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.
Baltimore has quickly fallen apart in the second half of the season and this secondary can take a lot of that blame. They are coming off a week where they allowed 525 yards to Joe Burrow and company and the ball was evenly spread around. They have struggled both outside and against the slot and are currently allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Cooper Kupp is going to continue his historic tear and Odell Beckham Jr should see a healthy target share but look to Jefferson as the not obvious play this week. Averett was hobbled with a chest injury last week and is questionable heading into this matchup. Upgrade all Rams receivers this week and look for a big game from Jefferson on the outside.
Arizona continues to struggle in the second half and the secondary has been one of the biggest issues all season. They are currently allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers and were absolutely gashed by Armon St-Brown a few weeks ago in Detroit. The biggest boost comes to the outside receivers for Dallas, Amari Cooper and Gallup, and Dallas is clicking at the right time on both offense and defense. Look for Dak Prescott to spread the ball around this week as the Cardinals have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to both slot and outside receivers over the past month. There are a lot of weapons for this Dallas team, but Gallup is in a great spot this week.
The 49ers have been a borderline defense all season and injuries are only making things worse. Both Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett are on the IR and the outside is left to be guarded by Norman and third-round rookie Ambry Thomas. Cooks should be back from the COVID list this week and walks into a great spot against a struggling perimeter defense. If he is not cleared and unable to go, Nico Collins should see a boost after recording his first career touchdown last week. Fire up Cooks in Championship Week as long as he is active.
Starting Adams is a no-brainer. Even with Green Bay having locked up the division and currently sitting in the #1 seed, Adams has had so much success against the Vikings that he could be a top play this week. Peterson had no chance of slowing him during the week 11 meeting where Adams finished with 7 catches for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 targets. If you were lucky enough to have Adams this season, ride him to a Championship or a big payday in daily fantasy. Aaron Rodgers is looking to cement an MVP season and could put an exclamation point on that campaign this week against the Vikings with the help of Adams.
Even with the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers are in a great spot against this Houston secondary. Aiyuk has the best matchup against Mitchell on the left side. Mitchell has been targeted on 25% of his coverage snaps and is allowing nearly 0.5 fantasy points per route run. He is the most targeted corner on the team and has allowed several big plays this year. George Kittle and Deebo Samuel are going to get their normal complement of targets, but Aiyuk has the best matchup this week and potential for a big game.
It has not been a great season for Seattle and Metcalf has disappeared for entire games this season. Even with Russell Wilson back from injury, it has been tough to get anything going. That could all change this week with a great matchup against Detroit. Melifonwu has been pressed into action due to injury and has not performed well. He has been targeted on 27% of his coverage snaps and is allowing .74 fantasy points per route run. It is a small sample size, but Metcalf is the best receiver he will have faced, and those numbers could get worse. Look for Metcalf and Wilkson to break out of their funk in what is a great matchup against the Lions this week.
TE Dallas Goedert (PHI vs WFT)
It was a slow week for Goedert against New York last week, but that should all change against Washington. This defense just gave up a monster game to Dalton Schultz and Goedert had 135 receiving yards against them earlier this season. With Miles Sanders injured, look for the Eagles to rely on the passing game more and for Goedert to get involved early and often.
TE Foster Moreau (LV vs IND)
Darren Waller was just added to the COVID list and is likely unable to clear the new protocols before Sunday. That leaves Moreau in a smash spot against a Colts defense that let Zach Ertz steal the show last week for Arizona. The targets will have to slow through someone other than just Hunter Renfrow and Moreau is in the best spot to take advantage. Look to Moreau as a cheap league winner if you do not have one of the top tight ends.
Diggs always seems to find a way to beat great coverage and Josh Allen is playing at a very high level right now. However, Terrell is graded as one of the top cover corners in the league and the only person you would want to avoid on this defense as an opposing quarterback. Diggs is going to see his targets and get his catches, but expectations should be lowered against one of the best cover corners in the league in Terrell.
This duo has matched up 3 times since they have both been in the NFC East and Slay has shadowed in each of those contests. The only place that McLaurin has been able to escape the coverage has been in the slot. Across the 3 matchups, McLaurin has been held without a touchdown and has a high of 61 yards. Slay has had the upper hand in the early going of this matchup and should see the same level of success this week. With Washington all but eliminated from the playoff hunt and Philadelphia still fighting for one of the last spots, this game could get out of hand quickly.
The Bengals may be coming off one of their most prolific weeks ever, but things are going to be much more difficult against the Chiefs in Week 17. Even with their top corners missing weeks due to injury, they have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers. Ward has had a lot of success on the outside and has the speed to keep up with Chase. The Bengals are fighting to win their division and are going to do everything they can to win this game. They are likely to lean on Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd in the slot to exploit the few holes in this defense. Downgrade both Chase and Tee Higgins after their big games against the Steelers last week.
Miami has been on an absolute tear after their abysmal start to the season. Xavien Howard and Jones have stepped up to the point that Miami is allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers over the past month. Brown returned from injury with a bang last week but is going to fall back down to reality against a much tougher defense. Ryan Tannehill has struggled at times and this matchup is one to avoid unless absolutely necessary.
It has been a great string of games for Renfrow. He has seen a big boost in targets with the injury to Darren Waller and other receivers. However, this week he has a tough matchup against Moore in the slot. He has been targeted on just under 18% of his coverage snaps and is allowing around 0.25 of a point per route run against him. Renfrow is going to be heavily targeted again this week with Waller recently added to the COVID list, but the tough matchup should temper your expectations on his overall line. The Colts are playing well right now and this defense has something to prove as they are fighting for a playoff spot.
Carolina has been a mess since starting the season hot. They are turning back to Sam Darnold this week after the failed Cam Newton experiment and that should bring a slight bump to Moore. However, he looks to draw the tough coverage from Lattimore and the Saints this week. The Panthers are playing for the future at this point and have little to gain from showcasing Moore in the final weeks of the season. Avoid this situation if possible this week.
TE Jared Cook (LAC vs DEN)
The Chargers love to throw the ball, but it seems to be to anyone except for Cook. The big tight end has not seen double-digit fantasy points since week 12 and the Broncos defense has been the best in the league in points allowed. This unit has also allowed the 4th fewest fantasy points to the tight end position and will be a tough matchup for a tight end that has not been featured in his offense.
TE Kyle Pitts (ATL vs BUF)
It is unlikely that you are going to bench Pitts in a season-long league, but it may be something worth considering due to the tough matchup this week. Buffalo absolutely shut down Hunter Henry last week and rank in the Top 5 against tight ends overall. Pitts is likely to see targets due to game script this week but that may not be enough to make up for the difficult matchup.