Number crunch: Best, worst Week 10 fantasy matchups

What truly defines a "productive fantasy 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 system 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 "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 first nine weeks of the 2014 regular season. "Statistically" a three week data sample out of a 16 week fantasy season is enough to draw valuable conclusions. The data continues to become more accurate each week. Plan on coming back for fresh algorithm-based ratings that you cannot get anywhere else!

Weekly Matchup Ranges

This chart shows the BEST and WORST defensive ratings against each position as of Week 10. 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:

Expect More:

Players who could fall short of expectations this week based on the strength of their opponent compared to their inability to overcome a strong opponent.

QB

Mark Sanchez was this week's waiver-wire hero after inheriting the Eagles starting quarterback job. Sanchez looked good last week, completing 15 of 22 passes for 202 yards with two touchdowns and after one partial week, earned himself a -1.09 algorithm rating (28th of all quarterbacks). Chip Kelly said, "I don't think we missed a beat offensively." Nor will your fantasy team this week if you grabbed him and plan to start him. Philly runs the second-most offensive plays per game in the NFL and only the Colts have more pass attempts per game. They should have no problem sticking to their previous game plan. This week, Sanchez gets a Panthers defense that ranks No. 8 in fantasy points against, but the algorithm adjusts them slightly to the 12th-easiest matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. The Panthers give up the fourth-most touchdowns per game of any defense and they give up the third-most when on the road. You can start Sanchez with confidence in a two-quarterback league or as a bye-week replacement. Forecast: Sanchez lucked out with a decent matchup for his first week as the Eagles new starter. There is bad news for his rest of season value, however. Sanchez faces five straight tough matchups including Seattle in Week 14. This accounts for one of the five worst remaining schedules of any fantasy quarterback. He does have a "best" rated matchup in Week 16 against the Redskins just in case he gets you to the championship game. [Recommended Usage: QB2]

RB

Bobby Rainey appears to have taken over the lead back role in Tampa Bay for another week, maybe even more. In the featured role in Week 9, he was able to turn 19 touches into 12 fantasy points. It was solid production considering he did not score a touchdown in that game. In his limited play this season, Rainey is in the top 15 in yards per rush (4.6). Rainey has had his chances before and produced well each time he was given more than 10 carries, except one game in Week 3 when he fumbled away his big chance against the Falcons. This week he gets to redeem himself against that same Falcons defense which is now the second-easiest rated matchup for fantasy running backs. The Bucs have not scored a rushing touchdown in the last three games but the Falcons give up the most rushing touchdowns per game (1.6). This matchup could lead to another productive game for Rainey and possibly provide him with his best chance to score a touchdown all season. Rookie Charles Sims should get some snaps on passing downs this week but Rainey should still expect 12 to 15 touches. Forecast: The Buccaneers running backs have nothing but "best" and "bad" rated matchups left on their schedule. This week is their second best remaining matchup with two more great matchups waiting in Week 13 and Week 15.[Recommended Usage: LOW RB1]

Since Denard Robinson grabbed the starting role in Week 7, he has played nearly 60 percent of the offensive snaps, has the fifth-most rushing attempts in the NFL and has the fourth-most rushing yards per game. Only 22 percent of his fantasy points come from touchdowns or long plays, so his production has been steady and predictable. He is shaping up to be a weekly starter. This week he has a chance to break out even further as he has his easiest matchup of the season. The Cowboys defense is the only "best" rated defense that Robinson has seen this year and happened to be the second-easiest matchup for fantasy running backs. The Cowboys give up the fourth-most rushing yards per game, allowing 4.8 yards per carry to their opponents. The Bengals also give up the most plays per game to opponents, allowing more opportunities for your fantasy players to score points. Robinson should easily continue to be productive in this game. The Cowboys have allowed double digit fantasy points to the last four lead backs they have faced and Robinson could extend that streak. Forecast: Robinson's remaining schedule has a lot to look forward to. He has nothing but "better" or "best" rated matchups between now and Week 16, with one exception in Week 15 against the Ravens. He has the second-easiest remaining schedule of any fantasy running back. [Recommended Usage: RB2]

WR

Roddy White's WR1 days are likely behind him, but when he has the right matchup he can still be productive for fantasy purposes. He does very well against easy matchups, averaging 14 fantasy points a game in the two contests this year against "better" rated defenses. His production drops when he faces tough matchups, down to just six fantasy points per game against "bad" or "worst" rated matchups. Luckily, this week he gets the Buccaneers who are the easiest matchup for fantasy receivers. This is just the type of matchup where you can expect a good game out of White. The Buccaneers average 1.59 fantasy points per target against opposing receivers (second most in the NFL) and although White has only gone over five catches and 75 yards just once this season, he is still getting a large share of Matt Ryan's targets. He will also see a lot of Buccaneers corner back Alterraun Verner, who gives up just over 11 fantasy points a game to the receivers that he covers. The numbers all seem to align for White to be a decent WR2/flex start or a good sleeper on your daily fantasy rosters this week. Forecast: White has two straight "better" rated matchups coming up after this one. Then three straight "bad" rated matchups to follow those. Consider him a matchup play at this point of the season and those types of matchups end after Week 12. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Mike Evans has been a hot topic this week after blowing up for 24 fantasy points against the Browns in Week 9. Buccaneers' interim offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo recently promised to make use of his big wide receivers, and Evans is third in the NFL in pass targets over 20 yards over the last three games. Evans had two touchdowns in the game last week, but those scores only accounted for less than half of his fantasy production. His algorithm rating has been rising since earlier in the season as he has been making the most of his good matchups. This week he gets the Falcons defense. Atlanta's fantasy points against ranking make them appealing, but the algorithm likes them even more and rates them as the third-easiest matchup for fantasy receivers. Evans already played the Falcons in Week 3 and did very little, but he only played 40 snaps in that brutal Thursday night blowout. The Falcons allow opposing receivers to score 1.55 fantasy points per target (third-most in the NFL), and Evans' targets were at an all-time high last week. Forecast: This week represents the last "best" rated matchup of the season for Evans. Next week, he gets the "better" rated Redskins defense before three straight tough matchups including a brutal Week 14 matchup against the Lions. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

TE

Heath Miller jumped back into the fantasy conversation with a big game in Week 8 against a Colts defense that was the third-easiest rated matchup for tight ends at the time. Miller rose to the occasion with 17 points. His matchup was a lot easier last week, but he managed just two targets. Miller has been inconsistent this year and is behind Martavis Bryant as the Steelers top red zone option, yet one thing you can count on is that he scores double digit points when he faces easy matchups. He averages 15 fantasy points against easy matchups and only 2.5 against tough ones. The good news is that Miller gets the Jets defense this week and they are now the third-easiest rated matchup for tight ends. The Jets red zone defense has been terrible. They have given up the second-most red zone touchdowns of any defense over the last three games, while the Steelers have scored the third-most touchdowns in the red zone this season. Miller has the fifth-most receiving yards of any tight end over the last three weeks and the numbers appear to point to this being another one of his productive weeks. Forecast: A late Week 12 bye makes Miller tough to stash but you can feel comfortable dropping him after this week since he has no more good matchups to take advantage of for the rest of the fantasy regular season. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]

Clay Harbor is this week's super sneaky fantasy play. He did have a good matchup last week, but was held without a catch in limited snaps and eventually left with an injury. Harbor has averaged 4.4 catches per game from Week 4 through Week 8 and this week should be able to take advantage of a Cowboys defense that is the seventh-easiest rated matchup for fantasy tight ends. The Cowboys allowed low-rated tight ends like John Carlson, Josh Hill and Nic Jacobs to score against them already this season. If you add Harbor to a list of the 17 tight ends that have already faced the Cowboys, Harbor's player rating would be the second-highest of the group and the player rated third (Josh Hill) already scored 7.2 fantasy points against them in Week 4. Harbor should be a nice and cheap daily fantasy play and a can be a player you can plug in during a particularly thin bye week for tight ends. Forecast: Harbor may have one more good matchup to exploit in Week 12 against the Colts. However, a late Week 11 bye will make him tough to hold on to until then. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]

D/ST

ARI vs. STL: The Cardinals defense did a great job against the Cowboys last week and has been a consistent fantasy defense for the last month. They average just under two interceptions a game and have three touchdowns in the last two weeks. This week they face the Rams who give up three sacks and one interception per game and score on average less than 19 points per game (fifth-lowest in the NFL).

DAL at JAC: The Cowboys defense has certainly benefitted from not being on the field much this season as their offense has been dominating time of possession. This leads to their opponents having scoring fewer points and accumulating less yardage. The Cowboys have also forced seven sacks over their last four games. The Jaguars offense has been better recently, but has still given up a couple pick sixes and allows an average of just under 4.04 sacks and 1.6 interceptions a game. The Jaguars also score less than 15 points a game, which is the lowest average in the NFL.

Expect Less:

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

QB

Andy Dalton has been a steady and safe fantasy quarterback this season. He is the algorithm's 18th-rated quarterback averaging a solid 15 fantasy points a game. Dalton throws the seventh-fewest pass attempts per game of any quarterback and the Bengals call the sixth-fewest passing plays overall. He is in the top 10 in yards per pass attempt, but converts the third-fewest passing touchdowns per game of any quarterback in the NFL. Dalton has been matchup-proof this season, averaging 15 fantasy points regardless of whether he plays "better" or "bad" rated defenses. However, he has not yet faced a defense rated as tough as his Week 10 opponent, the Browns. The Browns defense has been getting healthy and coming together as a unit. They allow the fifth-fewest touchdowns per game over the last three weeks and have held opposing quarterbacks to the third-lowest passer rating per game over that span. The Browns are the third-toughest rated matchup for opposing fantasy quarterbacks and could give Dalton some problems. If you just need a safe second starter in a two quarterback league, Dalton could deliver. But if you are looking for upside this week, then you should look elsewhere as this matchup will test Dalton's fantasy point production ceiling. Forecast: Hang on to Dalton as next week he travels to New Orleans to face the Saints defense that has been one of the top-five easiest rated against fantasy quarterbacks. His matchup against Tampa Bay in Week 13 could help you make the fantasy playoffs. [Recommended Usage: QB2]

Matthew Stafford has been on a slow decline since having a fairly productive September. In Week 8, he appeared to have a bounce-back game but the box score shows that he struggled to produce until the fourth quarter. His last two games have been against easy rated matchups which have normally yielded his highest fantasy production, but Stafford was unable to capitalize. Stafford has scored an average of 21 fantasy points against his good matchups this season, but only nine fantasy points against the three "bad" rated opponents he faced. Even though Stafford gets Calvin Johnson back this week, he also faces his toughest matchup of the season. The Dolphins defense is the toughest rated matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. Miami holds their opponents to the fewest yards per play and the third-lowest completion percentage of any defense in the NFL. The Dolphins have the fourth-most sacks per game while the Lions offensive line has given up the fifth-most sacks (three) per game. Opposing quarterbacks average only a 76.9 passer rating against the Dolphins, the second-lowest in the league. The return of Megatron will help, but the numbers definitely point to another average game from Stafford. Forecast: The schedule gets better after this one week dip. Weeks 13 to 16 feature three top-10 easy matchups for Stafford, making him one of the prime fantasy playoff quarterbacks to own. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]

RB

Lamar Miller is practicing in full this week after a shoulder injury in Week 9. That is a big step in the right direction for his Week 10 availability, but owners may want temper their expectations. Miller has performed well as the lone feature back in Miami and his player rating continues to rise. His rating spiked after he put up an 11-point effort against the Chargers in Week 9, who are one of the toughest matchups for running backs. A high player rating indicates that the algorithm likes a player in tougher matchups and Miller has averaged a steady 11 fantasy points against his five tough matchups this season. The Week 9 game against the Chargers might be a bit of a statistical anomaly since 51 percent of his point production came on his only touchdown, and he left the game in the third quarter. This week he faces a Lions defense that gives up the second-fewest rushing yards per game and the fifth-fewest rushing touchdowns per game over their last four games. Miller has to be started, but should be considered a flex in this tough matchup. Forecast: The string of bad matchups continue with three top-six toughest rated opponents between Weeks 11 and 14. If you can hang on through those weeks, Miller has two top-10 easy matchups in Weeks 15 and 16, i.e. your fantasy playoffs.  [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

After being hailed as the new lead back in St. Louis last week, Tre Mason received 19 of the 23 carries and dominated the early-down snaps. Fantasy owners should keep in mind that in the "lead" role last week, Mason was only able to score five fantasy points. Jeff Fisher insists Mason missed some holes and continues to say Zac Stacy will remain a big part of the offense. Believe that if you wish, but the reason to expect less from Mason this week is because he faces his toughest matchup of the season against the Cardinals "worst" rated defense. Aside from one breakout game against Seattle, Mason has not scored over five fantasy points against any tough matchup he has faced. The Cardinals are the toughest-rated matchup for fantasy running backs and just held DeMarco Murray to only nine fantasy points last week. Arizona allows the fourth-fewest yards per carry of any defense in the NFL and has not allowed any back to score more than 12 fantasy points against them all year. Sure, a short-yardage touchdown could help Mason's chances, but keep in mind that the Rams have the fifth-fewest red zone scoring attempts all season and have ran the fewest plays per game of any team in the NFL over the last three weeks. There are simply not enough opportunities in this offense for Mason to be productive. Forecast: The Rams running game is facing their fifth straight "bad" or "worst" rated matchup this week, and things will only marginally improve moving forward. Over the next two weeks they face two of the top seven toughest defenses against running backs. They have two "better" rated matchups still to play, one in Week 13 against the Raiders and the other in the Week 16 (typically the fantasy championships).  [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

WR

Mike Wallace has proven to be a top-25 rated receiver this season. He has been experiencing a decline in his player rating, though, after failing to produce in his last two games against "better" rated defenses. Even with the Dolphins putting up 37 points in Week 9, Wallace wasn't a part of the scoring. He was still targeted a team-high eight times and came close to scoring on two occasions -- both of which can be blamed on Ryan Tannehill. Wallace gets his toughest matchup of the season in Week 10 against a well-rested Lions defense that is the toughest matchup for fantasy receivers. The Lions give up the second-fewest touchdowns per game of any defense in the NFL and Wallace has relied on touchdowns to provide 40 percent of his fantasy point production. Wallace will see a lot of Darius Slay in this matchup and Slay only allows 3.9 fantasy points to the receivers he covers. Forecast: Wallace's matchups will go back and forth for a couple weeks. After this bad one, he gets the Bills top-five easy rated defense, then back to a tough matchup against the Broncos, then another easy one against the Jets. Consider him an "every other week starter" from here on out.  [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Sammy Watkins' player rating has been skyrocketing ever since Kyle Orton has taken over as the Bill's quarterback. Watkins has risen to the 10th-rated wide receiver during that span. The only strike against this recent production is that he has been very touchdown heavy, with just over 40 percent of his fantasy point production in the last two weeks coming from the three touchdowns and one infamous 84 yard non-touchdown catch. That is normally not a big deal, except that this week he gets the Chiefs fifth-toughest rated defense that gives up the fewest touchdowns per game of any defense in the NFL. This is generally not a good mix for touchdown-dependent players. Forecast: The Chiefs will be the second to last "worst" rated matchup this season for Watkins. Next week against Miami is a "bad" rated matchup, but then he gets two more "better" rated matchups until a really tough playoff stretch begins in Week 14. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Andre Holmes had been a pretty solid fantasy producer for the owners that took a chance on him off waivers earlier this season. He has posted three double digit fantasy performances this season but his algorithm player rating suffers a bit due to his poor performances against tough matchups. Most notably was his two point stinker in Week 9 as he faced his only "worst" rated matchup of the season. Unfortunately for Holmes, he gets another "worst" rated matchup this week against the stingy Broncos secondary featuring Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Opposing coordinators still like to try to throw on Denver, as they allow the most pass attempts of any defense, but they manage to still hold their opponents to the second-fewest yards per completion per game. Denver looks okay in fantasy points against rankings (11th), but the algorithm rates them as the fourth-toughest opponent for fantasy receivers. Despite his big-play ability, Holmes is a matchup-dependent WR3 option with a bad matchup this week. Forecast: The two-week brutal matchup run ends in Week 11 against the Chargers weak secondary, but picks up again with the Chiefs "worst" rated defense in Week 12. Holmes' last four games of the season feature three easy matchups. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

Odell Beckham has been on fire since returning from injury in Week 5. He has played nearly 100 percent of the offensive snaps in the last two weeks and has become a staple in the Giants offense. Beckham and Rueben Randle each saw a team-high 11 targets last week, which was also a season-high for Beckham. His involvement in the offense will continue, but this week he faces his toughest matchup of the year against the Seahawks. Seattle is the second-toughest rated defense against fantasy receivers and has allowed only .92 fantasy points per touch to the receivers playing against them, which is less than half Beckham's per game average. Beckham has been trending up in touches, but averages just seven per game. If the Seahwaks hold their average, that would leave Beckham in the seven to eight fantasy points range this week. Beckham is also likely to see a lot of Richard Sherman. Sherman gives up only 9.1 fantasy points a game to the receivers he covers, but has not allowed a receiver to score more than seven fantasy points on him since Week 5. Forecast: The next "worst" rated matchup for Beckham comes in Week 12 against a Cowboys defense that has somehow become the third-toughest matchup for fantasy receivers. Other than that, Beckham will see three remaining "better" matchups and one "best" rated matchup in the fantasy championship game against the Rams. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

TE

Vernon Davis may very well be on your waiver wire and maybe you grabbed him on name value alone. He was on waivers, or your bench, because he has not done much of anything this season and the numbers do not really point to him doing much this week either. Last week, Davis caught two of his three targets for only 19 yards. His Week 9 opponent, the Rams, are actually pretty tough against fantasy tight ends. They are rated almost the same as Davis's Week 10 matchup, the Saints. The Saints are the fourth-toughest rated tight end matchup and have only allowed one passing touchdown per game over their last three games. This could prove to be bad news for Davis whose only double digit fantasy point game came in Week 1 when he scored two touchdowns. Since then, he has averaged 6.5 fantasy points against easy matchups and only 1.6 fantasy points against tough rated defenses, like the matchup he has this week. Forecast: Davis has another "bad" rated matchup next week against the Giants followed by three out of four "better" rated matchups through Week 15. Considering his poor production even in good matchups, he is likely someone you shouldn't even be playing the matchups with anyway. [Recommended Usage: TE2/SIT]

D/ST

SF at NO:Coming off a dominant performance in Week 9, the 49ers may look like a hot fantasy defense to grab this week. However, throughout the season they have been extremely matchup-dependent. When facing top-15 offenses, they fail to score double digit points. This week they take on the task of holding down Drew Brees and a healthy Jimmy Graham. The surging Saints average over 430 yards and 28 points a game (fifth highest the NFL) and give up only 1.5 sacks and one interception to opposing defenses.

DET vs. MIA: The Lions were one of the best fantasy defenses of the first half of the season, are playing at home and coming off a bye. Sounds great, right? Not so much. They have only managed to score double digits once in their last four games. The last time they took the field they should have dismantled the Falcons offensive line, but only managed two sacks. The Dolphins offense is clicking right now and averages over 26 points a game. Miami also gives up an average of only 0.8 interceptions per game.

BUF vs. KC: After two straight double-digit performances, the Bills defense was looking like a "must start" going into their BYE last week. No doubt they should be rostered, but you may want to temper expectations this week. The Chiefs come to town with their safe, but productive offense. Alex Smith averages only less than an interception per game and the Chiefs score over 25 points a game. The Chiefs running game is hot right now and the Bills just gave up three rushing touchdowns to the Jets in Week 8.

Week 11 Forecast:

Want to get the jump on the Week 11 byes? Don't wait until next week's waivers, grab these guys now and enjoy their tasty matchups before they are even on your opponents' radar:

QB:Josh McCown at WAS, Derek Carr at SD, Mark Sanchez at GB
RB:Trent Richardson vs. NE, Terrance West vs. HOU
WR:Davante Adams vs. PHI, Andre Holmes at SD, Mike Evans at WAS
TE:Coby Fleener vs. NE, Kyle Rudolph at CHI
DST: MIA vs. BUF, WAS vs. TB, MIN at CHI

-- 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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