The Matchup Machine – Week 5’s Best and Worst

Dan Schneier breaks down the best and worst fantasy football matchups for Week 5 using Pro Football Focus's unique player grades and statistics.

| 4 years ago
Randall Cobb

The Matchup Machine – Week 5’s Best and Worst

Randall CobbFor 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 and in a 12 team league. The only difference is that by “standard” I am referring to what the majority of leagues have moved to – 0.5 points per reception. If you are a reader at PFF, it is likely that you are playing in this scoring system.

I find that this column can best be used for fantasy football day gamers. In leagues set up on websites like, you can choose from the entire player pool and must assemble a team based on a salary cap format.  You can get a 100% deposit bonus & chase the dream of the $1 million 1st prize at the FanDuel Fantasy Championship.

Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options for Week 5.

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: Peyton Manning – second-overall QB 

What Happened: Peyton was surgical again while matching up against an overmatched Eagles secondary that received help from their pass rush.

Matt Stafford @ Packers

Stafford delivered a disappointing performance for fantasy owners last week throwing for only 242 yards with one passing touchdown and one interception. He salvaged his day with a rushing score–don’t count on too many more of those going forward. Stafford was more erratic than he had been all season long, but he made enough plays for the Lions to get out to an early lead. The Lions struggled to protect Stafford’s blindside and Bears RE Julius Peppers had a field day registering a sack, two hits and a hurry.

This week, Stafford will take on a Packers pass rush that seems very likely, as of Wednesday night, to be without top pass-rusher Clay Mathews. In three games this year, the Packers have struggled to defend the pass. It is starting to seem like this Dom Capers scheme has lost almost all of its appeal. The Packers have graded out as the fifth-worst team in pass coverage and second-worst in pass rush despite playing only three games. The Lions defense has been much improved and that should mean more opportunities for Stafford and their offense. I expect Stafford to take advantage of this matchup and hit several plays for chunk yardage.

Machine Readout: Start him! Stafford will likely perform as a top-end QB1 and I can see him finishing in the top five at his position.


Last Week: Tony Romo – ninth-overall QB

What Happened: Romo was able to keep pace with Rivers in what turned out to be a shootout in San Diego. The Cowboys lost the game, but Romo cashed in a couple touchdown passes to Dez Bryant.

Eli Manning vs. Eagles

The last time I called upon #10 was Week 2 in his matchup against the Panthers and I was burned. Why should this week be any different for an offense that has no remedy to fix a depleted offensive line? The answer is simple—it is their opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have not been able to stop anyone through the air except for Alex Smith—and that was only because of the Chiefs game plan on that particular night. After a few good series in the opening game against the Redskins, the Eagles have been exposed consistently in pass coverage.

No matter who they put in the secondary at safety, they have been getting burned. They have tried using different combinations of Patrick Chung, Earl Wolff and Nate Allen. Combined, the three have all been “in the red” in pass coverage (-12.6). As a unit, the Eagles have graded out as the second-worst team in pass coverage. Their pass rush has graded out as the worst in the entire NFL. They only have one total player who has graded out “in the green” in pass rush, Vinny Curry, who has only played 25 snaps all season. This has to be the week that Eli Manning gets going.

Machine Readout: Start him! Manning has probably moved to your bench, but he can still throw the deep ball and the Giants have enough weapons to make several chunk yardage plays. Manning should throw multiple touchdowns in this game and finish as a mid-range QB1.

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

  • [email protected]

    Don’t have access to your metrics, but found it interesting that Rivers didn’t come up as a ‘start’. I also think JCharles is a start every week, but as you allude to with Verner, Tennessee is able to play 1 on 1, with a single high S. I think they’ll have a lot of 8 in the box, limiting both JCharles, in run game, and Alex Smith’s desire to dink and dunk. If anything, I think Bowe has a ‘punchers chance’ of a deep ball, because I think they dare KC to beat them outside the numbers and over the top. I know I would, especially with their personell.

    • Dan Schneier

      Stephen, thanks for the input.

      Rivers was the next up and would have been “fourth”. I chose Pryor over him because the Raiders are home and if they have talent anywhere on their defense it is along their defensive line. The Chargers offensive line remains banged up and playing over their heads.

      • VK

        If you a choice between Eli and Pryor, who would you choose? LOL, i know its not much to choose from!

        • VK

          Also, would you rather trade for Cobb or Jordy ROS? Standard league. Thinking of packaging Reggie Wayne and Moreno for Jordy.

          • Dan Schneier

            That is a close call, I think I would prefer Jordy though.

        • Dan Schneier

          I would play Eli Manning. It is a leap of faith to go with that Giants offensive line right now, but this is the weak to do it.

  • Kee Joe

    Chris Johnson or LeGarrette Blount in my flex spot? Can also put Bowe or Cecil Shorts in there.

    • Dan Schneier

      Johnson has a tough matchup against the Chiefs run defense so I would start Blount or Cecil. As I wrote in the article, bench Bowe.

      • Kee Joe

        Awesome, thanks!