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.
D’Onta Foreman at Houston Texans
It’s Week 18 and the Titans can lock up the AFC one seed with a win. No doubt they’ll trot out D’Onta Foreman, who just ran for 132 yards and a touchdown last week. Entering Week 17, Tennessee averaged 31.7 (No. 2) Team Run Plays Per Game, and Foreman now has three games of 100-plus rushing yards in his last five. The Texans have allowed over 100 yards rushing in six of their last seven games, giving up 10 rushing touchdowns in that span.
D'Onta Foreman might not be Derrick Henry but he certainly did a great impression yesterday. 26 rushes, 132 yards and a touchdown…71 of those yards were after contact (2.73 YCO per attempt). Miami didn't want to hit that guy in the cold pic.twitter.com/OYXvItROjo
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) January 3, 2022
Houston cannot consistently stop the run, allowing a higher yards per carry than league average. Expect the Titans to play hard for the top seed and expect Foreman to be a big part of that against a weak run defense.
Bears WRs at Minnesota Vikings
This week’s Bears at Vikings will be a battle of teams out of playoff contention, who will only be playing for divisional rivalry scrappiness. Any Bears receiver that plays faces a good matchup. The Minnesota secondary has yielded over 280 passing yards in five of their last seven games, allowing 15 receiving touchdowns in that span. Darnell Mooney is now Chicago’s No. 1 WR, and would stand to benefit the most the Vikings’ subpar defense for fantasy. However, with most fantasy players left being DFS gamers, other Chicago receiving options like Allen Robinson and Marquise Goodwin would be good options at cost in a positive matchup.
Packers RBs at Detroit Lions
Green Bay has locked up the No. 1 seed, and as of this writing, there are not any reports saying they will rest starters. Nevertheless, the Green Bay backfield has a good matchup at Detroit this week. The Lions just gave up 170 rushing yards to Rashaad Penny and have allowed 100-plus yards rushing to opponents in four of their last five games. A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones have been close to a split of touches the second half of the season and both would be smash options against this subpar Lions run defense. Jones, being the vet, is more likely to sit, in which case Dillon would be in for a big day. However, if both are limited or do not play, Patrick Taylor would be next man up.
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.
Elijah Mitchell at Los Angeles Rams
Prior to Week 17, the Rams had held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing in four of five games. In the last 49ers vs Rams matchup, the 49ers ran over 40 rush plays due to playing with the lead most of the game, but were held to less than 4 yards per carry. The Rams have a menacing front that limits big runs, having allowed just 6 rushes over 20 yards this season. Elijah Mitchell had 91 yards on 27 carries last game against the Rams, expect his efficiency to be limited again. Mitchell has been a high-volume rusher this season, but he will need a high-volume pass game usage to succeed for fantasy this week.
Chiefs RBs at Denver Broncos
While the Broncos have been eliminated from playoff contention, they would certainly relish in the opportunity to thwart the rival Chiefs’ AFC one seed chances. Denver limits scores on the ground allowing 3 rushing touchdowns over their last nine games, and 9 rushing touchdowns on the season. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is banged up, and Darrell Williams carries the load behind him with Derrick Gore also getting opportunities. In their last game against the Broncos, Chiefs RBs were held to 4 yards per carry or less against a limiting front. The rushing touchdown that game came from Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs RBs will be touchdown-dependent for fantasy this week. Don’t bank on a rushing score with a good Broncos front and Mahomes likely slinging the rock.
Russell Wilson at Arizona Cardinals
This week, the Cardinals are looking forward to the playoffs while Seahawks will try to spoil a division rival’s playoff seeding. Since returning from injury, Russell Wilson has 2 top-10 QB finishes and 2 finishes outside the top-25 in eight games since returning from injury. Wilson, outside of airing it out against the Texans and Lions, has been a mediocre fantasy QB post-injury, with both his yards per attempt and completion percentage dipping from pre-injury Russ.
Cardinals plan of having only four defenders play a true position on defense is working out
— Arif Hasan, 2022 edition (update your version) (@ArifHasanNFL) January 3, 2022
The Cardinals have held opposing QBs to less than 230 passing yards in six of their last seven games. Wilson did not throw a touchdown in their last encounter and was sacked 4 times. Wilson does not hold much rushing value either, so do not expect him to be a great play this week.