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.
Corey Davis vs Tennessee Titans
Corey Davis‘ fantasy line hasn’t looked great the last two weeks, but the opportunity is there. Davis has seen 22 targets the first three weeks of the season (despite less-than-average separation) from Zach Wilson and is the Jets’ definitive WR1. The Titans have allowed opposing teams to tear them up through the air, allowing the fourth-most passing yards as a defense in 2020. Aside from last week against the Colts, the Cardinals and Seahawks have feasted through the air against this defense.
Corey Davis averaged 1.67 yards of separation according to Next Gen Stats
Elijah Moore had 4.47
Keelan Cole had 3.5
Berrios had 2.65
League average 2.88
Davis led the Jets in targets with 10.
— DJ Bien-Aime (@Djbienaime) September 27, 2021
Davis faces rookie Kristian Fulton, who has been solid this season, but ranks outside the top 50 in PlayerProfiler’s CB rankings and has arm length ranking in the 25th-percentile. As the Jets’ No. 1 guy, he will have the opportunity to use his athleticism and torch his former team.
Devonta Smith vs Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have allowed four 70-plus yard receivers so far this season, including two 100-plus yard receivers. They have not been an effective defense, not generating consistent pass rush and allowing 29 or more points in each week this season. Devonta Smith is the clear No. 1 WR for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. The “Slim Reaper” had a 51.2-percent (No. 6 among qualified wide receivers) Air Yards Share and a 26.8-percent (No. 16) Target Share through the first two games of the season and saw 6 of 38 team targets Monday night.
Devonta Smith was a fantasy dud in Week 2. However, he’s a screaming buy.
The dude actually had a higher target share (29%) than he did in Week 1 (23%). He was also 6th in air yards (168), accounting for 49.7% of the team’s total. It’s obvious he’s the alpha in the passing game pic.twitter.com/rpVP9dBmjO
— Alex Johnson (@a_johnsonFF) September 21, 2021
While his Week 2 and 3 lines did not look great, chase the targets. Against a bad defense in Week 4, Smith has a good chance to put up numbers similar to his week 1 output.
Elijah Mitchell (or Trey Sermon) vs Seattle Seahawks
As many injuries as San Francisco has had, the run game is an important part of their offense. While they didn’t get the ground game going last week, the 49ers rushed for over 100 yards in each of Weeks 1 and 2. The Seahawks this season have allowed over 150 rushing yards per game, including a 112-yard performance by Vikings’ No. 2 RB Alexander Mattison last week.
Elijah Mitchell vs the rest of the 49ers RB’s
Mitchell – 43
49ers – 27
Mitchell – 16
49ers – 14
Mitchell – 17
49ers – 7
DO NOT PANICK. 📈
— Kyle Williams ✪ (@betonthegame) September 21, 2021
Through the first two weeks of the season, Elijah Mitchell has a 23.7-percent (No. 21) Juke Rate and 105 (No. 11) Yards Created. If healthy, he is in for a treat against Seattle. If not, Trey Sermon is up next. While he hasn’t impressed, Sermon has an 81st-percentile Burst Score and 79th-percentile Agility Score. Week 4 against Seattle is as good a time as any for him to break out.
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.
Rondale Moore at Los Angeles Rams
Rondale Moore was a popular waiver add the last couple weeks. However, the speedy and agile receiver only saw 2 targets for 2 receptions and a yard last week. Moore has taken the majority of his snaps out of the slot. However, Christian Kirk is a major slot receiver for the team as well, and Moore hasn’t overtaken him yet, with just a 42.1-percent (No. 95) Snap Share prior to Week 3’s dud.
Cardinals' Week 3 snaps, routes-per-pass play and targets:
DeAndre Hopkins 92%, 97%, 18%
A.J. Green 79%, 87%, 18%
Christian Kirk 58%, 74%, 24%
Rondale Moore 33%, 36%, 6%
Chase Edmonds 65%, 69%, 24%
James Conner 38%, 21%, 3%#AZvsJAX
— Context Matters (@dwainmcfarland) September 26, 2021
Apart from top-15 WR Chris Godwin, the Rams have not allowed many yards to slot receivers. In Weeks 1 and 2, they allowed less than 40 receiving yards to Darnell Mooney and Zach Pascal, despite 5 receptions apiece. With variability in his utilization and a limiting Rams defense, Moore does not see a good matchup this week.
Kirk Cousins vs Cleveland Browns
I know, Kirk Cousins has been great, but the Browns defense is a matchup that does not favor him in Week 4. Cleveland just dominated Chicago last week, tallying 9 sacks on Justin Fields. Myles Garrett led the way with 4.5 sacks, and the team now has 12 on the season. The Vikings offensive line will have their hands full limiting the pressure on Cousins, who achieved a 42.4-percent (No. 22) Pressured Completion Percentage last season, struggling at times. His supporting cast will help him but expect him to see pressure in Week 4. Despite a good start to the season, he sees a tough matchup against Cleveland.
Robert Tonyan vs Pittsburgh Steelers
In three weeks this season, Robert Tonyan only has 6 receptions for 66 yards. He faces a solid defense in Pittsburgh this week that has been solid against TEs. The most fantasy production they have allowed is an 11.5-point PPR performance by top-2 TE Darren Waller. Steelers LB Joe Schobert is especially good in pass coverage, while the speedy Devin Bush isn’t too shabby either.
It’s official, you can give up on Robert Tonyan.
• 23 routes
• 45 snaps
• 1 target
He’s not great.
— Kyle Williams ✪ (@betonthegame) September 27, 2021
Tonyan may also be a victim of not running enough routes, ranking outside the top 20 TEs in Route Participation last season, with a 50-percent Route Participation the first two weeks of the season. His lower usage doesn’t set him up for success against a good Steelers defense.