Matchup Monitor: Week 12 Thanksgiving Edition

by Aditya Fuldeore, November 23, 2021

Week by week, fantasy players question which of their players to insert into lineups and which to bench for that week. One key component in that process is highlighting easy or difficult matchups for players. While an easy matchup isn’t a guarantee for a player to perform well, it’s certainly a better bet. In this piece, I highlight a few different matchups to keep an eye out for each week as you make your lineup decisions.

Positive Matchups

The first group or player listed in each matchup here has an advantage and potential for greater upside against their opponent.

Miles Sanders at New York Giants

Miles Sanders Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

 

Coming off injury, Miles Sanders had an efficient game, putting up 94 rushing yards in week 11 on 5.9 yards per carry. Before week 11, Sanders had a 7.9-percent (No. 5 among qualifying RBs before Week 11) Breakaway Run Rate and a 61.1-percent (No. 15) Snap Share. The Eagles have run the ball more in the second half of the season, with at least 30 rush attempts each of their last five games, so Sanders is slated to see more opportunity.

The Giants have allowed at least 100 yards rushing to opponents in five of their last seven games this season (with 97 rush yards given up in Week 11). They also struggle against RBs in the passing game. With his efficiency, increased volume, and the Giants’ subpar run defense, Sanders is set up for a good game this week.

Jakobi Meyers & Kendrick Bourne vs Tennessee Titans

Jakobi Meyers Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

 

Despite looking a little better recently, the Titans’ secondary still ranks in the bottom third of the league in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns allowed. Kristian Fulton is the only corner ranked in the top 30 of PlayerProfiler’s Cornerback Rankings, with slot corner Elijah Molden next highest in the top 70. Janoris Jenkins, the starting outside CB opposite Fulton, is ranked outside the top 80 and is hurt with a chest injury. Meanwhile, Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers have quietly raked in fantasy points. Both average double digit fantasy points and have over 500 receiving yards on the season. With Mac Jones and the Patriots offense humming lately, Meyers and Bourne are set to produce better than usual against a mediocre-at-best Tennessee secondary.

Ty Johnson at Houston Texans

Ty Johnson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

 

Michael Carter has the reigns to the Jets’ backfield but is now out for the next couple weeks with an ankle injury. Behind him, Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman split the backfield. Even though Coleman out-touched Johnson last week, Johnson gets more receiving work and has higher Snap Shares than Coleman when they have both been active. Johnson has at least 6 targets in three of his last five games with three top-24 RB finishes in that span.

The Texans defense has allowed 6 or more receptions to opposing RBs in each of their last two games. They have also allowed 100-plus rushing yards in eight games this season. This is an excellent matchup for Johnson with Carter out this week.

Thanksgiving Bonus! David Montgomery at Detroit Lions

David Montgomery Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

 

Since returning from injury, David Montgomery has seen 15 touches in back-to-back weeks. He has not had a Snap Share below 60-percent yet this year and gets the majority of RB touches for Chicago when healthy.

 

This week, he faces the Lions, who have allowed 5 100-yard rushers this season, including Montgomery himself in Week 4. Detroit has also given up over 100-plus yards rushing overall to opponents in eight games this season. Their defensive line has struggled to limit opponents in the box and Montgomery has gotten good run blocking, with a 64.0 (No. 4 among qualifying RBs before Week 11) Run Blocking Efficiency. The Lions defense struggles overall, and if the Detroit-Chicago Week 4 matchup was any indication, Montgomery will feast on Turkey Day.

Negative Matchups

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.

Tyler Conklin at San Francisco 49ers

Tyler Conklin Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

 

Despite entering week 11 with an 80-percent (No. 8 among qualifying TEs before Week 11) Snap Share on a team averaging 38.0 (No. 9) Pass Plays per Game, Tyler Conklin averages less than 10.0 Fantasy Points Per Game, outside the top-10 TEs. Behind Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, the Vikings’ pass game becomes murky. While Conklin gets his share of targets, he does not produce enough to be a weekly start in leagues with 10 or less teams. The 49ers have allowed more than 40 receiving yards to opposing TEs just once since Week 1. They did not allow a TE reception in week 11 and have only allowed a combined 17 TE receptions the last five weeks. Conklin is in for a rough matchup.

Damien Harris vs Tennessee Titans

Damien Harris Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

 

While Damien Harris is an excellent rusher, his lack of receiving work caps his ceiling. Harris has not seen more than 3 targets in a game this season, averaging about 1.4 Targets Per Game. The majority of his fantasy value comes from pure running, as he ranks outside the top 25 RBs in Fantasy Points Per Game despite ranking top 10 in carries.

The Titans defense has not allowed 100 yards rushing to opponents since Week 5. The Tennessee front is imposing and is led by Jeffery Simmons, who has 10 tackles for loss this season. The Titans are easier to beat through the air, so look for New England to lean on the passing game more against a limiting Tennessee run defense. Harris won’t produce as well as he usually does.

Van Jefferson at Green Bay Packers

Van Jefferson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

 

In his last three games, Van Jefferson hauled in just 9 receptions on 20 targets. He does not yet have a top-20 WR finish and has 352 (No. 17 among qualifying WRs before Week 11) Unrealized Air Yards this season. That’s half his Air Yards incomplete, despite a 24.1-percent (No. 51) Air Yards Share. For comparison, most receivers with a similar or higher percentage of Unrealized Air Yards see Air Yards Shares above 30-percent. The Packers have been solid against opposing receivers, allowing less than 200 receiving yards in two of their last three games (Vikings crushed them week 11). Green Bay’s secondary has three CBs in the top 50 of PlayerProfiler’s Cornerback Rankings, with talented safety tandem Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage. Van Jefferson‘s deep threat ability will be limited this game, don’t expect an big-time performance.

Thanksgiving Bonus! Saints WRs vs Buffalo Bills

Marquez Callaway Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

 

Despite a bad defensive performance in Week 11 for Buffalo, they only allowed 106 passing yards. Nearly all the damage done against them was on the ground by Jonathan Taylor. The Bills’ secondary has not yet allowed 300 yards passing this season and have limited opposing pass attacks to less than 200 yards in two of their last three games. None of Tre’Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, and the rest of the Saints WR corps have had a 100-yard receiving game this season.

With Trevor Siemian at QB, don’t expect any of the Saints WRs to produce fantasy-relevant numbers often. They are definitely not thankful for a matchup against a Bills defense that has allowed the least receiving yards in the league this season.