Each week, fantasy players question which of their players to insert into lineups and which to bench for that week. A key component in that process is highlighting easy or difficult matchups for players. While an easy matchup does not guarantee a player to have a great performance, it’s certainly a better bet. In this weekly piece, I shine the spotlight on a few different matchups to keep an eye out for as you make your lineup decisions. This is the Matchup Monitor!
The first group or player listed in each matchup has an advantage and potential for greater upside against their opponent.
Eagles WRs at Detroit Lions
The Detroit secondary allowed over 240 yards per game through the air last season. This ranked bottom ten in the league. The Lions added DeShon Elliott and Mike Hughes to their secondary over the offseason and will get Jeff Okudah back. However, no Detroit CB ranks in the top-35 of PlayerProfiler’s Cornerback Rankings, and the secondary overall struggled last season.
Out of eligible current Detroit CBs, Jerry Jacobs was the only one with a positive Coverage Rating and Catch Rate allowed under 63-percent. However, Jacobs is currently rehabbing injury, and his teammate Okudah is also coming off major injury. The Eagles’ new WR duo of A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith oozes talent. Jalen Hurts had 9.0 (No. 3) Air Yards Per Attempt last season, showing he can sling the ball downfield to Brown and Smith for chunk gains. Expect the Eagles’ WRs to cut through the Detroit defense week 1.
Chase Edmonds vs New England Patriots
Sony Michel was cut before the season. This will give Chase Edmonds more touches to handle at the head of the Miami backfield. Edmonds had over 40 receptions each of the last two seasons, and he now joins Mike McDaniel’s RB-friendly offense. He projects to get most of the passing-down work and brings elusiveness, with a 29.6-percent (No. 12) Juke Rate and a 10.86 (96th-percentile) Agility Score.
The New England defense was bottom ten in yards per carry allowed last season. Lawrence Guy and Christian Barmore still project to hold down the middle of the defensive line with new addition Davon Godchaux mixing in. However, none ranked in the top-55 for tackles for loss and only Guy ranked in the top-30 for run stuffs among defensive linemen last season. Miami is an offense that can spread the ball with all its new additions. Expect Edmonds to be a big part of the rushing attack and pass game against a less-than-staunch Patriots defense.
Is Mike McDaniels the key to unlocking Chase Edmonds?
🔑🔓#FantasyFootball #NFL #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/wDOhdiK4RW
— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) July 20, 2022
Bengals WRs vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati has arguably the top trio of receivers in the NFL. Last season, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd all earned over 90 targets with over 800 receiving yards each. Chase, being a top-10 pick in Underdog is obviously a start this week. Meanwhile, Higgins, at 6-4, has a larger frame and bigger reach than any of the Steeler CBs, which should allow him to muscle his way into big catches. Boyd, Cincy’s slot receiver, will likely face Arthur Maulet or Cameron Sutton in the slot, both of whom he is bigger than.
The Steelers have a solid safety duo but lack boost among the cornerbacks. Joe Haden is gone, and no Steeler ranks among the top-40 in PlayerProfiler’s Cornerback Rankings. Expect Joe Burrow to sling it to his star trio against Steeler CBs that lack the size and talent to compete with them.
The first group or player listed in each matchup here has a disadvantage and a greater potential for a lesser fantasy output than usual against their opponent.
Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon at Seattle Seahawks
The Broncos have a strong duo at RB, but they face a tough task fantasy-wise for Week 1. The Seahawks boast a defensive front of Shelby Harris, Al Woods, and Poona Ford. Last season, Harris was No. 15 among defensive linemen in tackles for loss, and Woods and Ford were both top-12 in run stuffs.
Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon are Denver’s 1a and 1b. Both saw 203 carries last season, but both also ranked in the top-20 in Stuffed Runs. Williams has the edge over Gordon as a fantasy asset, but he still faces a Seattle front seven that was third in yards per carry allowed last season. Expect the Broncos to “let Russ cook” more often than not this week as Williams and Gordon face a tough Seattle defense on the ground.
Jets WRs vs Baltimore Ravens
Don’t believe the pre-season smoke. Joe Flacco starting does NOT significantly upgrade the Jets’ receivers. Over the last three seasons, Flacco has thrown 15 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. He has not pushed the ball downfield as much. Flacco posted a 6.0 Adjusted Yards Per Attempted in 2019 and 2020 (he only appeared in two games in 2021). Jets receivers will see volume, but it’ll be more so on shallow targets.
Additionally, New York is facing Flacco’s former teams and its traditionally vaunted defense. Marcus Peters returns to Baltimore’s secondary while Marlon Humphrey is still a top CB, No. 13, according to PlayerProfiler’s Cornerback Rankings. Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton make up a safety duo with the potential to force major turnovers as well. The Jets receivers face a tough secondary Week 1, and Flacco will not vault them past the Ravens easily.
Flacco hits the wrong New York team for 6️⃣ 😅
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/rHrcDPx2Gp
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 28, 2022
Matthew Stafford vs Buffalo Bills
Super Bowl winner Matthew Stafford boasted a 67.2-percent completion percentage last season with 8.1 (No. 3) yards per attempt. He averaged 20.4 (No. 11) Fantasy Points Per Game, providing fantasy owners with a nice late round QB pickup.
However, he also had 40 (No. 5) Danger Plays and 36 (No. 6) Interceptable Passes. The Buffalo Bills are a defense that capitalizes on that. Last season, the Bills allowed the lowest completion percentage in the league, snagging 19 interceptions to allowing 12 passing touchdowns. Tre’Davious White will be out, but rookie first-rounder Kaiir Elam comes in with Micah Hyde anchoring the secondary. With Von Miller coming off the edge, the Rams offense will have its hands full against a powerful Bills defense. Stafford does not have a favorable matchup this week.