Fantasy number crunch: Best and worst of Week 2

The winning formula in fantasy football is simple: Acquire the most productive players with the least resistance to points production as you can.

But what truly defines a "productive player"? Math geeks know that simply considering the old industry standards of "Fantasy Points Against" and "Player Cumulative Fantasy Points" will leave way too much to error to be statistically reliable.

That's why I helped create a system that predicts player performance and provides the actual strength of an opponent and actual player production values. When used, this sytem has proven to be up to 37 percent more accurate than the metrics that everyone else in your league is using.

The system gives you a "Player Rating," "Defense Rating," and a third "Matchup Rating." The ratings are based on the most advanced and accurate mathematical algorithm in fantasy football, and take into account the following factors:

» Adjusted Player scoring based on strength of their previous opponents *
*» Adjusted Defense scoring based on the strength of the players they have faced at each position *
*» Whether the player and/or defense plays better at home or away *
*» How the player compares against other players within their same position *
*» How defenses compare against other defenses against the same positions *
*» ... and many more!

Sound complicated? Don't worry -- it's simple to understand. All you need to know is that the player, defense or matchup with the higher rating is the better option. That's it. Leave the number crunching to the geeks.

Use this system as the basis for your fantasy decisions to take the guesswork out of winning in fantasy football and get the edge on the competition.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The defense ratings for this week are based on numbers from the last four regular season games including Week 1 of 2014. They will continue to become more accurate each week thereafter. Plan on coming back for fresh system-based ratings that you cannot get anywhere else!

Weekly Matchup Ranges

Below are the BEST and WORST defensive ratings against each position. The higher the number, the better the matchup:

Legend

Here's an easy breakdown of how each player module works. When these terms are mentioned in the text (i.e. "best") they are corresponding to these ratings and colors:

key.jpg

Expect More:

Players who could exceed expectations this week based on the weakness of their opponent.

QB

Dalton.jpg

Entering the 2014 season, Andy Dalton was commonly referred to as a "regression" candidate by many fantasy football pundits. Yet, in his last four NFL games, Dalton has the third-highest Fantasy Points Per Attempt (FPPA) among starting quarterbacks. His Week 2 opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, adjust to the ninth-easiest matchup for opposing fantasy quarterbacks over the last four regular season contests even though their middle of the pack Fantasy Points Against (FPA) ranking makes them appear to be more daunting. In addition to an easy opponent, Dalton also produces more fantasy points when he plays at home. Add these metrics together and you get a projection for Andy Dalton to exceed his normal production. If you are streaming quarterbacks, this is one of the weeks where you should be playing Dalton. Forecast:Dalton's early season schedule is tougher than his second half matchups. He will see one "bad" matchup next week when he faces the Titans, though. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]

Brady.jpg

Tom Brady owners certainly had reason to panic in Week 1. However, if you read Fantasy Number Crunch last week, you saw that the numbers were stacked against him. Don't worry, Brady is better than that. His offensive line was also basically working together for the first time on Sunday which is why they had the single worst pass blocking metrics of any team in Week 1. Another week should help. The biggest reason to "expect more" from Brady this week is the weakness of his opponent, the Vikings. The Vikings are the algorithm adjusted No. 1 easiest defense for opposing fantasy quarterbacks over the last four games dating back to 2013. Their FPA numbers look great with a one week data sample against a third-string Rams quarterback, but don't let that fool you. Brady will prove to be a tougher challenge for the Vikings and you can expect him to exceed his poor Week 1 fantasy point total. Forecast: Brady has a mixed bag of opponents coming up but should build on his easy Week 2 matchup in Week 3 against a Raiders defense that is the seventh-easiest for fantasy quarterbacks. He then faces two "worst" and two "bad" matchups before the half way mark of the season. [Recommended Usage: QB1]

RB

Gore.jpg

There were a lot of questions about the 49ers running game during the 2014 preseason. Most of the discussion focused on how much Frank Gore would be used and whether their offensive line would still be one of the league's best run-blocking units. In Week 1, the 49ers offensive line was in the top 10 in run blocking metrics, so no questions there. Gore has averaged .54 fantasy points per attempt over his last four regular season games, but fell below that average in Week 1. In Week 2 he faces the Bears, who have been the fourth-easiest defense for opposing fantasy running backs over the last four regular season games allowing 5.80 yards per carry during that same span. That makes Gore a good flex play, even if Carlos Hyde gets some touches of his own. Forecast: Gore does well with good matchups but this is his last one until Week 12. He has seven consecutive "bad" matchups, and finishes the season with three out of four of his matchup ratings as "worst". Week 2 could be one of his more productive games of the season. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Greene.jpg

Shonn Greene was mostly off the fantasy radar after the Titans made Bishop Sankey the first running back selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. As Week 1 of the regular season rolled around, it was clear that Sankey was not going to be a factor right away. Flying under the fantasy radar, Greene handled the bulk of the running back workload for the Titans with 15 touches and seven fantasy points in the 2014 debut. In Week 2, Greene gets his best matchup of the year in the Cowboys, who are the third-easiest matchup for opposing running backs despite their middle-of-the pack FPA ranking. Greene is a very poorly rated player because he usually fails to take advantage of good matchups. But he hasn't faced a defense as poor as the 2014 Cowboys since his 2012 season. Greene should play above his average and lead the Titans in touches. As a result, owners should "expect more" out of Greene in Week 2. Forecast: Greene has two more "good" matchups coming up against the Bengals and the Colts in Weeks 3 and 4. The Cowboys will easily be his best chance of the year to produce bigger numbers than normal. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

WR

Boykin.jpg

Jarrett Boykin had some heat to him among fantasy experts this offseason. His potential is massive as a starter in a high-powered Packers offense that is aiming for 75 plays a game in 2014. Boykin averaged 1.6 Fantasy Points per Attempt (FPPA) in his last four regular season games, which proves he can make the most of his opportunities. And he should have his fair share of them in Week 2, as the Packers face the New York Jets. The Jets have an algorithm-adjusted rating that makes them a significantly easier matchup for the Packers offense than the Seahawks were. Consider also the injuries in the Jets secondary and you can expect all of the Packers receivers to be involved in this week's game plan, making Boykin a great pick. His metrics and the opponent give many reasons to "expect more" out of Boykin in Week 2 and potentially the rest of the season. Buy him now at his lowest value. Forecast: This could be the week that gets Boykin on the fantasy radar. He has two "bad" matchups in Week 3 and 4 and then four "best" matchups in the seven weeks that follow. Buy him cheap before this week. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

DeSean.jpg

Watching the game tape from Week 1 it was clear that the Redskins offense is still a work in progress. However, there are reasons to believe that DeSean Jackson can start to be productive in Week 2. The Jaguars, were burned by Jackson's former teammate Jeremy Maclin and the deep ball last Sunday. Jackson has been a deep ball specialist throughout his career and the Redskins brought him in for that role. Robert Griffin III only attempted a deep ball on 10 percent of his passes against the Texans, but the Jaguars offer a much more appealing opponent. The Jaguars main defense against the deep ball is safety Johnathan Cyprien. Last week the Jags gave up a whopping .5 actual points per snap to the Eagles after Cyprien went out with a concussion. That accounted for 27 of their 34 second half points. Cyprien is going through concussion protocol and if he doesn't play, Jackson has the metrics to make the most of this opportunity. His low production last week and big opportunity this week make him a great daily fantasy play as well. Forecast:Jackson should get back on track in Week 2 and will have two more easy matchups before he faces two "worst" matchups in Weeks 5 and 6 against the Seahawks and Cardinals. If you drafted him, then this is one of the weeks you need to play him. [Recommended Usage: WR2]

Colston.jpg

Marques Colston has the fantasy reputation of an inconsistent producer. In reality, he is more predictable than some think, as he tends to perform poorly against bad matchups and well against good ones. For example, in 2013 he had his six worst fantasy games against "bad" or "worst" matchups. Yet, he scored double digit fantasy points in four of his five "better" or "good" matchups. Last week against the Falcons, Colston faced a "better" matchup but fell short of double-digits due to a fumble and a couple drops. He was most effective over the middle where he caught four of his five targets. His Week 2 opponent, the Browns, have trouble covering receivers and tight ends in the middle of the field. Buster Skrine is the slot cornerback for the Browns and he gives up 7.8 fantasy points a game to opposing pass catchers. Coltson's usage in the slot takes him out of Joe Haden territory and into softer coverage. This should add up to a nice game for Colston against a Browns defense which has been one of the best matchups for opposing wide receivers over the last four regular season games. Forecast:Colston could continue to see some more production in Week 3 as he faces the Vikings and then again when he takes on the Cowboys in Week 4. [Recommended Usage: WR2]

TE

Witten.jpg

Owners might be down on Jason Witten after the overall poor performance by the Cowboys in Week 1, although much of that can be attributed to the play of Tony Romo. Historically, the numbers show that Witten can be productive against good matchups. In 2013 he averaged .11 "Fantasy Points Per Snap" (FPPS) against bad matchups versus a .78 FPPS average against good matchups. He also had 1.263 fantasy points per attempt in 2013, regardless of strength of his matchup. In Week 2, Witten faces the Titans defense, which is the algorithm-rated 11th easiest matchup for opposing fantasy tight ends. The Titans gave up 14 total fantasy points to tight ends in Week 1, which was seventh-most in the league. Witten generally plays almost every offensive snap, so it is likely that he could put up double digit fantasy points in this matchup. Forecast:Unfortunately, this is the second to last "good" matchup of the year for Witten. He has five "worst" matchups still coming up and six "bad" ones. If he produces as he should in Week 2, you might want to consider him early trade fodder. [Recommended Usage: TE1]

D/ST

TB vs STL: The Rams gave up five sacks and two interceptions in Week 1 and were kept under 320 yards while only scoring six points. Much of that can be credited to poor quarterback play, but it won't get much better in Week 2. The Buccaneers have a defense that can capitalize on a good matchup.

STL at TB: The Rams defense got gashed by the Vikings in Week 1, but still kept Adrian Petersen to only 75 yards. The Bucs offensive line gave up three sacks and was held under 270 yards in their Week 1 contest, while McCown added two interceptions. This game should feature lots of defense and could be among the lowest scoring games of the week. Take either defense in this matchup.

Expect Less:

Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent.

QB

Ryan.jpg

Matt Ryan made his fantasy owners very happy in Week 1. His 36 fantasy points led all fantasy quarterbacks for the period thanks to his matchup against a Saints defense that has been a top-five easy matchup over the last four games. However, Ryan historically needs an easy matchup in order to produce. He was the ninth best quarterback in fantasy point production in his last four regular season games, but his algorithm adjustment for opponent strength makes him only the 22nd best. In Week 2, Ryan faces a Bengals defense that has an FPA showing them as a middle-of-the-pack opponent, but when adjusted by the algorithm they are actually a top-six defense. The Bengals will provide much stiffer competition for Ryan, who didn't score over 18 fantasy points against a top-10 rated defense in all of 2013. Be happy about your league-leading fantasy quarterback for a few more days, then expect a little less out of him in come Sunday. Forecast: Ryan gets another tough opponent in the Buccaneers in Week 3, so it may take him until Weeks 4 and 5 to bounce back when he has two top five "best" opponents in the Vikings and Giants. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]

Cutler.jpg

In Jay Cutler's last four games, he out-produced all levels of competition except "worst" level opponents. Unfortunately, that is the level of opponent he will face in Week 2. The 49ers have a top three FPA ranking and the algorithm also adjusts them as a top three defense after their Week 1 drubbing of Tony Romo. Last week's Fantasy Number Crunch told you to expect a poor performance out of Romo and the same advice holds for Cutler. It has been since mid-2013 since a fantasy quarterback has produced against the 49ers. They do well against all strengths of opposing fantasy quarterbacks. However, one thing the numbers cannot account for is the loss of three 49ers' secondary players to injury last week. Forecast: Don't worry Cutler owners, these first two weeks are two of only three "worst" matchups he'll face this season. He will be a good buy-low candidate after a potentially nationally televised dress down this week. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1/HIGH QB2

RB

Bell.jpg

Very few fantasy running backs had as much draft day value as Joique Bell this summer. He was drafted in the range of many RB3s yet he is easily a co-starter in the Detroit offense. In 2013, Bell had seven double digit performances and became a fantasy darling. Interestingly, all but one of those came against "easy" matchups. When faced with "worst" rated opponents, he averaged only 1.5 fantasy points a game. This is why he is the algorithm-ranked 18th running back in the last four regular season games even though he had enough fantasy points to be the 9th best back during that same span. The Panthers have a brutal front line that gives up next to nothing in the running game. They are the algorithm's second toughest matchup, even though their FPA ranking has them middle of the pack. Considering how matchup-dependent Bell has proven to be, owners should "expect less" from their undervalued RB2 for at least this week. Forecast: Bell is still going to be a great starter in 2014. Although he has three more "worst" matchups yet to come, he also has five easy ones to take advantage of. He is a great matchup play and has just enough good matchups to make him a steady contributor for your fantasy team. [Recommended Usage: RB2/FLEX]

Mathews.jpg

Ryan Mathews averaged 14.5 fantasy points per game during a stretch of seven games at the end of 2013 and won over the hearts of fantasy owners once again. However, if you look closely at the numbers you see that he was very matchup dependent during that run. In 2013, he averaged in the single digits against "bad" or "worst" rated opponents. Luckily for Mathews, he didn't face any of them in his big seven game stretch, nor in his 2014 Week 1 matchup. Unfortunately, he faces his worst matchup of the season on Sunday at home against the Seahawks. The Seahawks are the third-toughest fantasy defense for opposing running backs over the last four regular season games. The last time Mathews faced such a difficult opponent was back in 2012 where he failed to score more than five fantasy points (twice). The Seahawks are a tough secondary to face for receivers, but they should also be avoided for matchup dependent running backs like Mathews. Forecast: Mathews has two "best" matchups against division rival Raiders, but then ten "bad" matchups. Next week he faces a Bills defense that is kinder to fantasy runners, though. [Recommended Usage: RB2]

WR

Maclin.jpg

Fantasy owners waited a long time to get a chance to see Jeremy Maclin in the Chip Kelly offense. After missing Kelly's Eagle debut season due to injury, Maclin blasted back on to the fantasy scene with a 15-point fantasy performance in Week 1. Maclin has proven that he can perform well against good matchups. Going all the way back to his 2012 season, six of his seven double digit fantasy performances came against easy matchups and one came against a "bad" rated opponent. His Week 1 production stayed consistent with this metric as he faced a "better" rated opponent in the Jaguars. He played 92 percent of the team's snaps and saw 10 targets, giving him a solid 1.57 fantasy points per attempt number. The problem for Maclin is that this week his opponent is a Colt's defense that is the algorithm-rated second toughest matchup for fantasy wide receivers in the last four regular season games. They generally drop opposing receivers production by over 40 percent. Although there is a lot to be hopeful for with Maclin in 2014, owners who are expecting a repeat performance from Week 1, should "expect less." Forecast: Maclin will continue to be the No. 1 wide receiver in the Eagles offense and will enjoy three more "easy" matchups before their Week 7 bye.  [Recommended Usage: WR3]

Cruz.jpg

Victor Cruz certainly has the potential to be a valuable WR1 on any fantasy team. In 2013, he showed that when given opportunities he can produce. When targeted 10 times or more, Cruz scored double digit fantasy points in every game besides one. He also did well against all levels of competition, giving him a higher algorithm rating than his fantasy point production may indicate. However, he faces the Cardinals in Week 2 and although their FPA shows them as a middle of the pack opponent, the algorithm has them as the toughest matchup for opposing fantasy wide receivers over the last four regular season games. The last time Cruz faced an opponent with this low of a rating, he scored only 2.5 fantasy points. Cruz does well against good matchups when he is involved, but his metrics show poor performance against tough matchups and Week 2 is going to be the second-toughest matchup of the year for him. Forecast: Cruz's next two "worst" matchups do not come until Weeks 9 and 10. Until then he faces one "bad" matchup in the Texans next week, but then four "good" matchups in a row after that. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

TE

Cameron.jpg

Jordan Cameron's numbers from last season tell an interesting story: with almost no exceptions, all of his big games came against easy matchups. In the easy matchups last season, Cameron averaged 10 fantasy points per game. However, against even moderate levels of competition, he averaged only six points per game. This is why the algorithm has him as the 11th rated fantasy tight end, even though his overall point totals show him as top-five. He played only three quarters in Week 1 and produced five fantasy points against the Steelers, considered by the algorithm as a "bad" matchup. If he plays in Week 2 (he's currently recovering from a shoulder injury) he gets the Saints who are the third-toughest rated defense against fantasy tight ends over the last four regular season games. Last season, Cameron scored less than three fantasy points a game against "worst" rated opponents, and the same should be expected here. If he is a go, you may want to consider keeping him on your bench. Forecast:Cameron finishes the season very strong with four "best" rated matchups and four "better" matchups consecutively from Week 9 on. The Saints are his toughest matchup of the season. He could be considered a great buy low candidate should he struggle this week as the algorithm predicts. [Recommended Usage: TE2]

D/ST

CAR vs DET: The Lions only allowed one sack in Week 1, no interceptions and no fumbles. They are the model of offensive efficiency right now. They maxed out in yards and points as well. You need to keep the Panthers on your squad as they are one of the most talented defenses in the league, just expect a lot less this week.

NE at MIN: The Patriots defense will get there in 2014, but is just getting off to a slow start. Their Week 2 opponent, the Vikings, only gave up one sack last week and scored over 34 points with just short of 350 total yards. Expect a lot less points again from Patriots this week, but hold on to them as they get the Raiders at home and then the Chiefs on the road. Don't drop them and if someone did, scoop them up!

-- Chris Anthony is a guest contributor to NFL.com, hailing from Fantasy Omatic. You can follow him on Twitter @FantasyOmatic. Be sure to check back each week for more analytics-based analysis as the algorithm will only get more accurate over time!

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