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. NOTE: After Week 10, the algorithm considers the recents five 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 than any other methodology. The ratings below reflect this “last five” recency.
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.
Russell Wilson is coming off one of the most productive four-game streaks in NFL history, completing 75.4 percent of his passes while throwing for 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. Since Week 10, Wilson’s Player Rating jumped 189 percent to 4.77, the highest rating of any quarterback coming into Week 15. From an analytics standpoint, Wilson is the best fantasy quarterback in the league right now. When the best player at his position goes up against a “great” rated matchup like the Browns, you can expect good things. Cleveland allows the third most fantasy points per throw (FPPT) to opposing quarterbacks this season, while Wilson is second only to Cam Newton for the highest FPPT in the league. If you add Wilson to a list of the 14 quarterbacks that have already faced the Browns, his player rating would be the highest of the group and the second highest, Ben Roethlisberger, already scored 27 fantasy points against them in Week 10. Other “great” rated matchups: Matthew Stafford at NO, Cam Newton at NYG, Philip Rivers vs. MIA
Jeremy Hill‘s streak of double digit scoring ended last week in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers are one of the toughest matchups for fantasy running backs over the last month. Hill’s brutal strength of schedule in 2015 allowed him just 26 total touches against positive matchups so far this season. This week, Hill gets his easiest matchup of the season just in time for the fantasy semifinals. Hill faces a 49ers defense allowing the second-most rushing yards per game over the last three (156.7) and they just gave up 230 last week to Cleveland. No defense allows more fantasy points to running backs over the last month than San Francisco. Other “great” rated matchups: Eddie Lacy, at OAK, Chris Ivory at DAL, Denard Robinson vs. ATL
John Brown is one of the most consistent fantasy receivers in the league since returning from his injury in Week 11. Brown is averaging about 10 fantasy points a game over the last month and is doing so against both positive and negative matchups. This week, Brown gets the second-best rated matchup for fantasy receivers against the Eagles. At least one opposing fantasy receiver is scoring double digits fantasy points every week against the Eagles, providing Brown with an excellent opportunity to continue his double digit scoring streak in your fantasy semi-final. Other “great” rated matchups: Malcom Floyd vs. MIA, Demaryius Thomas & Emmanuel Sanders at PIT, DeAndre Hopkins at IND
Desperate fantasy owners looking to fill a tight end spot may want to play the matchups this week. Eric Ebron is facing the Saints, the easiest matchup for fantasy tight ends. New Orleans is giving up the third-most receiving yards to tight ends over the last three weeks, with just short of 100 yards allowed per game. This season Ebron requires both a good matchup and a touchdown to produce for fantasy purposes. This week he gets the good matchup and his opponent should also increase his chances for a touchdown. The Saints are giving up plenty of touchdowns to opposing tight ends, with five touchdowns allowed to the position since Week 10. Other “great” rated matchups: Antonio Gates vs. MIA, Ben Watson vs. DET, Greg Olsen at NYG
SEA at CLE: Although an obvious start, Seahawks D/ST owners should be particularly excited about their matchup this week. Seattle is favored at home and welcome a Cleveland offense producing the fourth-most giveaways this season while scoring the second-fewest points per possession (40.9%) in the league. The Seahawks could single-handedly send a lot of teams to their fantasy championship this week. NE vs. TEN: The Patriots defense put up a season high in fantasy points last week. They are a unit getting hot just in time for the fantasy playoffs. This week, they face a Titans offense with the third-most giveaways in the league. New England has 10 sacks in their last three games and Tennessee allows 3.5 sacks per game, including 15 total sacks in their last four games.
Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent.
Ben Roethlisberger‘s matchup dependency ranks him in the top 10 of fantasy scorers against negative rated matchups this season. However, those numbers are influenced by performances against “bad” rated matchups. When Roehtlisberger faced his only “worst” rated matchup of the season, he scored his fewest fantasy points of any complete game this year. Despite allowing Derek Carr to throw for two touchdowns last week, Denver has not allowed consecutive multiple touchdown games to opposing quarterbacks all season. No defense gives up fewer FPPT (0.30) than Denver, and only five other defenses gave up fewer fantasy points to the position over the last month. Other “worst” rated matchups: Jameis Winston at STL, Sam Bradford vs. ARI, Case Keenum vs. TB
Darren McFadden‘s impressive 12.3 yards per carry average somehow only earned him nine carries against Green Bay in Week 14. McFadden’s touches dropped consistently since his Week 11 season high of 32, yet coming into last week he maintained a steady 0.49 FPPT average over that span. McFadden’s lowest FPPT averages this season come when he faces “worst” rated matchups, like his matchup this week against the Jets. Over their last three games, New York allows the fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL (36.7) while holding opposing fantasy running backs to 0.33 FPPT. Although McFadden’s touchdown dependency is a low 15 percent of his overall fantasy points, he is unlikely to score this week since only two running backs scored touchdowns against the Jets since Week 10. Other “worst” rated matchups: Charcandrick West & Spencer Ware at BAL, Ronnie Hillman at PIT, DeAngelo Williams vs. DEN
Michael Crabtree is the 28th ranked receiver in fantasy points per game against negative matchups this season, proving he is not able to easily overcome tough matchups. Crabtree’s best fantasy performance since Week 9 came in Week 13 with a 10 point game against the Chiefs, the fourth-easiest rated matchup for fantasy receivers at the time. Last week, Crabtree posted his lowest point total of the season against his most difficult matchup of the season. This week, his matchup only marginally improves against a “worst” rated Packers defense ranked as the fifth-toughest matchup for receivers coming into Week 15. Green Bay gave up just two touchdowns to wide receivers in the last five weeks, second-fewest in the league since Week 10. Other “worst” rated matchups: Antonio Brown & Martavis Bryant vs. DEN, Jarvis Landry at SD, A.J. Green at SF
Jason Witten‘s name value is much stronger than his ability to score fantasy points in the 2015 Cowboys offense. Witten only scored above seven fantasy points once this season (Week 1), yet he is still owned in over 76 percent of NFL.com leagues. Fantasy teams in the semifinals need to look elsewhere this week because this low producing tight end faces the Jets, the toughest possible matchup a fantasy tight end can get in Week 15. The Jets have not allowed a receiving touchdown to a tight end since facing Rob Gronkowski in Week 7, and only allowed two to the position all season. The Jets are coming into this matchup hot, giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends over the last month. Witten only scores five fantasy points per game when facing “best” rated matchups this season, which does not bode well for his chances against his first “worst” rated matchup of the season this week. Other “worst” rated matchups: Maxx Williams vs. KC, Jordan Reed vs. BUF
PHI at ARI: A solid fantasy unit earlier this season, the Eagles should be dropped in Week 15. Philadelphia faces a highly productive Cardinals offense scoring over 30 points per week. Carson Palmer has not thrown an interception in three weeks and was only sacked five times in that span. CAR vs. NYG: Riding the Panthers defense likely helped get you into the fantasy semi-finals after posting they posted their best fantasy performance of the season in Week 14. Carolina’s Week 15 opponent may not be such a pushover. The Giants did not allow a sack or interception last week and are keeping their giveaways under control. You still start the Panthers defense this week, but the numbers say they could be in for one of their rare single digit fantasy performances.