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.
The algorithm provides an additional advantage over ‘Fantasy Points Against’ this time of year. After Week 10, the algorithm considers the recents 5 weeks more heavily when calculating defense ratings than it does early season performances. This provides useful visibility on trends and gives a more accurate measure of matchup strength in the current week then any other methodology. The ratings below reflect “Last Five” recency.
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.
Blake Bortles is maintaining a steady player rating after producing three above average fantasy point totals in four straight positive matchups. Bortles’ fantasy “floor” is higher than other quarterbacks with similar player ratings because the Jaguars continue to stay pass heavy in the red zone — the Jags called 11 pass plays on 11 red zone trips in Week 12. Bortles’ Week 13 opponent, the Titans, allow 2.3 red zone touchdowns per game over their last three games, one of the most generous red zone defenses in the NFL over that span. Tennessee comes into Week 13 trending as one of the top five easiest matchups for fantasy quarterbacks, allowing 12 passing touchdowns over the last five weeks. Only three other defenses allow more fantasy points per throw and fantasy points overall to opposing quarterbacks than the Titans over the last four games.
Forecast: Bortles enjoys the best fantasy matchup of any quarterback in Week 16, but faces two “bad” rated matchups between now and then. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
DFS Bonus Starts: Ryan Fitzpatrick at NYG
The Broncos‘ backfield situation may finally be evening out for fantasy purposes, just in time for a top-10 rated matchup with the Chargers this week. C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman continue to split carries, but each are enjoying a season high Player Rating coming into Week 13. Both backs are playing relatively even snaps, but Anderson’s 4.9 yards per carry average over the last month could get him the “starting” role this week. Regardless of who starts, both players are RB2 options this week against a Chargers defense that leads the NFL with 4.9 yards per carry allowed. Both Hillman (0.65) and Anderson (0.61) are averaging nearly the same fantasy points per touch (FPPT) coming into this game, while the Chargers are allowing the fourth-most FPPT to running backs over the last four games.
Forecast: The Broncos running backs have their best matchup of the season in Week 14 against a Raiders defense that has become the second-easiest matchup for fantasy running backs at this point of the season. [Recommended Usage: RB2]
DFS Bonus Start: DeMarco Murray at NE
Brandon LaFell is one of the last Patriot receiving options left after some tough injuries in recent weeks. LaFell is not exactly converting his steady average of eight targets per game into fantasy points, except when he faces positively rated matchups. LaFell averages .97 FPPT when facing positive matchups, but just .42 against negatively rated matchups. This week LaFell should not only see an increase in targets, but will also get his best matchup of the season against the Eagles. Philadelphia allows 2.3 receiving touchdowns per game, second-most in the NFL on the season and are leading the NFL with four passing touchdowns allowed per game over their last three games.
Forecast: If LaFell continues to be part of the Patriots‘ passing game in Week 14, he will face a “worst” rated Texans defense that is quickly becoming one of the toughest matchups for fantasy receivers in recent weeks. [Recommended Usage: WR2]
Kamar Aiken is averaging over 10 fantasy points per game since the Ravens placed Steve Smith Sr. on injured reserve back in Week 9. His Player Rating spiked after posting his second-highest fantasy point total of the season against a “worst” rated Rams defense in Week 11 and then continued to rise after his best fantasy performance of the season last week. His next opponent, the Miami Dolphins, enters Week 13 as the second-easiest rated matchup for opposing fantasy receivers, giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to the position over the last four games. Many owners might worry about Matt Schaub as the quarterback, but Aiken’s route tree actually works with Schaub’s throwing weaknesses, since Aiken runs short to intermediate routes and Schaub can’t throw the deep ball effectively.
Forecast: Aiken’s streak should continue into the fantasy postseason as he enjoys one of the easiest fantasy playoff schedules of any wide receiver. [Recommended Usage: WR3]
DFS Bonus Start: DeVante Parker vs. BAL
Coming into Week 12, Travis Kelce was one of the most matchup-dependent tight ends in fantasy football. He broke free from that narrative with his second-highest fantasy point total in Week 12 against a “worst” rated Buffalo defense. Kelce’s highest fantasy point total of the season came in Week 1 when he faced his only “best” rated matchup of the season. Kelce faces just his second “best” rated matchup of 2015 this week against a Raiders defense that is a top-three matchup for opposing tight ends. Oakland is allowing the most FPPT to opposing tight ends of any defense this season.
Forecast: Kelce faces a Chargers defense in Week 14 that is one of the top matchups for fantasy tight ends. [Recommended Usage: BYE WEEK TE1]
DFS Bonus Start: Delanie Walker vs. JAC
JAC vs. TEN: The Jaguars etched themselves into the fantasy landscape in recent years as the team to start your fantasy players against. In 2015, they are showing that they can be an asset as a fantasy defense instead. The Jags D/ST scored double-digit fantasy points in three of their last five games. This week they have a positive matchup against the Titans. Tennessee leads the NFL in giveaways with five in just their last three games. The Titans allow 3.2 sacks per game, including six in the last two games, and score just over 18 points a game. All told, those numbers make them a great option to stream defenses against.
CHI vs. SF: The Bears‘ fantasy defense is having its best month of the season for fantasy purposes. They average double digit fantasy points over the last month while facing some high-powered offenses. This week they host a 49ers offense allowing 2.9 sacks per game, while Chicago has generated seven sacks in their last two games. The 49ers score a paltry 13 points a game, capping the risk for opposing fantasy defenses going against them. The 49ers still do not pose a threat to pile up offensive yards either, with averaging just 295 yards per game.
Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent.
Derek Carr faces his fifth “worst” rated matchup of the season this week as the Raiders host the Chiefs. Kansas City is the perfect example of why trending defense ratings matter. Earlier this season, the Chiefs were a positive matchup for opposing fantasy quarterbacks and now they enter Week 13 as the third-toughest matchup. Carr is doing just about as well against negative matchups as he is against positive ones, but there is one interesting stat that seems to dictate his fantasy success. Carr’s player rating is 34 percent higher when he throws for 300 yards or more, which bodes well for him this season since he is tied with the second-most 300-yard passing games of any quarterback. However, the Chiefs are allowing fewer than 200 yards passing to opposing quarterbacks over their last three games. Over those same three games, Kansas City is second only to Houston in lowest passer rating allowed to opposing quarterbacks with just 59.7.
Forecast: Relying on Carr to get you into the playoffs this week could be difficult, but not as difficult as relying on him to win you your first playoff game against Denver, the league’s worst matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]
Frank Gore‘s player rating is dropping consistently since scoring a season-high 16 fantasy points against a “worst” rated Denver defense in Week 9. Gore scored just 9.7 combined fantasy points in his last two games, even though he still saw around his average of 19 touches a game. A “worst” rated matchup against a Steelers defense trending as the toughest matchup for running backs coming into Week 13 is not going to help him get back on track. Pittsburgh is allowing just 91 total rushing yards over their last three games and gives up the fewest fantasy points overall and third-fewest FPPT to running backs over the last month.
Forecast: Gore should see some relief in the first week of the fantasy playoffs against a Jaguars defense trending as a top-five easy matchup for fantasy running backs. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
Lamar Miller is the 10th-most matchup-dependent running back in fantasy this season. He averages six more fantasy points against positive matchups than he does against negative ones. Last week Miller saw his lowest fantasy point total of the season while facing his third “worst” rated matchup of the year. Miller scores just seven fantasy points a game when facing “worst” rated matchups and now gets his second consecutive “worst” rated matchup this week against the Ravens. The Ravens give up the second-fewest rushing plays of 10 yards or more and enter this contest trending as a top-three most difficult matchup for fantasy running backs. A change at offensive coordinator could help Miller see more touches this week than the 12 total carries he received over the last two games. Even if Miller gets back to his 14 touch-per-game average, the primary concern is that no defense allows fewer FPPT to opposing running backs than Baltimore this season.
Forecast: If you are still alive in Week 15, Miller could pay dividends against a Chargers defense ranking as one of the easiest matchups for fantasy running backs. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
Larry Fitzgerald‘s Player Rating dropped 41 percent in the second half of the season. Much of the decrease can be attributed to the quality of his matchups, with five of his six positive matchups this season all coming in his first eight games. Fitzgerald gets his second “worst” rated matchup of the season this week against a Rams defense that held him to one of his lowest fantasy point totals of the season back in Week 4. The Rams allowed three touchdowns over their last two games, but only four in the nine games prior. St. Louis is trending as the fifth-toughest matchup for receivers coming into Week 13, allowing the second-fewest receiving yards to wide receivers since Week 9.
Forecast: Fitzgerald will be a top fantasy wide receiver play in Week 15 against a terrible Eagles secondary, while dealing with two “bad” rated matchups on each side of that attractive matchup. [Recommended Usage: WR2]
Mike Evans is one of the league leaders in dropped passes since his Week 6 bye, yet is still averaging over 11 fantasy points a game since then as well. Evans loves a good matchup, producing five more fantasy points against positively-rated matchups than when facing a negative matchup. Evans faced just one “worst” rated matchup this season and produced his season low in fantasy points. Evans faces his second “worst” rated matchup this week against an Atlanta defense that is emerging as the second-toughest matchup for fantasy receivers in Week 13. The Falcons allow the fewest receiving yards to receivers over the last four games with zero wide receiver touchdowns scored against them over that span. Evans faced an easier rated Falcons defense earlier this season and tied his second-lowest fantasy point total of the season in that contest.
Forecast: Although Evans benefitted from one of the best fantasy schedules over the last month, his playoff matchups are trending in a negative direction with no positive rated matchups on the docket in Weeks 14-16. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]
Still one of fantasy football‘s greatest surprises of 2015, Gary Barnidge is proving to be one of the more consistent fantasy producers at his position this season. Barnidge’s two lowest fantasy point totals of the season came against two of the three “worst” rated matchups he faced. One of those came against his Week 13 opponent, the Bengals, when they met back in Week 9. The Bengals enter Week 13 trending as the third-toughest matchup for opposing tight ends, having only allowed one touchdown to the position all season.
Forecast: Barnidge’s toughest game of the season comes in the Week 16 championship game with a “worst” rated matchup against the Chiefs defense. [[Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]
STL at ARI: The Rams‘ red-hot fantasy defense is fading fast over the last month, with four straight single-digit fantasy performances. St. Louis hosts a Cardinals offense this week that they sacked four times in a Week 4 contest. Owners should not expect a repeat performance, as the Rams have only four sacks combined over their last four games. Despite a recent dip in production, Arizona is still a threat to produce more than 32 points and 410-plus yards a game, making them a tough matchup for any fantasy defense.
NYJ vs. NYG: The Jets‘ fantasy defense “every-week starter” status is slipping over the second half of the season as they fail to take advantage of some easy opposing offenses. This week the Jets face a Giants offense that was fantasy gold for defenses last season, but in 2015 that same unit is top-10 in fewest giveaways. Eli turned the ball over three times in Week 12, but threw only two interceptions in the four weeks leading up to that game. The Jets‘ defense can get a couple sacks in this game, but it could have a tough time keeping the Giants under 350 yards of offensive production.
Week 14 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: Ryan Tannehill vs. NYG, Russell Wilson at BAL
RB: Duke Johnson vs. SF, Brandon Bolden at HOU
WR: Robert Woods at PHI, Marvin Jones vs. PIT
TE: Owen Daniels vs. OAK, Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. NO
D/ST: CLE vs. SF, GB vs. DAL
— 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!