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.
WR Hunter Renfrow (LV vs WFT) vs Danny Jackson
There was a large void in the Raiders passing game with the sudden departure of Henry Ruggs III and the current injury to Darren Waller. Renfrow stepped up and filled that role nicely last week. He finished with 8 receptions for 134 yards in a win against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and is walking into a great matchup against a struggling Washington secondary. Jackson has allowed .44 fantasy points per route run and this defense as a whole has allowed the most yards to opposing receivers. This is a great spot for Renfrow who has both a great matchup and an influx in targets this week.
There has not been much to celebrate for the Lions this season and this week may be no different. However, Reynolds has a great matchup against Breeland and a struggling Vikings secondary. Jared Goff has struggled in Detroit, but this is one of the softest secondaries he will see all year. Breeland was routinely picked on when he was with the Chiefs and that has continued this season. He is allowing nearly half a fantasy point per route run against him and is making mistakes all over the field. Reynolds is not a big name but should be considered a deeper sleeper in daily fantasy this week.
Cooks let everyone down last week in what should have been a great matchup, but he will have an instant chance to rebound against a poor Colts perimeter defense. Rhodes has struggled since his days in Minnesota and Rock Ya-Sin has not played much better on the other side. In their last meeting, Cooks had 9 catches for 89 yards on 13 targets. This defense has allowed a league-high 17 touchdowns to opposing receivers and nine different receivers have had 18 or more fantasy points. Look for a solid rebound week from Cooks.
This will be a game of struggling secondaries and the flip side of the above matchup will favor Pittman. Houston has allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to outside receivers as well as the fifth-most overall in the past 2 months. Pittman has become a favorite target of Carson Wentz and can do damage across the middle or deep down the field. The return of T.Y. Hilton has not taken away too many targets and the strong performance of Jonathan Taylor has just added a play-action element that benefits Pittman. This is a great matchup and Pittman should be considered in all formats.
The last time these two teams met it did not go well for Atlanta. Godwin has a very respectable 4 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown while Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans combined for 9 catches for 114 yards and 4 touchdowns. Antonio Brown was the only guy not to get into the mix and he could be out due to injury again this week. The Falcons have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers and seem to play worse each week. A.J Terrell is the best option on this defense and could be deployed to try and slow 1 receiver, but Godwin and Terrell should be on opposite sides the majority of the game.
Hopkins was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and that marks the first time he has practiced in over a month. There is still no indication whether he will play this week or not, but if he does, he is walking into a great spot against Burns. Burns has not seen the field a lot this season, but in limited action, he is allowing over half a fantasy point per route run against him. This is great news for anyone lined up against him. If Hopkins is out this week, Moore will see a big bump, especially if Kyler Murray returns to action. There are a lot of injury concerns in Arizona right now, but they will need to get their stars going if they want to make a push for the #1 seed and the only playoff Bye.
TE Rob Gronkowski (TB vs ATL)
Gronkowski showed he was back last week with a 100-yard performance and seems to be fully healthy. He is walking into a great matchup with Atlanta that he burned for 2 touchdowns earlier this season. Gronkowski needs just 1 more 100-yard performance to tie Tony Gonzalez for the most all-time and it is a record that Gronkowski said he is coming after. Look for another solid performance against a reeling Atlanta team.
TE Logan Thomas (WFT vs LV)
The Football Team was quick to get Thomas back into action last week with 2 targets on their first possession. He also had what would have been a touchdown called back during a questionable review. Add in that the Raiders have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and this could be the post-injury breakout game to get Thomas back into the swing of things. Look for a high volume of targets as Washington looks to build on the momentum of taking down Seattle last week.
Just when it looked like Williams was getting back on track in this offense, he is going to run into the top cover corner for the Bengals this week. The overall numbers Awuzie has allowed may not seem impressive when he has followed the top receiver, but it has led to the Bengals allowing the 11th-fewest fantasy points to receivers lined up on the left side. With Williams lining up there on over 80% of his snaps there will be a lot of coverage from Awuzie. There are tough matchups for both Williams and Keenan Allen this week. Temper expectations for both as the Chargers could look to other options in the offense this week.
It has been a tough season for the Saints after losing Drew Brees. There were brief flashes with Jameis Winston before his injury. The top receiving option on this team has been Smith with Michael Thomas missing the entire season. He has a tough matchup against Lewis in the slot and will have a run-first quarterback under center in Taysom Hill this week. New Orleans has not found the right mix for their offense so far this season and that should make you avoid Smith this week and potentially the rest of the season.
Harris has played very well in the slot so far this season. He has only been targeted on 19% of routes run against him compared to the 22+% the rest of his team has faced. His points per route is skewed based on giving up a few big plays, but he is typically a guy that quarterbacks look to avoid. Also, throw in that Joe Burrow has a lot of other weapons to throw to and that Joe Mixon is healthy and running well and that is not a good equation for Boyd. Boyd has seen the least production of the main three receivers in Cincinnati, and that is not likely to change this week.
It would be easy to look back to last season and see what Diggs did against Jackson and think this is a favorable matchup. Diggs totaled 15 catches for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Patriots last season. This is the first time these teams are meeting this season and the matchup feels very different. The Patriots are currently allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers and the Bills have struggled on offense with Josh Allen turning the ball over and receivers not getting open. Diggs is too good to bench but expectations should be tempered this week in what will be a very difficult matchup.
The Jets have seen a big increase from Moore over the past month and that will likely warrant coverage from Slay. The Eagles have allowed the third-fewest points to receivers so far this season including the second-fewest to outside receivers. Slay has been known to follow the top option from the opposing offense and Moore is quickly being placed in that category. We may not see a 100% shadow situation but look for the Eagles to deploy Slay in an effort to slow down Moore.
This will be a game of strength against strength. Both the Bills and Patriots have top 10 defenses against the pass as well as overall. Meyers has played well in the slot and has been a go-to option for Mac Jones. He will have his toughest test of the season against Johnson and this Bills defense. Meyers has been a great deep fantasy option over the past few weeks, but this tough matchup should take him off the radar almost entirely.
TE Tyler Higbee (LAR vs JAX)
It is easy to see Jacksonville on the schedule and think it is a favorable matchup. However, they are currently allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends and just recently held Kyle Pitts in check. Throw in that Matthew Stafford has not played well in recent weeks and that there are just too many weapons ahead of Higbee on the depth chart. This was supposed to be a breakout season for Higbee, but he has been buried behind start receivers on the depth chart and is having to fight for targets. Look for other options this week in a surprisingly tough matchup.
TE Hunter Henry (NE vs BUF)
Henry has been a touchdown machine in this offense and has far surpassed what anyone thought he would do in New England. The Bills are a tough defense all around, but they have allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to tight ends over the past 2 weeks. They held Mike Gesicki to 0 points and the Patriots are going to have to get creative in how they attack them. Look for other options this week with Henry having one of the toughest tight end matchups of the week.