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.
The Pittsburgh defense has not been very good this season. They lost 2 of their top players in the secondary this offseason and that has caused them to allow the 5th most fantasy points so far this season. Joe Haden continues to play well and should match up with Courtland Sutton on the outside. This will leave the Pittsburgh Sutton to cover a combination of Patrick and Kendall Hinton. This will provide for a great matchup for Patrick and could elevate Hinton as a deep sleeper this week. The days of the elite Pittsburgh defense are behind them, and this should be a good week for the Denver offense, even if Drew Lock is under center.
The Lions' secondary continues to look good if you do not pry too deep. They have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points this season but that is because they have not seen any sort of volume. If you dig a little deeper you will see they allow 17.3 yards per reception and 11.5 yards per target, both of which are the worst in the league. The Vikings as a whole had a down week on the offensive side of the ball against Cleveland but look for both Thielen and Justin Jefferson to get back on track against a very poor Detroit secondary. They may lose some targets late if the Vikings can build a lead, but there should be more than enough to go around early to upgrade both Thielen and Jefferson.
The Chiefs secondary has not played well to begin the season. They are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points and are especially weak against outside receivers. Both Stefon Diggs and Sanders play primarily on the outside and should be in line for big games. Ward is expected back from injury, but if he is unable to go it will be DeAndre Baker trying to lock up with the outside receivers. Sanders has found a new home in Buffalo and has produced over the past few weeks. Look for another solid showing as Sanders continues to build rapport with Josh Allen.
In what may be one of the biggest upsets of the season, the Jets beat the Titans last week and will look to keep rolling against the Falcons. Terrell has been the lone bright spot for the Atlanta secondary, but they have struggled mightily against outside receivers. Davis has quickly found a new home and has established himself as the top target for Zach Wilson. The Falcons’ defense has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers and the second most to those lined up outside. Look for several deep shots down the field to Davis who should be in for another big day.
It is going to be tough to predict what the 49ers are going to do this week. They may run a limping Jimmy Garoppolo out there or give Trey Lance the first start of his career. Either way, it will be Samuel who sees the most targets. George Kittle has been dealing with nagging injuries and Brandon Aiyuk has been an afterthought in this offense. Samuel should be heavily targeted and has a plus matchup against Wilson on the outside. The sheer volume of targets puts Samuel ahead of everyone else, but add a plus matchup and he is a must-start this week.
Tennessee continues to show they cannot cover the WR position. They have allowed the most yards (944) and the most touchdowns (8) so far this season. Janoris Jenkins has played well on the left side, but Fulton has allowed the most points opposite of him. Jones took a back seat to Laviska Shenault Jr last week but should see more targets and a bigger role this week. The Titans are falling apart after losing in overtime to the Jets and a rookie quarterback. We could see a similar result this week with Jacksonville and Jones figures to play a major role in the offensive attack.
TE Mike Gesicki (Mia vs TB)
It was a rough start to the season for Gesicki, but he is rounding into form over the past two weeks. He has the third-most targets in that time and has become the favorite target of Jacoby Brissett who will get another start this week. Tampa Bay has also allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends and has a secondary that is riddled with injuries. It is time to start trusting Gesicki again and buying into the big athletic tight end hype.
TE Hunter Henry (NE vs HOU)
The situation in New England is starting to look a little more clear and Henry is coming out on top. He has nine catches over his past two games including a touchdown against Tampa Bay. He has a great matchup against a Houston team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends. This includes a two-touchdown game for Dawson Knox last week. Henry is starting to become the safety blanket for Mac Jones that every thought he would be coming into this season.
The Jets are a secondary we have picked on in the past, but they have performed under Robert Saleh so far this season. The secondary has allowed the fourth-fewest points to opposing receivers and is top 10 in yards, touchdowns, and yards per target against. This squad has done very well against outside receivers as well and Ridley is in for a tough matchup. The Falcons receiver group has underperformed to this point and added coverage has been devoted to Ridley. Look for another long day this week against a surprising Jets secondary.
It may seem like every time we write up McLaurin in this spot, he outperforms the coverage (see James Bradberry in week 2) but he has a tough test again this week against Lattimore. It will be a test of strength on strength with Lattimore covering McLaurin on all of his snaps on the outside. Lattimore had a great showing against Davante Adams in Week 1 and should do the same this week against McLaurin. Lattimore most likely will not travel with McLaurin to the slot so he may be able to escape coverage, but with an average of 75% of his snaps outside it could be a long game for McLaurin and Washington.
Just when Golladay and the Giants offense seem to be clicking they run into the buzz saw that is Diggs at corner so far this year. Diggs is leading the league with five interceptions through four games and looks like a totally different player than a season ago. Golladay vaulted to the top receiver for the Giants last week, but it has still been a shaky start to his New York tenure. Diggs has had success against Keenan Allen and Mike Evans so far this year so look for it to be a long game for Golladay and anyone else who might line up outside against Diggs.
It seems unlikely that Ramsey will follow Metcalf this week despite doing so in all three meetings last season. Ramsey has been utilized in many roles so far in this defense and typically finds himself against the opposition’s top receiver. It has been the Tyler Lockett show in Seattle so far, but Metcalf reemerged last week as the top option and this should draw a close eye from Ramsey. Metcalf is too good of a receiver to bench, but we should temper expectations on him this week.
Despite the letdown game against Terry McLaurin, Bradberry has done well covering the top option on the other team each week. Last season he held Cooper to 4 catches for 25 yards across 2 games in coverage. Things should be a little different with Dak Prescott back under center, but the advantage still goes to Bradberry. Look for this to be a tight matchup all game that Bradberry will come out on top of. Dallas throws the ball enough that Cooper will still get his targets, but they are not going to come easy this week.
Tampa Bay looked human on offense last week against New England. It was a sloppy rain-soaked affair, but Evans was largely held in check despite the high volume of targets. This week he will draw the tough coverage of Howard. This could even be a situation with Howard following him across the field and making his entire day very difficult. Tampa Bay has a lot of weapons and should still do damage against a struggling Miami team but look for Evans to have his hands full with Howard in coverage. He is still a lock in season long but you should look elsewhere in daily fantasy.
TE Robert Tonyan Jr (GB vs CIN)
It has been a tough season for Tonyan thus far. He has lived and died by the touchdown in his career and has found the end one only once so far this season. He has more than four targets just a single time this season and only has four red-zone targets so far. Cincinnati has been tough against tight ends allowing just a single touchdown and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position. Look elsewhere this week and it may be time to think about cutting ties with Tonyan altogether.
TE Jared Cook (LAC vs CLE)
Cook had a big week last week but he is one to avoid this week against a tough Browns defense. This unit has only allowed more than 5.8 fantasy points to a single tight end this season (Travis Kelce). The matchup is not a good one and Cook will become touchdown-dependent to try and make up the points. Look for other better matchups if possible this week.