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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.
WR A.J. Green (ARZ vs SEA) vs Sidney Jones
Arizona was finally able to right the ship against Dallas last week and Green played a big role in that. 3 catches for 74 yards may not be the biggest stat line but it did help the game and he showed he still has some explosiveness on a 42-yard catch. Green will likely see a lot of coverage from Jones this week. Jones has been targeted on 22% of his coverage snaps and is allowing nearly .3 fantasy points per route run against him. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals will want to get their offense going before heading into the playoffs and Seattle’s secondary is coming off a game where they struggled against Armon St-Brown. Look for this matchup to be exploited early and often this week.
The Steelers relied heavily on the run game against Cleveland last week to win Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game. Johnson saw a high volume of targets but did not turn them into the biggest stat line. This week he will be taking on a Ravens’ defense that has been decimated by injury and COVID and has allowed 50+ fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in each of the past 3 games. Baltimore continues to fall down the ranks and is currently allowing the 4th most fantasy points to receivers overall. Chase Claypool should also see a bump on the outside against these corners and it will just be a matter of Roethlisberger getting them the ball.
The Kansas City secondary has played well this season but was just exposed by Joe Burrow and JaMarr Chase last week. Ward was picked on over and over again and that could be the same approach Denver takes with Drew Lock and Sutton. This is a duo that has shown chemistry in the past but suffered from poor play calling and missing an entire season together due to injury. Denver needs something to cheer for and they are playing for next season. There are going to be a lot of questions marks heading into 2022 and finding a way to better utilize Sutton can start this week against Kansas City.
It has been a very tough season for the Giants. They are coming off a historically bad passing game last week and are now down to their 3rd quarterback. Jake Fromm did not look good in his limited action with the Colts previously, but he is going to get a shot against the 31st ranked secondary in Washington this week. Toney has dealt with injuries and COVID for a large portion of the season but is expected back this week. He has shown massive boom potential and has also disappeared entirely on the field. If he wants to cement himself in the future plans for this team, he will have to show up this week and lead this group of ailing receivers. Washington has been a great matchup to help receivers get back on track so far this season.
Hill has been one of the better pieces in the Cleveland defense, but they have nothing to play for this week while the Bengals could still earn the #1 overall seed with a win and a Chiefs loss. Boyd will be without Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon in the offense but that means they are going to have to rely on Boyd and JaMarr Chase even more this week. Denzel Ward has been the most targeted corner in this defense, but Cincinnati has done a great job spreading the ball around. Look to Boyd as a cheap option with a high ceiling for an offense that is clicking right now.
Green Bay is going to be a tough one to predict this week. They have locked up the #1 overall seed and a Bye but have also said they are going to play their starters and not rest heading into the playoffs. Davante Adams is the highest targeted receiver this season, but it is Valdes-Scantling with the best matchup this week. Melifonwu is filling in due to injuries and has been targeted on 27% of his coverage snaps and is allowing nearly a fantasy point per route run against him. Even if Jordan Love plays the majority of the game, Valdes-Scantling is a cheap option with huge boom potential this week.
TE Dalton Schultz (DAL vs PHI)
Schultz has a great matchup against the Eagles this week. Philadelphia has been outstanding against receivers on the outside but has not shared that coverage against tight ends. They currently rank 31st against opposing tight ends and that puts Schultz in a great spot this week. With Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb drawing the tough coverage, look for Dak Prescott to target Schultz early and often.
TE Noah Fant (DEN vs KC)
The Broncos are playing to see what pieces they have for next season. Drew Lock will be under center again this week and he showed a great connection with Fant last week. The duo topped 10 fantasy points together with Fant scoring a touchdown. Kansas City currently ranks 20th against tight ends and is a secondary that was just picked apart by Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Look for Fant to cap off the season and ensure he is a main piece for the Broncos going forward.
It is hard to predict who Slay is going to follow this week with both Lamb and Amari Cooper being standouts on the outside. Neither fared well against this defense back in Week 3 where they were held to 32 catches for 66 yards and 3 catches for 26 yards respectively. Dallas cannot play for the top seed and a Bye this week but will not stand down to a divisional foe that they will be competing with for years to come. Both Lamb and Cooper should be downgraded this week in what has been a tough matchup for all receivers against Philadelphia.
There is a lot of drama surrounding Tampa Bay right now. With Antonio Brown gone and Evans still hobbled it could be a long game for Tom Brady this week. Evans did not play when these teams last met but would have likely been shadowed by Gilmore. Carolina has nothing to play for this week and it is hard to predict who will play and who will sit. If Gilmore is active, expect him to be stuck on Evans and that should downgrade him slightly. Evans will see his targets due to lack of healthy receivers overall, but he will have the toughest matchup if Gilmore is active.
Samuel has been an unstoppable force this season and has led the 49ers in many offensive categories. That is reason enough to draw coverage from Ramsey. Ramsey typically plays a star type coverage and is all over the field. This will be one of the more entertaining matchups to watch this week in what will be one of the best overall games of the week. Ramsey could also spend some time on Brandon Aiyuk and that only makes this a small downgrade for Samuel. Samuel plays in too many positions to be held down for long.
WR Michael Pittman (IND vs JAX) vs Shaquill Griffin
There is a lot at play this week for the Colts in Jacksonville and history does not suggest it will go well. The Colts have not won in Jacksonville since 2014 and Pittman has a tough matchup. The Colts are going to lean heavily on Jonathan Taylor and the running game with Carson Wentz struggling and a lot on the line. Griffin has done a great job in coverage so far this season and is one of the few bright spots for this defense. Avoid Pittman if possible this week and look for other options.
When these teams met back in week 15 the Bears were missing almost everyone in the secondary. Jefferson did not dominate like you would expect but did post a 4 catch for 47 yards and a touchdown. Kindle Vildor was tasked with covering Jefferson in that game, but it should be Johnson in a shadow situation this week. Kirk Cousins has been activated from the COVID list and should be back under center but that may not be enough. Jefferson is not a player you bench, but he may not be worth the price in daily fantasy this week in a tough matchup.
This was not a great matchup for Bradberry earlier this season. He was burned for 11 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown against McLaurin. However, Washington has struggled in recent weeks and McLaurin has not gotten the ball as much as a top receiver should. Bradberry has been a top cover corner for a long time and will be playing to cement that status heading into next season. McLaurin is going to see his targets this week but look for a much better showing from Bradberry to close out the season.
TE George Kittle (SF vs LAR)
Kittle is not a name you normally see on this side of the article, but the chemistry with Try Lance has not been there. He saw just 2 targets in Lance’s first start and that is tough to fathom. Kittle is one of the biggest pieces in this offense and he was entirely overlooked. Not only is the chemistry not there right now but he has a very tough matchup against a stout Rams defense. Kittle is not a name you think about benching, but he should be downgraded this week.
TE Darren Waller (LV vs LAC)
Waller is projected to play this week but that should not excite fantasy owners. He has dealt with injuries and topped 65 receiving yards just 3 times this season. The Raiders could squeak into a playoff spot if the Colts were to lose in Jacksonville but otherwise, they do not have much to play for. Waller is a top tight end when healthy but that is just not the case right now. Waller has a high risk of reinjury and it is surprising they even want to play him at this point in the season.