Welcome to Week 9 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 eight weeks right now and will get more effective as the season goes on and we can add more data.
PHI @ NO
Mike Vick keeps his job this week heading into a wonderful matchup at the Superdome against the Saints. His owners have to make an about face from considering dropping him to making him a must-start against the Saints’ sieve of a defense this week. That makes both Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson solid WR2 starts as well. Lesean McCoy remains a must-start running back, but hell, wouldn’t it be nice if Andy Reid actually gave the ball to his best, most dynamic player. We can dream right?
Drew Brees had a bit of a down week against the Broncos last week and faces a formidable pass defense this week. It may be one of those weeks he goes for 400 yards, but only 1-2 touchdowns, but who is going to argue with that! The Saints backfield is an absolute mess in fantasy circles. Pierre Thomas should have a chance to be a feature back, ditto for Mark Ingram, while Darren Sproles is the best play as he makes the most of his 7-10 touches each week. Marques Colston came back to earth as well last week, but remains a solid WR2 week in and week out even if purely due to the Saints passing volume. Jimmy Graham‘s return puts him atop the TE ranks again and saps a lot of the value from Lance Moore and the other peripheral options in the Saints attack.
TB @ OAK
Josh Freeman is the only quarterback with 3+ TDs each of the last two weeks. He has established himself back-end QB1 value and has a soft schedule including the Raiders on tap this week. Vincent Jackson‘s arrival and production has resurrected the ghost of Mike Williams this season. Williams is a solid WR3 play each week now and VJax is still a boom/bust WR1/2 like he’s always been. Doug Martin is getting better every week and provides enough in the passing game that he can succeed even when the running game isn’t flowing like it was last Thursday.
Carson Palmer, Denarius Moore and Darren McFadden are doing everything they can to make this offense respectable despite a historically awful offensive line. Palmer has found his guy in Moore and he is targeting him relentlessly on important plays and Moore is making them. He is locked in as a WR2 as long as Palmer can keep his limbs attached behind that line. Darren McFadden hasn’t been pretty, but he is a Top 10 running back in most formats, hard to argue with how consistent he’s been despite the low YPC. He started breaking some big plays the last two weeks, but many were called back on holding penalties by the line. There just aren’t many running backs who are a weekly threat for 30 touches like DMC. Darius Heyward-Bey is the only other player on this offense I would consider and he is just a low-end WR3.
CAR @ WAS
Cam Newton put up some fantasy stats on the Bears last week, but he was still awful. A long catch and run by Brandon Lafell and some spectacular plays by Steve Smith saved his day for him as he threw 2 awful interceptions, one that cost them the game. Newton will forever be buoyed by his rushing yards and rushing TD potential, but he just doesn’t look right currently. Jonathan Stewart operated as the clear feature back for the Panthers early in the game Sunday even if the box score didn’t show it. His schedule lightens up and he should be at worst a low-end RB2 the rest of the way if he maintains that role. Steve Smith is going to start scoring TDs, he’s just too good. Buy low if you can. Greg Olsen could be a PPR monster if Cam Newton ever felt like checking down, but that may be like asking the cookie monster to try celery sticks.
RGIII finally had a down fantasy week that wasn’t concussion induced, but almost none of it was on him. The Redskins led the league in drops and Leonard Hankerson was put on America’s Most Hated Hands list costing Griffin at least one TD strike. Shanahan won’t deal with that much longer and I expect Aldrick Robinson to get another shot in Pierre Garcon‘s spot soon if it doesn’t change. Alfred Morris looked great again last week and was off to a good start before the Redskins were forced to abandon the run. Morris is a top 5 option almost every week. Avoid all the Redskins pass catchers until Griffin finds someone he can trust.