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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 D.J. Chark (DET vs CHI) vs Kyler Gordon
Things have gone from bad to worse in the Chicago secondary, as a recent rash of injuries has left them without Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor. The Bears will be starting three rookies and or unproven corners this week, with Jaylon Jones being the only player with much experience. Look for the Lions to attack the perimeter with Chark and Josh Reynolds this week and try to push the ball down the field. Gordon has allowed 0.44 fantasy points per coverage snap so far this season, and the Bears are allowing 9.5 air yards per target this season (worst in the NFL). Upgrade the Lions’ receiving group across the board.
The Vikings’ secondary continues to be the biggest area of concern for this team. They have now allowed the most receptions, yards, and fantasy points to wide receivers this year. Patrick Peterson has been the lone bright spot and should see a lot of Christian Watson this week. Doubs is in a great position to sneak in as a sleeper or FLEX candidate this week. There is a very high ceiling for the Green Bay receivers, and they should all be upgraded across the board.
Houston has been showing a surprising amount of fight in the final weeks of the season. They have done it without a top quarterback, with Brandin Cooks on the sideline, and with Dameon Pierce hurt. This week, Moore is in a great spot against Herndon in the slot. Jacksonville is currently allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing slot receivers. The increase in production is mostly due to poor play by Herndon. It is also a little surprising as Houston ranks near the bottom in pass attempts against. Moore has a chance to be a great sleeper or FLEX play in a week where the status of a lot of players is up in the air.
WR Michael Pittman (IND vs NYG) vs Fabian Moreau
The Giants secondary has struggled with Adoree Jackson injured. Moreau has been asked to shadow top receivers to stick with their defensive scheme and has been burned in the process. Terry McLaurin, Devonta Smith, and Justin Jefferson all had big games against Moreau. The Giants have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers and the fourth-most to the perimeter over the past two months. Upgrade Pittman and Parris Campbell this week.
The Broncos’ season is in disarray, but someone has to catch passes this week. Sutton came back healthy last week and was targeted heavily. He has a great matchup this week on the perimeter against Williams, who has been burned to the tune of 0.50 fantasy points per coverage snap. The Kansas City secondary has struggled in recent weeks, specifically against Houston two weeks ago, who was without a star quarterback, receiver, or running back. In the last meeting, Jerry Jeudy struck for three touchdowns. Look for Sutton to try to end the season on a high note.
There is a lot of history between Thielen and the Packers, with Thielen getting the better of most matchups. Alexander has been a lockdown corner in the past but has struggled with giving up big plays this season. He is currently allowing 0.45 fantasy points per coverage snap and will see a combination of Justin Jefferson and Thielen this week. Green Bay still has a chance to sneak into the playoffs, while the Vikings can only go down in seeding if they lose. Look for this to be a battle this weekend and if history holds, Thielen should come out on top.
TE Evan Engram (JAX vs HOU)
Engram has been one of the best tight ends over the past month. He is averaging 21.4 fantasy points and has a floor of 14 points in that time frame. He has seen at least seven targets in each of his past four games and has helped a lot of managers either make or move on in the playoffs. Engram will face a Houston defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and is a must-start right now.
TE Dalton Schultz (DAL vs TEN)
Schultz is coming off a few bad performances but is in a great position to bounce back this week. Tennessee has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends and the third-most over the past month. Schultz should have Dak Prescott to start the game and may remain as the safety blanket for a backup quarterback if they decide to rest Prescott. This is a great spot to bounce back and put up a solid double-digit performance.
Hopkins is coming off an absolute dud and has next to no one to throw him the ball in Arizona right now. The Falcons have played surprisingly well over the past two months. They have allowed the fewest points overall to receivers over the past month and the fewest to perimeter receivers over the past two months. Hopkins had 10 targets last week and is still going to be heavily targeted this week. He is still a must-start, but we should temper our expectations this week.
WR DK Metcalf (SEA vs NYJ) vs Ahmad Gardner
The Jets have leaned heavily on their young perimeter corners. Gardner has led the way and limited every major receiver except for Jakobi Meyers this season. The Jets are currently allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to receivers as well as the fewest to those on the perimeter. Metcalf is still the main target in this offense and is going to get plenty of looks. However, we should temper our expectations in what is a tougher-than-usual matchup for the big receiver.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (KC vs DEN) vs Patrick Surtain
Last week should be viewed as an anomaly. The Broncos have allowed the fewest fantasy points to receivers this season and have played extremely well for the vast majority of the season. There is not much to play for outside of pride in Denver right now but keeping a divisional rival from a first-round bye is incentive enough for this defense. Surtain has played well aside from a single game against Davante Adams and should have a similar showing this week against Smith-Schuster.
WR Curtis Samuel (WAS vs CLE) vs Greg Newsome
Samuel is usually a perfect example of boom or bust, and this week he should be trending on the bust side of things. The Browns have allowed the fewest fantasy points overall to the slot receiver position, and that includes two games against Tyler Boyd and the Bengals. Newsome has led the charge for this secondary and should have no issue limiting Samuel. Look for Washington to lean on Jahan Dotson and Terry McLaurin this week.
WR D.J. Moore (CAR vs TB) vs Jamel Dean
No one would have predicted it would be a showdown between Carolina and Tampa Bay in Week 17 for the fate of the division. However, that is the case this week, and Moore draws the short straw with coverage expected from Dean. Tampa Bay has been hot and cold this season, but Dean has held opposing receivers to just 0.23 fantasy points per coverage snap. Sam Darnold has led the comeback for the Panthers, but it has been driven by the running game. Downgrade Moore in what is a tough matchup this week.
Most of the love has gone to Darius Slay on the other side, but Bradberry has more than held his own this season. Bradberry is limiting opposing receivers to just 0.18 fantasy points per coverage snap and should see a lot of Olave this week. Olave moves all over the formation, and when he is not on Bradberry, he will see Slay. This is a clear situation of downgrading Olave and only starting him due to the projected volume in this offense. It is going to be tough for New Orleans to get anything going this week and they should be avoided across the board.
TE David Njoku (CLE vs WAS)
Njoku has seen his overall stats plummet every week since Deshaun Watson took over. He bottomed out at two catches for 14 yards last week and cost many managers their matchup. There were times when he was a top-10 tight end, but that simply is not the case anymore. The Commanders have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends and will prove a tough matchup again this week. Avoid Njoku if possible.
TE Darren Waller (LV vs SF)
Everything is going wrong for the Raiders right now. The benching of Derek Carr is only driving the value of all pass catchers down for the Raiders. Add a tough matchup against the 49ers, and Waller is a prime candidate to sit on your bench. Waller has been hard to trust all season, so it should not be difficult to keep him out of your starting lineup.
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