Every week this article will look at the best and toughest matchups for each position in fantasy football. It also will give you five players whose fantasy value is on the rise.
Best QB Matchups
Taysom Hill vs Falcons: The Falcons have given up a ton of fantasy points to QBs this season. The 23.72 fantasy PPG allowed to the position is the second-most in the NFL. They also give up the second-most passing yards per game (306.9). This is an interesting one as Hill has not yet thrown a TD in the NFL and has been picking up points with his legs, but something's got to give here! Hill is a top-10 fantasy QB for me this week.
Kirk Cousins vs Jaguars: Cousins has been playing good football as of late (you can read more on that below!) and has a great matchup this week. The Jaguars have given up the third-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (21.99). They have also allowed a top-10 fantasy QB in four of their last five games.
Other Favorable QB Matchups: Colt McCoy vs SEA, Derek Carr vs NYJ, Baker Mayfield vs TEN
Best RB Matchups
David Montgomery vs Lions: Montgomery returned from injury last week and, in a great matchup against the Packers, he went off for 25.3 fantasy points. The only team that allows more fantasy PPG to RBs than the Packers? Montgomery's Week 13 opponent, the Lions! On the year Detroit has allowed the most fantasy PPG (33.2), most touchdowns (21) and second-most yards per game (165.6) to running backs. Fire up Monty this week.
Miles Sanders vs Packers: You just read above about how the Packers allow the second-most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (31.02). They allowed Montgomery to go off for over 25 fantasy points last week and have allowed an RB1 (top-12) in eight of their last nine games.
Other Favorable RB Matchups: Nyheim Hines/Jonathan Taylor vs HOU, Frank Gore vs LV, Dalvin Cook vs JAX
Best WR Matchups
Sterling Shepard/Golden Tate/Darius Slayton vs Seahawks: Seattle has been better as of late, but on the season, it has still allowed a ton of production to receivers. In fact, the Seahawks have allowed the most fantasy PPG (51.23) and the most receiving yards per game (240.3) to WRs in NFL history. It's a small sample size but last week Colt McCoy targeted Shepard four times and Tate three times and did not throw to Slayton. This week Shepard is the preferred play, while Slayton is the home run swing.
Michael Thomas vs Falcons: Thomas faced the Falcons two weeks ago and had his best game of the season, going for 19.4 fantasy points on 12 targets, nine catches and 104 yards. He is still searching for his first TD of the season though. Thomas hasn't lived up to expectations this season, but you still must start him in this matchup.
Other Favorable WR Matchups: Jaguars WRs vs MIN, Jarvis Landry vs TEN, Nelson Agholor vs NYJ
Best TE Matchups
Anthony Firkser vs Browns: The Browns have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to tight ends this season (15.69), including eight touchdowns allowed to the position, tied for the second-most in the league. At this point, all you need out of your tight end is a touchdown and he will likely finish a week as a TE1.
T.J. Hockenson vs Bears: Hockenson has stepped up nicely as of late with double-digit fantasy points in five of his last six games. I like his chances to build off that success against the Bears, who have allowed the third-most fantasy PPG to TEs this season (15.59), including eight touchdowns. Hockenson is one of the few tight ends you can trust weekly right now.
Other Favorable TE Matchups: Jared Cook vs ATL, Jordan Reed vs BUF, Mike Gesicki vs CIN
Fastest Rising Players:
1. Deebo Samuel: Samuel returned from injury in a tough matchup against the Rams and reminded the world that he is one of the most dangerous people on the planet with the football in his hands. He saw 13 targets for 11 catches and 133 yards last week; no one else on the 49ers even had 35 receiving yards. That is an alpha stat line. He has Brandon Aiyuk set to return this week which could help as another player defenses have to worry about and can help open some lanes for Samuel. It's been a frustrating season for Deebo with injuries starting back in August, but before he was injured, he was being valued as a WR2 with upside in fantasy and he reminded us why last week. The best part is he could be had off the waiver wire in some leagues this week. He is very much so trending up and is a borderline WR1 for me heading into Week 13.
2. Latavius Murray: In two games with Taysom Hill as the starter in New Orleans, Murray is averaging more carries, rushing yards, receiving yards and total yards, and the same number of targets and snaps per game as Alvin Kamara. Oh, he also has more touchdowns and has scored more fantasy points in that span. In those two weeks, Murray is the RB10 in fantasy, while Kamara is the RB42. What I am basically saying is in terms of fantasy, Murray stole Kamara's abilities like in Space Jam. Okay, maybe not but that is what it feels like. I have both ranked as RB2's this week, but Murray is definitely in play this week for fantasy.
3. Kirk Cousins: Cousins has been playing well, averaging 21.88 fantasy PPG since Week 9, good enough to make him the QB8 in fantasy in that span. He also has scored over 20 fantasy points and thrown for over 300 yards in three of his last four games, including throwing multiple passing TDs in four straight games. That means he comes with a safe floor, but he has a chance to showcase his ceiling this week against the Jaguars. Cousins started off slow, but he is trending up right now.
4. Michael Pittman: If you just looked at the fantasy points from last week this one may seem like a head scratcher. But Pittman had a season-high nine targets last week and has now seen eight or more in two of his last three games. He is ascending as the Colts top receiver and it couldn't come at a better time as he has the sixth-best fantasy playoff schedule among WRs.
5. Cam Akers: Akers scored a season-high 14.4 fantasy points on nine touches. It was his third game in the last four where he had nine or more touches, and he scored a touchdown for his second straight game. The Rams backfield has been anything but trustworthy this season, but if they ever had incentive to give more work to one back, it would be Akers, who has been playing better and on whom the Rams spent a second-round pick this season. I would stash him and hope that he gets more work this week!
Toughest QB Matchups
Alex Smith vs Steelers: Smith is a great story and has been a fun streamer in fantasy, but that is over at least for a week. This week he faces the Steelers who have allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to QBs this season (13.38). In fact, Pittsburgh has not allowed a top-12 fantasy QB all season. Stay away.
Kyler Murray vs Rams: The Rams are a tough matchup for any QB as they allow the second-fewest fantasy PPG to the position (13.54) and have allowed just 11 passing TDs this season, the fewest in the NFL. I am not saying to sit Murray, but I am not expecting a normal Kyler week. He is coming off his two worst fantasy performances of the season and has never topped 15 fantasy points against the Rams. He is more boom-or-bust this week than any point in the season.
Other Tough QB Matchups: Deshaun Watson vs IND, Matt Ryan vs NO, Russell Wilson vs NYG
Toughest RB Matchups
Todd Gurley vs Saints: The Saints are as tough a matchup as an RB can get. They have allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to the position (16.84) and have allowed just three rushing touchdowns and five TDs all year to RBs. Not great when you are a TD-reliant RB like Gurley. Gurley didn't find pay dirt in Week 11 against the Saints and finished with just 3.9 fantasy points. I'd look for other options.
Antonio Gibson vs Steelers: Gibson has been as hot as they come as of late. He has scored eight touchdowns since Week 7, the most of all RBs. But this week he faces the Steelers who are tied for the second-fewest touchdowns allowed to RBs this season (seven). They also allow the second-fewest fantasy PPG to RBs (16.99). Gibson is still an RB I would start, but do not be surprised if you get less production than you have been accustomed too.
Other Tough RB Matchups: Benny Snell vs WAS, Alvin Kamara/Latavius Murray vs ATL, Kenyan Drake vs LAR
Toughest WR Matchups
DeAndre Hopkins/Christian Kirk vs Rams: You can get away from Kirk here, but DHop is a bigger question. He started off awesome but since Week 6 he is the WR27 in fantasy, seeing just 8.3 targets per game and 73 yards per game. He has fewer than 11 fantasy points in four of those six games. Oh, and this week he faces Jalen Ramsey and the Rams, who have allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to WRs (29.76) this season. Plus, he and Ramsey used to battle a lot in the AFC South. In those seven games DHop averaged 6.3 catches, 72.4 yards and has three touchdowns. Those are solid numbers, but they are not WR1 level. You still are starting DHop but lower those expectations.
Marvin Jones vs Bears: On the year the Bears have allowed the second-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs at 30.05 fantasy PPG. Even with Kenny Golladay sidelined, Jones has been a dud the last couple of weeks, scoring less than 11 fantasy points in each of his last two games. Given the declining production and the tough matchup, I would stay away from Jones this week.
Other Tough WR Matchups: Steelers WRs vs WAS, Jerry Jeudy/Tim Patrick vs KC, Damiere Byrd/Jakobi Meyers vs LAC
Toughest TE Matchups
Logan Thomas vs Steelers: The Steelers have been all over this article because their defense is one of, if not the best, in the NFL. They have been especially stingy with tight ends, allowing the fewest fantasy PPG to the position (7.31). They have given up just one touchdown to a tight end this season and have not allowed a top-10 tight end since Noah Fant in Week 2. Thomas has been up and down this season, but this is a week to go in another direction.
Dallas Goedert/Zach Ertz vs Packers: Green Bay has been tough on tight ends, giving up the third fewest fantasy PPG at 9.03 per game. But these are not just any ordinary tight ends. Dallas Goedert has been on a role, and Carson Wentz does throw to tight ends more than any QB in the league (10.7 passes per game). I would still start Goedert this week. Ertz is a little less clear as it is his first game back from injury and it's not the best matchup. I have him as a high-end TE2 with upside this week.
Other Tough TE Matchups: Darren Fells/Jordan Akins vs IND, Hunter Henry vs NE, Tyler Higbee/Gerald Everett vs ARI
Other Matchup stats to know:
ARI: Allowed 13 rec TD to WR this season (T-8th most in NFL)
ATL: Allowed 2nd-most fantasy PPG to QB this season (23.7)
ATL: Allowed Top-5 fantasy QB in 5 of 11 games this season
BUF: Allowed Top-12 fantasy WR in 2 of last 3 games
CIN: Allowed 7th-most fantasy PPG to QB since Wk 6 (20.3)
CIN: Allowed 5th-most fantasy PPG to TE this season (15.1)
CIN: Allowed most rec YPG to TE this season (65.3)
CIN: Allowed 2nd-most rec TD/gm since Wk 7 (2.4)
CLE: Allowed 1 Top-30 fantasy WR in last 4 games
CLE: Allowed fewest fantasy PPG to WR since Wk 8 (22.9)
DEN: Allowed Top-12 fantasy RB in 4 of last 5 games
DET: Allowed most fantasy PPG to RB this season (33.2)
DET: Allowed 21 scrimmage TD to RB this season (most in NFL)
GB: Allowed 2nd-most fantasy PPG to RB this season (31.0)
GB: Allowed Top-12 fantasy RB in 8 of last 9 games
HOU: Allowed most rush YPG to RB this season (142.2)
HOU: Allowed 3rd-most fantasy PPG to RB this season (30.4)
HOU: Allowed 15 rec TD to WR this season (3rd-most in NFL)
IND: Allowed 2nd-fewest rec/gm to WR this season (11.1)
JAX: Allowed 5th-most rec YPG to WR this season (185.6)
JAX: Allowed Top-15 fantasy WR in 5 straight games
JAX: Allowed 5th-most fantasy PPG to RB this season (27.6)
LAC: Allowed 19.69 fantasy PPG to QB this season (8th-most in NFL)
MIN: Allowed 102.2 rush YPG to RB this season (T-9th most in NFL)
NO: Allowed fewest fantasy PPG to RB this season (16.8)
NO: Have not allowed 20+ fantasy pts to RB this season (only team in NFL)
NO: Allowed 1 Top-20 fantasy WR in last 4 games
NYG: Allowed 5 rec TD to slot WR this season (T-8th most in NFL)
NYG: Allow 10th-most fantasy PPG to slot WR this season (14.54)
NYJ: Allowed 27.2 fantasy PPG to QB since Wk 8 (most in NFL)
NYJ: Allowed Top-8 fantasy QB in 4 straight games
NYJ: Allowed 10th-most fantasy PPG to RB this season (25.1)
NYJ: Allowed 2nd-most fantasy PPG to WR since Wk 8 (50.3)
NYJ: Allowed Top-12 fantasy WR in 5 straight games
SEA: Allowed 27.6 PPG this season (7th-most in NFL)
WAS allowing 3rd-fewest fantasy PPG to WR this season (30.11)
WAS allowing 3rd-fewest fantasy PPG to WR this season (142.9)
WAS: Allowed 7 rec TD to WR this season (T-3rd fewest in NFL)
Make sure to follow Michael F. Florio on Twitter and Instagram @MichaelFFlorio.