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
Justin Herbert vs. Falcons: Herbert disappointed greatly last week. Trust me, I experienced it firsthand as I started Herbert over Josh Allen and got eliminated from the Fantasy Live league because of it. But if you were able to survive last week, stick with the kid this week. He is facing a Falcons defense that has allowed the most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (23.71). They also give up two touchdown passes per game, on average to the position, the fifth most in the NFL. Herbert has thrown multiple passing TDs in seven of his nine games this season. He's topped 300 passing yards six times, which ties the rookie record, and he could break that record this week as Atlanta gives up an average of 301 passing yards per week, the second most in the league. Start Herbert this week.
Russell Wilson vs. Jets: Remember when Russ was cooking weekly and was the MVP favorite? Those were fun times. Over the past month, he has scored 15 fantasy points or less in three of his four games. His high score in that span is 20, which was his lowest score in the first nine weeks of the season. The Seattle offense has morphed back into its old self before our eyes, but this is still a week to trust Wilson as the Jets allow the third-most fantasy PPG (22.27) and passing yards per game (299) to QBs this season. If he can't take advantage of this matchup then we really have to start to worry.
Best RB Matchups
Aaron Jones vs. Lions: If you read this column weekly, you know to stream against the Lions by now. On the year, they have allowed the most fantasy PPG (32.69), touchdowns (23), and the second-most scrimmage YPG (161.1) to RBs this season. You play Jones weekly, but especially in this matchup. He scored a season-high 45.6 fantasy points against them in Week 2.
David Montgomery vs. Texans: Montgomery has scored over 25 fantasy points in recent weeks against the Lions and Packers – showing us he can exploit friendly matchups. That is exactly what he has this week against the Texans who allow the most rushing (139.8) and scrimmage yards per game (185.6) and the second most fantasy PPG to RBs (31.06). Montgomery could make it three straight with over 25 fantasy points – start him.
Best WR Matchups
Jamison Crowder vs. Seahawks: Seattle has ben gashed by wide receivers all year long. On the season, they are allowing the most yards per game (225.6) and the most fantasy PPG (48.24) to WRs. But they are specially allowing the most yards (93.8) and fantasy PPG (17.98) to slot receivers. That happens to be where Crowder runs 71 percent of his routes and where Sam Darnold throws 35 percent of his passes. Crowder also can see a bump in volume if the Jets are trailing, especially with no Denzel Mims this week. Breshad Perriman is a boom-or-bust option, as well.
Keenan Allen/Mike Williams vs. Falcons: Just like I like Herbert this week, I like his weapons as well. Over the last two games with Austin Ekeler back, Allen's target share has dropped to 20 percent – after sitting around 30 percent prior. That is something we have to monitor, but it is not enough for me to have Allen outside the Top 5 WRs in this great matchup. Atlanta has given up the second-most fantasy PPG to WRs (43.06), including the second-most yards per game (207.9). The Chargers will have something to prove after last week and I expect their studs to put up numbers. Williams always come with some boom-or-bust, but he is a high upside WR3 this week.
Best TE Matchups
Dalton Schultz vs. Bengals: Schultz has scored over seven fantasy points in five straight games, which may not sound like much but, for a tight end, that would classify as a safe floor. This week is a game where he has an opportunity to showcase his ceiling as the Bengals have allowed 16.13 fantasy PPG to TEs, the fourth most in the NFL. Just last week they allowed nearly 24 fantasy points to Mike Gesicki. Start Schultz this week.
Mark Andrews vs. Browns: Andrews will be back this week, just in time to face the Browns on Monday Night Football. On the season, Cleveland has issued 16.49 fantasy PPG to TEs, the second most in the NFL. That includes nine touchdowns, trailing only the Jets. Oh, and Andrews exploded for nearly 23 fantasy points against them in Week 1 – he's now averaged 21.07 fantasy PPG (three games) against Cleveland since 2019.
Fastest Rising Players:
- Cam Akers: Akers was going to be featured in this even before what he did Thursday night, but getting to see that performance – there is no way he is not the fastest rising player in fantasy right now. In that game, he played 81 percent of the snaps – that was the most a Rams RB had played in a game all season. That is something that Akers has done for two straight weeks now. He also exploded for 194 yards and had a season-high three targets. The only thing he didn't do in Week 14 was score a touchdown, but he had scored in his prior three games. It took longer than expected, but Akers has ascended as the Rams top RB and is looking like a potential league winner with the Jets on tap in Week 15.
- Jonathan Taylor: It's been a good stretch for rookie running backs as Taylor scored a season high 22.5 fantasy points in Week 13. In fact, he led the Colts backs in snaps (49%), carries (11), yards (135) and touchdowns (1). He also tied for the lead with three targets and catches. It was a big step forward for the rookie. Yes, it was a good matchup, but he has another one this week against the Raiders who allow the fifth-most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (28.09). Taylor has scored over 15 fantasy points in two straight and really looks to be coming on strong down the stretch. Hopefully you were patient with him.
- Cole Beasley: Beasley has been playing good football as of late. So good that I think he deserves to be getting more credit in fantasy than he has received, so here he is! Beasley has topped 27 fantasy points in two of his last three games – going over 100 yards and seeing 11-plus targets in those two games as well. That is both big time volume and production. He is on pace to top 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. And before you get scared off by the matchup this week, know that the Steelers have allowed the fifth-most fantasy PPG to slot WRs this year – and Beasley runs 89 percent of his routes from the slot.
- Keke Coutee: Coutee exploded for 22 fantasy points in the first game without Will Fuller. Coutee saw a team-high nine targets and led the Texans with eight catches for 141 yards. The best part? Watson said these two are just getting started. Coutee should have been added off the waiver wire and can be started this week as a WR3 with upside.
- Corey Davis: Davis balled out last week for 35 fantasy points going for 182 yards and a touchdown. But this was not the first big game he's had this season. In fact, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in all but one game. And through 10 games for both Davis and A.J. Brown – it is actually Davis who has more catches and yards. Brown has more fantasy points, largely due to touchdowns, but even in fantasy points, they are separated by just over 10 points. Yet Brown gets viewed as a fringe WR1 and Davis as more of a WR3 or flex option. Put some respect on his name! He has the floor of a WR3 each week, but clearly much higher upside.
Toughest QB Matchups
Josh Allen vs. Steelers: Allen has a tough matchup against a Steelers defense that is giving up 13.59 fantasy PPG – the second fewest in the NFL after the Rams surpassed them for fewest on Thursday night. That includes just 225.1 passing yards per game. Still, with the way Allen has been playing -- over 27 fantasy points in three of his last four and over 15 in every game but one this season – I think you still start him unless you have another stud QB on your roster.
Jalen Hurts vs. Saints: Doug Pederson hates fantasy football. After fantasy players have been excited to see Hurts, Pederson waits until they get the Saints to let him make his first start. The Saints have not allowed a player at any position to score 20 fantasy points in a game since Week 9. They have also the third-fewest fantasy PPG to QBs this season 15.05. I am excited to watch Hurts but, for fantasy, I am taking a wait and see approach.
Toughest RB Matchups
Miles Sanders vs. Saints: I do not like the matchup for Hurts; I like it even less for Sanders. The Saints have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 50 games. They have also allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to RBs this season (16.2). That includes just five touchdowns all year and an average of 93.7 scrimmage yards per game to RBs – both in the bottom two. It'll hurt to bench Sanders this week, but it'll hurt a lot more to start him and lose.
Devin Singletary/Zack Mossvs. Steelers: The Steelers have issued just 17.87 fantasy PPG to RBs this season, the second fewest in the NFL. Don't count on a TD, as they've allowed just eight all year to RBs. Given the tough matchup and the fact that the Bills split work between these two, I would look to sit both.
Toughest WR Matchups
DeVante Parker vs. Chiefs: Parker has averaged 9.5 fantasy PPG with Tua Tagovailoa and 15.1 with Ryan Fitzpatrick. That is one big reason I like Parker less this week. The other is the Chiefs have given up the second-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs this season (31.92). With both of those working against Parker this week, I would look to sit him.
Brandin Cooks/Keke Coutee vs. Bears: Chicago has given up the third-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs this season (32.1) and just nine touchdowns to the position this season. With how well Deshaun Watson has been playing this season, I am still fine starting both these receivers; just know that the floor may not be as safe as a normal week.
Toughest TE Matchups
Logan Thomas vs. 49ers: The Niners have allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to TEs this season at 8.06 fantasy PPG. That includes just 29.7 yards per game on average and three touchdowns this season. But Thomas just exploded for nearly 25 fantasy points and has scored double-digits in five of his last seven games. I would still go ahead and start him.
Darren Waller vs. Colts: I could tell you that the Colts have issued the second-fewest fantasy PPG to TEs (8.63) and just one touchdown. But does it matter? Waller has been one of two reliable tight ends and is coming off a game where he scored the most fantasy points by a tight end since Sterling Sharpe in 2002. Start this guy regardless of the matchup.
More Matchup Stats to Know:
ATL: Allowed a Top 5 QB in 5 games this season
BUF: Allowing 7th-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (20.2)
BUF: Allowed 2nd-most rec YPG to TE this season (66.9)
CAR: Allowed seven Top 24 WRs in last 5 games
CHI: Allowed Top 5 fantasy QB in consecutive weeks
CIN: Allowing 4th-most fantasy PPG to TEs this season (16.1)
CIN: Allowed Top 5 fantasy TE in 2 straight games (Gesicki, Evan Engram)
CIN: Allowing 2nd-most fantasy PPG to D/STs since Wk 10 (11.8)
CIN: Allowed 9+ fantasy pts to D/STs in 4 straight games
CIN: Allowed Top-5 fantasy D/STs in 3 of last 4 games
CLE: Allowing 7th-most pass YPG to QBs this season (273.0)
DAL: Allowed most rec TD to WRs this season (1.8/gm)
DAL: Allowed 9th-most fantasy PPG to WR this season (40.8)
DAL: Allowed 20+ fantasy pts to 8 WRs this season (T-2nd most in NFL)
DET: Allowing 6th-most pass YPG to QBs this season (274.5)
DET: Allowing most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (32.7)
DET: Allowed most TD to RBs this season (1.9/gm)
DET: Allowing 2nd-most scrimmage YPG to RBs this season (161.1)
DEN: Allowing 3rd-most fantasy PPG to RBs since Wk 8 (29.1)
DET: Allowing most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (32.7)
DET: Allowed 10 Top-15 RBs in last 8 games
DET: Allowed multiple Top-12 RBs in 3 games this season
HOU: Allowing most rush YPG to RBs this season (139.8)
HOU: Allowing 2nd-most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (31.1)
HOU: Allowing 6th-most rec YPG to TEs this season (57.7)
JAX: Allowing 4th-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (21.9)
JAX: Allowed 3rd-most scrimmage YPG to RB this season (157.4)
JAX: Allowing 4th-most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (28.3)
JAX: Allowing 6th-most fantasy PPG to WRs this season (41.0)
LAC: Allowing 6th-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (20.54)
LAC: Allowing 5th-most pass TD this season (2.0/gm)
MIA allowing 7th-fewest fantasy PPG to QBs this season (16.1)
MIN: Allowing 271.4 pass YPG to QB this season (T-8th most in NFL)
MIN: Allowed 24 pass TD to QBs this season (T-5th most in NFL)
MIN: Allowing 4th-most fantasy PPG to WRs this season (42.28)
MIN: Allowed 19 rec TD this season (2nd-most in NFL)
NO: Allowing fewest fantasy PPG to RB this season (16.2)
NO: Have not allowed a Top-20 fantasy RB in last 8 games
NO: Have not allowed 100-yd rusher in 50 straight games
NYJ: Allowing 3rd-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (22.3)
NYJ: Allowing most fantasy PPG to D/STs this season (10.2)
NYJ: Allowed Top-12 fantasy D/ST in 11 of 12 games this season
NYJ: 15.0 PPG this season (fewest in NFL)
PIT: Allowing fewest fantasy PPG to WRs since Wk 9 (26.8)
PIT: Allowed Top-10 fantasy WR once in last 6 games
PIT: Allowing fewest PPG this season (17.6)
PIT: Allowing 5th-most fantasy PPG to slot WRs this season (15.63)
SEA: Allowing 9th-most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (25.3)
SF: Allowed Top-10 fantasy D/ST in 4 of last 5 games
TB: Allowed Top-12 fantasy QB in 5 of last 6 games
TEN: Allowing 8th-most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (25.3)
TEN: Allowing 3rd-most fantasy PPG to WRs this season (42.8)
TEN: Allowing 2nd-most rec/gm to WRs this season (16.3)
WAS: Allowing 4th-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs this season (32.2)
WAS: Allowed 3rd-fewest rec TD to WRs this season (9)