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This article attempts to highlight some of the best and worst matchups for wide receivers and tight ends each week. Using player tracking data from various sources (NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, ESPN, etc.) as well as reviews of recent trends, I look for situations to exploit or avoid when setting your weekly lineups. Given that this article is intended to help across all sites (both DFS and season-long), variations in pricing and scoring systems are not taken into account so obviously, the values could shift depending on where you are playing. The main intent of this article is simply to call out some players who could be significantly helped or hurt by their situations each week.
Denver has been good against wide receivers all year, until the wheels started to fall off after injuries. They are currently without Bryce Callahan, A.J. Bouye, Essang Bassey, Duke Dawson, and Kevin Toliver. That laundry list of injuries propelled a Carolina team without DJ Moore to have 242 yards receiving and 43 fantasy points. Will Parks was just claimed off waivers and will have to try and run with Cole Beasley this week who could be right up there with Diggs in yards and fantasy points scored this week. The Buffalo offense could also get John Brown back this week if he is activated and it should be an ariel display for Josh Allen and company.
The last 3 weeks have not been very kind to Slay. He has been asked to travel with DK Metcalf, Davante Adams, and Michael Thomas. He was torched to the tune of 28 catches for 382 yards and 2 touchdowns against that group. Hopkins and Kyler Murray have struggled a little down the stretch, but this is the perfect get right game against a man heavy defensive scheme that has left Slay on an island by himself. Slay also left last week with a concussion and his status for Sunday is murky at best. If he is unable to go, the entire Cardinals receiving group sees a bump with Hopkins being the main beneficiary on the outside. Christian Kirk makes for an interesting sleeper play this week as well.
WR T.Y. Hilton (IND vs HOU) vs Vernon Hargreaves
It has been a very quick turnaround for Hilton in recent weeks. He has 18 or more fantasy points and at least 1 touchdown in each of the last 3 weeks. When he faced off against Hargreaves in week 13, he went off with 10 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Hargreaves is allowing the 3rd most fantasy points to receivers this season after finishing with the most a year ago. The Colts run heavy scheme has setup play-action down the field to Hilton. Michael Pittman should also see a bump in production this week and be targeted early and often. Houston is vulnerable through the air, look for Indianapolis to attack this week.
WR Allen Robinson (CHI vs MIN) vs Cameron Dantzler, Christopher Jones
Things have been trending in the right direction for Robinson since Mitchell Trubisky took back the reins at quarterback. This week he will get a Vikings secondary that ranks in the bottom 5 across almost every defensive receiving category. Back in week 10, Robinson caught 6 of 9 targets for 43 yards but that was with Nick Foles under center. Both Dantzler and Jones have struggled against receivers on the outside and this week should be no different. Darnell Mooney is a touchdown dependent sleeper option this week against a poor Viking secondary as well. Look for Robinson to continue his streak of impressive games.
Aiyuk has had a very productive rookie season thus far and has played a major role in the 49er’s offense. The Dallas secondary has played better in recent weeks but is still vulnerable through the air. With Deebo Samuel out, Raheem Mostert hurt, and George Kittle not ready to return it should be a combination of Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne that soaks up the targets. The Dallas secondary has allowed the 5th most points to opposing receivers and despite the emphasis on the ground game for San Francisco, Aiyuk should see close to double-digit targets this week. Consider him a WR1 the rest of the season with Samuel done and not many other options to throw the ball to for the 49ers.
It does not seem like that long ago we wrote up Douglas as a cover corner to avoid in matchups, but the season has changed very quickly for Carolina. They are currently allowing the 7th most fantasy points to receivers over the past 2 months and the 4th most over the past month. They are specifically susceptible to the outside receiver and Adams has been one of the best in the NFL all season. Adams is a no brainer start every week, but pair him with a great matchup and he could be the highest scoring receiver in week 15. Start him in any format with confidence with this great matchup against Carolina.
TE Robert Tonyan Jr (GB vs CAR)
Continuing the trend of pass catchers against the Carolina defense, Tonyan has seen elite production over the past few weeks. He has a touchdown scored and 13 or more fantasy points in each of his last 4 games. The Carolina defense is allowing an average of 15 fantasy points per game to tight ends and have allowed 6 touchdowns to the position. Look for Tonyan to continue his streak and be a top 5 tight end play this week.
TE Evan Engram (NYG vs CLE)
It may be hard to see through the absolute egg he laid last week against Arizona, but to be fair the entire offense did not show up that week. Engram has one of the best matchups of the week against a Cleveland defense that has given up 9 touchdowns to tight ends and nearly 16 fantasy points per game to the position. If you were able to weather the storm last week and make it another round in the fantasy playoffs, Engram should pay off in what is one of the best matchups of the weekend.
When teams play each other twice a year every season, there is a lot of data on specific matchups. Over the first 4 meetings between these 2, Gilmore held Parker to 6 catches for 60 yards. Parker managed to get the better of him in a week 17 upset last season, but Gilmore has dominated every other game in this rivalry. The Patriots as a whole have allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to receivers over the past 2 months and Gilmore has been asked to follow the likes of Keenan Allen and Robert Woods in recent weeks. The New England defense is playing better, and the Miami offense is dealing with injuries. Advantage this week goes to Gilmore over Parker.
The Chiefs secondary has allowed the 2nd fewest points to opposing receivers this season. They are allowing just a 60% catch rate and are shutting down receivers no matter the matchup. Thomas has seen his high volume of targets return in recent weeks, but it is still not the same with Taysom Hill under center. It would be a different story if Drew Brees were back, but the combo of the tough matchup and having Hill under center makes it a hard week to start Thomas. With the Saints running the ball at a nearly 60% clip it may be time to consider other options until Brees is back.
This spot would have been reserved for Odell Beckham if he were not hurt, but with Baker Mayfield playing better and Higgins emerging on the outside he will most likely see Bradberry follow him this week. Jarvis Landry could be safe on the inside and Bradberry does not normally travel to the slot, but game script could change that. Higgins was only a WR3/Flex option coming into this week, but if Bradberry follows him he should be avoided all together.
WR D.J. Moore (CAR vs GB) vs Jaire Alexander
There is a lot of maybe and what if to this assignment, but if Moore is ruled active this week, he should see the Alexander treatment with Kevin King on Robby Anderson on the other side. Moore has been out with injury and Alexander has not been asked to follow a receiver on over a month, but Green Bay has been difficult to predict with their defensive scheme. If Moore is active and Alexander is in coverage it would be a matchup to avoid. Anderson would see a bump on the other side if this is the case.
WR Jets receivers (NYJ vs LAR) vs Rams secondary
There really is no silver lining for the Jets receivers this week against a very tough Rams secondary. Jalen Ramsey and company are allowing the fewest yards, points, and touchdowns to opposing receivers this season. Even with the Jets in negative game script and having to throw the ball they are not going to find much success. Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, and Denzel Mims should all be avoided this week.
WR Marvin Jones (DET vs TEN) vs Malcolm Butler
This is another week where we are watching to see what happens with Kenny Golladay. If Jones is operating as the clear number 1 again this week, he will see a lot of Butler on the outside. The numbers are a bit skewed for the Tians against receivers as they have seen the highest volume of targets against in the league. They are also targeted more than any other team in the end zone. Jones has been up and down with Golladay out of the lineup. Mohamed Sanu has stepped up on the other side and T.J. Hockenson has been a top 5 tight end in the middle. Jones should be downgraded this week in a tough matchup against Butler on the outside.
TE Logan Thomas (WFT vs SEA)
For those of you riding the wave of Thomas since week 12 it may be time to jump ship. While he has been very productive and is seeing a huge target share in the offense right now, he has a brutal matchup against a Seattle defense that has been elite against tight ends. Just one tight end has scored more than 14 points against them this year and only 3 have reached double digits in points scored. The secondary has struggled against receivers on the outside but has played very well against tight ends. This would be the week to move off Thomas and look for other options at tight end.
TE Jared Cook (NO vs KC)
We were wrong last week, and Cook found the end zone for a second straight game. However, that does not change the fact that he has a mere 14 targets in his past 5 games, has not eclipsed 50 receiving yards since week 8, and the Chiefs defense has only allowed 3 touchdowns to the position since week 6. Cook has not been a big part of the offense since Taysom Hill took over and he is nothing more than a touchdown dependent option this week. The tight end position has been very thin this season but there should be better options than Cook out there for you this week.