Welcome to Week 10 of the Matchup Machine. This is a feature Chet started using to help me out over at thefakebasketball.com in our daily fantasy basketball matchups. It proved highly effective for us on the NBA side of things, so we adapted it to the NFL. You will see a writeup on some of the more fantasy-intriguing NFL Matchups, then a chart examining exactly which players have the easiest defensive matchups each week. Please note that these stats only include the first nine weeks right now and will get more effective as the season goes on and we can add more data.
NYG @ CIN
Eli Manning rides one of his notorious cold streaks into Cincinnati to face a less than imposing Bengals pass defense. Hakeem Nicks appears to have shaken off his knee swelling enough to declare that he is going to play in this one. That is enough for me to have Manning as a low-end QB1 with obvious upside in this one. Nicks is a WR2 for me until he starts putting up some numbers, while Victor Cruz should get back on the WR1 track right along with Eli. Ahmad Bradshaw is beginning to frustrate me as a fantasy footballer because he is offering little explosion and has lost goal line duties to Andre Brown. There just isn’t a lot of upside there anymore. The Black Unicorn, Martellus Bennett, should bounce back a little this week, but at this point, who isn’t a possible low-end TE1.
Andy Dalton has been more than his owners could have asked for so far this season and he has established himself as a high-end QB2 with upside in matchup like these that could be a shootout in the right conditions. He owes a lot of that to AJ Green who has quickly become the fantasy football wide receiver we all wish we had. There is almost nothing else that excites me about this offense. We of course have another “possible” low-end TE1 in Jermaine Gresham and a running back in BenJarvus Green-Ellis that continues to own the confidence of his owners, but has done nothing to deserve it.
BUF @ NE
The Bills come into New England after being stomped by them at home earlier in the season. The Bills are promising to feature CJ Spiller more in the offense, but I still think that is going to be awfully hard to do when your second best offensive weapon is also a running back in Fred Jackson. I expect both to approach 15 touches, but expect Spiller to have the slight edge because of his explosiveness and the fact that the Bills will likely be throwing as the trailing team. Stevie Johnson is expected to suit up and will be his usual WR3 self that gets 75 yards and makes or breaks his day depending on if he scores. Scott Chandler is due for a touchdown, so I would probably run him out there and hope he can capitalize on a Patriots team that doesn’t defend tight ends especially well. Ryan Fitzpatrick probably cruises past 300 yards, but I see 1 TD and 3 interceptions in his future.
The Patriots ran the Bills up and down the field last time by running a hurry up, tallying over 70 plays. The crazy thing about that number of plays is how many of them were runs. I expect the Pats to mix in the pass more this time around to keep the Bills on their toes, but both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen should be useful considering the Pats top two backs totaled well over 200 yards in the last meeting. Ridley is a rock-solid RB1 while Vereen is an elite flex in my eyes. Aaron Hernandez is expected to suit up, which clouds the Pats passing game a bit again. He and Rob Gronkowski are still elite TE1 plays, but as much due to the lack of other remotely solid options as their respective talents. Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker are both solid WR2s, but you just aren’t going to know which of these guys are going to get the yards and touchdowns each week. No doubt, someone will though because Tom Brady is back there posting QB1 numbers..
ATL @ NO
For some reason, I feel like I’ve written about these two teams 10 times each, maybe I have. Matt Ryan comes off a zero touchdown game and into a great matchup with the Saints. The only problem is you can beat the Saints on basically the running game alone, so for him to have a truly elite day, he might need some luck. Roddy White and Julio Jones have to be locked and loaded as WR1s, while Tony Gonzalez remains one of the few consistent TEs behind the big three. He’s a start every week. Michael Turner and Jaquizz Rodgers should both have an opportunity to run against the Saints. I would expect RB2 numbers from Turner and low-end flex type stats for Jaquizz.
The Saints finally established a bit of a running game last week with Darren Sproles out, but they split up the rushing load so much that it didn’t help any fantasy owners. Look for them to do a lot of the same this week. I wouldn’t touch any part of the backfield unless I had to. I prefer Vereen, whom I mentioned above, to all of them. Drew Brees will take over this game at some point and post Top 3 QB numbers for the week while relying on Jimmy Graham to handle the majoring of his passes. He finally looks healthy. Marques Colston is a solid WR2 and Lance Moore continues to be a solid, albeit unspectacular WR3 play. Devery Henderson remains a guy I don’t touch because he is an all or nothing play and you usually get nothing.