The Matchup Machine – Week 9’s Best and Worst

Dan Schneier breaks down the best and worst fantasy football day game matchups for Week 9.

| 4 years ago

The Matchup Machine – Week 9’s Best and Worst

DezBryantFor 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.

Speaking of daily fantasy football leagues, in my advice section I will tailor the different matchup advice based on each player’s price that week.

Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options for Week 9.

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 – sixth-overall QB 

What Happened: : Manning didn’t entirely live up to his daily league billing scoring just under 23 total points. It took him a half to get going as he did most of his damage in the second half.

Cam Newton vs. Falcons

With ten days of rest and preparation, Cam Newton heads home to defend his turf against his division rival, the Falcons. Most inter-division battles are hard fought and close, but it will likely be difficult for Atlanta to stay close in this game. In the past three games, Newton has averaged just less than 25 fantasy points per game while taking on the Vikings, Rams and Buccaneers.

The Falcons defense, in particular their pass defense, is on par or worse than any of the previous three mentioned. They currently rank ninth-worst in pass coverage (-18.0) and ninth-worst in pass rush (-9.3). The latter is particularly concerning because the Panthers have been PFF’s fourth-best team in pass blocking (+16.4). Newton should have time regardless of whether or not the Falcons scheme to get pressure or just try and send four rushers. If they do try to generate pressure, Newton has the potential to hit a few really big plays. Newton’s big games are usually accompanied by rushing touchdowns and the good news is that he should have his offense inside the 15 yard line often this Sunday.

Machine Readout: Start him and feel comfortable investing in him in daily fantasy leagues if your strategy this week is to pay just under top dollar for a quarterback.


Last Week: Aaron Rodgers – seventh-overall QB

What Happened: Rodgers was highly efficient against a clearly overmatched Vikings pass defense. If the game had been closer, he would have finished in the top three.

Tony Romo vs. Vikings

Much ado was made of the Dez Bryant sideline scuffle with Tony Romo. In reality, this minor altercation should have no ill effects on Romo or Bryant. They are both primed for a statistically efficient day this Sunday when they host the lowly Vikings after a heartbreaking defeat. The Vikings are marginally better at defending the pass than they are the run, but neither their pass defense nor run defense is something to write home about. The Vikings have graded out as our sixth-worst team in pass coverage (-21.7). They are only in the middle of the pack at rushing the passer and their matchup against the Cowboys offensive line, 10th-best at pass blocking, is not particularly promising.

The Cowboys should look to attack the Vikings in a similar fashion to how the Packers did in Week 8. The Packers lined up Jordy Nelson at times in the slot in order to isolate him with Vikings slot cornerback Josh Robinson, who has graded out as our third-worst cornerback in pass coverage (-8.9). On one play, Nelson caught a touchdown while Robinson was covering him. Mix Dez Bryant into the slot a little bit and good things should come from it.

Machine Readout: Start him. Romo presents a good mid-upper price range quarterback for daily fantasy leagues.


Last Week: Ben Roethlisberger – 17th-overall QB

What Happened: Roethlisberger had a horrible first half and rebounded in the second half but missed a late opportunity at a touchdown pass to get him into the QB1 range.

Phillip Rivers @ Redskins

Fresh off his bye week, Rivers should be primed and ready to roll against the Redskins sieve of a defense this Sunday. Don’t let the west coast team traveling east affect your judgment about what kind of day Rivers is capable of. It seems like we visit the Redskins opposing quarterback weekly in this section and it is for good measure as they currently grade out as our third-worst team in pass coverage (-32.7). Occasionally, they generate a pass rush and it stymies opponents. Unfortunately, thus far this has proven to only be a temporary solution. For example, take last week, the defense collapsed in the second half after stopping the Broncos offense from scoring more than seven points in the first half.

The Chargers pass offense is a quick-hitting and well-designed machine that spreads the field and takes advantage of mismatches. The best way to beat this Redskins defense is to spread them out and test their secondary. Look for the Chargers to get Danny Woodhead isolated with aging and washed up linebacker London Fletcher. On the outside, Keenan Allen should get the better of opposing rookie cornerback David Amerson.

Machine Readout: Start him! Rivers presents a mid-priced option for daily leagues and should perform as a back-end 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.

  • cyb3r77

    Flier of the week – did you mean Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse ?

    • Dan Schneier

      Originally I had Kearse in the spot but recent reports today taken from OC Darrell Bevel’s transcript have said that Baldwin will get snaps on the outside. I predict something closer to a 50/50 split on snaps to start the game but Baldwin is actually listed as the direct backup to Sidney Rice at the flanker position. Given Baldwin’s past success, I think he can produce with extra snaps at flanker even if it is more of a split with Baldwin moving inside when they go to 11 personnel.

  • mdorathy

    I read on that Jermaine Kearse is going to start at flanker. So, Kearse will be the one against Banks. And it looks like safety Dashon Goldson is still Questionable. He must have meant Kearse.

  • mdorathy

    But I guess at the same time, thats just what I think. I don’t speak for Dan.

    • Dan Schneier

      Hey Mdorathy, Thanks for reading. As I mentioned below, the starting flanker situation is somewhat muddled right now with Bevell claiming that Baldwin would line up outside. I expect the picture to clear itself up by game day and it is very likely that both Baldwin and Kearse will still be on the waiver wire at that point.

      • mdorathy

        Alright thx for the info dan. Love your article helps me big time on

        • Dan Schneier

          Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad it has helped for FanDuel. Feel free to tweet me any lineup questions as well @PFF_DanSc

  • Bjk64

    Do you think Brandon Lafell could have a big game if Newton has a good day? Or do think Newton big start is more based of his rushing?

    • Dan Schneier

      Newton may have a bigger day passing, but I would still leave Lafell on the bench. I expect Newton to cash in on at least one rushing touchdown inside the 15 yard line. If i had to guess it would be running off of left end at Umenyiora’s side. I believe that Newton will try to work the slot receiver as much as possible given the matchup against McClain.

  • JLangille

    I’m in a bind, all my receivers are on a bye and I have to fill 1 receiver spot. Nate Washington and Doug Baldwin are on the waiver wire. Who would you start?

    • Dan Schneier

      I would go with Doug Baldwin, however, if news reports from now until Sunday are pushing/leaning towards Jermaine Kearse seeing a majority of snaps at the flanker position over Baldwin, then the move is to go with Kearse.

      • JLangille

        thanks, for the help. love the article

  • Uncle Hernation

    Pierre Thomas is averaging almost 5 targets per game. That’s a key missing piece in this analysis to sit him. The Saints are creative enough to get him involved in the passing game rather than just keep handing the ball off to him and letting him get stuffed.

    • Dan Schneier

      Uncle Hernation,

      Thanks for reading. I respect your opinion and there is no doubt that Thomas is being used in the passing game. However, Thomas is only 20th in the cumulative number of snaps where a running back runs a pass route. He is behind guys like Helu, Rodgers and Powell. Would you start any of those just because you think they can get a few catches?

      Moving on, Thomas has only received 33 targets the entire season. That averages out closer to 4 in a game. Is it possible that he takes one of them for a touchdown? Sure. I don’t know if I would call it probably though.

      • Uncle Hernation

        First of all, 33 targets in 7 games is 4.71 targets per game. I’m not really sure why you bothered to use such a counter argument when your math wasn’t right.

        Secondly, I don’t understand your first point about Helu, Rodgers, and Powell. Maybe you’ll want to explain using Shonn Greene as a comparison instead of those three, since you specifically suggested starting Greene, who’s had all of 5 carries on the season, over Pierre Thomas.

        • Dan Schneier

          At no point did I suggest starting Shonn Greene…not sure where you are pulling that from. The point about Helu, Rodgers and Powell was made clear. They run a similar amount of snaps as a receiver and have little to no value as every week plays.

          • Uncle Hernation

            “Machine Readout: Sit him! There are better desperation plays out there, like Shonne Greene for example.”

          • Dan Schneier

            As I described, Greene would be a desperation play. If you need to be starting either of these two than your are dependent on them scoring a touchdown.

          • Uncle Hernation

            To me, saying that Shonn Greene is a better desperation play than Pierre Thomas says the same thing as “start Shonn Greene over Pierre Thomas.” So you did suggest starting Shonn Greene, and where I got it from was the article that you wrote. Sorry, but I’ll take the guy averaging 5 targets per game over the guy with 5 carries all season.