The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 4
Play the matchups in fantasy football, 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 this week.
Jay Ajayi gets back on track.
Last week was rough for Ajayi owners, as the Dolphins back managed just 16 yards on 11 carries. But don’t let that lackluster stat line discourage you from starting Ajayi this week. He gets a fantastic matchup against a Saints defense that has given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs thus far this season. New Orleans is the only team in the NFL to surrender over 200 total yards per game to opposing running backs.
Worried about LeSean McCoy? Don’t be.
Back to back games with under 20 rushing yards isn’t what you signed up for when you drafted McCoy in the first round this year. But his performances over the last two weeks came against two very good defenses. This week, he draws a much more favorable matchup. The Falcons surrender the third-most PPR points per game to running backs. Opposing backs average 11 targets per game against Atlanta. Only the Saints see more targets thrown to the position. McCoy erases the last two weeks of frustration in this one.
Tough to trust Isaiah Crowell.
He was a popular third-round pick in fantasy drafts, but Crowell has yet to deliver this season. And that isn’t likely to change this week. He gets a reasonably tough matchup against a Bengals team that yields the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. Perhaps more importantly, the Browns simply just don’t run the football. Cleveland averages 62 snaps per game and has attempted a designed run just 23 percent of the time. That’s a total of 14 designed run plays per game, which just simply isn’t enough volume to produce consistent fantasy numbers.
Todd Gurley keeps rolling.
The next stop on the redemption train is Dallas for Gurley. He’s a top-five play this week with the most favorable offensive line matchup of the week. Dallas has only really faced one good backfield this season, which was in Week 2 against Denver. In that contest, the Cowboys gave up 164 rushing yards and a score to the Denver backs.
Fade Ameer Abdullah.
Minnesota has been absolutely brutal on opposing running backs this season. The Vikings currently yield the fewest fantasy points per game to the position with opposing backs averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. Minnesota is also the only defense that has yet to give up a score – rushing or receiving – to a running back. Keep in mind that they’ve face some good competition, including Le’Veon Bell.
Great matchup for Cam Newton, but …
Here’s the thing. The Patriots have been giving up points in bunches to quarterbacks this season. Through the first three games, opposing signal-callers average 341.7 yards and 2.7 scores through the air against New England. But if you’re a Cam Newton owner, it’s nearly impossible to trust him as a starter after Newton failed to capitalize on a cake matchup against the Saints last week. Keep Newton on your bench this week.
Avoid Bilal Powell.
With Matt Forte looking likely to miss time, Powell slides in as the Jets feature back. He proved quite productive in that role last season, but it isn’t wise to trust him this week. Powell draws a rough matchup against a Jags defense that surrenders the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs in 2017. Tennessee did have success against Jacksonville in Week 2, but the Titans possess one of the league’s best run-blocking offensive lines. The Jets do not, and this unit should struggle to create space for Powell against the stout Jacksonville front seven.
Downgrade Big Ben.
Not only is Ben Roethlisberger on the road, but he also draws a tough matchup in this one. Sure, Blake Bortles torched the Ravens in London last week, but this is still a talented Baltimore unit that has racked up eight interceptions already this season. If this was a home game, it might be a different story. But it’s just too tough to trust Roethlisberger on the road until he proves us otherwise, especially when he’s facing a good defense.
Both quarterbacks get plus matchups.
Marcus Mariota makes for a back-end QB1 play in this one against a Texans secondary that just surrendered five passing scores. Yes, that was against Tom Brady, but the secondary has exploitable weaknesses with CB Kevin Johnson sidelined. Likewise, those in deeper leagues or DFS circles looking for upside may want to consider Deshaun Watson. Tennessee surrendered four passing scores and 373 yards to Russell Wilson last week. Watson isn’t a good bet to equal those numbers, but he showed against the Patriots that’s he’s capable of taking advantage of a plus matchup. He’ll also get Will Fuller back this week.
Temper expectations for Carlos Hyde.
Hyde has been one of the few bright spots for San Francisco in 2017, but fantasy owners should be aware that he faces a tough matchup against Arizona. The Cardinals give up just 2.8 yards per carry this season and have yet to give up 100-plus yards to an opposing backfield. You still start Hyde if you own him, but don’t panic if Hyde comes back to earth this week.
Wendell Smallwood is a sneaky start.
In the aftermath of Darren Sproles going to injured reserve, Smallwood figures to see an increased workload and should be owned in all leagues. He also could be a surprise fantasy factor this week. A quick glance at fantasy points against charts would suggest this is a bad matchup for the Eagles running backs, but that really isn’t the case. While the Chargers technically sit as the fifth-worst matchup in terms of fantasy points per game, they actually have surrendered the most rushing yards per game to running backs. Yards ultimately lead to scores, so it’s fair to expect regression to the mean for the Chargers in that department. That could start as soon as this week for Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount.
Eli Manning gets a plus matchup.
After a slow start to the season, Manning rebounded to post 300-plus yards and three scores against the Eagles last week. He’s worth considering as a streamer this week in a soft matchup against a Bucs secondary that just got carved up by Case Keenum. Keep in mind that Brent Grimes will be back for Tampa, but that doesn’t move the needle too much. Manning still offers plenty of upside in this favorable matchup.
Trevor Siemian is back in play.
We recommended downgrading Siemian last week against an underrated Buffalo defense, which proved to be sound advice. But it’s time to go back to the well with Siemian this week in a much more favorable matchup against a Raiders defense that has given up the third-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks through the first three weeks of the season. Oakland gave up three passing scores to Kirk Cousins last week and even surrendered two passing scores to Josh McCown in Week 2. Siemian should no problem putting up solid fantasy numbers in this one.
Start Chris Carson.
The Colts are one of just five defenses to give up at least one touchdown per game through the first three weeks of the season. Carson should take advantage of this matchup and should also benefit from increased work with C.J. Prosise out. The Seahawks will use J.D. McKissic in Prosise’s role, but Carson did catch a touchdown last week. With healthy volume and a plus matchup, Carson is a must-start as a front-end RB2 this week.
Downgrade Alex Smith.
Smith has been a popular streamer over the last two weeks after he posted a big Week 1 stat line. However, this isn’t the week to fire up Smith. Washington has held opposing quarterbacks in check, yielding the fourth fewest fantasy points per game to the position. Last week, Derek Carr managed just 118 passing yards and a score against this defense. Smith will be a streamer again, but you don’t want to rely on him as a starter in this one.