Welcome to Week 12 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.
NO @ ATL
Drew Brees leads the NFL in passing yards and is locked and loaded as a Top 3 option at quarterback this week, the questions about choosing between him and Colin Kaepernick are asinine. Jimmy Graham took a bit of a backseat to David Thomas at tight end last week at least production-wise, but I fully expect Graham to bounce back and be the top TE in fantasy football this week. Marques Colston remains a weekly WR2 with upside. Lance Moore remains a PPR stud and a solid WR3 option for standard leaguers. Darren Sproles returned to a major role for the Saints and can be reinserted into lineups as he was previously.
Matt Ryan continues to play consistent fantasy football for his owners and that should continue with ease this week against the Saints defense. Julio Jones busted out last week, despite being basically a game-time decision and should be an elite WR1 play going forward. This week screams Roddy White PPR Madness to me as Ryan will probably have to get the ball out quicker than usual as the Saints will be blitzing. Tony Gonzalez also should have another nice game versus the Saints for the same reasons and is a Top 5 TE play this week. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Michael Turner is averaging 1.9 yards per carry over the last 3 weeks and has been continually outsnapped by Jaquizz Rodgers over that time. If you are starting Turner, you are hoping for a short-yardage TD. Rodgers could be a sneaky flex play for those digging deep at RB.
IND @ DET
Andrew Luck‘s scoring pace has slowed down a bit the past couple weeks, but I fully expect him to go off this week in what should be a high scoring game versus Detroit on turf at Ford Field. He continues to force the ball to Reggie Wayne too often, but he makes up for it with great ball placement and velocity on his throws. Expect Wayne to be a solid WR1 and Luck to post mid-range QB1 numbers. Another thing that should help both Luck and Wayne this week is the recent breakout of TY Hilton. He showed flashes early in the season, but was inconsistent. Now he is more than useable as a weekly WR3, especially in matchups like this one. Dwayne Allen should continue to play a full complement of snaps, but his upside is pretty limited as Luck’s 4th or 5th read on most plays. I would try to avoid the committee going on in Indy’s backfield again this week, going along with my assumption they are passing consistently and successfully. If I had to play one of their backs, it would be Vick Ballard, but his upside is limited.
Matthew Stafford is on pace to set the NFL record for passing attempts and he should continue right on with it this week. He has been much better at home in the dome than he has on the road as evidenced by his 400+ yard passing performance last week. Look for Stafford to finish as a Top-5 quarterback this week. Calvin Johnson should be his main beneficiary and continues to be a Top-2 WR play. Ryan Broyles is expected to remain the Lions WR2, despite the return of Titus Young, after his strong showing last week. You can use Broyles safely as a high-upside WR3. Mikel LeShoure missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury, but the Lions often give rest days on Wednesday and he looks like he should be fine. If he’s out, I actually prefer Kevin Smith to Joquie Bell, but neither would be great option in an even more pass-heavy attack. Brandon Pettigrew remains heavily targeted despite a number of bad drops weekly, he is a safe, yet annoying TE1.
NYG @ WAS
Eli Manning broke out of his slump last week and should continue to succeed this week against the Redskins leaky defense in what should be another shootout. Victor Cruz looks to be the best play for the G-Men at wide receiver, but don’t count out Hakeem Nicks, who has struggled most of the season. If there was one more week to trust Nicks as a top-notch receiver, it’s this one. Martellus Bennett has become a forgotten man in the TE ranks, but he has a chance to give us decent production in this one as the Redskins focus on taking away the Giants big-play threats at WR. With Andre Brown on IR with a broken leg, Ahmad Bradshaw resumes the feature back role for the Giants due to the coaching staff’s lack of trust in rookie David Wilson. Expect Wilson to be sprinkled in as a change-of-pace, but the big news here is that Bradshaw gets the goal-line carries back and is a rock-solid RB2 with upside.
Robert Griffin III has 8 passing touchdowns in his last 2 games. Couple that with the 6 rushing touchdowns on the season and you can see why he is on most of the top teams in your fantasy football leagues. Not only is he doing this with a sub-par receiving core, but he is also missing his top tight end in Fred Davis. Griffin’s running ability and schemes used by Mike Shannahan have Alfred Morris locked in as a RB1 play in any matchup. If I had to start one WR on the Skins it would be Pierre Garcon despite his injury problems. The rest of the Washington receivers rotate in and none of them if frequently targeted. Lately it has been hit or miss with all of them because Griffin is a low volume passer utilizing big plays to rack up stats and it’s almost impossible to predict big plays in receiver rotations.