots passing weapons, Edelman should have a high floor and plenty of upside here.

WR Michael Floyd, NE (vs PIT)
Floyd saw 44 snaps last week against Houston, but was held to just a single catch while matched up against shutdown corner A.J. Bouye. The Steelers secondary has been playing at a high level, but Floyd should be lined up across from rookie Artie Burns this week. With Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan both dealing with injuries, this looks like a great opportunity for Floyd.

TE Jared Cook, GB (@ ATL)
With all the injuries at WR, Cook has emerged as one of the top targets for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. He went off for 6/104/1 on 11 targets vs the Cowboys last week, and should be in line for another huge game here. The Falcons have toughened up against opposing TEs of late, but this game figures to be a high scoring affair and Cook has earned the trust of Rodgers.

NEUTRAL MATCHUPS

WR Mohamed Sanu, ATL (vs GB)
Sanu comes into the game with a 2-game TD streak, but he’s doing it on near maximum-efficiency. With 8 catches on 9 targets over the past two weeks, he’s playing well and has what looks like a favorable matchup against hybrid DB Micah Hyde. The Packers have not given up much to opposing slot WRs of late though, so his upside seems somewhat limited.

WR Julio Jones, ATL (vs GB)
Jones may be the one receiver who can take over this game if given an opportunity, but he’s been resting a toe injury all week. If he’s less than 100% and dealing with double coverage on nearly every play, Matt Ryan will be content to use his other options as he did the last time these two teams met in week 8 when Jones only put up 3/29/0 on just 5 targets.

WR Davante Adams, GB (@ ATL)
This looks like a pretty good matchup for Adams, but he is expected to be a game-time decision after suffering an ankle injury late in the win over the Cowboys last week. If he can go at anything close to 100%, he should have a winnable matchup against the much smaller Robert Alford.

WR Eli Rogers, PIT (@ NE)
Rogers was targeted 7 times last week against the Chiefs, but only managed to convert that into a 5/27/0 stat line. With New England likely to be focused heavily on Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell this week, its likely Rogers will be involved again but tough to count on him making any big plays given his primary role as a checkdown option.

TE Martellus Bennett, NE (vs PIT)
Bennett is far from healthy at this point in the year, but he’s been playing through it. He was held to just 1 catch in a tough matchup last week, but things should be easier here as the Steelers have been giving up plenty of catches to opposing tight ends all season. Another case where the matchup looks good, but the player doesn’t seem healthy or consistent enough to count on.

TE Jesse James, PIT (@ NE)
James has been inconsistent all year, but came through with an impressive 5/83/0 line against Eric Berry and the Chiefs, who defend the TE position as well as anybody. He’ll likely be an afterthought from the Patriots defense, which should give him an opportunity to build on that performance. The Patriots have not been a very tough matchup, however, and haven’t allowed 5 catches or 50 yards to an opposing tight end since Gary Barnidge in week 5.

UNFAVORABLE MATCHUPS

WR Antonio Brown, PIT (@ NE)
Brown faces what could be one of the toughest matchups going this week with Malcolm Butler expected to shadow him throughout the game. The Patriots will also likely give Butler some help with a LB or safety in key passing situations as well. Given how good Brown is, that may not matter as he’s capable of making quick catches and turning them into big plays. The Patriots defense doesn’t give up much though, so Brown may be in line for a disappointing game here.



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