Number crunch: Best, worst Week 13 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 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 "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 12 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 13. 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

Ben Roethlisberger went into his bye week on a downswing compared to his historical two-game stretch back in Weeks 8 and 9. Despite two bad fantasy games before the bye, there is still a lot to like about Roethlisberger's fantasy potential this week. Roethlisberger is averaging 7.92 yards per pass attempt this season (YPA) which ranks among the top-10 of all quarterbacks. Ben is also fourth in pass completions on the season and is tied with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck for most passing plays of 25-plus yards. His ceiling is as high as it gets. Roethlisberger just needs to do a better job of taking advantage of good matchups. This week, Roethlisberger hosts the Saints defense with extra time to prepare. The Saints defense has allowed the second-most pass attempts per game over the last three weeks and that high volume will likely continue this week. The Saints allow the third-highest yards per completion to opposing quarterbacks. Roethlisberger should be able to get downfield and take advantage of the Saints weakness against the big play. Roethlisberger still averages over 20 fantasy points per game against easy matchups this season, even with a 13-point stinker against an easy Jets defense. After having a week to prepare for a top-five easy-rated matchup at home, Roethlisberger should be able to deliver and owners should feel safe starting him in this crucial Week 13 matchup. Forecast: Despite a great Week 13 matchup, Roethlisberger's fantasy playoff schedule in nothing to be excited about. This week was his last easy matchup of the year. He faces nothing but bottom-15 matchups in every week of his playoff schedule with a tough Week 16 matchup against the "worst" rated Chiefs defense. [Recommended Usage: QB1]

Other good QB matchups:Andrew Luck at WAS, Eli Manning at JAC, Blake Bortles vs. NYG, Joe Flacco vs. SD, Andy Dalton at TB

RB

Andre Ellington has dropped from a weekly RB1 down into the RB2 range over the past couple weeks. His quarterback situation hasn't helped, but neither has the fact that he has not faced an easy matchup since Week 9 when he torched the Cowboys run defense. Ellington is an algorithm top-13 rated back because he loves a good matchup, but he is not a top-five rated back due to his inability to overcome a tough one. Ellington averages seven fantasy points against tough matchups but doubles that when he faces an easy one. The great news for frustrated Ellington owners is that he gets the easiest-rated matchup in the league this week as the Cardinals travel to Atlanta to take on a Falcons defense that has given up the most rushing touchdowns per game. The Falcons just got beat up by Isaiah Crowell last week and they have only faced five other running backs rated higher than Ellington all season. Those players scored an average of 19 fantasy points against them. Ellington won't have to rely on his 4.1 catches per game to save him this week. The matchup alone should be just what Ellington needs to produce as an RB1. Forecast: Ellington's fantasy playoff schedule is what made him such a popular "sell" candidate before the trade deadline. He has one of the top-three worst fantasy playoff schedules of any running back and gets nothing but top-10 toughest rated defenses every week. Enjoy this last good matchup while you can. [Recommended Usage: RB1]

Jerick McKinnon has been mostly off the fantasy radar since taking over as the Vikings lead back. He does deserve a bit of kudos, however. The Vikings have averaged the fifth-most yards per carry in the NFL over the last month and McKinnon quietly lands in the top 10 overall in with his 4.8 yards per carry. The addition of Ben Tate scared a few owners last week, but Tate didn't see the field once in that game. One thing that McKinnon has not been able to enjoy this season is a string of good matchups. He has only had two so far this year and he averaged 11 fantasy points in each of them. This week he gets a matchup against a "better" rated Panthers defense that is the eighth-easiest matchup for fantasy running backs on the season. The Panthers have been a little tougher against running backs in their last five games but have given up the fourth-most fantasy points per touch (FPPT) to opposing runners consistently throughout the season. McKinnon averages 0.48 FPPT and the Panthers give up almost twice that amount per game. With a little momentum and a decent matchup this week, McKinnon should be worth a roster spot in a likely "must win" matchup for your fantasy team. Forecast: The Vikings running backs have no more easy matchups left on the season. The fantasy playoffs bring three matchups that are all among the top-10 toughest rated for fantasy running backs. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Other good RB matchups:Arian Foster vs. TEN, Le'Veon Bell vs. NO, Denard Robinson vs. NYG, Alfred Morris at IND

WR

Even with A.J. Green back healthy, Mohamed Sanu has still been a consistent part of the Bengals offensive game plan. His targets have taken a dip from his double digit totals back in Week 8, but only slightly. He has averaged six targets and 7.5 fantasy points per game over his last four games. Sanu averages twice as many fantasy points (13) against easy-rated matchups as he does when he plays tough ones. This week he gets the easiest possible matchup that a fantasy wide receiver could have as the Bengals travel to Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are giving up the second-most receiving yards per game over the last three games and the fourth-most touchdowns to receivers all season. The Bengals allow 1.43 fantasy points per touch FPPT to receivers and Sanu is a top-15 producer in FPPT. In this game, Sanu will likely be matched up against cornerback Johnathan Banks, who yields nearly nine fantasy points per game to receivers he covers. Sanu's history against easy matchups and the Buccaneers inability to shut down wideouts makes him an ideal start this weekend. Forecast: The Bengals receivers will enjoy their last easy matchup of the season in Week 13. The Steelers, Browns and Broncos wait for them in the fantasy playoffs, all of which are among the top-15 toughest matchups for wide receivers. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

Other good WR matchups:A.J. Green at TB, Odell Beckham at JAX, T.Y. Hilton vs. WAS, Keenan Allen at BAL

TE

Travis Kelce owners have had a tough time waiting for the Chiefs to unleash their crazy-talented tight end. Kelce makes things happen every time he touches the ball, but coach Andy Reid and Alex Smith still only dole out about five targets a game to Kelce. He has produced well with his opportunities, scoring 1.41 fantasy points per touch (FPPT) when he gets the ball, but it has taken him about twelve snaps on the field before he gets a touch. Kelce has had some solid fantasy games and they almost all have one thing in common, they were against easy matchups. Kelce averages 10 fantasy points per game against easy matchups while only scoring four points a game against tough ones. Last week was an easy matchup but this week against the Broncos is even easier. The Broncos are the seventh-easiest rated matchup for fantasy tight ends and have been the second-easiest matchup over the last five weeks. A nice matchup like this one could be just what Kelce needs to break out. He is a boom or bust fantasy tight end, but the numbers point to "boom" in Week 13. Forecast: The Chiefs tight ends will have two "better" rated matchups in Weeks 14 and 15 and then a date with a Steelers defense that has actually been one of the top-three toughest matchups for fantasy tight ends over the last five weeks. Consider Week 16 more of a "worst" rated matchup as a result. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]

Other good TE matchups:Scott Chandler vs. CLE, Niles Paul at IND, Timothy Wright at GB

D/ST

NYG at JAC: The Giants have not been a top-tier defense for fantasy purposes this season, but they have shown that they can produce against weaker offenses on a couple of occasions. This week, they win the fantasy defense matchup lottery and face the Jaguars offense that is continuing its decline. The Jaguars are still giving up 3.9 sacks and 1.5 interceptions per game and only score 14 points per game. If the Giants are on your waiver wire they can help your cause this week. If they perform to expectations, then hold on to them for matchups against the Titans, Redskins and Rams in the fantasy playoffs.

CIN at TB: The 2014 Bengals have not been the fantasy defense of recent years, but they have been productive in the five games where they went up against poor offenses. This week they travel to Tampa Bay to play a Buccaneers offense that gives up 2.9 sacks and 1.3 interceptions per game while only scoring 18 points on average. This should certainly be one of those productive weeks for the Bengals fantasy defense.

STL vs. OAK: The Rams defense has finally been living up to its potential in recent weeks. This week the Rams play at home against the Raiders who showed a little life last week, but have still been a generous opponent for fantasy defenses. The Raiders turn the ball over 1.9 times per game and the Rams should be able to contain the Raiders new run game to limit the Raiders to scoring around their 16 point average.

Expect Less:

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

QB

Kyle Orton loves the Jets. His two best fantasy games this season have come both times he faced the Jets defense. Orton averages 22 fantasy points per game against New York. However, when he doesn't play the Jets Orton averages a paltry 14 fantasy points per game. Orton does not do well when facing "worst" rated matchups and this week Orton hosts a Browns defense that is the algorithm's second-toughest rated matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. The Browns allow the second-fewest yards per pass attempt over last three games and have the second-most interceptions in the league (eight). Over the last three games the Browns defense has allowed the second-lowest pass completion percentage in the league (58.25 percent) and the fifth-fewest passing yards per game. Owners relying on Orton should look elsewhere this week considering his poor performances against the other top-five toughest rated matchups he has already faced this season. Forecast: Orton has a chance to produce against the Broncos in Week 14. Denver has been very generous to fantasy quarterbacks and is a top-10 easy-rated matchup on the season. Orton should be benched after that as he has two tough matchups against Green Bay in Week 15 and the surprisingly tough Raiders defense in Week 16. This is not the stuff that a championship run is made of. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB2]

Other bad QB matchups:Michael Vick vs. MIA, Shaun Hill vs. OAK, Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. TEN

RB

After a low producing Week 11 game against the Raiders, Ryan Mathews produced against a tough Rams defense last week. His production was helped in large part from a 32-yard touchdown run that accounted for 52 percent of his fantasy points for the week. Mathews ended up missing about 20 minutes of game time with a shoulder injury before returning late in the final quarter. He should be a go for Week 13 against a Ravens defense that allows the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game (88.3 yards) and only 3.7 yards per carry (YPC) on the season. The Ravens are the toughest algorithm-rated matchup for fantasy running backs, and have not allowed a rushing touchdown in the last three games and only one in their last five. Since Mathews' two best games of the season were bolstered by scoring touchdowns, he will need to get in a position to score to have his second good outing in a row. Unfortunately, San Diego has the second fewest red zone scoring opportunities of any offense over the last month and the Ravens are not the type of matchup that make it easy to score fantasy points through rushing yards alone. Forecast: This Week 13 matchup is one of top-two toughest matchups a running back can get and Mathews sees the other of the two in Week 16. Mathews has a nice matchup against the Patriots next week, but watch out for the Broncos in Week 15 -- they have been one of the top-three toughest matchups for fantasy running backs over the last five weeks  [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Other bad RB matchups:Justin Forsett vs. SD, C.J Anderson as KC, Steven Jackson vs. ARI

WR

DeAndre Hopkins started off this season looking like a breakout WR1 in the making. However, only one double digit fantasy scoring day in the last seven weeks has stymied that narrative. Although predicting Hopkin's productive fantasy outings seems like a guessing game, it is actually very easy if you just look at the matchups. Every one of Hopkins' big fantasy days this season has come against his easiest matchups. He scores 14 fantasy points against either "better" or "best" rated matchups this season with his two highest point totals coming against his two "best" rated opponents. Conversely, he only produces six fantasy points when facing either "bad" or "worst" rated matchups. This week he goes up against the second-toughest rated Titans defense. The Titans have only allowed seven touchdowns to receivers all season and only two of those came in the last five games. The Titans defense has also only given up 182 passing yards per game in that same five game span. For a player that is so matchup-dependent, a very tough Titans defense could lead to another single digit fantasy outing for Hopkins in Week 13. Forecast: Patient Hopkins owners will love having him on their active roster in Week 14 as the Texans face a top-five easy-rated Jaguars defense which should help hedge your chances of advancing. If you do, however, then you may consider sitting Hopkins against a Colts defense in Week 16 that held him to just one fantasy point back in Week 6. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

DeSean Jackson's fantasy value has taken a nosedive since Robert Griffin III has taken over as starting quarterback of the Redskins. Jackson has made his hay on deep passing early in the season and is still leading the NFL in yards per catch. Jackson is just not getting the ball thrown to him when he is open downfield in his last few games. Regardless of who is at quarterback, things are not likely to turn around this week as the Redskins travel to Indianapolis to take on a tough Colts pass defense. After their beat-down by Ben Roethlisberger in Week 8, the Colts have not allowed a touchdown to a receiver and have only allowed a total of four receiving touchdowns to non-Steelers receivers over the entire season. The Colts are the fourth-toughest rated matchup for fantasy receivers on the season and have held teams with a capable quarterback to some of their lowest point production totals of the season. Jackson should bounce back at some point, but it will likely not be this week, even if Colt McCoy does make an appearance. Forecast: If the Redskins quarterback situation gets better in time for the fantasy playoffs, then Jackson could have some value in Week 14 and Week 16 when he gets two top-10 easy-rated matchups. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

Other bad WR matchups:Mike Evans vs. CIN, Marques Colston at PIT, Vincent Jackson vs. CIN

TE

Owen Daniels has been a tough player to predict this season. He scored all three of his touchdowns in just two games against "bad" rated defenses. But when he faces either "better" or "best" rated matchups he has failed to break the double digit fantasy point mark. As a result, Daniels averages three fantasy points per game against either easy or tough matchups. Daniels has only faced one "worst" rated matchup this season and that was against the Saints last week where he scored 0.7 fantasy points. If Daniels fails to score a touchdown, he really isn't of any value for your fantasy team. The bad news for Daniels is that this week he goes up against a Chargers defense that has given up only two touchdowns to tight ends all season and is the toughest rated matchup for tight ends. It is a double whammy that will all but guarantee that Daniels will not get in the end zone and therefore not be worth starting consideration for your fantasy team. Forecast: If you are headed for the fantasy playoffs, then look for a new tight end. Daniels has no better than a top-10 tough matchup during each of the three fantasy playoff weeks. [Recommended Usage: SIT]

Other bad TE matchups:Greg Olsen at MIN, Heath Miller vs. NO, Delanie Walker at HOU

D/ST

KC vs. DEN: The Chiefs fantasy defense is trending in the wrong direction. After failing to capitalize on a great matchup against the Raiders last week, they now play host to the Broncos. It goes without saying that you should not start your fantasy defense against any offense that scores more than 30 points per game, especially if that offense is captained by Peyton Manning. The Chiefs should be benched until they get another shot at the Raiders in Arrowhead in Week 15.

BUF vs. CLE: The Bills have ascended to the top tier of fantasy defenses led mainly by their astounding 44 sacks on the season, including 18 in the last three games. You may not have the luxury of sitting them this week but you should expect a lot less from what may appear to be a great matchup against the Browns. The Browns run the third-most plays per game and do a good job of keeping opposing defenses off the field. They give up only 0.7 interceptions and 1.5 sacks per game and oh yeah … Josh Gordon is back.

Week 14 Forecast:

Do you have holes to fill in your roster for the fantasy playoffs? 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:Ryan Tannehill vs. BAL, Teddy Bridgewater vs. NYJ
RB:Dan Herron at CLE, Bishop Sankey vs. NYG
WR:Kenny Britt at WAS, Pierre Garcon vs. STL
TE:Coby Fleener at CLE, Delanie Walker vs. NYG
DST: HOU at JAC, MIN vs. NYJ, WAS vs. STL

-- 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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