The Matchup Machine: Week 2’s Best and Worst

Dan Schneier breaks down the best and worst fantasy football matchups for Week 2.

| 4 years ago

The Matchup Machine: Week 2’s Best and Worst

lacyFor those subscribers who were active readers in 2012, you might remember that last season I wrote a weekly column breaking down the best and worst matchups for running backs. Using PFF’s grading system I was able to breakdown and pinpoint matchups along the offensive/defensive lines and between the fullbacks and tight ends/ linebackers. However, there is more to a running back’s weekly matchup including coaching tendencies, what direction a running back has success rushing to and the likelihood that a team is rushing based on the score of the game. All factors considered, I was able to predict the worst matchups at a highly successful rate while also targeting some of the breakout backs of the week.

This season I will be trying something a little different. Instead of just focusing in on the running backs, I will look into all of the different matchups in fantasy football including quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends in an attempt to pick the overall best and worst matchups of the week. Fortunately, PFF has all the tools to break down each individual matchup. Want to know how your wide receiver is going to do? Well if he lines up as a split end on 90% of his snaps, we can pinpoint which cornerback he will be matching up with for those snaps.

Of course, as was the case last season, this column will become more accurate as the season goes on and we compile more grades for the players and get a feel for tendencies and overall strengths/weaknesses of the 32 teams.

Before each new matchup projection for this week, I will revisit my prediction from last week so you all can get an idea of the process and its results. All the results will show how a player scored in a standard scoring system.

Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options for Week 2.

Also, please feel encouraged to tweet questions at me on Twitter @PFF_DanSc or post them in the comments if you want to know any specific cornerback/wide receiver matchups for your players or if you want an idea of how your running back’s offensive line grades out or the rush defense that he faces.



The Best

Last Week: Matt Ryan – 13th-overall QB

What Happened: Even minus two projected starters in the front seven, Rob Ryan’s scheme produced pressure all day. This didn’t happen to Matt Ryan once in 2012.

Aaron Rodgers vs. Redskins

The Redskins managed to grade out as the eighth-worst defense in pass coverage in Week 1 and their opponent, the Eagles, opted to pass the ball just five times in the second half. Unproven safeties E.J. Biggers and Bacari Rambo were not tested often, but when they were the Eagles hit big plays in the passing game — Vick’s touchdown pass on the post to Desean Jackson and the touchdown to Celek up the seam. Biggers (-2.0) and Rambo (-1.0) graded out very poorly in pass coverage.

The one reason this matchup can’t be considered a total slam-dunk is due to the Redskins pass rush (+5.5) which seemed to benefit from the return or Brian Orakpo (+1.9). Remember, the Packers have a shaky offensive line especially at left tackle. Overall, the Packers should be able to take advantage of the Redskins porous safety play and hit enough chunk plays, some of which will result in touchdowns.

Machine Readout: Start him! Rodgers has a shot at scoring the most points at the quarterback position if the Redskins can keep up with the scoring and keep the Packers throwing the football.

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Dan Schneier is a staff writer for PFF Fantasy, a former FOX Sports NFL scribe, and an auction format enthusiast.

  • Neal

    LOVE the column, great work. I like the call on Murray, but would you recommend 2 of chris johnson, david wilson and deangelo williams over him? All have tough matchups/fumbling issues of their own. Plus, what do you think about terrelle pryor over romo?

    • Dan Schneier

      Thanks Neal I really appreciate the strong support. By week 8 I expect the column to be more accurate as we settle in with consistent grades and tendencies. To answer your questions: 1. Murray holds value in most matchups simply because he receives bulk touches. I would probably end up starting him over Williams because although Carolina has a nice matchup, I’ve given up on Williams talent. Deciding on him over Wilson should come down to the matchups of the rest of your team– the more difficult they are the more likely I am to start Wilson because he offers more upside than Murray to make up for the remainder of your starters.

      • Dan Schneier

        I would play the matchups and start Pryor over romo .. Rooms upside to me seems like 275 and 2 tds with one or two turnovers. Meanwhile, Pryor faces a jax defense that should be on the field often and hasn’t shown signs of any pass rush or pass coverage in quie some time. Hope this works out!!

  • JD

    Sounds like you are giving not-so-subtle hints to START the Chiefs D/ST this week. I had them starting this week but I am considering going with Carolina this week instead. What do you think?

    • Dan Schneier

      Hey JD – thanks for reading. I think that the Bills game plan to start the season is to limit Manuel from making too many tough throws and decisions which means he is less likely to throw an interception or fumble. The Bills are also home and have a stronger offensive line. On the other hand, the Cowboys are playing away in a stadium and against a team that is known to gain momentum if they get out to early leads. The Cowboys line is suspect, and unlike Perry Fewell of NYG, the Chiefs defensive coordinator is likely to dial up more blitz. I would definitely go with the Chiefs defense. I have them starting in one of my two “big” leagues — thanks also for giving me an idea for next column – add in D/ST matchups!!

  • Jesus Flores

    Dang it, I have Dez Bryant and Anquan Boldin on my team.

    • Dan Schneier

      Don’t beat yourself up– reports are saying that Dez is now practicing close to 100%. Like I mentioned in the article, Dez may be “too good” to be defended using single coverage–even with a corner as good as Flowers. Boldin on the other hand will need a majority of his snaps to come in the slot to have a big day. I definitely see Richard Sherman winning that matchup four out of every five times.

      • Jesus Flores

        I currently have Dez Bryant, Mike Wallace, Anquan Boldin, Reggie Wayne and Leonard Hankerson. Do you think I should go with one of those other guys? We start three WR and have a WR/RB position.

        • Dan Schneier

          Not sure what exactly you are asking — are you asking if you should go with one of the other guys over Boldin? I would rank those receivers 1. Dez 2. Reggie Wayne 3. Mike Wallace 4. Boldin …the only surprise there is that I have Wallace over Boldin now that Wallace breaks free of the grasp of Joe Haden and now that Boldin draws Richard Sherman.

  • Jason Bautista

    Bah, I have Romo and Flacco and both are on your sit list…. Freeman, Rivers, Weeden, Pryor are out there…so is Henne. Out of those stellar options would you go with Romo and just temper my expectations?

    • Dan Schneier

      Hey Jason – thanks for reading. To start, I am not ready to crown this Chiefs defense an elite one. They have a very strong secondary and their defensive line looks to be hitting its stride but their incredible Week 1 grades were against Blaine Gabbert. I think the highest upside is with Pryor. Pryor is facing a Jacksonville secondary that is considering starting WILL BLACKMON at cornerback. Please google him and look at how far along he is in his career and the last time he played meaningful snaps at cornerback. Pryor also has the best chance to bust so if you think your matchup will be close I can’t definitely advise him. The only other one I would consider is Josh Freeman. I still don’t believe in the Saints defense after just one strong showing and Freeman torched them last season. My one worry with starting Freeman is the weird relationship problems happening down in Tampa between he and soon-to-be former coach Greg Schiano. If it was me, and in standard scoring, I would honestly opt to use Freeman in a matchup I predict to be close and Pyror if I need a potential 20+ point game.

  • Mike C

    Just wanted to say that this column won me my matchup last week, so I’m a big fan. Great analysis and recommendations were spot on. I will say I don’t agree with your Chiefs D comment below, as I think the Cowboys offense will come out with some momentum after a big win last week. Add in the addition of Brian Waters and Murray should find more room to run between the tackles. Otherwise, looking forward to a long and successful season! Let’s keep it rolling. Thanks Dan

    -Mike C

    • Dan Schneier

      Thanks Mike C! Your kind words are appreciated. I’m glad I could help you last week by hitting on a lot of my predictions and I hope I keep it up week 2. I agree Waters should help between the tackles but I’m not ready to consider him the Brian Waters of old until I see it on the field. He has been out of football for a while now.

  • Brian D

    Hey Dan. Nice Article. Should I start Vick or RG3 this week? And which two receivers should I start from this group:
    Hakeem Nicks
    Pierre Garcon
    T.Y. Hilton
    Roddy White
    Marlon Brown
    Brian Hartline
    Andre Roberts

    • Dan Schneier

      Hey Brian thanks for the kind words. The first question is a tough one. RGIII will be playing from behind for most of Sunday in my view which will lead to garbage time points like last week. Having said that, I would still opt to use Vick who is pretty locked-in as a QB1 in Kelly’s system–until of course he gets injured. Out of the receivers, keep it simple and go with Garcon and Nicks. Both draw plus outsider corners—Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for Nicks and most likely Tramon Williams for Garcon, but they will see targets in volume and both are your two best playmakers by far while Roddy deals with a high ankle sprain.