Join the Footballguys Daily Update
Start your morning with our roundup of the most important stories in football - with the fantasy insight you need to make league-winning decisions. Delivered straight to your inbox, 100% free.
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.
Week 1 will be the first chance to see what Jones will bring to the table in Tennessee. There will be more competition for target share with the Titans, but this matchup is too good to pass up. Arizona lost Patrick Peterson and saw Malcolm Butler retire. This leaves a rookie corner and a guy who has missed the last 2 years due to injury. Look for the Tennessee receiving core to feast this week and make a big statement in week 1. Jones will make a statement in his first game outside of Atlanta and Matt Ryan and has a great matchup this week to do so.
The same thing that can be said about Julio Jones above can be said for Brown in terms of this matchup. Arizona has a high-powered offense, but the secondary is a big weak spot coming into this season. Brown will be fighting with Julio for targets, but he has more than proven himself in this offense. His big play ability has him just 1 short pass away from a long touchdown. Wilson, an undrafted free agent, will see some combination of Jones and Brown on the outside and is in for a long day. The Tennessee offense should get off to a hot start this season.
Calvin Ridley is the big name in Atlanta now that Julio Jones is gone, but it is Gage with the best matchup this week. Philadelphia struggled immensely against the slot last season and Gage is projected to have a much bigger role in the offense this season. With Mike Davis the lone starter in the backfield and Ridley commanding the shares outside, look for Gage to exploit the unproven Maddox this week and start the season with a bang.
This game had all the makings of a revenge game for Trae Waynes who was drafted in the 1st round by the Vikings in 2015. He has been ruled out this week and it will be Awuzie lined up against Jefferson instead. Awuzie was part of a Dallas secondary that was historically bad last season and picked on by almost every receiving group they faced. Jefferson is coming of a stellar rookie campaign with 1400 yards and is looking to improve upon that this season. Put all the questions about Kirk Cousins aside and take advantage of this great matchup this week for Jefferson.
This is a great matchup for any receiver lined up on the outside for the 49ers. Both Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel has big game potential against Okudah and Amani Oruwariye. The duo allowed the most points to perimeter receivers last season and the 3rd most to the WR position overall. The 49ers are looking to make a strong statement early this season with several of their players back from an injury plagued 2020 campaign. Look for Aiyuk to take positive strides in his sophomore season and take advantage of this early great matchup.
WR Robby Anderson (CAR vs NYJ) vs Bryce Hall
The Jets are another secondary we looked to take advantage of last season. They did next to nothing to address their corner situation in the off season and Carolina upgraded their quarterback situation and have one of the best running backs in the league back in the lineup. Look for Anderson to run free on the outside with the Jets stacking the box to stop McCaffrey. In a 1 on 1 matchup with Hall, Anderson should have a field day and start week 1 strong on his way to another solid season in Carolina.
TE Austin Hooper (CLE vs KC):
If the Chiefs had a weak spot on defense, it was against tight ends. They allowed the 8th most fantasy points to the position last season. Hooper has largely been a disappointment since signing his big contract in Cleveland, but he has a great week 1 contest to get things back on track. These teams last met in the playoffs last season and the tight end position had 6 catches for 72 yards. Look for Hooper to make an impact early this year.
TE Logan Thomas (WAS vs LAC):
Thomas finished last season as the TE3, and people are still doubting him coming into this season. With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, he has a veteran QB that likes to throw to his TE. LAC allowed 7 touchdowns and the 6th most fantasy points to tight ends and could be taken advantage of again early this season. Thomas ran more routes as a tight end than anyone else last season and will look to build on a successful campaign a year ago.
WR Allen Robinson (CHI vs LAR) vs Jalen Ramsey
The Bears made a very questionable decision going with Andy Dalton to start the season, but even without that choice, Robinson will lineup against Ramsey. This duo met last season with Ramsey covering on 30 of 49 routes and Robinson being held to 4 catches for 15 yards. This does not look to be a great start for Robinson and the Chicago offense as they will be taking on arguably the top defense coming into the 2021 season.
Sutton is a potential comeback player of the year candidate after he missed all of last season due to injury. He looked shaky in camp and in the beginning of preseason. He had a solid finish in the Broncos’ final tune up game, but he is walking into a tough matchup in week 1. James Bradberry was one of the best lock down corners in the league last season and the Giants went out and signed Adoree Jackson to play on the other side. While I am rooting for a Sutton bounce back season, he draws a very tough matchup in week 1.
WR Jerry Jeudy (DEN vs NYG) vs Adoree Jackson
The Broncos’ situation with Jeudy is rocky at best. They did not play to his strengths as a rookie and his overall numbers suffered. He has looked good with Teddy Bridgewater under center and is a great candidate to take a big leap forward in his sophomore season. However, the week 1 matchup against the Giants is a tough one. With Bradberry on one side and Jackson on the other the Broncos are going to struggle to push the ball outside. Big things are coming for this receiving group, but not in week 1 with a tough matchup in New York.
Golladay was given a lot of money to come in and be the number one wide receiver in New York. For the Giants. He is going to have a tough time proving he was worth that when he takes on a familiar foe in Fuller. The pair met several times back in the NFC North with Golladay having sporadic success. The Broncos are deep across the secondary and could see Ronald Darby as well as rookie Patrick Surtain. The change of scenery for Golladay will not be enough to get him going in Week 1.
The Vikings allowed the 6th most fantasy points to receivers last season, but completely revamped their corner backs when bringing in Peterson and Bashaud Breeland. The Bengals are getting Joe Burrow back under center, but it will come against a very tough Minnesota secondary. The same can be said for Tyler Boyd and JaMarr Chase who will have to take on the rest of the secondary. Someone is going to soak up the targets in week 1, but it is going to be tough going for the Bengals receivers this week.
TE Gerald Everett (SEA vs IND):
Everett may have felt like a steal late in drafts this season or as a cheaper option for the top pass catching tight end in Seattle, but he is going to have a tough start this week. The Colts allowed just 3 touchdowns and the 5th fewest points to opposing tight ends last season. Russell Wilson has plenty of other targets and a healthy Chris Carson could mean for fewer opportunities for Everett in week 1.
TE Evan Engram (NYG vs DEN):
Let the injury train keep rolling this season for Engram. There is a chance he will not play this week with a calf injury and that feels eerily similar to last season when we and no idea if he was healthy or if he was going to play. There is no doubt that Engram has the skill set to be a good tight end, but he cannot stay healthy and on the field. Look for other options this week and potentially all season if these nagging injuries continue to linger