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. I will also try to sort them in order of most favorable or least favorable where possible, but obviously, the quality of the player needs to be factored in as well when making your decisions.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter (@a_rudnicki)
WR Josh Gordon, NE vs TEN (Malcolm Butler)
Gordon abused Bashaud Breeland last week and now gets to pick on a former Patriot in Malcolm Butler. While I’m sure Butler will be motivated to gain some revenge for his Super Bowl benching here, he has been one of the worst corners in the league this year and has been particularly susceptible to the deep throw, which is a strength for Gordon.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA vs LAR (Marcus Peters)
Lockett has been one of the most consistent receivers in the league this year and now he gets a matchup with one of the biggest disappointments at corner. Peters has been a shell of himself lately and is almost certainly losing some confidence in himself at this point. Lockett got behind him in week 5 for 98 yards and a touchdown on 3 catches and could be in line for a repeat performance here.
WR Calvin Ridley, ATL vs CLE (T.J. Carrie)
The Browns defense has been ravaged by injuries and it’s not clear if Denzel Ward will be able to play after leaving early with a hip injury last week. If he can go, he’ll likely take on Julio Jones here which should leave Ridley with the much easier matchup against T.J. Carrie. Even if Ward plays, he’ll likely be at less than full strength so all Falcons receivers this week look like solid options.
WR Tre'Quan Smith, NO vs CIN (Dre Kirkpatrick)
The Bengals secondary has not played well of late with 7 wide receivers going over 60 yards against them in their last 3 games, including a 6/179/1 game to Mike Evans in week 8. While Michael Thomas will once again dominate the targets for New Orleans, Smith remains an intriguing target as well. He figures to get the easier matchup against Kirkpatrick while Thomas will have to deal with William Jackson. Dez Bryant will not play so Smith doesn’t have to worry about him stealing targets just yet.
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN vs NO (P.J. Williams)
Without A.J. Green, the Bengals are likely to rely very heavily on Boyd this week. He works primarily out of the slot, which means a matchup against Williams who has been making some plays but has also given up a lot of production the past couple weeks. If the Saints pull out to a big lead and force the Bengals to abandon their running game, Boyd should be able to pile on some garbage time stats as well.
WR Brandin Cooks, LAR vs SEA (Tre Flowers)
Cooks is coming a great game against Marshon Lattimore and the Saints last week (6/114/1) and should find things much easier against the perimeter corners of the Seahawks here. He’ll likely be taking on Flowers, a rookie who is still learning the position after playing safety in college. Marvin Jones Jr had a similar matchup two weeks ago and put up 7/117/2 against Seattle.
WR Mike Evans, TB vs WAS (Quinton Dunbar)
Evans should bounce back from the clunker he put up last week against James Bradberry and the Panthers. He gets a Washington secondary that hasn’t really been able to slow teams down through the air. Josh Norman hasn’t played up to his normal standards but Dunbar has been the most targeted corner here and he’ll likely see Evans if he’s healthy enough to play after having his knee injury tighten up last week.
WR Amari Cooper, DAL vs PHI (Rasul Douglas)
Cooper had a productive debut with the Cowboys and should keep things going against an Eagles secondary that has struggled against perimeter receivers all season. Ronald Darby has not typically shadowed #1 receivers so Cooper could see plenty of time against the inexperienced Rasul Douglas, who will be making his first start of the year in place of the injured Jalen Mills.
WR Tyrell Williams, LAC vs OAK (Daryl Worley)
The Raiders are a mess and made Nick Mullens look like a superstar last week. They have no pass rush and their corners can’t really cover anyone. That should bode well for Philip Rivers and the Chargers this week. Keenan Allen remains an excellent option but both outside receivers should have excellent matchups as well. I like Tyrell Williams slightly more as he’s been more consistent and will mostly take on Worley, who has been one of the most targeted corners in the league since joining the lineup a month ago.
TE Ben Watson, NO vs CIN
Watson has been posted two strong games in the past three weeks and could be in line for another this week. The Bengals have allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year and their linebacker group has been ravaged by injuries. Over the past three games, Vance McDonald, Travis Kelce, and O.J. Howard have all topped 65 yards against Cincinnati.
TE Jordan Reed, WAS vs TB
It’s clearly tough to rely on Reed given how ineffective he has been this year. The injuries may have simply caught up to him, but if you feel like taking a chance this looks like an excellent matchup. The Tampa secondary hasn’t been able to slow down many people this year and have allowed the 3rd-most points to opposing tight ends. Only once since week 3, has an opposing tight end not found the end zone against them.
WR Alshon Jeffery, PHI vs DAL (Byron Jones)
Jeffery was held in check by the Jaguars in the Eagles last game and now gets to take on Jones, who has been one of the best corners in the league this year. The Cowboys have given up some big games at times but a lot of the damage came against Chidobe Awuzie, who was benched earlier this year. The addition of Golden Tate to the Eagles lineup also figures to take some targets away from Jeffery and make it tough for him to reach expectations.
WR T.Y. Hilton, IND vs JAX (Jalen Ramsey)
Although he scored two touchdowns in week 7 against the Bills, Hilton has seen a dropoff in his production of late as the Colts have shifted to more of a run-heavy offense. That is likely to continue again this week as they take on the Jaguars. Look for Jalen Ramsey to shadow Hilton in this matchup and likely force Andrew Luck to use his other offensive weapons when they do decide to throw.
WR Corey Davis, TEN vs NE (Stephon Gilmore)
Davis showed some signs of life last week with 6 catches on 10 targets but only converted them into 56 yards. He hasn’t found the end zone since his huge game back in week 4 and figures to have another quiet week here. Gilmore has been one of the best shutdown corners in the league this year and will likely shadow Davis for much of the game.
WR Allen Robinson, CHI vs DET (Darius Slay)
Robinson has indicated he’s fully healthy and ready to go this week after missing the last two weeks with a groin injury. He may not make a huge impact right away, however, as he’ll likely spend a large amount of the game matched up against Slay. Admittedly, Slay hasn’t played at a shutdown level for much of this year but he’s still above average and warrants a downgrade for Robinson.
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE vs TEN
Surprisingly, the Titans rank dead last in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends this year. Gronkowski missed last week’s game against the Packers but hasn’t looked like himself all year and may not offer much upside here. With the emergence of Josh Gordon as an outside threat and the potential return of Sony Michel to boost the running game, the Patriots have a lot of options these days and are much less reliant on their star tight end.
TE Travis Kelce, KC vs ARI
The problem with the Cardinals seems to mostly be that their offense can’t stay on the field much, which puts a lot of pressure on their defense. A strength of their defense this year, however, has been their play against tight ends. They rank near the bottom of the league in fantasy points allowed to the position despite facing a strong group that includes Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, Kyle Rudolph, and George Kittle twice. They haven’t given up a touchdown to the position since week 2 and only Kittle reached 60 yards against them.