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.
Eli Manning‘s 8.5 fantasy points in Week 1 against the Cowboys stand as his lowest fantasy point total of the season. Since that matchup, Eli has been averaging over 18 fantasy points per game, and that includes his Week 6 dud performance. The Cowboys give up a league-high 119.8 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks and have allowed two passing touchdowns a game over their last three games. Dallas comes into New York this week as an easier rated matchup than they were in Week 1 and Eli’s Player Rating has favorably increased by 19 percent since their first meeting. The numbers are trending toward Eli getting the best of the Cowboys in this rematch.
Forecast: Eli’s next few weeks provide two positive matchups and one surprisingly tough one against the Buccaneers in Week 9. He still will have four negative matchups to deal with after he returns from his Week 11 bye. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Russell Wilson accounts for 26.6 percent of Seattle’s rush attempts and opposing defenses need to prepare accordingly. The 49ers have only seen 15 quarterback rush attempts against them this season, while Wilson has rushed 12 times in the last two games alone. The 49ers‘ matchup rating against fantasy quarterbacks continues to drop as they give up 1.8 passing touchdowns per game. The 49ers are used to top rated quarterbacks, having seen five “green” rated passers already this season. Wilson enters this game with the second highest Player Rating that the 49ers have faced this season, and San Francisco just gave up 18 points to a poorly rated Joe Flacco last week.
Forecast: Wilson has just four positive matchups left this season. Yet, if you think you are going to the playoffs then should hold onto him since two of his positive matchups come in Week 14 and 15. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
DFS Bonus Start: Ryan Tannehill vs. HOU
Frank Gore‘s solid Player Rating this season is a result of his ability to take advantage of positive matchups. Gore averages 14 fantasy points per game against positive matchups as opposed to the eight fantasy points a game he scores against negative ones. This week, Gore faces his second “great” rated matchup of the season as the Colts host the Saints. Gore scored his season-high 21 fantasy points the last time he played against a “great” rated matchup. New Orleans gives up 4.8 yards per carry on the season and has conceded 5.4 yards per carry over the last three games. The Saints‘ Defense Rating has been dropping steadily in recent weeks, as five of their six opponents’ rushing touchdowns have come in the last three games.
Forecast: Gore still has two more “great” rated matchups left this season, with the next one coming after the Colts‘ Week 10 BYE. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
DFS Bonus Start: Antonio Andrews vs. ATL
Mike Evans has been one of the biggest draft disappointments of the 2015 fantasy season. Evans missed his first two games due to injury and has only averaged five fantasy points a game since his return. He has yet to face a positive matchup this season, but this week he gets his first “great” rated matchup against the Redskins. Not only did Evans average over 12 fantasy points per game against “great” rated matchups last season, but he scored a season-high 32 fantasy points against Washington back in Week 12. Over the last three games the Redskins have allowed 12.6 yards per completion and four total touchdowns to opposing receivers, one of the worst three-game stretches in the league.
Forecast: Evans is a good buy-low candidate based on his schedule alone. He has three negative matchups in a row to help drive his trade price down, then after the trade deadline he five of his final six matchups are positive. [Recommended Usage: WR2]
Most fantasy owners would not be surprised to learn that the Cardinals passing game has produced the second most fantasy points to pass catchers this year. However, some may be surprised to learn that John Brown is only nine targets behind Larry Fitzgerald on the season. Brown is having a breakout year and is currently on pace for 88 receptions and 1,325 yards. That is almost the exact total of receiving yards allowed this season by Brown’s opponent this week, the Ravens. The Ravens have serious personnel issues in the secondary that have led to the second-most fantasy points and the fifth-highest Fantasy Points Per Touch given up to opposing receivers.
Forecast: Brown has only one “worst” rated matchup left this season, and it’s against the Seahawks in Week 10. Otherwise he will enjoy six of nine positive matchups on his remaining schedule. [Recommended Usage: WR2/FLEX]
DFS Bonus Start: Mike Wallace at DET
Fantasy owners in need of a tight end this week plucked Benjamin Watson off the waiver wire after his big game last Thursday night. The real takeaway from last week’s performance was that Atlanta could not stop tight ends, and not that Watson is the next Jimmy Graham. Drew Brees and the Saints do a great job of film study and they can identify weaknesses in any defense. It was clear that led to them taking advantage of the tight end matchups against the Falcons. Fantasy owners should have instead grabbed Delanie Walker off the wire. Walker is on the field for over 65 percent of his team’s offensive snaps and has accounted for over 21 percent of the Titans targets this season. Walker is a regular part of the Tennessee passing game and is this week’s beneficiary of a matchup with Atlanta. The Falcons are top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns allowed to opposing tight ends. Walker is poised to take advantage.
Forecast: Walker could be worth a roster spot after this week since he has five of seven positive matchups between Week 8 and Week 13. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]
DFS Bonus Start: Jordan Reed vs. TB
ATL at TEN: Prior to embarrassing themselves on Thursday Night Football last week, the Falcons had two solid fantasy performances in a row. Purely a matchup play this week, Atlanta has an opportunity to take advantage of a Titans offense that potentially includes a backup quarterback playing behind an offensive line that allows four sacks a game. The Titans turned the ball over four times last week while giving up six sacks and two interceptions. If you need a D/ST to get you through your bye, Atlanta could help.
STL vs. CLE: There is a chance that the Rams were on your waivers wire this week because of their BYE in Week 6. If you grabbed them then you definitely upgraded your roster. Remember, this is the defense that broke Aaron Rodgers home game interception streak in Week 5. Any team favored at home coming off a bye is worth adding, but the Rams have had no fewer than two sacks in a game and have had 11 in the last three games alone. They host a Browns team that loses 1.2 fumbles and gives up 3.7 sacks per contest. As a bonus, you can get two consecutive quality starts out of this unit as they also host the 49ers in Week 8.
Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent.
The correlation between pass attempts and fantasy points scored is a reliable stat when evaluating fantasy quarterbacks. However, Cam Newton‘s fantasy point production curiously has no impact on the number of passes he attempts in a game. This is good for Cam considering the Panthers attempt the fourth-fewest passes per game. Newton’s highest fantasy output of the season came in Week 3 when he threw the second-fewest pass attempts of any game this season. Some reasoning might suggest his rushing attempts correlate with his fantasy output, but his two highest scoring outputs of the season came in the games where he had his lowest rushing attempt total (seven). Newton is not the fantasy enigma these numbers may suggest, his fantasy point production consistently correlates to one variable: the strength of his matchup. Newton averages six more fantasy points per game against positive rated matchups than against negative ones. The Eagles are a “bad” rated matchup and the toughest defense Newton has faced yet this season. Newton’s Player Rating is the highest that Philadelphia has faced this season, but the Eagles allow seven fewer points per game than Newton currently averages.
Forecast: Newton still has four more positive matchups after this week, with three of his remaining negative matchups all coming in the fantasy playoffs. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Josh McCown became a waiver-wire darling after returning from his injury in Week 3, averaging 25 fantasy points per game through Week 5. Now it appears that regression has set in after McCown failed to exceed more than 11 fantasy points last week. This is a classic example of McCown’s matchup dependency. He averages 25 fantasy points per game when facing positive rated matchups and only six against negative ones. This eighteen point variance is the highest of any starting fantasy quarterback, making him the most matchup-dependent quarterback in fantasy football this season. This week McCown has his second consecutive “worst” rated matchup as the Browns travel to Saint Louis to face a stout Rams defense. The Rams give up the fewest touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks and faced some impressive passers already this season. If you add McCown to a list of the six quarterbacks that have already played against the Rams, his Player Rating would be the lowest of the group and none of the other quarterbacks were able to score more than 16 fantasy points.
Forecast: McCown owners should get used to his recent level of production as he will face three more “bad” rated matchups after this week until his Week 11 bye. McCown does have one juicy date against a “great” rated matchup with the Ravens defense in Week 12, but the numbers indicate it may be hard to keep him rostered until then. [Recommended Usage: QB2]
Justin Forsett‘s three “great” rated matchups so far this season are more than any other fantasy running back has faced. Forsett averaged 11 fantasy points per game over that span. However, Forsett only averages five fantasy points and 0.27 Fantasy Points Per Touch (FPPT) against “worst” rated matchups, and this week he faces a “worst” rated matchup on the road against the Cardinals. The Cardinals allow the third fewest FPPT to opposing running backs (.46) despite already facing Mark Ingram, Matt Forte, Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell. Only one opposing running back has managed to score a rushing touchdown against the Cardinals so far this year and Forsett scored his first touchdown of the season last week.
Forecast: Forsett has two more “great” rated matchups left this season and he gets both of them in the next three weeks. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
Jonathan Stewart tripled his Player Rating with one game after a solid performance against a “worst” rated matchup in Seattle. This rating increase makes him the 20th highest rated running back compared to his 26th overall ranking in Fantasy Points Per Game. Stewart’s season-high 20 fantasy points in this game correlate to receiving a season-high 60 percent of Carolina’s rush attempts. Prior to Sunday, Stewart’s last touchdown was in the 2014 playoffs (he got in twice versus Seattle). The question is whether last week’s performance is a trend or an anomaly. Owners should get their answer this week as Stewart has his second consecutive “worst” rated matchup against the Eagles. The Eagles have yet allow an opposing running back to score a touchdown, and hold opposing running backs to 3.5 yards per carry, tied for second lowest in the league. The numbers and odds are stacked against Stewart for a repeat performance this week, but if he manages to pull it off then a very positive trend could be forming for his owners.
Forecast: If you are looking for some running back depth, consider targeting Stewart regardless of how he performs this week. Stewart still has four “great” rated matchups and only two negative matchups on his remaining schedule. [Recommended Usage: FLEX/RB3]
Torrey Smith placed himself on the fantasy free agent radar after a 76-yard touchdown last week netted him his second double digit fantasy performance of the season. Smith’s nine fantasy points per game average could make him a player worth considering for a bye week spot start, but a closer look into his numbers reveals some risk. Smith has the fifth-highest “Fantasy Point Per Target” of all receivers, which is normally a good stat if it is backed up with some consistency. Instead, 51 percent of Smith’s fantasy points have come on “long” pass plays of 20 yards or more. To make matters worse, he has barely seen over 20 percent of the 49ers‘ targets in his high scoring games. That adds up to too much dependency on big plays and not enough involvement in the offense to rely on in fantasy. Smith scores 26 percent of his fantasy points this season on touchdowns and this week he faces a “worst” rated matchup against a Seahawks defense that has allowed just one touchdown to an opposing receiver all year.
Forecast: Smith has two more “worst” rated matchups over the next four games, including his second game against the Seahawks in Week 11. [Recommended Usage: SIT]
Greg Olsen is the fifth-highest rated tight end coming into Week 7 in a season where consistent tight end production has been difficult to find. His Player Rating has been boosted by his ability to take advantage of his positive matchups, but he has only really been tested by two “bad” rated matchups in 2015. Olsen averages just four fantasy points per game against negative matchups, compared to 15 fantasy points per game against the three “good” rated matchups he has faced this season. Olsen faces a “worst” rated matchup for the first time this season as the Panthers take on the Eagles. Olsen is top 10 in Fantasy Points Per Touch (FPPT) with 1.22, but the Eagles have held opposing tight ends to a league-low 0.49 FPPT. Olsen’s matchup dependency goes back to last season, when he scored only five fantasy points per game against “worst” rated matchups.
Forecast: Olsen has no more “worst” rated matchups this season, but does have a streak of four “bad” rated matchups in a row starting in Week 9. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]
PHI at CAR: Any fantasy defense that has a great game on the night before everyone sets their waiver claims will usually be a popular choice. The Eagles have been a solid weekly play, yet they could be a pass this week. The Panthers are a tough matchup for opposing defenses. Carolina only gives up two sacks per game and less than one turnover per week. The Panthers average over 386 yards of offense and 27 scoreboard points a game, which are more than any Eagles opponent has posted against them this year.
ARI vs. BAL: The Cardinals are impossible to sit, but owners should brace themselves for the potential of a third single digit fantasy performance of the last month as they host the Ravens. Yes, the Ravens. Since their terrible Thursday Night Football performance in Week 4, the Ravens have only allowed one sack and have given the ball away twice. Keep the Cards in your lineup because they get a bounce-back matchup next week, but temper your expectations in the meantime.
Week 8 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: Jay Cutler vs. MIN, Ryan Fitzpatrick at OAK
RB: Shane Vereen at NO, Antonio Andrews at HOU
WR: Tavon Austin vs. SF, Malcom Floyd at BAL
TE: Delanie Walker at HOU, Larry Donnell at NO
D/ST: HOU vs. TEN, KC vs. DET
— 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!