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.
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.
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.
Derek Carr‘s 17 point fantasy performance against the Vikings last week marks the first time he scored less than 20 fantasy points in a game since returning from his Week 6 bye. The most impressive part of that run is that he produced those fantasy points while facing just one positive matchup. Week 11 begins a stretch of matchups for Carr that include only one negative matchup for the rest of the season. This week, Carr faces a Lions secondary that could be down three cornerbacks due to injury. Since Week 5, only Jay Cutler failed to throw for multiple touchdowns against Detroit. One strike against Carr is that his quarterback rating in the red zone is the second-worst in the NFL, but Detroit has allowed their opponents to score on 69 percent of their red zone visits over their last three games.
Forecast: Carr looks to be settling in as a viable starter just in time for a string of three consecutive positive matchups to finish the fantasy regular season. [Recommended Usage: QB1]
No question your fantasy team is hurting if you are looking at Alex Smith as a Week 11 starter, but there are some interesting numbers to consider before you pass on him. Smith is the least matchup-dependent starting quarterback in the NFL, providing a consistent level of fantasy scoring when facing bad matchups. When facing positive matchups, Smith produces at a top-seven level. Smith will enjoy a “good” rated matchup this week against a Chargers‘ pass defense giving up six 300-yard passing games this season, the second-most in the NFL. Smith is also a very safe quarterback, having thrown just three interceptions all season, which ties him with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Smith’s safe trend should continue this week as the Chargers force only 0.5 interceptions per game, fifth-fewest in the league. Smith is not the most attractive start, but the numbers show that he is a reliable and safe option against positive matchups like the one he faces this week.
Forecast: If you want to stash a safe emergency backup for the fantasy playoffs, Smith faces three top-seven rated matchups between Week 14 and Week 16. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
DFS Bonus Start: Kirk Cousins at CAR
Marshawn Lynch is one of a handful of first-round running backs having a disappointing fantasy season in 2015. His fantasy production is tough to predict, aside from his ability to produce against the 49ers. Lynch’s best game of the season came against San Francisco in Week 7 and his consistent success against them goes back to 2014. Lynch scored a touchdown in three of his last four games and the 49ers allow an average of one rushing touchdown to each offense they face, the fourth-most allowed all season.
Forecast: Next week Lynch faces a “worst” rated Steelers defense and then faces just two remaining positive matchups to finish the season. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
Detroit needs to break a few long runs to get their passing game on track, and they have a “great” rated matchup against the Raiders this week to help them do so. Although Detroit produces the fewest rushing plays of 10 yards or more in the league, the Raiders give up the fifth-most of those big plays to opposing running backs. Oakland is having a tough time stopping the run recently, giving up 6.3 yards per carry (YPC) over the last three weeks, including 8 ypc just last week. Joique Bell is a flier at best for an open spot at the end of your roster, perhaps even a DFS tournament play, as he should receive most of the backfield touches. Even in a poor matchup against the Packers last week, he received 56 percent of the Lion’s carries in that game. If Bell is going to produce this season, it will be this week.
Forecast: Bell’s Week 12 matchup with the Eagles should put him right back on your bench or the waiver wire. [Recommended Usage: RB3/FLEX]
DFS Bonus Start: Charcandrick West at SD
Mike Evans leads the NFL in drops over the last month, yet still averages 12 fantasy points a game over that span. Evans’ 53 targets over the last three weeks set a pace that allows ample opportunities for fantasy scoring. All that is keeping Evans from being one of the highest scoring fantasy receivers is a touchdown. This week his chances of scoring significantly increase with a “great” rated matchup against the Eagles. The Eagles give up the third-most touchdowns to opposing receivers and should be just what Evans needs to get into the end zone for only the second time all season.
Forecast: Evans will see three more positive matchups after this week, including two top-10 matchups in the fantasy playoffs. [Recommended Usage: LOW WR1]
DFS Bonus Start: Terrance Williams at MIA
Jacob Tamme is one of the top tight end streaming options over the past few weeks, and his spot-start value continues this week. Tamme’s player rating spiked after turning in productive games against his last two opponents. He faces his third straight “good” rated matchup this week against the Colts. The Colts have allowed the third-most receiving yards to tight ends over the last five weeks. Although only 12 percent of Tamme’s fantasy points come from touchdowns this year, his chances for his second touchdown of the season get much better against an Indianapolis defense giving up more touchdowns to tight ends than any other defense.
Forecast: Tamme’s streaming run should come to an end next week against the Vikings. Then he sees only one more positive matchup over his final five games. [Recommended Usage: BYE WEEK TE1]
DFS Bonus Start: Eric Ebron vs. OAK
OAK at DET: The Raiders defense is creating pressure on the quarterback this season, adding up to the third-most quarterback hurries of any defense. That pressure led to eight sacks over the last three games. While Detroit had a pretty clean game in their win over Green Bay last week, they allowed 13 sacks in the two games prior and continue to lead the NFL in giveaways.
Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent.
Joe Flacco is a serviceable starting option when he faces the right matchups. This season, Flacco scores five more fantasy points a game against positive matchups than he does against negative ones, making him the seventh-most matchup-dependent quarterback in the NFL. Flacco averages just seven fantasy points against “worst” rated matchups, like the Rams defense he faces this week. Flacco’s five best fantasy performances of the season came when he was able to throw for more than 300 passing yards, and the Rams have yet to give up a 300 yard passing game all season.
Forecast: Flacco’s next two games should help him get back on track. He faces two positive matchups in a row including one against a Browns defense that he scored 24 points against back in Week 5. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Andy Dalton‘s player rating took a huge hit after failing to take advantage of a top-three easy matchup last week against Houston. Dalton faces a “bad” rated matchup against Arizona this week, his toughest of the season. The Cardinals‘ 233 passing yards allowed per game are the fourth-fewest per game in the NFL. Dalton’s worst two games over the last three weeks came when he threw one or more interceptions and Arizona’s 1.5 interceptions per game are the second-most of any defense.
Forecast: Dalton follows up his Cardinals matchup with an even tougher contest against the Rams next week. Dalton’s next “worst” rated matchup comes in Week 16 against the Broncos. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
LeSean McCoy is getting in a groove over his last four games with four consecutive double-digit fantasy performances. This week he faces a “worst” rated Patriots defense allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs over their last four games. Since Week 8, the Patriots allow just 2.6 yards per carry, the fewest of any defense over that span. McCoy scored a touchdown in two of his last four games, but New England gives up just 0.4 rushing touchdowns per game, sixth-fewest in the NFL.
Forecast: McCoy’s Week 13 matchup against Houston should help propel some owners into the fantasy playoffs. He may not be as useful in Week 14 with his “worst” rated matchup against the Eagles. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
Giovanni Bernard put together three consecutive double digit fantasy performances in Weeks 4-6, breathing life back into the Bengals running game. Bernard’s player rating is plummeting recently after failing to capitalize on two consecutive “great” rated matchups. This week, Bernard gets a “worst” rated matchup against the Cardinals. Arizona showed some weakness against Seattle last week, but on the season they allow just 68 rushing yards per game, the fewest in the NFL. Last week they gave up just their second rushing touchdown since Week 2 with only four total touchdowns allowed to running backs all season.
Forecast: Bernard will face just two more positive matchups for the rest of the season. One of those is an attractive matchup against the 49ers in Week 15, the easiest defense in the league against fantasy running backs. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
T.Y. Hilton scores just six fantasy points a game against “worst” rated matchups this season. This week, Hilton enjoys only a slight respite with a “bad” rated matchup with the Falcons. Much maligned for their rushing defense, Atlanta’s stout pass defense doesn’t get the fanfare it deserves. The Falcons allow the fourth-fewest receiving yards per game to opposing receivers. Hilton has scored just three touchdowns all season and is unlikely to get back on track against a Falcons‘ secondary tied for the second-fewest touchdowns given up to receivers all season.
Forecast: Hilton’s next two matchups are just his second and third positive matchups of the season. Hilton scored a touchdown last time he faced a “good” rated matchup. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
Last week Alshon Jeffery generated his first poor outing of his short season in a “worst” rated matchup against the Rams defense. Jeffery faces his third consecutive “worst” rated matchup this week against the Broncos. Jeffrey owners may be more hopeful than originally expected after watching the Broncos defense look mortal over the last few weeks. Yet, even over their last three games Denver allows the third-fewest yards to receivers and gave up zero receiving touchdowns over that span. If Jeffery manages to get back on his double-digit scoring pace this week, he will be just the third receiver to do so against Denver all season.
Forecast: If you still have a chance to trade for Jeffery after the Denver game, grab him. Jeffrey’s five remaining games include just one negative matchup with two top-10 matchups during the fantasy playoffs.[[Recommended Usage: WR2]
Antonio Gates‘ matchup against the Chiefs may look attractive because of the Chiefs‘ reputation against fantasy wide receivers. Even though Kansas City is generous to fantasy receivers, they allow just 31 receiving yards per game to tight ends for a total of only 279 yards allowed all season. Over the last four games no other team allows fewer fantasy points to the position than Kansas City. Gates is trying to get back into the end zone after scoring his only two touchdowns of the season back in Week 5. His drought should continue this week as Kansas City has allowed just two total touchdowns to the position all year.
Forecast: Gates is in the middle of a six game stretch against negative matchups. Relief will come during the fantasy playoffs when he faces two of the top-five easiest matchups for fantasy tight ends in Week 15 and 16. [[Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]
BUF at NE: The Bills produced their fourth double digit fantasy scoring effort of the season against the Jets in Week 10. This week, they get a rematch against Tom Brady who lit them up for 40 points and over 500 yards in Week 2. The Bills may get to Brady for a couple sacks, but the turnovers will be tough to come by considering the Patriots have only turned the ball over seven times all season.
CIN at ARI: The Bengals defense strung together three consecutive double digit fantasy performances coming into Week 11. Their opponent, Arizona, is playing error-free football in recent weeks. The Bengals opportunities will be few considering that the Cardinals average only 0.8 interceptions and 1.6 sacks allowed per game while scoring over 33 points per game on the season.
Week 12 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: Brian Hoyer vs. NO, Johnny Manziel vs. BAL
RB: David Cobb vs. OAK, Andre Ellington at SF
WR: Sammy Watkins at KC, Golden Tate vs. PHI
TE: Heath Miller at SEA, Julius Thomas vs. SD
D/ST: OAK at TEN, PHI 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