The winning formula in fantasy football is simple: Play the matchups.
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.
Sam Bradford finally produced a stat line in Week 4 that put him back in the QB1 conversation. He capitalized on his best matchup this year by scoring his most fantasy points since 2013. Bradford has a low Player Rating and that generally indicates that a player needs positive matchups in order to produce. He gets one this week against the Saints. New Orleans’ defense already allowed two highly-rated fantasy quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Carson Palmer to light them up for three touchdowns each. Bradford’s player rating does not fall in the same tier as those quarterbacks, he is closer to Brandon Weeden and Jameis Winston. But even similarly rated Winston and Weeden both had their best fantasy games of the season against the Saints.
Forecast: Bradford could string a couple good performances together with positive matchups against the Giants next week at home before facing a “bad” rated matchup with Josh Norman and the Panthers before his Week 8 bye. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Jay Cutler returned from injury last week to have his best game of the season against the Raiders. Oakland was Cutler’s first positive matchup of the season and it helped him score 17 fantasy points on 44 pass attempts for a “Fantasy Points Per Throw” (FPPT) of 0.39. Cutler should continue to get back on track against a Chiefs defense that allows the fifth highest FPPT of any defense. Kansas City has yet to stop any opposing quarterback from scoring at least one touchdown. The Chiefs are a bit healthier since giving up five touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers and that showed as they put in their best outing of the season last week against Andy Dalton. However, Dalton scored more points in that contest than Cutler has in any game so far this season. Cutler’s receivers’ combined rating could also get a huge boost this week with the expected return of Alshon Jeffrey.
Forecast: Cutler missed a “worst” rated matchup when he was out with injury and only has two more on his remaining schedule in Week 10 and 11. [Recommended Usage: QB2]
DFS Bonus Start: Mike Vick at SD
Justin Forsett finally broke out of his slump in Week 4 and it was much to the delight of his fantasy owners. Forsett more than doubled his season total for rushing yards in addition to raising his Yards Per Carry (YPC) from 3.2 to 4.2. This was the first time Forsett received more than 15 carries in a game this season and also the first time he scored double digit fantasy points. Hopefully, the Ravens coaching staff noticed that correlation. Forsett should continue to find success this week with a “great” rated matchup against the Browns. Cleveland gives up 4.8 YPC (fourth in NFL) and the most rushing yards to running backs. Forsett raised his “Fantasy Points Per Touch” (FPPT) with his performance last week and that should continue since the Browns allow the sixth highest FPPT to opposing running backs.
Forecast: Forsett only has one more “great” rated matchup left this season when he faces the Browns again in Week 12. He should have a chance to get into a groove with two more “green” rated matchups in Week 6 and 7. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
T.J. Yeldon‘s fantasy value is starting to heat up. He has 20-plus touches in two of his last three games and played a season high 94 percent of the offensive snaps last week. His 80 total touches on the season are the fourth most of any fantasy running back after four weeks. His volume and stranglehold on the every-down back role in Jacksonville are very intriguing. In order to put him in the weekly fantasy starter conversation, Yeldon needs to score his first touchdown of the season and he has to break more “big plays” (10-plus yards) than just the one he has to date. This week all that could change as Yeldon faces his second “good” rated matchup of the season against Tampa Bay. His first “good” rated matchup was last week against the Colts where he scored a season-high 10 fantasy points. The Buccaneers defense gives up one rushing touchdown per game and has given up a league-leading 18 rushing plays of 10 yards of more. This matchup should give Yeldon his best chance all season to break a long one for a score.
Forecast: Yeldon has yet to face a “great” rated matchup this season or a “worst” rated matchup. He only has one of each for the remainder of the season and will alternate between “good” and “bad” rated matchups week to week. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
DFS Bonus Start: Chris Thompson at ATL
Eddie Royal made his first waves of the 2015 season last week by cashing in each of his 10 targets for a fantasy point. He reached the end zone for the first time this year and was inches away from a second score late in the second quarter. This week the Bears have a “great” rated matchup against a Chiefs defense that could provide enough opportunity for both Royal and Alshon Jeffrey to produce. The Chiefs give up 2.8 passing touchdowns per game and the fourth highest yards per completion per game (12.7) as well as the most receptions in the league to wide receivers.
DFS Bonus Start: Allen Hurns at TB
Owen Daniels is on a two-game touchdown scoring streak after barely being in the fantasy conversation for his first two weeks in Denver. Daniels plays over 80 percent of the Broncos‘ offensive snaps and averages over five targets per game, not normally outstanding numbers for fantasy opportunities. This recommendation is all about his matchup. The Broncos travel to Oakland this week and the Raiders have already given up six touchdowns to tight ends in their first four games. You expect highly-rated tight ends like Tyler Eifert and Martellus Bennett to take advantage of such a good matchup, but the Raiders have even made fantasy stars out of Crocket Gilmore and Gary Barnidge in recent weeks. Daniels is still a TE2 based on his player rating, but this week he should easily produce low-TE1 numbers with a high probability of scoring. All the numbers add up for Daniels this weekend as a solid one-week filler.
Forecast: Daniels could also have some bye week replacement value next week against the Browns before you put him back on waivers during. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]
DFS Bonus Start: Charles Clay vs. NYG
NYG vs. SF: Despite producing their two best fantasy totals in the past two weeks, the Giants D/ST has not been on the fantasy radar yet this season because they have not been able to create turnovers. That should change this week since New York will be at home, favored and in a projected low scoring game against the 49ers (who have to travel across the country to New Jersey for this game). The 49ers have given up 3.5 sacks per game, including six to Green Bay last week. Kaepernick is up in his own head recently and has thrown five interceptions in the last two weeks. If you are looking for a cheap one-week filler, the Giants should be able to produce based on the matchup alone.
HOU vs. IND: On paper you have to like the Houston D/ST this week because they are playing at home and are favored to win in a projected low scoring game. The Colts offensive line gives up two sacks a game and offense has given away the ball 12 times this season. Oh, and a less than 100 percent Matt Hasselbeck will be starting under center. All these numbers could add up to Houston seeing its first double digit fantasy scoring game of the season.
Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent.
Derek Carr‘s Player Rating spiked after putting up 20 fantasy points against a tough Browns secondary, then leveled off again after failing to take advantage of a soft Bears defense last week. Carr has still managed to score at least two touchdowns per game over his last three games and averages 0.50 fantasy points per throw (FPPT) that ranks him in the top seven of all fantasy quarterbacks. This week, Carr takes on a Broncos defense that has allowed the lowest FPPT in the league after four weeks. Much of Carr’s success in the passing game comes from having a ton of time to throw. Carr has seen pressured on only 13.4 percent of his dropbacks, giving him the second-best percentage in NFL. As a rookie, Carr completed just 33.6 percent of his passes when under pressure, which was fourth worst among qualified quarterbacks. This disparity will be a huge variable against a Broncos defense that leads the NFL in sacks per game and has the fourth most quarterback hurries in the league.
Forecast: Carr will have some time to recover during his Week 6 bye. He will then enjoy a “great” rated matchup against the Chargers to welcome him back in Week 7. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Mark Ingram has quietly become one of the more consistent fantasy producing running backs this season. He averages a combined 20 touches per game with only 24 percent of his fantasy points coming from touchdowns. Ingram’s impressive 0.65 fantasy points per touch (FPPT) lands him in the top 10 among running backs. However, this week he has a “worst” rated matchup against an Eagles defense that holds opposing running backs to only 0.46 FPPT. The Eagles give up only 0.2 rushing touchdowns per game and the third fewest yards per carry of any defense. If Ingram is going to score his third rushing touchdown of the season this week, he will be the first running back to do so against Philadelphia.
Forecast: Ingram will be back to RB1 production levels next week with a “great” rated matchup at home versus a Falcons defense that not been able to stop any caliber of opposing running back. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
Jeremy Hill‘s Week 4 performance was the first time he saw more playing time than Bernard since Week 1. Hill faced a string of three “worst” rated matchups in a row since Week 2 and only averaged 8.7 fantasy points per game during that span. Most of his point production came against the Chiefs last week with 75 percent of his fantasy points coming from his three touchdowns. The Bengals host another “worst” rated matchup when the Seahawks travel to Cincinnati in Week 5. This will be Hill’s toughest matchup of the season. The Seahawks‘ have not allowed a running back to rush for a touchdown and have only given up six rushing plays of 10 yards or more all season.
Forecast: The Bengals running backs entered the season with the most “worst” rated matchup of any fantasy backfield this season, but four of six of those games will be behind them after this week. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
Amari Cooper owners were hoping for a big game in a positive matchup last week. Cooper did score an early touchdown only to frustrate his owners as he was held without a catch in the second half. Cooper’s production this week could be similar to his second half letdown last week. The Raiders play host to a Denver secondary has only allowed one receiver touchdown this year. Cooper has the second highest player rating of any receiver the Broncos have faced, but his upside will be limited by the trouble that Derek Carr will be facing from a wicked Denver pass rush. Cooper will have his own problems with Broncos cornerback Chris Harris. Harris is one of the league’s premier shut-down corners and has only allowed a combined 4.6 total fantasy points to split end receivers like Cooper all season.
Forecast: Cooper will have a string of negative matchups coming out of his Week 6 bye. But, his schedule will get much easier just in time for the fantasy playoff push. [Recommended Usage: WR3]
Gary Barnidge is possibly the hottest tight end in fantasy football at the moment. Two double digit scoring games in a row have him flying off waivers and onto rosters in many leagues. Barnidge has doubled his targets and scored a touchdown in his last two games but has done so against two of the league’s top five easiest rated matchups for tight ends. This week, Barnidge faces a Ravens defense that has allowed zero touchdowns and only 31 total receiving yards to tight ends so far this year. Although Barnidge has the highest player rating of all five tight ends that the Ravens have faced, another double digit scoring performance will be tough to produce.
Forecast: Barnidge has been pretty matchup-proof in his recent run of fantasy success. That should come in handy since only two of his remaining matchups for the rest of the season are positive ones. [Recommended Usage: TE2]
STL at ARI: It is hard to sit the Seattle D/ST on name value alone. It might be easier to consider if you cover up the column that reads “Team Name” and just look at the numbers. Seattle had a positive matchup last week at home against a leaky Lions offense and were the first defense this season to not record a sack or an interception against them. This week they play on the road against a Bengals offense that has only given up two sacks all season, and has not given up a single sack in three of their games. Dalton has only thrown one interception all season and the Bengals are averaging over 400 yards of offense per game. If you can disconnect yourself from the value of the name, you would be wise to sit Seattle this week and stream elsewhere.
BUF vs. NYG: The Rams defense has finally been showing some fantasy appeal after getting off to a slow start. Their fierce front seven has already recorded 17 sacks and their secondary averages at least one interception a game. This week, that will change as they travel to Green Bay to try to force Aaron Rodgers into rare mistakes. It is well known that Rodgers has not thrown an interception at home since like, the 70s, but the entire team has also only given the ball away once all season. There will be sacks to be had but the lack of turnover and interception opportunities coupled with the likelihood of Green Bay running up yards and points at home makes the Rams less desirable than normal this week. If an owner in your league drops them because of this matchup and next week’s BYE, scoop them up as they have very positive matchups against CLE, SF and CHI in three of the four games following their return.
Week 6 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: Sam Bradford vs. NYG, Jay Cutler at DET
RB: Chris Thompson at NYJ, Joique Bell vs. CHI
WR: Donte Moncrief vs. NE, John Brown at PIT
TE: Owen Daniels at CLE, Zach Ertz vs. NYG
D/ST: BAL vs. SF, DET vs. CHI
— 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!