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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.
Minnesota will be without Adam Thielen this week and that will bring about a massive target share increase for Osborn. He has already established himself as the clear third receiver in this group and has ensured he has a role in the future for Minnesota. The matchup against Pittsburgh is not ideal as the defense has played well in recent weeks. However, Osborn should see a split between Sutton and Joe Haden this week and with all of the attention going to Justin Jefferson on the other side there should be plenty of opportunity for Osborn. Look for one of his better games of the season on Thursday night.
WR Keenan Allen (LAC vs NYG) vs Jarran Williams
It has been a tough year in New York at the slot corner position. They are currently allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to slot receivers and are down to an undrafted rookie that made his season debut last week. Enter Allen, who is coming off a big two-touchdown game last week and has a clear advantage over the undrafted rookie. There are some COVID concerns in Los Angeles right now and it is a situation worth monitoring. If Allen is unable to go then Jalen Guyton would be a deep sleeper out of the slot this week. As long as Allen is cleared, fire him up with confidence this week.
The Vikings secondary has been a mess all season. They have dealt with injuries and ineffective play from the majority of their starters and this week they face a tough trio of receivers in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger has been a shell of his former self, but Johnson has emerged as the top option on this team. He should have no trouble dispatching Breeland in coverage who has been targeted on 23% of his coverage snaps and is allowing 0.42 fantasy points per route run against him. With Chase Claypool on the other side, Minnesota will not be able to provide help for Breeland and it could be a long game for the corner. Roll with Johnson on Thursday Night in what is a great matchup.
The corner back position took another hit in Baltimore when they lost Marlon Humphrey for the season. They are also without Marcus Peters and are currently running on fumes. They have played well against the slot recently, fewest points over the last two months, but Landry had a big 6 catches for 111 yards when these teams played in week 12. Cleveland has been tough to predict this season as it largely depends on which Baker Mayfield shows up. Landry is the only receiver that can be trusted on this team right now and he will look for a repeat performance from when these teams met two weeks ago.
It may be a surprise to see Moore and Lattimore on this side of the list, but Lattimore has struggled immensely over the past few weeks. Since falling down on a long touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf, he has not been the same corner. Moore has emerged as the most reliable target in this offense and the Jets currently do not have a starting-caliber running back. They are going to lean heavily on the passing game and that should provide for plenty of opportunity for Moore. He is a volume-based play this week against what is normally a very good New Orleans defense.
Jones is slated to return from injury this week and this may be one of his final chances to get going in this offense. With A.J. Brown and Derick Henry on the IR, Jones is the only major weapon left for Ryan Tannehill. He has been a shell of himself so far in Tennessee, but he has a great matchup against Jacksonville this week. Campbell and the Jaguars were just picked apart by the Rams and they have little to play for this season aside from player development. Look for Jones to make a statement this week as this team is entering their playoff run stretch.
TE Kyle Pitts (ATL vs CAR)
It may not have been the season everyone has envisioned for Pitts to this point. He does have at least 50 receiving yards in six games this season, and he ranks fifth amongst all tight ends with 19% of the target share. The sheer volume alone makes him a top candidate each week. Carolina has struggled against tight ends in the red zone and is without many of their offensive weapons. Look for Pitts to continue to take positive steps in this offense and has a great matchup this week to keep doing so.
TE Evan Engram (NYG vs LAC)
The Giants do not have a lot going right on offense right now. Someone has to catch passes from Jake Fromm this week who is going to be looking for quick and easy outlets this week. It may be the first career start for Fromm, but he will be taking on a Chargers’ defense that has allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends so far this year. That ranks second-most in the league and plays right into one of the small strengths of this offense. Engram has scored 10 plus fantasy points in four out of his last six games and could add another this week.
Despite the overall lack of success this season, Seattle’s defense has played extremely well against opposing receivers. They are allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points to receivers on the season as well as the fifth-fewest over the past month. Seattle did just lose Jamal Adams for the season, but the Seahawks play a two-high safety look more than anyone else in the league and that will provide plenty of help for any corner covering on the outside. Reed has not been a shutdown corner this season, but with the safety help over the top, it means we should downgrade Cooks in what is already a struggling Houston offense.
Buffalo may be without TreDavious White on the outside, but Johnson has been terrific in coverage on the inside. That spells bad news for Godwin who lines up in the slot 71% of the time. Johnson is targeted on just 15% of his coverage snaps and has allowed just 0.15 fantasy points per route run against him. These are near the top of the league and make it difficult to trust Godwin this week. Look for Tampa Bay to do their damage outside with Mike Evans instead of targeting Godwin heavily like they did last week.
Humphries has quickly become a favorite target of Taylor Heinicke, especially with Logan Thomas injured and done for the rest of the season. He was in the deep sleeper mix until he ran into a tough matchup against Lewis in the slot. Lewis has only been targeted on 13% of his coverage snaps and is allowing just 0.21 fantasy points per route run against him. Terry McLaurin also has a tough matchup against Trevon Diggs this week. The entire Washington receiving group can be downgraded in this rivalry game against Dallas.
It has been a tough year for Baltimore. They have dealt with a lot of injuries as well as ineffective play from Lamar Jackson recently. The offense has not been clicking and just dropped a heartbreaker to Pittsburgh last week. Duvernay has started to play well in the slot but will run into Hill this week who has only been targeted on 12% of coverage snaps. Hill has done a great job taking the slot receiver of the other team away and is allowing just 0.27 fantasy points per route run against him. Between Baltimore’s offensive struggles and the tough matchup, Duvernay should be avoided this week.
Hopkins returned from injury last week and made a great touchdown catch. Outside of that big play, he did not factor into the game nearly as much as usual. The Cardinals are trying to play it safe with their star receiver and things will be made even more difficult against this Rams defense. The last time they met, Ramsey did not follow Hopkins the entire game, but he was successful in the handful of plays he covered Hopkins. Outside of A.J. Green, the entire receiving group for Arizona had a down game. Both teams really need this game for playoff seeding but with Hopkins not at 100% and Ramsey in coverage this is a matchup to try and avoid if possible.
Johnson has been one of the few bright spots in Chicago so far this season. They have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to his side of the field, and he has seen success following top receivers this season. In their last meeting, Johnson covered Adams on 20 of his 23 routes and allowed 4 catches for 89 yards. These are not elite numbers, but he has had more success than many other corners against Adams so far this season. The sheer volume of targets makes Adams almost matchup proof and there is no consideration in benching him but temper your expectations this week as he has the toughest matchup of all the Green Bay receivers.
TE Tyler Higbee (LAR vs ARZ)
It has been a tough season for Higbee who was supposed to take off this season. He had a decent showing in a tough matchup last week against the Jaguars, but the Cardinals are even better on defense against tight ends. Only George Kittle has more than 50 receiving yards against them. Higbee has a single touchdown in his past seven games and is becoming a smaller part of this offense each week.
TE Anthony Firkser (TEN vs JAX)
It is easy to see Jacksonville on the schedule and get excited about the offensive matchups. The Jaguars have allowed 10+ fantasy points just once over the past six games and they have done a great job shutting down the position. Firkser has not performed, even with A.J. Brown out. He has scored fewer than two points in five of his last six games and that is a trend that does not look to change this week.