The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 15
Jeff Ratcliffe identifies the top thing to know from each of this weekend's games.
The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 15
Play the matchups in fantasy football, and you’ll win more often than you lose. We’re done with the bye weeks and fully on to the fantasy playoffs, so knowing the matchups to avoid and exploit becomes even more important. Bellow you’ll find the key matchup stats to know from each of the 15 remaining games this week.
Don’t forget to also take a look at the best and worst wide receiver matchups for the week. Also, new this week, we have our fantasy positional matchups chart, which allows you to quickly identify all of the best matchups each week for all offensive and IDP positions. You may also find our O-Line/D-Line matchup chart helpful.
Just a quick note about the recommendations. Downgrading a player is not the same as sitting a player. If an RB1 is downgraded, that means he moves to an RB2 for the week, and vice versa for upgrades. These matchup recommendations and others are reflected in our weekly rankings, which are an invaluable tool in lineup decision making each week.
Miami @ NY Jets
Start Jay Ajayi with confidence.
The offensive line won’t be at full strength in Miami for the remainder of the season with Mike Pouncey now on injured reserve, but fantasy owners should start Ajayi with confidence. The Jets were one of the top run defenses over the first half of the season, but they’ve completely unraveled since their Week 11 bye. This came to a head last week when Carlos Hyde went nuts, and the 49ers backfield racked up 225 yards and a score on the ground. Hyde also scored as a receiver. Ajayi has struggled recently, but he’s back on the RB1 radar this week.
Green Bay @ Chicago
Avoid the Packers running backs.
There’s little clarity in the Green Bay backfield with Christine Michael, Ty Montgomery and James Starks all in the mix for touches. The Packers are also one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the league. Add to that the matchup against a Bears team that surrenders the sixth-fewest PPR points per game to running backs, and you have the recipe for a fantasy mess.
Jacksonville @ Houston
Ryan Griffin isn’t a tight end streamer option this week.
With C.J. Fiedorowicz in the concussion protocol and looking unlikely to suit up on Sunday, some fantasy players are considering Griffin as a streamer. While Griffin projects to see a bump in targets, it’s wise to look elsewhere. The Jags have been tough on opposing tight ends, holding the position to the fourth-fewest PPR points per game. A strong pivot play would be Charles Clay against the Browns.
Cleveland @ Buffalo
Stream Tyrod Taylor.
This is a tricky week at quarterback, with some of the top options in really tough matchups. If you’re looking for some help, you may want to dial up Taylor. His matchup couldn’t get any tastier, as the Browns give up the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Cleveland has surrendered at least two passing scores in 11-of-13 games this season. Taylor is a sneaky QB1 play.
Philadelphia @ Baltimore
Fade Dennis Pitta.
Outside of his explosive Week 13 performance, Pitta has been a prototypical low-ceiling fantasy tight end this season. That’s likely to continue this week against the Eagles, who are currently the second-worst fantasy matchup for tight ends. Philly gives up a league-low 26 yards per game to the position.
Tennessee @ Kansas City
Downgrade Spencer Ware.
You likely have to start him if you own him, but it’s advisable to temper expectations for Ware this week. Tennessee’s run defense is among the best in the league. The Titans haven’t allowed over 100 yards to an opposing backfield since Week 9, and they have held opposing running backs to just five rushing touchdowns this year.
Detroit @ NY Giants
Tough to trust Matthew Stafford.
Not only is he dealing with a problematic finger injury, but Stafford also gets terrible matchup on the road in New York this week. The Giants currently give up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Just three out of the 13 quarterbacks they’ve face have managed to toss more than one touchdown pass. Stafford owners should look for another option this week.
Indianapolis @ Minnesota
Sam Bradford is on the streaming radar.
This is a desperation play, but Bradford does offer fantasy appeal based on the matchup. Indianapolis has struggled against the pass this season, with two-or-more scores surrendered to quarterbacks in nine of their 13 games. They currently rank as the fourth-best matchup for the position this season. Bradford doesn’t have a massive ceiling, but he certainly could get you some safe points this week.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Jeremy Hill remains in play.
Hill was a rock-solid option last week and should be trusted once again. Pittsburgh has been extremely friendly to opposing running backs this season, allowing the fifth-most PPR points per game to the position. Ordinarily, the projected game script in this contest wouldn’t favor Hill, but he’s staying on the field for all three downs with Giovani Bernard on injured reserve. Hill is a borderline RB1 play this week
New Orleans @ Arizona
Can fantasy owners trust Drew Brees?
The short answer is: Maybe. Okay, not the definitive take you’re looking for, but there are a lot of moving parts a play here. In this contest, you essentially have two teams who are out of the playoff picture. Brees is also in the midst of a historically bad stretch where he’s failed to throw for a passing touchdown in the last two weeks, and he faces a Cardinals defense that gives up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game. That’s a lot of check marks in negative column, but there are a few pluses. Brees’s track record suggests he can have a big game at any time, and we also saw Ryan Tannehill run roughshod over the Cardinals defense last week. Brees owners have a dilemma this week, but he likely has to be started as a back-end QB1.
San Francisco @ Atlanta
Can fantasy owners trust Colin Kaepernick?
A similar question for a very different quarterback than Brees. Kaepernick appeared to be on the fast track to being a solid QB1 play, but then Week 13 happened. He wasn’t particularly great last week, but he did rebound and managed to throw for a passing score. But we’re burying the lead here. Should we trust him? The answer is yet again: Maybe. But this time it’s a matter of how much risk you can tolerate. Kaepernick has one of the lowest fantasy floors of all the starting quarterbacks, but he also has a massive ceiling in fantastic matchup against a Falcons team that gives up the most fantasy points per game to the position. If you need upside, go with Kaepernick, but sit him if you want to play it safe.
New England @ Denver
Start Tom Brady.
Is this a terrible matchup for Brady? Yes. Should you start a streamer like Tyrod Taylor over him? No. There are always exceptions to the rules, but this isn’t one of those instances. Start your studs in the playoffs. Brady is in the midst of one of the studliest of studly seasons. Therefore, start Brady. And don’t forget that he put up 280 yards and three scores when these two teams met in Week 12 last year.
Oakland @ San Diego
Keep riding Latavius Murray.
With Derek Carr dinged up last week, the Raiders leaned heavily on Murray and he responded with a 100-yard performance. Expect similar things this week in this divisional contest, especially given how the Chargers have fared against the run. San Diego currently surrenders the fourth-most PPR points per game to running backs with at least one rushing touchdown surrendered to the position in 10 of their 13 games.
Tampa Bay @ Dallas
Fade Doug Martin.
He’s still the Bucs’ feature back, but Martin has a few things working against him this week. The Bucs offensive line has done him very few favors this season, ranking among the worst units in the league in yards before contact per attempt. Martin also gets a terrible matchup against a Cowboys defense that has surrendered 100-plus yards to just two backfields and haven’t allowed a running back in the end zone as a runner since Week 11.
Carolina @ Washington
Kirk Cousins to the rescue.
He was one of last season’s top performers in the fantasy playoffs, and things are trending in that direction once again. Since Week 10, only Aaron Rodgers has more fantasy points than Cousins, and he gets a strong matchup on Monday night. Carolina has struggled against the pass for much of the season, and currently yield the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position. Cousins is poised for another top-five week.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.