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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.
Jefferson has a chance to make a defining statement on the Rookie of the Year voting in the final week of the NFL season. Detroit was just shredded by Tampa Bay last week to the tune of 342 yards and 4 touchdowns to Buccaneer receivers. Jefferson has an outside chance of chasing down more rookie receiving records this week and cementing his place in history. Oruwariye was burned by Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown on multiple occasions and it will not be any easier this week with Adam Thielen on the other side. Neither team has anything but pride to play for this week in regard to playoff picture, but Jefferson is playing for history.
Normally we pair receivers together when they have the same matchup so you can choose between them. However, the matchup this week is so good that Thielen deserved his own line. After the abysmal performance last week, Detroit has now allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing receivers and the most over the past month. Minnesota only had to throw the ball 20 time against Detroit earlier in the season, but with Dalvin Cook not playing this week it could be an aerial display and a blowout in favor of the Vikings and their lost season.
WR A.J. Brown (TEN vs HOU) vs Vernon Hargreaves
It was not a great week for the Houston secondary against the Bengals last Sunday. The abysmal performance put them at 6th worst against receivers this season and Hargreaves has been one of their biggest issues. He not only allowed the most fantasy points to receivers last year, he currently leads the pack again this season and is expected to finish with the most allowed again. Brown has come on strong since dealing with injuries early and has been a big part of the success for this offense. Look for another big week and for Hargreaves to finish dead last in points allowed by corners again this year.
For all of the failed catches and the inability to live up to the high draft pick in Philadelphia, Agholor has found a nice home in Vegas. In his last 3 games he has 2 100-yard performances and 2 touchdowns. He took a hit when Marcus Mariota was under center but came back strong last week with Derek Carr back. Ojemudia and the Denver defense has not fared well against opposing receivers as well. They will have the tall task of covering Darren Waller and that should leave Agholor to run free on the outside. Look for Carr to take several shots down the field as the running game has struggled in recent weeks.
WR Marvin Jones (DET vs MIN) vs Cameron Dantzler
This game has the makings of an aerial shootout when Minnesota and Detroit close out their seasons. There is nothing to play for except middle of the pack draft picks and these are 2 teams that know each other well. Jones has been left as the clear number 1 target in this offense with Kenny Golladay out and that should put him across from Dantzler. The Viking corner has struggled to say the least and coach Zimmer’s defense has not been able to stop anyone. We are not far removed from a 3-touchdown performance against the Vikings last season and things may get very interesting very quickly again this week. Look for Jones to soak up the targets again this week as the Lions close out another disappointing season.
File this one under the wait and see category as McLaurin has not yet practiced this week and was seen in a walking boot a few days ago. The WFT still has a lot to play for with an outside chance of making the playoffs. If McLaurin is ruled out, Antonio Gandy-Golden would fall into this spot as a deep sleeper play. All of this is to say that Slay has not been good in coverage over the past 8 weeks. The Eagles continue to leave him by himself on the outside and he has not been able to keep up for an entire game. McLaurin has the speed to blow by him in the 4th quarter and Gandy-Golden could do the same if he is ruled out. Watch the injury report on McLaurin and pivot to Gandy-Golden if he is ruled out for a cheap play this week.
TE Logan Thomas (WFT vs PHI):
Regardless of what happens with McLaurin above, Thomas should still be the most targeted player on the Washington team this week. His recent weeks has propelled him to a top 8 finish for tight ends this season and he still has a game to go. The only players targeted more have been Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. Thomas gets an even bigger bump if McLaurin is ruled out, but he should still see double-digit targets and has a great shot at a touchdown this week. Philadelphia has allowed 9 touchdowns to the position so far this season and may make it 10 this week.
TE T.J. Hockenson (DET vs MIN):
It may seem like this is a name we write about every single week, but he has been just that good. Hockenson will finish the year as a top 5 tight end despite a few duds over the past 2 weeks. He is behind only Kelce, Waller, and Thomas in targets for tight ends this year and takes on a Minnesota defense that is hurting in the middle. Todd Davis may be a good run stopping linebacker, but he has always struggled in coverage. Look for Hockenson to end his season on a high note.
The Rams and Cardinals are fighting for their playoff lives and the Rams are going to try and do everything they can to make this matchup happen. When they met back in week 13, Ramsey held Hopkins to 3 catches for 20 yards when in coverage. Hopkins ended up with a respectable day when away from Ramsey with a touchdown, so look for the Rams to try and force this matchup as much as possible. Kyler Murray did not look like himself last week and there is a lot riding on this game. Hopkins is not a player you bench, but we should temper expectations this week.
It seems like no matter who is lined up against Bradberry this year, he ends up on this side of the article. When these teams met earlier in the year, Cooper was held to a single catch for 8 yards against Bradberry. Dallas is playing better on offense right now, but the Giants have allowed the 5th fewest fantasy points to outside receivers and that is in large part thanks to Bradberry. Look for Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb to have better games than Cooper this week.
This situation is a lot like Hopkins and Ramsey listed above. While you would not bench Diggs, we may want to temper expectations this week. He certainly will not have the blow-up game like last week as Jones has been a great cover corner this season. The plan had been for him to follow Diggs earlier this season before getting hurt on the 2nd play of the game. Josh Allen has fed digs the ball all season and he should still see his compliment of targets, but do not count on the 100 yards and 3 touchdowns he got last week against the Patriots.
WR Allen Robinson (CHI vs GB) vs Jaire Alexander
Green Bay has locked up the division and their playoff spot to this point, but there is always extra incentive against the Bears at the end of the season. Alexander has been one of the best cover corners in the league and should see a lot of Robinson on the outside. Kevin King will also get a crack at Robinson as he usually sees the taller receivers, but the Packers will want to put a statement on the end of the season against their division rival Bears. Robinson will still be highly targeted in this offense, but it is going to be a tough day against Alexander.
He came back with a bang last week and an 81-yard touchdown catch, then was not targeted again for the rest of the game. This week, Jackson has a date with a top 5 defense against outside receivers as well as a coaching staff that does not like to call his number. The entire receiving group for Philadelphia will have a rough week against Washington and can be avoided.
TE Austin Hooper (CLE vs PIT):
We were expecting big things from Cooper last week against the Jets. The entire receiver group for the Browns were ruled out and he still was not able to take advantage. This week he gets a Steelers defense that has allowed the 2nd fewest points to the tight end position and are fighting to keep a division rival out of the playoffs. Avoid Hooper at all costs this week as he will just let you down again.
TE Dan Arnold (ARZ vs LAR):
Arnold has pooped up on the radar over the past few weeks for the Cardinals, but he just is not that good of a tight end. He dropped a beautiful long pass from Kyler Murray last week and has been boom or bust all season. Factor in that he is taking on a very tough Rams defense this week, and it is an easy decision to avoid Arnold this week.