When it comes to making start/sit decisions in fantasy football, the advice is simple: Play the matchups, and you’ll win more often than you lose. Now that we’re in the thick of the bye weeks, 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 for Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season.
Over the last five weeks, the Bills have been historically bad against the run. Yes, they did shut down the Kansas City rush attack, but who hasn’t recently? In their other four games over that span, Buffalo has surrendered an average of 200.5 rushing yards and 2.75 rushing scores to opposing running backs. Let that soak in. Gore isn’t a particularly high ceiling play this week, but he’s a good bet to produce RB2 numbers. Mack is the bigger wild card, but his upside bodes well for fantasy success. He’s a risky play in season-long, but should be considered as a punt option in DFS GPPs.
Giovani Bernard in play as an RB2.
With Joe Mixon looking likely unlikely to clear the concussion protocol before Sunday’s contest, Bernard will likely serve as the Bengals lead back. On paper, this is a middle-of-the-road matchup for Bernard, but the Bears have been generous to opposing running backs from a yardage standpoint. Chicago has surrendered 100-plus yards to six of the last eight backfields they’ve faced. Bernard won’t get much help from his offensive line, but he’s still in a good spot to put up RB2 numbers this week. He’s a strong DFS option as well.
Stream DeShone Kizer.
What a difference a week makes. Following the return of Josh Gordon, the Browns now appear to be fairly loaded with firepower on the offensive side of the ball. That’s certainly a good thing for Kizer’s fantasy prospects. Better yet, he faces a Packers defense that has allowed six passing scores and an average of 310.5 passing yards per game over the last two weeks. Kizer is still very risky, but his upside warrants streamer consideration.
The Quarterback Special
Both Alex Smith and Derek Carr get matchup boosts this week. Smith rebounded in a big way last week, and is poised to continue along that path against a Raiders defense that has been very generous to opposing pass games. In the Chiefs’ previous meeting with Oakland this season, Smith put up 342 passing yards and three scores. He’s one of the top quarterback plays on the board this week. Carr is a little bit more challenging. Like Smith, he gets a plus matchup, especially with Marcus Peters suspended. However, Carr will likely be without Amari Cooper.
It’s been really tough to trust Prescott during the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, but this is one time to consider him. The Giants have struggled mightily against the pass this season, and currently sit as the No. 4 fantasy matchup for quarterbacks. But let’s be clear that this is far from a safe play. Prescott did toss two scores last week, but also barely managed to crack 100 yards. Those looking for help at tight end may want to give Witten a look. The Giants have been the top fantasy matchup for tight ends for essentially the entire season.
Doug Martin in a plus matchup.
Apologies to anyone who picked up Peyton Barber, but Martin appears to be good to go after missing last week with a concussion. He’ll step right back in as the lead back and is in a great spot to produce against a Lions defense that has allowed at least one rushing score to a running back in each of their last seven games. Martin doesn’t have the highest ceiling/floor combination, but he’s worth considering as an RB2 with touchdown upside.
Tough matchups for the Panthers skill positions.
There’s no sugar coating it. This is a bad matchup for pretty much the entire Panthers offense. The Vikings have only allowed six passing scores over their last nine games, so it’s going to be tough to trust Cam Newton as anything more than a back-end QB1. Likewise, Christian McCaffrey gets a gets a downgrade. Minnesota has shut down the run game and are currently the worst fantasy matchup for running backs. The Vikings have yet to allow 100-plus yards to a backfield and have surrendered just three rushing scores to running backs this season. McCaffrey is a very risky RB2 play.
The “If You’re Desperate at Quarterback” Special
Neither of these plays are for the faint of heart, but both Tom Savage and Jimmy Garoppolo get very favorable matchups in this contest. Savage squares off against a San Francisco defense that has allowed an average of two passing scores per game over their last seven. That’s the exact same number the Texans are averaging over that span. But the question you have to ask yourself is how desperate are you? If you have no options and the waiver wire is barren, Garoppolo would be the preferred option of the two. He managed a solid 293 passing yards in his debut and offers more upside than Savage. That being said, Savage has the better weapons thanks to DeAndre Hopkins. Considering the matchups, both are potential options in GPPs this week.
Good matchup for Trevor Siemian, but …
Do you really want your playoff life on the line with Siemian this week? After a solid start to the season, Siemian lost the starting job and then back doored his way back in. He’s been horribly inefficient in the process, completing just 50 percent of his passes over his last three games. Forget the matchup data in this one and avoid Siemian (and really all of the Broncos).
Plus matchup for Marcus Mariota.
Quarterback is very challenging this week, especially at the back end of the QB1s. That’s exactly where Mariota comes in. On paper, this is a plus matchup. The Cardinals are the No. 6 fantasy matchup for quarterbacks this season. Arizona has allowed two passing scores to three of the last four quarterbacks they’ve faced and could be without Patrick Peterson this week. While all of that is good, it’s tough to trust Mariota based on his inconsistent play this season. He’s only thrown 10 passing scores and averages 220 passing yards per game. He’s very much a low floor play with a moderately high ceiling this week. The risk adverse fantasy player may want to look elsewhere at quarterback.
Downgrade Kirk Cousins.
Bad news for anyone who owns Cousins. The Redskins signal-caller draws a tough matchup against a surging Chargers defense. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram bringing the heat in the pass rush and Casey Hayward locking down the back end, the Chargers are currently the fourth-worst fantasy matchup for quarterbacks. Los Angeles has allowed just five passing scores over their last seven games. Avoid Cousins if you can this week.
Jay Ajayi is ultra-sneaky.
Since being acquired at the trade deadline, Ajayi has yet to see a full workload in Philly. However, he appears to be trending in that direction after out-snapping LeGarrette Blount last week. While 20-plus carries is an extremely unlikely outcome in this one, Ajayi does offer some sneaky appeal in deeper leagues. The Rams have allowed each of the last three backfields they’ve faced to top 100 rushing yards with four scores surrendered to running backs over that span.
Rough matchup for Russell Wilson, but …
Are you really going to sit the No. 1 fantasy quarterback in the first week of the playoffs? Yes, he’s facing the Jaguars, and yes, they’re currently the worst fantasy matchup for quarterbacks. But the Jags haven’t been as stout against the pass over the last month as they were in the beginning of the season. After allowing four passing scores over the first eight games of the season, Jacksonville has surrendered six over their last four games. In other words, this isn’t an impossible matchup. That being said, it’s also far from a cakewalk. Still, there are very few situations where it would be advisable to sit Wilson this week. Start your studs in the playoffs, and Wilson is a stud.
Don’t rely on the matchup stats for Ben Roethlisberger.
If you simply look at the data, this appears to be a terrible matchup for the Steelers passing game. Baltimore currently allows the second-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks with just three passing scores surrendered over their last six games. However, a bit part of their success was due to the play of Jimmy Smith. The veteran corner was in the midst of his best professional season, but he’s now suspended for the next four games. His absence opens things up for Roethlisberger, who is also at home. Roethlisberger should be considered a QB1 play this week.
The Patriots backfield has been on fire over the last month. While much of the fantasy attention has been on Burkhead, Lewis has certainly been no slouch. Over the last three weeks, Lewis is averaging a massive 6.6 yards per carry. Over that span, he’s forced 14 missed tackles on 40 carries. The only problem with Lewis for fantasy purposes is that he takes a backseat to Burkhead in the red zone. Regardless, Burkhead and Lewis are solid RB2s with upside this week.