Welcome to Week 7 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 six weeks right now and will get more effective as the season goes on and we can add more data.
IND @ TEN
These are two teams I haven’t previewed yet in this column. Andrew Luck may be the most underrated quarterback in fantasy football so far this season. He has a very easy schedule the rest of the way and has already proved he can put up low-end QB1 numbers at worst. He even ran for two touchdowns last week showing off his athleticism. He has a great matchup again this week against a defense scored on frequently by Buffalo last week. Look for him to hook up with Reggie Wayne early and often while continuing to target Donnie Avery consistently as well. This may be the week Avery breaks out, I consider him a solid WR3 this week. I would start Vick Ballard as a low-end RB2 or flex in a pretty favorable matchup after he totaled 100 yards last week. Continues to avoid the Colts tight end conglomeration though.
Chris Johnson did what Chris Johnson does last week, had an explosive game due to a few big runs and didn’t do much else on the rest of his touches. He’s not a guy you can start with confidence, but he has proved over the last two years that the breakaway speed is still there and that’s all you need to pile up a few big games every season. He’s a risk-reward RB2 the rest of the way for me. I’m not very excited about anyone else on the Tennessee offense, but Kenny Britt is too good to not warrant WR3 consideration in a good matchup. I would avoid everyone else if possible.
WAS @ PIT
Robert Griffin III continues to impress week in and week out. He has the 11th most rushing yards in the NFL as well as the second most rushing TDs. He essentially is a high-end QB2 and a low-end RB1 all rolled into one steaming pile of excellence. He had a chance to top 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the same game last week if it was for an ill-timed fumble by Santana Moss. He and Aaron Rodgers should duke it out to be fantasy’s MVP the rest of the way. Because of RGIII’s rushing prowess, Alfred Morris is matchup proof and has no had at least 8.9 standard fantasy points in every game this season. The more teams try to take away Griffin’s legs, the more space Morris gets and he is an exceptional tackle breaker in the open field. He is a Top-5 option almost every week. Leonard Hankerson is the only semi-reliable option in the Redskins receiving corps, but he’s a low-end WR3 at best. Everyone else is waiver-wire fodder as long as Pierre Garcon remains sidelined.
Ben Roethlisberger really let down his owners expecting a big game last Sunday night, but look for him to bounce back in this one. Washington has the most burnable secondary in the league and he should connect deep with Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown consistently in this game. Heath Miller is a TE1 as long as he keeps up his consistency, but that speaks more about the middle-tier TEs than his ability. I expect Jonathan Dwyer to handle the majority of the rushing load again this week and he should post another solid, albeit not spectacular game here.
NO @ DEN
I’m getting awfully tired of previewing the Saints, but their offense is so good and their defense is so bad, they almost always end up being one of the Top 3 O/Us for the week. Drew Brees is on pace to break his own passing yards record, so there’s not much else to say here, as his defense is going to keep him throwing all season. Jimmy Graham looks likely to be back and resume his spot atop the TE charts. This hurts Marques Colston and Lance Moore a bit, but they are still a WR2 and WR3 respectively in all formats. The Saints should just give up on Mark Ingram if they aren’t going to use him. The only running back I would touch in the bayou is Darren Sproles still and even he has been fairly hit or miss.
The Broncos are getting a lot of pub as the best in the AFC and with Peyton Manning quickly rounding into MVP form, its hard to argue. Teams with Manning have generally been the most consistent this year because of how late he was going in drafts. Manning makes everyone around him better creating a Top 5 wideout option in Demaryius Thomas and a solid WR2 in Eric Decker. Look for both to have great weeks against a Saints secondary that allowed 400 yards to Josh Freeman and the Bucs last week. Willis McGahee is a rock-solid RB2 especially in this matchup. Neither Jacob Tamme or Joel Dreessen has proved to be a remotely consistent TE1, so I would avoid both if you can even in the plus matchup.