The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 16
Jeff Ratcliffe highlights the key things to know from each of this weekend's games.
The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 16
Play the matchups in fantasy football, and you’ll win more often than you lose. In the fantasy championship, knowing the matchups to avoid and exploit is of the utmost importance. 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.
New York @ New England
Martellus Bennett is risky, but possibly very rewarding.
Injuries have slowed Bennett over the second half of the season, but he deserves strong consideration this week. The Jets have been absolutely putrid against tight ends over the last five games, allowing five scores to the position. Rontez Miles has been completely unable to cover tight ends, so expect Tom Brady to attack this weakness. Bennett is still dealing with an ankle injury, but he screams upside in this matchup.
Miami @ Buffalo
Avoid Matt Moore.
Sure, he looks very tempting after tossing four touchdown passes last Saturday night, but it’s wise to resist Moore in deeper 2QB leagues this week. His Week 15 numbers look impressive, but keep in mind that he only completed 12 passes on the night. That’s an unstainable rate. Beyond that, he’s facing a Bills defense that hasn’t allowed a passing score in either of their last two games.
Tennessee @ Jacksonville
Is Blake Bortles really a streaming option?
He is. I know. It’s crazy. Bortles has been utterly terrible for most of the season, and that came to a boil last week. But the matchup is excellent, with the Titans currently surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. The last time these two teams faced, Bortles put up 337 yards and three scores, and the Titans are arguably worse in the secondary. This isn’t a recommended season-long play, but Bortles could make for a bold DFS stack with Allen Robinson.
Minnesota @ Green Bay
Start Ty Montgomery wherever you can.
It doesn’t matter if it’s as a wide receiver or a running back, just start him. But wait, aren’t the Vikings a tough matchup? Here’s where matchup data is often flawed. At this point in the season, matchup data considers all 15 weeks of the season. Over that span, the Vikings are the No. 26 PPR matchup for running backs. However, over the last five weeks, they’re the No. 12 matchup. Minnesota gave up 153 rushing yards and two scores to the Colts last week. Montgomery is coming off a massive performance last week and will stay hot in this one.
San Diego @ Cleveland
Philip Rivers is a strong play this week.
He’s been about as consistent as they come with at least two passing scores in every game since Week 8 and gets a fantastic matchup this week. The Browns have a tendency to make opposing quarterbacks look good, surrendering the second-most fantasy points per game to the position. Cleveland has yielded two-or-more passing scores in 11-of-14 games this season. Rivers is a rock-solid QB1 play.
Washington @ Chicago
Jordan Howard romps this week.
Not enough has been made about Howard’s impressive rookie season. Despite the Bears’ many struggles, he’s over 1,000 yards on the ground and is one of just three backs with over 50 percent of his teams carries to average more than three yards after contact per attempt. The good times continue to roll for Howard this week in a tasty matchup against a Washington defense that gives up the sixth-most PPR points per game to running backs.
Atlanta @ Carolina
Newton, Olsen and Stewart get upgrades.
It’s an Oprah game where everybody gets an upgrade. Cam Newton is coming off a top-five fantasy day – which was likely too late for his fantasy owners – and is a good bet for another one. Atlanta hasn’t been able to stop opposing signal0callers and currently surrender the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. The matchup also means good things for Greg Olsen, who was dinged up with an elbow injury but should be good to go in this contest. Jonathan Stewart is coming off a 100-yard performance, and is worth firing up again. Atlanta has given up a rushing score to running backs in three of their last five games.
Indianapolis @ Oakland
Derek Carr is a borderline elite play.
Just like the previous game, you’re starting any and all pieces you have in this contest. However, Carr is worth a spotlight. The finger injury didn’t seem to hamper him much last week, which is great news considering this matchup. To be fair, the Colts have allowed just one passing score in their last three games. But it’s important to consider their competition over that span: the Jets, Texans and Vikings. That isn’t exactly a murderer’s row of quarterbacks. Previous to that point they had surrendered at least two passing scores in eight consecutive games. Carr puts an exclamation point on his breakout season this week.
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
The third of this week’s trio of projected high-scoring games, fantasy owners will want to have plenty of action in this contest. That includes the run game for both sides. Mark Ingram has disappointed down the stretch, but fantasy owners should keep going back to the well. The Bucs have given up over 100 yards and a score to two of the last three backfields they’ve faced. Doug Martin is also an upgrade considering the Saints have surrendered four rushing scores to running backs in the last two weeks.
Arizona @ Seattle
Don’t worry about the matchup for David Johnson.
This isn’t an ideal time to see the Seahawks on the schedule for Johnson owners, but the standout running back needs to be started no matter what. Yes, Seattle is currently the worst fantasy matchup for running backs, but they have given up 100-plus yards to six backfields this season, including the Cardinals in Week 7. It might not be the most efficient day for Johnson, but his workload will likely be very heavy.
San Francisco @ Los Angeles
Start Todd Gurley.
If you drafted Gurley, the chances are slim that you’re still alive in your league. However, he’s an extremely strong play this week in a dream matchup against the downright ugly 49ers defense. Opposing backfields have topped 100 yards in all but three games against San Francisco this season, and the 49ers have given up eight touchdowns to the position over the last three weeks. There are 13 teams in the NFL who have surrendered 8-or-fewer touchdowns to running backs this season. Gurley has a chance to be this week’s top fantasy running back.
Cincinnati @ Houston
Fade Andy Dalton.
A.J. Green will likely be back on the field for the Bengals this weekend, but that isn’t a reason to fire up Dalton. His matchup is rough this week, as the Texans currently surrender the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Look elsewhere if you need a streamer.
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
Ravens running backs risky despite the good matchup.
Pittsburgh has been friendly to opposing running backs for most of the season, and currently rank as the fifth-best matchup for the position. Unfortunately, the Ravens backfield has become very unpredictable over the last month with Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West taking turns in the lead. Much of their usage has to do with game script, as West gets a bigger workload in the lead and Dixon racks up touches when Baltimore is behind. That makes both very risky flex options despite the plus matchup.
Denver @ Kansas City
Significant downgrade for the Chiefs passing game.
The Broncos are very good against the pass. You know this, and you aren’t looking to stream Alex Smith this week. But here’s one final warning about Tyreek Hill. Not only does he see limited touches, but his matchup is also terrible. Denver currently ranks as the No. 32 matchup for wide receivers. Dead last. Hill certainly has a lot of upside, but he’s an extremely risky play this week who is best considered a WR4 option.
Detroit @ Dallas
Avoid the Lions’ running backs.
If you’re desperate at running back this week, Detroit isn’t going to be your savior. Theo Riddick is still dealing with a wrist injury and looking very iffy for Monday night. That likely means Dwayne Washington will again get lead duties. He’s been unimpressive in that role this season, and gets a terrible matchup with the Cowboys surrendering the second-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. Dallas hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown to the position since Week 11. Fade the Lions backfield altogether.
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.