The list of players who consistently ball out, in spite of their matchups, is about as long as Jay-Z’s 4:44 album. For this reason, matchups are one of the most discussed topics in fantasy football, and are likely the 1st thing you look at when determining who you want in your lineup on any given week.
Thing is, if you’re just looking at the little ranking next to your player’s opponent to see if it’s red or green, congrats on trying, but you’re doing it wrong.
It’s a bit deeper than that.
As I’ve mentioned (almost to the point of annoyance), a team’s fantasy points allowed can be very deceiving when viewed independently. Especially early in the season where a bad game or a couple of fluke plays can drastically alter the data.
Not to mention injuries/personnel changes, matchups, cohesion, etc.; which all tend to vary over time.
So, while fantasy points allowed should be the baseline, they shouldn’t be viewed unequivocally. I’ve taken a deeper dive into some of the best and worst matchups in Week 8 by position (I tried to avoid the uber obvious choices).
Cam Newton at Buccaneers
Tyrod Taylor is averaging 196.3 passing yards per game, and has just one 250+ yard passing performance… It came last week against the Bucs. Tampa Bay has allowed at least one passing TD in each of their six games; allowing multiple in three. They also rank towards the top in rushing yards allowed to QBs. Despite facing five tortoises disguised as QBs.
Case Keenum at Browns
Keenum has been an effective real-life QB. He’s managed games well, minimized turnovers, and been an excellent stopgap for the Vikes. Meanwhile, in the fantasy world, he balled out in Week 3 and has been quieter than a Prius since.
That’ll soon change, though.
The Browns have allowed 2+ passing TDs in five of their seven games, but more importantly, Cleveland has allowed the fewest yards per carry and the 6th fewest rushing yards per game to opposing RBs at 72.14.
Expect less McKinnon/Murray and more Keenum this week.
Alex Smith vs. Broncos
When you think of Denver’s defense, you probably think “No Fly Zone”. And, having allowed the 6th fewest passing yards per game, the moniker definitely still holds weight. Thing is, although limiting yardage, they’ve somehow managed to allow multiple TD passes in four of their six games. They’ve also given up the 2nd fewest rushing yards per game to opposing backs, and are the only team with a donut next to their name under rushing TDs; which should put a cap on Hunt’s usage.
Carson Wentz vs. 49ers
Remember that short list of players which ball out regardless of matchup? Yeah, Wentz took a Sharpie and scribbled his name down… ALL CAPS. Only reason I’m taking the time to mention him here is because he has the 3rd most rushing yards among QBs, San Fran has allowed three straight QBs to find the end zone via those things you run with, and this felt strangely incomplete without that tidbit.
Drew Brees vs. Bears
Brees is also on the “I ball out on any and everybody” list, but there is a justifiable cause of concern this week. As mentioned in last week’s Handbook (when I warned you about Cam), this Bears D is legit. They’ve limited some of the league’s top QBs – Ryan, Winston, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, and Newton – to an average of 230 passing yards per game with only Rodgers throwing more than one TD pass.
Philip Rivers at Patriots
New England has allowed the most passing yards, passing TDs, and fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. In fact, last week Matt Ryan became the 1st QB to not put up 300+ yards on this D this season. Soooo, yeah. Favorable, right?!
The Pats have looked much sharper since their Week 4 loss to the Panthers, and have held opponents to just 12.7 points per game over that three game stretch; with only Josh McCown throwing for multiple TD passes (he should’ve had 3). Only the Eagles have faced more pass attempts than the Patriots – which is the most likely source of their high numbers – and the Chargers have averaged 25 rushing attempts per game over their last three after averaging 18.25 through four.
And, seeing how they’ve won three straight, it’s likely they’ll lean on the run here as well.
|TEAM DEFENSE VS. QB|
|TEAM||PASS YDS/G||RANK||PASS TD/G||RANK||RUSH YDS/G||RANK||FANT PTS/G||RANK|
Melvin Gordon at Patriots
See, Philip Rivers above. Then, add that the Patriots have allowed the 2nd most receiving yards to opposing RBs, and that Gordon has more receiving yards than all but seven RBs this season.
Mark Ingram vs. Bears
Jordan Howard is a must-start, but Ingram won’t be outdone. I mentioned how A.P.’s trade would result in addition by subtraction for this Saints rushing attack, and Ingram has responded with back-to-back 100+ yard games. Though the Bears have yet to allow a 100 yard rusher, they’ve allowed a rushing TD in five of their seven games. Ingram should see plenty of volume, and has solid TD potential.
Ameer Abdullah vs. Steelers
Following back-to-back meh performances and a bye week, you may have forgotten about Mr. Abdullah. He’ll remind you who he is come Sunday night. The Steelers run D has impressed in two straight, but they’re still allowing 4.9 yards per carry and nearly a TD per game on the ground to opposing backs.
Wendell Smallwood vs. 49ers
He saw just eight carries in his 1st game back, but was on the field for just one less snap than LeGarrette Blount. He also saw two of the three Wentz passes which targeted RBs head his way.
He’s not Zeke, but judging from the 49ers 1st game without Bowman, it doesn’t appear they’ll be any good at defending opposing RBs… Or QBs, or TES, or WRs.
Devonta Freeman at Jets
Since McCoy’s 110 in Week 1, the Jets have allowed just two RBs to hit 60 yards rushing (Fournette – 86, Crowell – 60), and over the past five weeks they’ve allowed just one rushing TD to the position. They are pretty terrible against the pass when it comes to RBs, though. So, Freeman gets the nod in PPR leagues. Just temper expectations, and definitely don’t see Jets and automatically assume weak.
Carlos Hyde at Eagles
Yes, the Eagles lost LB Jordan Hicks for the season, but if his loss makes them a suspect run defense, just go ahead and give him MVP. Philly has allowed an average of 42 rushing yards per game to opposing backs; you could double that figure, and they’d still be well below the league average.
|TEAM DEFENSE VS. RB|
|TEAM||RUSH YDS/G||RANK||YDS/CAR||RANK||RUSH TD/G||RANK||REC YDS/G||RANK||FANT PTS/G||RANK|
I probably should’ve touched on Trevor Siemian in the QB section, but after I fell in love with him only to be left heartbroken, it’s just hard to rebuild that trust. Nonetheless, seven different receivers have caught TD passes against this Chiefs D over their past four games; you have to like the Broncos odds in this one. Add Emmanuel Sanders to the mix too if he’s cleared.
Deonte Thompson vs. Raiders
You might not have realized, but this isn’t Thompson’s 1st rodeo with the Bills. So, while I wasn’t expecting 100 yards, his familiarity with Tyrod Taylor came as no surprise. What matters most, though? The fact that prior to Sunday, no Bills receiver had gone over 61 receiving yards in any game this season, Jordan Matthews‘ return, and LeSean McCoy. Thompson should see a gang of single coverage against a Raiders team which has allowed two 100+ yard receivers over their last three games.
Alshon Jeffrey vs. 49ers
Jeffrey received a ton of hype heading into the season, but he’s gone over 50 yards in just three of his seven games donning Eagles garb, over 75 just once, and has a whopping two TDs for good measure.
Don’t give up on him just yet, though. The Niners have allowed four 100 yard receivers over their last five games to go with five TD passes.
If you watched “The Rematch” you saw Tom Brady dissect this Falcons defense. However, it looked a lot worse than it was as he finished with his fewest passing yards on the season.
Meanwhile, Josh McCown and the Jets receivers come into this one flying high with four of McCown’s seven passing TDs over the past three weeks landing in the hands of Jets WRs. Avoid streaming them this week, though. The yardage totals have been less than stellar, and the Falcons have allowed the 11th fewest receiving yards per game to opposing WRs.
|TEAM DEFENSE VS. WR|
|TEAM||REC YDS/G||RANK||YDS/REC||RANK||REC TD/G||RANK||FANT PTS/G||RANK|
Tyler Kroft vs. Colts
Indianapolis has allowed a TD to a TE in four of their last five games. In the four games since Eifert’s injury, Kroft has three TDs. I like Kroft to find the end zone this week.
Hunter Henry at Patriots
Not sure why, but Austin Hooper saw just one target Sunday night in New England. Maybe it was the fog? One thing I do know is that the Pats have allowed five TDs through seven games, and an average of 52.6 yards per game to the position.
Oh, and Henry has seen 20 targets over the past three weeks. Gates has seen just five.
Ed Dickson at Buccaneers
Over their last three games, the Bucs have allowed an average of 71.7 yards per game and a total of three TDs to opposing TEs. Dickson isn’t the sexiest option – literally or figuratively – but the matchup is.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Falcons
ASJ has “three” receiving TDs over the Jets last three games. He’s also averaging just 32 yards over those three, so take away the TDs and you’re left with a dud. The Falcons have given up exactly zero TDs to opposing TEs this season. They also just faced Rob Gronkowski.
A.J. Derby at Chiefs
Kansas City has allowed yards in bunches to opposing TEs; they’ve also yet to allow one catch a TD pass. Derby has seen a few plus matchups this season, and has failed to do much with them. Add that to the low likelihood that he finds the end zone, and he’s better served on the waiver wire.
|TEAM DEFENSE VS. TE|
|TEAM||REC YDS/G||RANK||REC TD/G||RANK||FANT PTS/G||RANK|
New Orleans Saints vs. Bears
Mitch Trubisky threw all of seven passes on Sunday, and given the Saints struggles with the run last week, I wouldn’t be surprised if he attempts zero passes here. Thing is, the Saints D was impressive against the run in their four games prior to Week 7, and they have negative twelve reasons why they shouldn’t throw eight in the box on every single snap.
At least the Packers posed a passing threat.
Don’t expect many sacks or interceptions if you roll with New Orleans, but given the fact that Chicago’s offense doesn’t gain many yards, they also don’t score many points.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Panthers
The Panthers present one of the most favorable matchups there is for a DST. Problem is, the Bucs DST is averaging 3.3 fantasy points per game. They’ve allowed 25.2 points per game (4th most), have just four interceptions (4th fewest), and just seven sacks (1st fewest).
As always, thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe and follow @maxingyourodds on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest fantasy insight.