Welcome to Week 14 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.
DEN @ OAK
Peyton Manning is ranked as the number one quarterback this week by just about everyone. While I hate playing players, especially quarterbacks on Thursday Night due to numbers like these, there is no way you can sit Manning in a dream matchup tonight. If anyone can overcome the short week, it’s PeyMan. As far as the rest of the squad goes, Demaryius Thomas is a locked and loaded top-5 receiver who seems to be developing an even better connection with Manning as the season progresses. Eric Decker has seen his targets fall, but in a great matchup at a position with a lot of uncertainty, you can certainly do worse as a WR2. Jacob Tamme has seen more targets lately and he has low-end TE1 potential. Knowshon Moreno should be a servicable RB2 against a Raiders team the Broncos should beat handily.
Carson Palmer is the King of Garbage Time and Brandon Myers is quickly becoming his Queen. To continue to my fairly useless analogy, it’s a lot like chess, because Myers value has already eclipsed that of Palmer due to the lack of consistent options at the TE position. I like Myers as a Top 5 play this week. Darren McFadden, whom I both love and hate, returns to action this week and I believe he will shoulder enough of the load to be a solid flex play even in his first week back. Don’t get cute and try to start the Raiders WRs, because it will only come back to haunt you. Former solid option Denarius Moore was benched for a spell last week and he has become a risky play. Does anyone actually trust a guy with 3 names? I sure don’t, especially if its Darius Hayward-Bey. You can easily do better than both, don’t get enticed by primetime.
NO @ NYG
Drew Brees finally had his touchdown streak snapped last week and he may be in for another mediocre week this week. I honestly expected the Giants and Redskins game last week to be a shootout and the Giants defense played much better than expected. I still expect Jimmy Graham to ascend to the top spot of the tight end rankings again this week, but I think expectations need to be tempered for both Brees and Marques Colston who has become easier and easier for teams to defend this season. I like Lance Moore a ton as a PPR option and WR3 as usual, so keep starting him. I would totally avoid the Saints backfield like I have all season outside of Darren Sproles in a PPR. You can find much better options than either Mark Ingram or Peirre Thomas this week, although I’m sure one will end up having a decent game.
The Giants face a New Orleans defense that has improved in recent weeks and may be getting some of it’s swagger back. I still think Eli Manning remains a must start against a pass defense that still has a lot to prove consistency wise. Hakeem Nicks missed practice this week, but is expected to suit up still and I like him for a touchdown in this one. Victor Cruz has been fairly up and down this season, but that’s how things go when you own the Salsa Sensation. Martellus Bennett has come back on of late and you can certainly do worse than the Black Unicorn at tight end as I mentioned above. Ahmad Bradshaw is my favorite play in this entire game. He has taken over as the every down back again with Andre Brown on IR and the team clearly doesn’t trust David Wilson in the backfield. Owners can ride Bradshaw until the wheels fall off the rest of the way, just like the Giants will. Although, if they fall down early, Wilson could be looking an awful lot like Bryce Brown the rest of the way.
HOU @ NE
Houston will stick to their game plan early trying to beat the Pats by running, but they will quickly learn that Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels will be their best assets in this one. I expect Matt Schaub to post solid numbers and find himself in low-end QB1 territory while finding Andre Johnson 10+ times, giving him legit WR1 potential once again. Owen Daniels has been right in that second tier of TEs most of the season and he should find room to work against a Pats team that lacks coverage linebackers. Arian Foster‘s efficiency has slowed a bit compared to the previous two seasons, but the volume and ridiculous amount of red zone work have covered it all up nicely. He is locked and loaded as a RB1 either way.
Tom Brady has a chance to shred this Texans defense this week if Jonathan Joseph remains out, but the Pats rarely do what we expect them to. Brandon Lloyd has been as frustrating as they come, so if he doesn’t put together a solid week this week, considering how thin the Pats are at receiver, it’s time to cut bait. Aaron Hernandez is going to have a monster game one of these weeks and I think it will be this one. Look for him to finish in the Top-3 at TE this week. Wes Welker should continue to be the PPR machine he is and rack up catches and yards. While the Texans run D looks imposing, I expect the Patriots to come out throwing. Once they get a nice nickel or dime package on the field, look for Brady to go hurry up and the Pats to feed Stevan Ridley on a few drives, much like they did in their dismantling of the Jets run D last season and a few others early this season. Ridley is one of my favorite under the radar, elite plays this week at RB.