Welcome to Week 6 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 football-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 five weeks right now and will get more effective as the season goes on and we can add more data.
OAK @ ATL
This is the game I fully expect Darren McFadden to finally break out. They haven’t held a team to under 4 YPC yet this season and McFadden isn’t your run of the mill running back. The main problem with DMC other than the new zone blocking scheme has been the Raiders utter lack of a passing threat. Sure, Carson Palmer has been finished with decent counting stats because of volume, but unless he starts connecting with Denarius Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey early and often, teams will continue to stack the box and try to take away the Raiders one true threat. I would avoid the Raiders passing game like the plague until we see some improvement.
Atlanta disappointed slightly versus a leaky Washington pass defense last week, albeit not too badly. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are all must-starts at their positions. Gonzalez is atop the TE leaderboard no matter how you look at it right now and that is due to the double coverage both Jones and White demand this season. It doesn’t look like Gonzalez will be slowing down at all, so don’t be selling high on him. There just aren’t any other tight ends as consistent right now. Michael Turner doesn’t excite me, but he will continue to get the job done as long as the Falcons keep running him out there. He is still a guy I would sell high on given that he has yet to receive more than 15 carries in a game in the Falcons new pass-first offense.
DET @ PHI
Matt Stafford has yet to get on track in the touchdown department this season and Philly’s defense is no cakewalk as evidenced by Big Ben’s quiet game last week. I expect Stafford to be better, even if it is just due to volume. If his receivers, Brandon Pettigrew (cough), start catching the easy passes consistently, it will be a big help. Mikel LeShoure remains the Lions feature back for the most part, but faces a very stingy Eagles run D, I would avoid him if possible. Calvin Johnson obviously remains a must-start, but the rest of the Lions receiving core is still pretty hit or miss.
The Eagles are winning more than early last season, but it hasn’t been pretty. Michael Vick has been a turnover machine and looks a step slower this year. If he doesn’t burn a weak Lions secondary, owners will be forced to officially panic. Jeremy Maclin played a much better game last week than the stats show, drawing a 41-yard pass interference that set up the Eagles lone score. He also just missed the touchdown himself a play later falling about 2-inches short of the goal line on a reception. Desean Jackson still looks like a big-play threat, but Vick doesn’t have the time he needs to connect with him down the field. The Eagles need to feature LeSean McCoy, but Andy Ried still loves the passing game and Bryce Brown has been splitting red zone reps, which is never good news. Brent Celek is forced to do more blocking these days and it has really hurt his production.
DEN @ SD
Peyton Manning hasn’t looked too far off his old self lately. He has really only had one bad quarter this season. He is QB5 in standard leagues right now and I can only see him getting better. That is good news for both Demaryious Thomas and Eric Decker who should continue to see a lot of targets that they can do something with. Both excel after the catch and Decker has become a significant red zone threat. Jacob Tamme has actually been in the top 5 of TE targets the last few weeks and may be starting to turn it around. Keep him stashed as a TE2 in leagues with deep benches. Willis McGahee continues to look younger than he is, start him with confidence as Peyton still knows how to read a defense with the best of them.
Ryan Mathews looked great last week, but Norv Turner still kept him on a leash, using Battle to open the game and Ronnie Brown significantly in the hurry up offense late. Don’t expect that to continue unless he puts the ball on the ground again. The Chargers should feature him from here on out. Phillip Rivers looked great for the first time in about two years on Sunday night, which may be sign of good things to come despite the great matchup with the Saints. Jared Gaither makes a big diffrence for the Chargers, so keep an eye on the status of his groin heading into this week. Gaither is a former tight end who is the size of a mountain. He can be as good as he wants and his health permits. Robert Meachem and Malcolm Floyd both benefitted from the improved play of Rivers, but Antonio Gates did not. Keep playing Gates as he routinely beats the Broncos.
To see the raw numbers we use to make the Efficiency Rankings, click here.