By: Brian McCormick @WaiverWiredFFB
The Best and Worst Matchups
The Best Matchups
Blake Bortles –
During the first 11 weeks of the season, Bortles was QB21 of fantasy. Conversations across ESPN revolved around benching the former third overall pick, due to poor play. Since week 12, fantasy’s QB2 is averaging 22.8 points per game, while leading the Jaguars to three straight wins. If that is not astounding enough, Bortles is a top play for championship games, as he takes on the 49ers’ 3rd worst passing defense against QBs. San Francisco won their game last week, which is good news for owners starting Bortles. It would be head-scratching to see the 49ers win another game, which could ruin their chances of a top 2018 draft pick. Blake Bortles can bring you home the championship. Take a minute and think about that.
Ben Roethlisberger –
Antonio Brown is inactive this week, but that will not prevent Big Ben from airing it out all over the field. He remains fantasy’s QB1 since week 10 and should cap off his remarkable second half of the season against Houston’s dreadful secondary. The Texans have allowed opposing quarterbacks to finish with 20+ points, eight times this year (25+ points in six of those games).
Philip Rivers –
He spoiled a fantastic matchup versus Kansas City’s struggling defense, which surprisingly decided to step up on Saturday. Nevertheless, Rivers has the opportunity to bounce back strong when he travels to New York this week. The Jets are tied for fourth in most points allowed to quarterbacks, who have tossed seven touchdowns (with one interception) against their defense over the last three games. In a must-win matchup for the Chargers and fantasy teams, look for Rivers to have a dominant performance.
Leonard Fournette –
When fantasy owners needed him the most, the Jaguars did not. Jacksonville had their game wrapped up in the first half against Houston, while Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon were terrible consolation prizes for lineups. For those who won their game despite benching Fournette, week 16 brings a salivating matchup. The Jaguar’s stud RB will find open running lanes through San Francisco’s defense that has allowed the 3rd most points to the position. The 49ers have only given up an average of 6.75 points to RBs over the last four games, but that number jumps to 25 points a game this season when playing top-10 rush offenses. Jacksonville currently sits atop rushing offense rankings.
Alex Collins –
Collins had his worst fantasy outing since week 9, piling up a mere 19 yards on 12 carries in Cleveland. Nonetheless, he should be fired up this week in a dream matchup with the Colts defense (5th). Indianapolis has allowed nine 17+ point performances to RBs. Expect Collins to receive upwards of 20 carries in an anticipated blowout.
New England’s Backfield –
James White will handle the majority of passing down work this week, but look for Dion Lewis to dominate the ground attack. For owners who are absolutely desperate, Mike Gillislee may produce flex consideration output against his former team, especially around the goal line. Buffalo’s run defense has been the worst in fantasy this year. This may also be a game where the Patriots get off to a hot start, leading to a run heavy scheme in the second half, which Gillislee would be the beneficiary of. The Patriots’ backfield has always been unpredictable, but points will be accrued by their RBs this week.
Adam Thielen / Stefon Diggs –
Diggs found the endzone last week, but Keenum was unable to throw downfield to his top-two receivers for most of the game. Thielen had one of his worst performances of the season, especially in a critical round. This week will be much different, as both players will lineup opposite Green Bay’s generous secondary, who has allowed nearly 24 points per game to receivers (3rd most). Many owners can hope for at least a pair of touchdowns between Minnesota’s pass-catching duo.
Jarvis Landry –
Landry, who has five receptions in each of his games this year, will seek to continue his streak against Kansas City. The Chiefs allow the 2nd most points to receivers in the slot, where Landry runs most of his routes from. He has quietly been WR14 in standard leagues and WR5 in PPR (ahead of Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Tyreek Hill, to name a few).
Devin Funchess –
Greg Olsen’s breakout game, as well as the Panther’s two touchdown lead, hindered Funchess’ production last week. His four targets and sole reception may be worrisome, but Funchess’ matchup is ideal for owners who have come this far. Opposite Tampa Bay’s nonexistent secondary, which allows nearly 27 points a game to receivers, it would be a poor choice to sit him on the bench.
JuJu Smith-Schuster / Martavis Bryant –
Due to Antonio Brown’s calf injury, Smith-Schuster and Bryant will have ample opportunities to help crown champions this week. Both receivers will be seeing much of cornerback, Kevin Johnson. If that name does not ring any bells, Johnson has the lowest grade at his position, per Pro Football Focus. Houston’s defense, which just allowed 44 points to the Jags’ receiving core, is one spot better than Green Bay in points given up to receivers.
Zach Ertz –
One of fantasy’s must start TEs, Ertz has been the TE3 on the year, despite missing a couple of games due to injuries. Garnering nine targets in Philadelphia’s win over New York, the chemistry was obvious between the tight end and his new starting quarterback, Nick Foles. Ertz will continue his dominance this week against the Raiders defense, which has given up the 7th most points to TEs.
Travis Kelce –
Another must-start TE, he trails only Gronk in points scored at the position. Similar to his first 14 games, Kelce will do what he pleases against the Dolphins (5th), helping the Chiefs clinch a playoff spot. Miami, who is open for charity this year, has allowed tight ends to score at least nine points in nine games. Kelce is lined up for a monster day.
Ricky Seals-Jones –
For those desperate at the TE position this week and in need of a quality streamer, look no further. His stock has been plummeting recently, but Seals-Jones did have six targets last week (tied for 11th most among TEs). There is no arguing that he has the very best matchup this week against the Giants defense, which has surrendered 13 touchdowns to opposing TEs. Seales-Jones is not guaranteed to strike gold this week, but he is a nice dart throw.
The Worst Matchups
Matt Ryan –
An NFL and fantasy MVP last year, Ryan has struggled throughout 2017. His 18 touchdown passes trail Deshaun Watson, who played in only seven games this year. Furthermore, Ryan has not finished with a better performance than QB10 since week 1. Another mediocre game may be in store for him, as the Saints defense allows only 15.5 points per game to QBs (9th best).
Jimmy Garoppolo –
Calm and collective, Jimmy G had his best game as a 49er against Tennessee last week. San Francisco finally appears to possess a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, Garoppolo will show the exact opposite image when he plays the stout Jaguars secondary on Sunday. Russell Wilson is the sole QB that finished better than 14th against Jalen Ramsey and company. Garoppolo should warm up many benches.
Marcus Mariota –
This past Sunday brought his second best performance of the season, throwing for 241 yards and two scores. Tennessee has implemented some no-huddle offense in their game plan, which proved to be successful. Despite those positive notes, consistency has been the last adjective to describe Mariota in 2017. Week 16 should bring another lackluster performance from the 3rd year QB, who will add the Rams to his resume. Los Angeles has prevented opposing quarterbacks from breaking 14 points in eight of their games.
Ezekiel Elliott –
Dallas will feed him, so there are no worries regarding his usage rate. Elliott’s first game after his suspension comes against the stingy Seattle rushing defense. Matchup proof running back, Todd Gurley, found 180 yards and four TDs against that defense last week. Despite that big splash, Seattle is still allowing the 3rd least points to running backs. In all likelihood, Elliot should still have a good game. It just won’t be a walk in the park either.
Jamaal Williams –
Doubters can no longer deny his talent, as Williams scored the fourth most points among RBs during weeks 12-14. Carolina brought him back down to earth last week, though Aaron Rodger’s return did not help the rookie RB’s case. With Rodgers now on the IR, Williams’ usage (which should climb again) may go to waste against the Vikings 2nd best rushing defense. Green Bay may fall into an early hole in the game, so catching passes will be important for Williams this week.
Marshawn Lynch –
Beast-Mode will have his work cut out for him against Philly’s #1 rushing defense on Christmas night. He has been very productive in the second half of the season, but Oakland’s playoff hopes are slim. On top of that, they are traveling over the holiday, which is less than desirable. Derek Carr’s banged up offensive line may give way to Eagles defenders running in through the backfield on a regular basis. This could be a game where some of the Raiders’ players clock out mentally.
A.J. Green –
Drawing another shadowing corner, Darius Slay, A.J. Green will once again have an uphill battle this week. Green has been held to eight fantasy points or less in eight games this year, with three of those performances during the last four games. Starting your studs is an understandable strategy in the playoffs, but other matchups should also be considered.
Davante Adams –
Adams is the luckiest participant of the week, as he will experience the Xavier Rhodes treatment. Last week, it was mentioned that Rhodes held Antonio Brown to his second worst performance, and Julio to his worst performance of 2017. In full games played, Green had his worst game against Rhodes last week. You get the picture.
Jamison Crowder –
Crowder had his best game in three weeks against the Cardinals, grabbing five balls, including a touchdown. Kirk Cousins’ favorite target, during the second half of the season, is likely to end his fantasy campaign on a sad note. Chris Harris will be covering Crowder on most routes, making owners think twice before plugging him into lineups.
Kyle Rudolph –
I know you hate seeing his name here. Rudolph has scored five touchdowns over the last four games, and Greg Olsen dominated Green Bay’s defense last week. On the other hand, the Packers have only allowed three tight ends to surpass nine points this year. Rudolph will need to bring his A-game in that matchup.
Cameron Brate –
Boom-or-Bust since week 9, Brate is a shaky option to rely on for winning championships. Carolina allows the 7th fewest points to TEs, averaging to six points allowed per game. Since Winston’s return in week 13, Brate’s target share has been 6-1-5 over three games.