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.
The first group or player listed in each matchup here has an advantage and potential for greater upside against their opponent.
Ronald Jones at New York Jets
Last week, Ronald Jones put up 16.1 PPR fantasy points in place of Leonard Fournette and has had back-to-back games of 2 receptions and 70+ scrimmage yards. Jones is the clear lead back for Tampa with Fournette out and now sees an excellent matchup in Week 17 against the Jets.
Buccaneers RB snap shares without Leonard Fournette:
Ronald Jones 52%
Ke’Shawn Vaughn 36%
Le’Veon Bell 4%
Ronald Jones 10% (and a 33% drop rate)
Ke’Shawn Vaughn 3%
Le’Veon Bell 0%
— Alex Johnson (@a_johnsonFF) December 27, 2021
New York has allowed at least 100 yards rushing to opponents in each of their last four games and seven of their last eight. Players like Dare Ogunbowale and Duke Johnson have been the latest beneficiaries of the Jets’ porous run defense, which allows a high rate of RB scores. Expect Jones to run all over the Jets while seeing a few targets out of the backfield this week. He has an excellent opportunity to produce at a high level for fantasy.
Matthew Stafford at Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore defense just got flat out embarrassed by Joe Burrow, who put up 525 passing yards last week, the most in Bengals history. With injury after injury in the secondary, Baltimore simply cannot make a stop through the air.
The Ravens defense had never allowed 4,000 Pass Yards in a single season before.
This season they've allowed 4,207… in 15 games. pic.twitter.com/3rWlMY4zKq
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) December 27, 2021
Matthew Stafford comes into this week averaging nearly 290 passing yards and nearly 2.5 passing touchdowns per game. Prior to week 16, Stafford had 31 (No. 4 among qualified QBs before Week 16) Money Throws, 8.4 (No. 1) Adjusted Yards Per Attempt, and a 101.2 (No. 5) True Passer Rating. With Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham, and the rest of the Los Angeles receiving corps likely facing a mix of backups and practice squad call-ups in the secondary, Stafford is in an excellent position to win some fantasy championships this week.
Cardinals RBs at Dallas Cowboys
Prior to crushing Washington last week, the Cowboys had given up at least 100 yards rushing to opponents in nine straight games, allowing at least 4 RB receptions in six of those games. Dallas has a middle-of-the-pack rush defense that opposing RBs can pile fantasy points up against given high volume. Prior to week 16, the Cardinals ran 29.0 (No. 7 among teams before Week 16) run plays per game, with Chase Edmonds and James Conner both achieving double digit fantasy points in four of ten games they played together. Edmonds is more the receiving back and Conner more the rusher, but both can handle loads on both the ground and through the air. If one doesn’t play, the other is one of the best plays of the week. As of now, both have a good matchup against Dallas this week.
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.
Sony Michel at Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore is much more banged up in its secondary than its front seven. The Ravens have allowed 100 yards rushing to an opponent in one of their last seven games and allow less than 4 yards per carry. Sony Michel is coming off a huge game where he saw 28 touches. With Darrell Henderson banged up, Michel figures to carry the RB load, but opposing RBs have seen over 20 touches just twice in Baltimore’s last twelve games. Expect the Rams to air it out with Stafford this week, rather than run it up the gut against the likes of Patrick Queen and Brandon Williams. Temper expectations for Michel with a lesser load against a defense that limits the run.
Derek Carr and Indianapolis Colts
Entering Week 16, Derek Carr had 534 (No. 4) passing attempts, 4162 (No. 2) passing yards, and an 8.0 (No. 2) Accuracy Rating. However, he had 16.7 (No. 14) Fantasy Points Per Game with 25 (No. 10) Interceptable Passes thrown. Despite high passing volume, he has not produced for fantasy purposes. This week, he gets the Colts, who have allowed less than 250 passing yards in five of their last six games, allowing 6 passing touchdowns and grabbing 7 interceptions in that span. Carr has thrown 3 touchdowns to 3 interceptions in his last four games surpassing 250 passing yards once in that span. Don’t expect a huge performance from him this week in a tough matchup.
Terry McLaurin vs Philadelphia Eagles
The season has been rough for people with Terry McLaurin on their rosters. He has had more bust games than boom games, with QB issues plaguing his fantasy output. McLaurin has just 4 top-30 WR finishes in PPR this season, finishing with less than 12 fantasy points whenever he does not hit at least 21 fantasy points. He has not had double digit fantasy points since Week 11.
Really starting to feel like Terry McLaurin is the new Allen Robinson – cursed by erratic QBs. Washington going after JimmyG in 2022 would be a massive W for McLaurin in dynasty.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) December 27, 2021
McLaurin faces the Eagles this week with Darius Slay likely matched up on him. Slay held him to 2 receptions on 4 targets in Week 15. The Eagles in general have not allowed more than 230 yards through the air in six straight weeks and allow the least yards per reception in the league. McLaurin will have a tough time winning managers fantasy championships this week.