Yet, accurately determining the difficulty of a matchup and the true value of a player can be challenging if you use the same old dusty stats that every fantasy site has been using for the last decade.
That’s why my weekly column ‘Number Crunch’ uses a proprietary system called “FantasyoMatic,” which uses an algorithm to provide the actual strength of an opponent and actual player capabilities with accuracy levels that you cannot find anywhere else. This system takes all the emotion and guesswork out of winning in fantasy football, and has proven to be up to 46 percent more accurate than the metrics that everyone else in your league is using.
Sound complicated? Don’t worry — it’s simple to understand. All you need to know is that the player or matchup with the higher rating is the better option. Positive numbers mean positive matchups, negative numbers mean negative matchups. That’s it.
Let the system do all the number crunching. All you need to do is find a spot for that fantasy league trophy.
Weekly Matchup Ranges
Below are the EASIEST and TOUGHEST defensive matchups against each fantasy position. The higher the number, the better the matchup for players who are facing them.
Want ALL the Defense Ratings? Find them here.
Here’s an easy breakdown of how each player module works. When these terms are mentioned in the text (i.e. “best”) they are corresponding to these ratings and colors:
Players who could exceed expectations this week based on their ability to outplay their matchups combined with the weakness of their opponent.
Welcome back Carson Palmer! Palmer scored the third most fantasy points of any quarterback in Week 1 in his first game action since Week 10 of the 2014 season. Palmer’s “Fantasy Points Per Throw” efficiency was outstanding, third best of all quarterbacks in Week 1. He did so on just 32 tosses, which was significantly lower than his 54 pass attempts per game average from 2014. If he maintains the level of passing efficiency he showed last week and combines that with even just an additional 15 pass attempts in Week 2, the numbers add up to elite fantasy quarterback scoring levels once again. The Bears secondary should provide little resistance, as they gave up three touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers last week and have allowed multiple touchdowns to every quarterback with a positive Player Rating that they have faced since the end of the 2013 season. Palmer’s solid +1.68 Player Rating sets him up for a multiple touchdown game in Week 2 and his passing efficiency should remain steady as his pass attempts begin to adjust toward his average in this matchup. Forecast: Palmer’s run should come to a halt over the next three weeks as he gets a surprisingly stout 49ers secondary followed by two “bad” rated matchups against the Rams and Lions. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Matt Ryan displayed a bit of Jekyll and Hyde in Week 1, but showed some promising control over Kyle Shanahan’s new offensive scheme while proving that targeting Julio Jones is a highly productive fantasy scoring endeavor. The Eagles were a “bad” rated matchup for Ryan in Week 1, but this week he gets a “great” matchup rating against the Giants. In 2014, Ryan was 20 percent more productive against “great” rated matchups that he was against “bad” rated ones. The Giants allowed three touchdowns to Tony Romo last week and Ryan shares a similar Player Rating to Romo. If Ryan’s numbers against positive matchups continue this season, he is due for a 20-plus point game against the Giants secondary in a game that fantasyomatic predicts to be one of the top three highest scoring games of the week. Forecast: The meat of Ryan’s positive matchups are all around the corner. After a “bad” rated Cowboys matchup next week, Ryan faces nothing but “good” or “great” rated matchups through Week 8. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
DFS Bonus Start: Nick Foles at WAS
Rashad Jennings had the third highest “Fantasy Points Per Snap” of all running backs in Week 1 and he could have been even more productive if he wasn’t allegedly told not to score on the Giants‘ last possession. Jennings only faced Dallas once last season and his 12 fantasy points last week matched his point total from his performance against them in 2014. This week, Jennings gets a “great” rated matchup against an Atlanta defense that gave up 39 combined fantasy points to running backs in Week 1. That performance makes the Falcons the early season matchup you want your fantasy running backs to face. Jennings did very well against “great” rated matchups in 2014, scoring nearly three times more fantasy points against positive matchups than against negative ones. Fantasyomatic predicts that this will be one of the highest scoring games of the week, and Jennings should see his share of production against a Falcons defense that simply could not stop the run last week. Forecast: Jennings has a string of negative matchups coming up, starting in Week 3. So, his quick start may settle down a bit until he hits another run of positive matchups starting Week 6. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
Chris Ivory had the eighth highest “Fantasy Points Per Attempt” and the third highest “Fantasy Points Per Snap” of all running backs in Week 1 while taking on the eighth most touches of any running back. He turned his opportunities into his best fantasy performance ever. He has now either reached his scoring ceiling or has set a new precedent after finally being allowed to act as the lead back in New York. Cleveland was a “good” rated matchup for fantasy running backs, but Ivory has shown that he can produce against any level of competition, all he needs are touches. In the games where he played 40 percent or more of the team’s offensive snaps in 2014, Ivory averaged 13 fantasy points compared to just five fantasy points when sharing the load. Add Week 1’s 52 percent of offensive snaps to that total and his average goes up to 14 fantasy points per game. Ivory also has a Player Rating that shows he performs well against positive matchups, like the “good” rated one he has in Week 2 against the Colts. The Colts allowed a fantasy point each time a Bills running back touched the ball last week. If that holds true in Week 2, Ivory could best his mark from the season opener. More likely, however, is that Ivory gets closer to his 15 fantasy point average against similarly rated “good” matchups from 2014. Forecast: Ivory’s positive matchups come in chunks this season. He has another “good” rated matchup in Week 3 and then has a string of “bad” rated ones to follow. Overall, he has more positive than negative matchups on the season. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
DFS Bonus Start: Danny Woodhead at CIN
The darling of the first waiver run of the 2015 fantasy season was clearly Terrance Williams. Yet, Williams should be valued as more than just an injury replacement for Dez Bryant, who is recovering from foot surgery. Williams led the NFL in “Fantasy Points Per Attempt” in 2014 on 730 snaps. With Bryant now out for a number of weeks, Williams becomes the No. 1 receiver in Dallas and should see even more targets per snap. Even with Bryant playing 49 snaps in Week 1, Williams still saw eight receiving targets and had the highest “Fantasy Points Per Target” of all Cowboy receivers. His red zone targets should increase each game, giving him more chances than just the one red zone target he was unable to pull down in Week 1. In Week 2, Williams matches up against a “great” rated Eagles defense that gave up 34 total fantasy points to receivers in Week 1. Williams actually played better against negative matchups last season than he did against positive ones like the Eagles, but that had more to do with his target totals fluctuating than it did his performances. Now that he should see a steady flow of targets, Williams should be able to take advantage of positive matchups like the one he has this week in Philadelphia. Forecast: Dez Bryant will be missing out on three of the Cowboys eight positive matchups for receivers during his injury break. However, that will mean great things for Terrance Williams owners who should enjoy solid production against ATL and NO over the next few weeks. [Recommended Usage: WR2/FLEX]
There has been a lot of talk this past offseason about the Saints becoming a run-first team. In Week 1, Drew Brees threw the ball 48 times, which was greater than his 2014 per game average. Despite being shadowed by Patrick Peterson in Week 1, Brandin Cooks led all Saints receivers with eight targets, which was just around his 2014 average. Yet, Arizona is a negative matchup for opposing fantasy receivers, thus it should come as no surprise that Cooks produced only five fantasy points. In Cooks’ rookie season, two of his best fantasy games came against positive matchups. When the Buccaneers travel to New Orleans in Week 2, Cooks will see his first “great” rated matchup since Week 5 of the 2014 season. Cooks should have no problem generating points against the Buccaneers corner back Alterraun Verner, who gave up 16 fantasy points to Kendall Wright in Week 1. Forecast: The Arizona matchup was a tough way to start the season for Cooks, but four out of his next five matchups are positive, including two “great” rated matchups in that stretch. [Recommended Usage: WR2]
DFS Bonus Start: Brandon Coleman vs. TB
Dwayne Allen appears to be the Colts tight end to own after Week 1 when he had six targets to Coby Fleener‘s one. Those targets were the fourth most on the team, but Allen was 30 percent more productive with those targets than any other Colts‘ wide receiver or tight end. Allen did all this against a “worst” rated Bills defense. His week could have appeared more productive if not for an overturned 27 yard catch. T.Y. Hilton‘s potential absence could increase the looks for all Colts pass catchers since Hilton accounted for a team-leading 14 targets in Week 1. The Colts face the Jets in Week 2, and New York comes into the contest as a “great” rated matchup for opposing fantasy tight ends. Allen never faced a “great” rated matchup in 2014, but he scored two more fantasy points per game when he faced positive matchups than he did when he faced negative ones. Considering he scored seven fantasy points against a “worst” rated Bills defense in Week 1, the numbers say he could be in for a double digit outing in Week 2. Forecast: This will be one of only two “great” rated matchups for Allen. He has three negative matchups in a row in the coming weeks before he sees a couple positive ones leading into the Colts‘ BYE. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]
DFS Bonus Start: Richard Rodgers vs. SEA
CAR vs. HOU: The Texans are still trying to fix their quarterback situation and have an offensive line that gave up five sacks last week. Carolina sacked Blake Bortles five times last week, and returned an interception for a touchdown. The Panthers are a favored team, playing at home in a game that fantasyomatc expects to be low scoring. This is a streaming D/ST trifecta.
TEN at CLE: Don’t worry this is not a column that recommends starts because of what happened last week. Sure, the Titans ruined Jameis Winston‘s coming-out party to the tune of four sacks and two defensive touchdowns, but now Tennessee travels to Cleveland to face Johnny Football and a Browns offense that had four fumbles, three sacks and an interception on their way to producing just 10 points in their debut.
Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent.
Peyton Manning continued his string of worrisome fantasy performances with a five-point fantasy outing in Week 1. His underwhelming production was not from lack of trying. Manning threw the 10th most passes or any quarterback in Week 1, but had the third lowest “Fantasy Points Per Throw” (FPPT) of any quarterback (.122). For some perspective, that lack of production per throw was actually lower in Week 1 than it was during his his four game slump to end the 2014 fantasy season where he averaged .345 FPPT. There is certainly a possibility of Manning correcting this slide, but it will not happen this week. Manning has a negative matchup against the “worst” rated Chiefs defense. Manning averaged only 14 fantasy points per game against “worst” rated matchups in 2014, which included a 12 point performance the last time he faced the Chiefs. Forecast: Manning’s skid might continue one more week as the Broncos go on the road to face a Lions secondary that has been tough against opposing fantasy quarterbacks. Week 5 should bring much needed relief when Manning gets a “good” rated matchup in the Raiders. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
“Angry” Tom Brady surprised very few with his four-touchdown destruction of the Steelers in Week 1. However, his production could be tied more to a Steelers secondary in flux, rather than any perceived “emotional” boost. This week, Brady faces the Bills defense that held Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers to an average of nine fantasy points per game going back to last season. All three of those quarterbacks finished 2014 with a better Player Rating than Brady did. The numbers do tell both sides of the story for Brady’s chances, since the only quarterback to score more than 18 fantasy points against the Bills since Week 1 of 2014 was â?¦Tom Brady. However, since that game, no quarterback has thrown more than two touchdowns against the Bills secondary. So the narrative says that Brady should still be your starter this week, but the numbers say you can expect a performance closer to a two-touchdown day than another four-touchdown blowout. Forecast: Brady will have to face BUF again in Week 11, but over the next few weeks he faces three teams that only appear to be easier than they really are based on name value alone. JAX, DAL and IND are all actually “bad” rated matchups against fantasy quarterbacks. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
DeAngelo Williams had his best fantasy performance since 2013 in the NFL opener last week. For those who watched the game, he may have appeared to have scored even more points than he did because of the nature of some of his runs. Williams gained five or more yards on 12 of his 21 runs, giving the appearance of big gainers all night long. Yet, despite having the sixth most touches of all running backs in Week 1, Williams was only 31st overall in “Fantasy Points Per Snap.” This week, Williams has one more game as a starter, but will face the 49ers. Despite losing a number of players on the defensive side of the ball, San Francisco held Adrian Peterson in check in Week 1. The 49ers held over half their opposing running backs to single digit fantasy production in 2014, too. Williams has a very low Player Rating and averaged only three fantasy points per game against negative matchups when he was with Carolina. His increase in touches helped him last week, but he should face stiffer defensive fronts this week, capping his upside in what should be his final game as a starter in Pittsburgh. Forecast: Williams’ fantasy forecast can be summarized in two words: Le’Veon Bell. [Recommended Usage: SIT]
Fantasy owners are expecting big things from Latavius Murray this season. The good news for Murray in Week 1 was that he was clearly the Raiders‘ every-down back. Murray even saw seven receiving targets in Week 1, eighth most of all running backs, yet he was just the 38th ranked fantasy running back of the week in “Fantasy Points Per Target.” The bad news for Murray owners was that he opened the season against a “great” rated matchup in the Bengals, but was only able to generate eight fantasy points. Murray never saw a positive rated matchup in 2014, so this first game was going to be very telling from a matchup numbers perspective. Unfortunately, it might be a couple more weeks until there is a clear picture of Murray’s true value, since he has a “worst” rated matchup this week against the Ravens. Baltimore held the Broncos top two runners to nine combined fantasy points combined from in Week 1. Murray’s one-week data sample is clearly not enough to draw conclusions about what he will bring as an every-down back, but owners should temper their expectations for Murray for one more week as he and the Raiders‘ young offense work through a negative matchup against the Ravens‘ defense. Forecast: Anxious Murray owners should start to breathe a little easier in a couple weeks when Murray faces two consecutive positive matchups on the road against CLE and CHI before hitting a divisional matchup roadblock at home against DEN in Week 5. [Recommended Usage: FLEX or SIT]
A.J. Green broke fantasy owners’ hearts in Week 1 with only six fantasy points against the Raiders in a performance that included a big touchdown drop. It was disappointing, considering the Raiders came into Week 1 as a “good” rated matchup and that Green averaged 15 fantasy points against “good” rated matchups in 2014. Green has a Player Rating that put him in the top 10 of all fantasy receivers in 2014, yet he still scored five fewer fantasy points against negative matchups than he did against positive ones. This week, he goes up against a “worst” rated Chargers defense that held two Lions receivers to just six total fantasy points last week. Although Green is an elite receiver overall, his fantasy production is often affected by the level of competition he is facing. When healthy, he should always be in your lineup, but the numbers this week indicate that you should expect WR2 production from him because of the strength of the Chargers defense against fantasy wide receivers. Forecast: Weeks 3 and 4 are two positive matchups waiting for Green which should help him get back on the WR1 production track. Green had a solid 20 point game in BAL last season and should be able to score at those levels again when he faces them next week. [Recommended Usage: WR2]
Coming from a Philadelphia team that led the league in plays per game in 2014, Maclin couldn’t have landed in a much more different situation — Kansas City’s offense ran the fourth fewest plays per game in 2014. Week 1 was the first chance fantasy owners had to see the impact that Maclin would have on the Chiefs offense. Maclin did lead the Chiefs in targets on only 33 pass attempts from quarterback Alex Smith, which is close to the Chief’s pass attempts average from 2014. Yet, Maclin was 49th of all receivers in “Fantasy Points Per Target” (FPPT) in Week 1. It might be tough for Maclin to bring his FPPT number up this week as he faces the Broncos “worst” rated defense and a secondary that could be the stingiest in the NFL. Last season, Maclin averaged only six fantasy points a game against “worst” rated matchups, even playing with Philadelphia. It should be noted that last year the Chiefs threw the ball 42 times when playing at Denver, which ended up being their second most pass attempts of the season. These numbers indicate that this week Maclin could see the most snaps in any game in the 2015 season, but he still faces a level of competition that has historically held him to single digit fantasy points. Forecast: Maclin’s season is peppered with negative matchups, but one of his only two “great” rated matchups is coming up in Week 5 at home against the Bears. [Recommended Usage: WR3]
The absence of Dez Bryant due to injury will mean that Dez’ targets are going to get spread around to not only the other receivers, but also the tight ends in the Cowboys passing game. This would make Witten an obvious beneficiary, but there is some speculation that Gavin Escobar will end up playing more of a role, especially in the red zone. Escobar was twice as efficient with his two targets as Witten was with his nine targets in their Week 1 contest. There is no doubt that Witten will remain a focus in the passing game, since he scored 18 fantasy points in Week 1. Yet, Witten has been historically matchup-dependent while scoring half as many fantasy points against positive matchups in 2014 as he did against negative ones. In Week 1, he faced a “good” rated matchup against the Giants, but in Week 2 he faces a “worst” rated Eagles defense that allowed only two double digits scoring games to opposing tight ends in all of 2014. Fantasy owners can expect that Witten’s targets will increase without Bryant in the lineup, but the chances of repeating his double digit fantasy scoring from last week is unlikely in Week 2. Forecast: TThe Eagles and the upcoming games against the Falcons and Saints are Witten’s toughest run of negative matchups this season. Things will get better after Week 5 when he faces seven of eight positive matchups for fantasy tight ends. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]
SEA at GB: The numbers always say to play the matchups each week with your defenses. The evidence is overwhelming. Yet the Seahawks were still taken on average in the sixth round in NFL.com drafts. Those owners will have another tough outing this week against a Packers team that was error-free in Week 1. The Rams had eight passes of 20 yards or more against Seattle last week, mostly because their backup safeties were terrible as replacements for Kam Chancellor. Aaron Rodgers had a 51.8 percent accuracy rating on passes of 20 yards or more in 2014 and should have an easy time against a leaky Cover-3 Seattle secondary that is missing some key players from their NFC Championship Game roster.
DEN at KC: The Broncos D/ST should end up being one of the most productive units for fantasy by season’s end. Their new, aggressive pass rush will create scoring opportunities for the entire unit, and their secondary might be the best group in the NFL. Yet, in Week 2 they face a Chiefs team that played pretty clean football last week. Only two sacks given and no turnovers. The Chiefs play one of the safest offenses in the league and that will minimize the opportunities for the aggressive Broncos defense. Hold onto the Broncos, though, they have a strong set of three games starting in Week 4 against offenses that are ripe for turnovers.
Week 3 Forecast:
Do you have holes to fill in your roster? Don’t wait until next week’s waivers, grab these guys now and enjoy their tasty matchups before they are even on your opponents’ radar:
QB: Nick Foles vs. PIT, Cam Newton vs. NO
RB: Isaiah Crowell vs OAK, Bishop Sankey vs. IND
WR: Terrance Williams vs ATL, Jermaine Kearse vs. CHI
TE: Delanie Walker vs. IND, Jared Cook vs PIT
D/ST: NE vs. JAC, OAK at CLE, HOU vs. TB
— Chris Anthony is a guest contributor to NFL.com, hailing from Fantasy Omatic. You can follow him on Twitter @FantasyOmatic. Be sure to check back each week for more analytics-based analysis as the algorithm will only get more accurate over time!