Welcome to Week 12 of the Fantasy Football 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.
HOU @ DET
Matt Schuab went absolutely bonkers last week and it felt like he doubled his fantasy points on the season, much of the same with Andre Johnson. I don’t expect any more miracles, but if this game can turn into the shootout that last weeks game did, Schaub and Johnson should be solid once again. I think you can start Schaub as a low-end QB1 in this matchup and Johnson as a low-end WR1. Owen Daniels was really quiet last week despite all the yards and points the offense racked up, I don’t expect that to continue. Daniels is one of the few consistent TE1s we’ve had this season. Arian Foster‘s results haven’t looked like it from a volume standpoint, but Ben Tate being out and carrying the load by himself has really caused a decline in his per touch stats. It would actually be good news if Tate can get healthy.
Matthew Stafford and company turned in another disappointing performance against the Packers last week, but look for him to bounce back this week against a Houston pass defense that hasn’t been playing at the elite level they were earlier in the season. Start him with confidence as a QB1. Calvin Johnson has quieted concerns about his touchdowns and his knee with a few stellar weeks in a row. Titus Young got himself suspended and I’ve just about given up on him at this point. He’s not nearly talented enough to make the boneheaded moves he makes and remain in the league very long. I expect Ryan Broyles to remain in the slot, but dominate the targets between him and starting wideout Mike Thomas. Broyles is a solid WR3 option for me this week. Mikel LeShoure continues to look solid, but the Lions rarely go to the run game consistently, so he’s barely a RB2 this week, especially in a tough matchup. Brandon Pettigrew is a guy I expect to have a big week while the Texans focus on taking away Megatron.
BUF @ IND
The Bills continue to show flashes of what could be a great offense, but they rarely put together a full game. With Fred Jackson expected back, both he and CJ Spiller are just RB2s in a decent matchup with the Colts. This should be a pretty high scoring game, so Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson offer some upside in the passing game, but think more in the middle tiers for what they are going to produce. I think this is another game that Scott Chandler is a good bet for a short touchdown, so if you are looking for a Gronk replacement, check out the Bills tight end. Donald Jones has to be better than last week in this one, but he’s just a WR4 at best with Fitzpatrick throwing to him.
Andrew Luck continues to impress everyone who watches him and I have him as a rock-solid QB1 again this week. Reggie Wayne hasn’t found the end zone in a while and I think this is the week he does it, as I expect Luck to target him relentlessly in this one. Vick Ballard has assumed the Colts top spot on the tailback depth chart and has a great matchup, but their other runners will still be mixed in. He should be able to provide low-end RB2 value in this one though for owners needing a one-week option. With Donnie Avery banged up again, TY Hilton looks like a good bet to produce some WR3 numbers as well and we all know he has the upside for much more if he starts finding seams in the defense.
ATL @ TB
Matt Ryan looked awful last week and will be looking to bounce back in what I expect to be the highest scoring game of the week. The Bucs whole team is improved, but they are still extremely vulnerable to the pass. With Julio Jones still banged up and looking questionable, Roddy White is one of my elite WR plays this week and we might see one of his 10 catch, 167 yard, 2 touchdown games that we have all come to love. Harry Douglas can be a cable flex if Jones is out, but I expect Jones to be active in similar fashion to last week at this point. Michael Turner is a guy I’m staying away from against a surprisingly good Bucs run defense. Tony Gonzalez is an elite start either way, but I would expect a big game out of him as well, if Julio is out, the man is an ageless wonder.
Josh Freeman has looked like the quarterback everyone thought he would become heading into last season. Vincent Jackson has made all the difference, giving him someone to hit downfield and open things up for the rest of the receivers. Jackson is locked in as a WR1 every week. His presence has created a solid complementary receiver out of Mike Williams and you can start him as a high-end WR3 again this week. Doug Martin is still streaking and is a Top-5 running back play for me the rest of the way. Look for Tampa to lean on him early to get things going against one of their rivals.