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.
Fantasy football is a game of numbers, so why not use the next generation of fantasy analytics to do the number crunching for you?
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.
In order for Cam Newton to produce startable fantasy numbers he requires favorable matchups. In 2014, he scored six more fantasy points when facing positive matchups than he did against negative ones. A lot of this has to with the Panthers falling behind, forcing Newton to throw. Newton usually has issues in those situations because of his lack of passing accuracy. Newton should be in a comfortable position this week as he faces a Saints defense that is a top four easy matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. Newton’s 4.7 yards per pass attempt average, fourth lowest in the league, should be helped by the 9.5 yards per pass attempt average given up by the Saints defense. Last year, Newton burned the Saints for 35 fantasy points. If Newton is going to have a big game like that again this year, then the numbers indicate it is most likely to happen this week.
Forecast: Cam’s next three games include two ‘bad” rated matchups on each side of the Panther’s Week 5 BYE. Next week Cam should at least have game flow on his side as Carolina plays the Buccaneers and he could find himself playing from ahead rather than behind. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Nick Foles is off to a bit of a backwards start this fantasy season. He started out by stunning a tough Seattle defense in Week 1 with a great performance. Then in Week 2 he had his hands full with a Redskins defense that appeared to be an easy opponent on paper. Expectations should meet reality this week for Foles as he faces a Steelers defense that is the easiest matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. The last quarterback to NOT score over 20 fantasy points against the Steelers was Alex Smith back in 2014. Foles’ great matchup could make him a great injury replacement or one week matchup play in what fantasyomatic’s algorithm expects to be one of the highest scoring games of the week.
Forecast: Foles will likely continue to be a matchup-based play from here through the rest of the season. This week’s matchup against the Steelers is one of only two “great” rated matchups for Foles all season, but he does face five “good” rated matchups over his next six games. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB2]
DFS Bonus Start: Kirk Cousins at NYG
Jonathan Stewart‘s first season as the Panther’s every-down back has gotten off to a slow start. Stewart has had no more than 18 touches in either game despite playing about 70 percent of the Panthers‘ offensive snaps. Stewart’s biggest barrier to fantasy production has been when Cam Newton runs the ball. The numbers show that Newton needs to be successful as a passer in order for Stewart to get his own rushing opportunities. Newton should have success this week against a Saints team that ranks in the bottom third of the league in pressuring the quarterback. New Orleans has also been fantasyomatic’s fourth easiest matchup for fantasy running backs after the first two games this season. These two factors should help both Newton and Stewart. If Cam stays in the pocket more this week and the Panthers get Stewart more than 17 touches, the numbers indicate that he could have his best outing of the season.
Forecast: Four of Stewart’s next five matchups are “good” rated, but he does have to face a “worst” rated Seahawks defense after his Week 5 BYE. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
Isaiah Crowell made a case for himself to remain part of the Browns‘ running back committee in Week 2. Crowell split touches with Duke Johnson (15 to 12) while out-pacing him in yards per carry (4.8 to 3.6). Crowell took advantage of a “great” rated matchup in Week 2 and this week he will enjoy a similarly-rated defense as the Browns host the Raiders. Against the run, the Raiders have the third worst rated defensive line. Oakland is currently the third easiest matchup for fantasy running backs and Crowell scored 13 fantasy points last week against the fifth easiest defense for running backs. Crowell averages an impressive .56 “Fantasy Points Per Touch” (FPPT) and the Raiders give up .68 FPPT to opposing rushers. Oakland has also already given up three rushing touchdowns to fantasy running backs in just two games so far this season.
Forecast: If you get another productive week out of Crowell then you should seriously consider trading him away immediately. The Brown’s running backs will face six “worst” rated matchups the rest of the season, including four in the next five games. This is a schedule that does not lead to fantasy success. Sell Mortimer, Sell! [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
DFS Bonus Start: Fred Jackson vs. CHI
Marvin Jones had a 53 snap performance last week and was on the field for 80 percent of the Bengals offensive plays, helping him leap over Mohamed Sanu on the depth chart. Although 54 percent of Jones’ Week 2 fantasy points came from one touchdown, it is clear the Bengals intend to keep him on the field in two-wide receiver sets. An increase in snaps always means an increase in his fantasy production potential. Jones has a “great” rated matchup this week against a Ravens defense who allow the second most fantasy points to opposing receivers. The Ravens gave up 11 fantasy points to the Raiders No. 2 receiver last week (Michael Crabtree) and this week Jones will be playing that same position. Jones’ increasing opportunities should put him on the WR3/Flex radar for fantasy owners looking for a low-cost, high-upside play this weekend.
Forecast: Jones has an opportunity to solidify his role in the Bengals offense this week and will face a “good” rated matchup next week against the Chiefs. He gets two more positive matchups after that, interrupted only by a Week 5 date with the Seahawks. [Recommended Usage: WR3/FLEX]
Kenny Britt‘s 3.5 “Fantasy Points Per Catch” is currently the fourth highest of all fantasy receivers. Britt only averages around 3.5 targets a game so he needs as much target volume as possible to score fantasy points. Going back to 2014, Britt had each of his four double-digit fantasy point games when the Rams had more than 30 pass attempts. The Rams threw 31 passes last week and Britt had his best game of this season in a positive matchup against the Buccaneers. This week, the Rams face a Steelers defense that allows opponents throw the ball 39 times per game. The Steelers also have the third worst algorithm rated coverage secondary and are currently the fourth easiest rated matchup for fantasy receivers. There appears to be a very specific environment required for Britt to make an impact for fantasy and all those factors are in play this week.
Forecast: This week is the last positive matchup for the Rams receivers as they begin a five game streak of negative matchups before they finally face a “great” rated matchup against the Bears in Week 10.[Recommended Usage: FLEX]
DFS Bonus Start: Jermaine Kearse vs. CHI
Owen Daniels could provide some value this week if you are desperate for a tight end in a deep league or simply looking for a one-week upside play. The Broncos travel to Detroit this week to face a Lions defense that has given up one touchdown a week to opposing tight ends. Daniels has the upper hand in snaps against fellow Broncos tight end Virgil Green so he is the most likely beneficiary of this tasty matchup. In Week 1, Daniels needed 33.5 snaps before he saw a target and last week he needed only 13. This short trend could indicate that he will have a slightly larger role as the Broncos offense finds its identity. If you need a one-week flier, Daniels could be your guy against a Lions defense that is very generous to tight ends.
Forecast: Give Daniels a shot only this week as a deep league matchup-based play, and then think about dumping him. He does not have another “great” rated matchup until Week 15 in the fantasy playoffs. If you are playing Week 15 then you likely already have a better fantasy tight end on your roster than Daniels. [Recommended Usage: TE2]
DFS Bonus Start: Garrett Graham vs. TB
HOU vs. TB: Watching J.J Watt on Hard Knocks made it almost impossible to not want to ride the Texans D/ST this season. Two poor outings out of the gate may already have you pondering a switch. The Chiefs and Panthers should have been dispatched easily but were surprisingly tough opponents. This week the Texans win the D/ST trifecta. They play at home, they are favored and it is predicted to be a low scoring affair. The Buccaneers have been quite generous to fantasy D/STs. Even after their decent showing last week, the Bucs still average 3.5 sacks, one fumble and one interception per game. The Texans should have no problem helping them keep their average and that would lead to the Texans D/ST’s best scoring game of the season.
SD at MIN: If you are in a deep league and searching for an off-the-radar upside D/ST play this week, the Chargers are a good grab. They have not yet had a breakout game but are facing the Vikings offense that gives up 3 sacks, 0.5 interceptions, scores only 14.5 points per game and produces just under 300 yards per game. Adrian Peterson is always looming, but the Vikings banged up offensive line couldn’t get him over the goal line last week.
Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent.
Sam Bradford is off to a slow start this fantasy season. His lack of production logically mirrors the Eagles minimal offensive production. It is certainly not from lack of trying, as Bradford has thrown the second most passes of any quarterback over the first two weeks and still has a fantasyomatic Player Rating that ranks him 39th at his position. Better days should be coming for the Eagles and Bradford, but they won’t start this week – they face a Jets defense that has allowed the third lowest passing rating to opposing quarterbacks. Bradford’s very poor 0.23 “Fantasy Points Per Throw” value is about what the Jets have allowed to their past two opponents. Neither of the two quarterbacks who have faced the Jets have broken double digit fantasy points. Bradford’s numbers do not give any reason to expect his production to significantly improve too far beyond his 10 fantasy point per game average until he starts to see some positive matchups after this week.
Forecast: Things should get better for Bradford and the Eagles offense. They get three positive matchups in a row starting in Week 4. These include two “great” rated matchups against the Saints and Giants secondaries. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Matt Ryan is a bottom-end QB1 for fantasy but has had ongoing problems with his efficiency. His very low “Fantasy Points Per Throw’ (FPPT) value of 0.22 is limiting his fantasy breakout potential. This week he faces a Dallas defense that has held their past two opposing quarterbacks to a 0.23 FPPT while also preventing both of those quarterbacks from scoring more than 10 fantasy points. Ryan has only a slightly higher algorithm Player Rating than the two quarterbacks the Cowboys have already faced, so the numbers point to potentially the lowest scoring fantasy outing of this young season for the Falcons quarterback.
Forecast: Matt Ryan and the Falcon’s passing game will be back to higher fantasy production starting next week. They face three consecutive positive matchups, including a “great” rated matchup against the Saints in Week 6. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Doug Martin has failed to score more than 10 fantasy points in a game this season, despite facing two defenses that provided little resistance for fantasy running backs. Some of his poor production is a result of game flow, but much has to do with a Buccaneers offensive line that is the worst rated run blocking line in the NFL after two games. This week he faces a Texans defense that allowed only one touchdown to running backs in their first two games and is currently the sixth most difficult matchup for fantasy running backs. Sit Martin this week and pull him off your bench as a flex when the Buccaneers have games where they are favored to win. Martin still has plenty of positive matchups to take advantage of later this season.
Forecast: Be patient with Martin. This week is one of only five negative matchups left on the schedule. [Recommended Usage: SIT]
Giovanni Bernard has taken a back seat to 2014 fantasy breakout star, Jeremy Hill. Last week Gio popped back up on fantasy radars when Hill was benched after committing two fumbles. Bernard went on to double Hill’s touch total and scored his highest fantasy point total since 2014. Hill is in no danger of losing his starting spot, so Bernard will be back to the low end of about a 20/10 carry split each week. Both runners are averaging a healthy 0.60 “Fantasy Points Per Touch” (FPPT) after two games. In Week 3, the Bengals backs face a “worst” rated matchups against a Baltimore defense that only allows 0.47 FPPT to opposing running backs. The Ravens are currently the most difficult matchup for fantasy running backs so you can not only expect Bernard to regress back to his previous per-game average, but you should expect to see Hill produce low-end fantasy points as well.
Forecast: The Bengals running backs are in the middle of a stretch of four consecutive “worst” rated matchups. It only marginally gets better after Week 6 as the negative matchups become “bad” rated with only two positive matchups left on their entire schedule. Think about offloading either back for comparable value if you care about matchups. [Recommended Usage: FLEX or SIT]
Amari Cooper showed a first glimpse into his fantasy potential last week with a 16-point performance against a “great” rated Ravens defense. Although 70 percent of Cooper’s fantasy points came on one 68-yard touchdown, he was the clear favorite of quarterback Derek Carr. Cooper has been targeted 20 times in two games, producing 1.1 “Fantasy Points Per Target,” a value that ranks in the top six for receivers with over 20 targets. Cooper’s potential could be limited this week when he sees a lot of Joe Haden, as the Raiders travel to Cleveland to face a Browns defense that is currently the second toughest algorithm rated matchup for fantasy receivers. Cooper will have plenty of productive games moving forward, but this week you should bet on some regression.
Forecast: Cooper will go hot and cold over the next two weeks as he faces both extremes. He will get the Bears easiest rated matchup next week followed by one of the worst matchups for fantasy receivers against the Broncos in Week 5.[Recommended Usage: WR3]
Calvin Johnson owners will never be convinced to sit their stud wide receiver when healthy and this is not a recommendation to do so. Fantasyomatic Player Ratings are a measure of how “matchup-proof” a player truly is and Johnson has proven to be one of the highest rated Players in the history of fantasy football. In 2015, Johnson’s Player Rating still has him ranked 15th of all receivers even though his “Fantasy Points Per Game” ranks him 25th. This week two forces collide as Johnson faces a Broncos secondary that is the top rated against the pass after two games. Both Denver’s starting corners are rated in the top 10 in pass coverage and the Broncos defensive line is applying extreme pressure on opposing quarterbacks. As a result, the Broncos are the toughest rated matchup for fantasy receivers and have only allowed nine total fantasy points to receivers in two games. No fantasy column will ever tell you to sit Calvin Johnson, but you should seriously temper your expectations this week and definitely fade him in daily fantasy lineups.
Forecast: Johnson may be one of the best “buy low” candidates of all fantasy receivers because he is starting the season with a horrid five-game stretch of “worst” rated matchups. After that, the Lions have an even split of positive and negative matchups to end the season with Megatron‘s five best matchups yet to come. Give his owner two more weeks to panic and then swoop in and get him cheap before his matchups turn around. [Recommended Usage: WR2]
Tyler Eifert has scored the second most fantasy points of any tight end through two games this season. Eifert scored more fantasy points against the easier of the two matchups he has faced, which leads to a positivie fantasyomatic Player Rating. This week the Bengals face the Ravens who have not allowed a TE to score double digit fantasy points since Jimmy Graham in Week 12 of 2014. Playing nearly 100 percent of the Bengals offensive snaps and averaging 8.5 targets per game should yield some fantasy production for Eifert. But facing a Ravens defense that has only allowed four total fantasy points to tight ends in two games could lead to Eifert’s first single digit performance of 2015. Start him as usual, but don’t panic if he fails to score a touchdown for the first time this season.
Forecast:Eifert should get back to his productive self after Week 4, as that is his only remaining “worst” rated matchup of the season. He will enjoy his first of four “great” rated matchups as soon as Week 5. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]
STL vs. PIT: The Rams DST was popular on draft day, coming off the board as a top-eight option in NFL.com drafts. Their front seven may easily be the most talented in the entire league. Yet, that has not translated into fantasy production after two games. If you are still holding on to them then it is time to drop them for a better option. This week they play a Steelers offense that averages 32 points per game with zero fumbles, and has only conceded an average of 1.5 sacks and 0.5 interceptions per game. They have also added 458.5 yards per game of offense. Need more motivation to let the Rams go? How about Arizona (see below) and Green Bay coming up followed by a BYE?
SF at ARI: There is a good chance you picked up the 49ers D/ST after their Week 1 breakout game and started them last week. If you have still not learned your lesson, then take a look at the numbers that the Cardinals do NOT put up. Through two games, the Arizona offense has averaged only 1 fumble, zero sacks and 0.5 interceptions per game. Not enough to make you forget San Francisco in Week 1? The Arizona offense averages 39.5 points per game and the 49ers will be playing in Arizona. Stay away.
Week 4 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: Joe Flacco at PIT, Tyrod Taylor vs. NYG
RB: Knile Davis at CIN, Lance Dunber at NO
WR: Michael Crabtree at CHI, Philly Brown at TB
TE: Crockett Gillmore at PIT, Richard Rodgers at SF
D/ST: CAR at TB, DAL at NO, SD vs. CLE
In the latest episode of the NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast the gang recaps the top storylines from Week 2, including the injuries to Drew Brees, Tony Romo and Eddie lacy. They also break down the top waiver wire and trade targets heading into Week 3. Don’t forget to subscribe and listen in HERE!
— 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!