Number crunch: Best, worst Week 14 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 13 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 14. 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

Ryan Tannehill missed out on an easy matchup last week against the Jets. It was only the first time he has not scored over 20 fantasy points against an easy matchup all season. If you care to give him another chance in the fantasy playoffs, perhaps as a QB2, then this week shapes up as another good opportunity. Tannehill and the Dolphins host the Ravens' "best" rated defense this week. No defense has allowed more passing yards per game (306) than the Ravens over the last three weeks and the Ravens have allowed the fourth-most passing touchdowns per game during that span. Over the last five weeks, no defense has given up more passing touchdowns (13) or fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than Baltimore. Even Tannehill should be able to produce in this matchup. We would feel better about Tannehill as a second quarterback or a sneaky daily fantasy play, but if you are desperate for a starter his numbers point to decent fantasy production. Forecast: Tannehill enjoys his best matchup of the fantasy postseason in Week 14, with two of the top-10 toughest matchups in Week 15 and 16. [Recommended Usage: QB2]

Other good QB matchups:Aaron Rodgers vs. ATL, Tom Brady at SD, Zach Mettenberger vs. NYG, Shaun Hill at WAS

RB

Frank Gore has been a maddening fantasy running back to start each week. However, he has produced rather consistently if according to the matchups. For example, in his eight "bad" or "worst" rated matchups so far this season, Gore has averaged only three fantasy points per game. Yet, in matchups against either "better" or "best" rated defenses, he has averaged a solid 13 fantasy points. Gore plays the majority of the offensive snaps and gets just over 16 combined touches a game, even though his 11 touches last week were his lowest since Week 7 against a tough Denver defense. When the 49ers go up against poor run defenses, they feed Gore. He averages 20 touches per game in those matchups. This week Gore gets about as easy of a matchup as he can against the Raiders. The Raiders are the easiest-rated matchup for fantasy running backs both over the last five games and on the season as a whole. Oakland gives up 4.7 yards per carry over the last three games, fifth-most in the NFL, and have given up 1.3 rushing touchdowns per game over that span. The numbers tell us that the 49ers should give Gore about 20 touches and the Raiders give up 0.62 fantasy points per touch to running backs. If you are looking for a super sneaky daily fantasy play, Carlos Hyde is averaging eight touches per game over his last three and has found the end zone in two of his last four. He could also have some value in this matchup. Forecast: As far as matchups go, this could be the last time to start Gore in the fantasy postseason. He faces only "bad" and "worst" rated defenses for the rest of his schedule and has a very poor history against that level of matchup. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Jonathan Stewart could end up with the lion's share of the backfield touches this week if DeAngelo Williams misses Week 14 due to his fractured finger. This is a situation to watch all week since Stewart has been productive with his chances. Stewart is averaging 4.25 yards per carry on the year and is tied for fifth in the entire league in yards after contact per attempt. If Williams ends up inactive against the Saints on Sunday, Stewart would have some flex value. Stewart's appeal this week comes not just from a projected increase in carries, but also from a very good matchup. The Panthers travel to New Orleans this week to take on a Saints defense that is the fourth-easiest matchup for fantasy running backs. New Orleans has given up the third-most rushing yards per game (168) and 5.5 yards per carry over the last three games. Stewart averages just over eight fantasy points per game when given a chance to get the bulk of the carries. Only 18 percent of Stewart's total fantasy points this season have come from touchdowns, so he is a good bet to be productive even if he doesn't score. Watch the injury report because if Williams sits, the numbers like Stewart as a flex start or a good daily fantasy play. Forecast: Stewart has an excellent matchup in Week 17 against the second-easiest rated Falcons' defense, but could also have some value next week against a Buccaneers run defense that has been among the easiest-rated matchup for fantasy running backs. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Watch the Giants' injury report this week, because if Rashad Jennings is unable to play Andre Williams would get the start against a Titans defense that is the third-easiest rated matchup for fantasy running backs. The Giants signed Chris Ogbonnaya on Tuesday which could mean they do not expect Jennings to go. Williams was not overly impressive in relief of Jennings earlier this season, but he did average 16 touches in his four starts. Williams' best games came against his easiest matchups, scoring 14 fantasy points against the last "best" rated matchup he had. The Titans have not only been a "best" rated matchup on the season, but they have been the easiest-rated matchup over the last five games. Tennessee has allowed one rushing touchdown per game over the last three games, which is the fifth-highest average in the NFL. If Williams gets the start, he could be hitting the Titans at just the right time and could be a sneaky daily fantasy start in Week 14. Forecast:Andre Williams' value is just for this Week 14 matchup. Even if Jennings doesn't come back next week, the Giants face a Redskins defense that is the third-toughest rated matchup for fantasy running backs. [Recommended Usage: RB3]

Other good RB matchups:Arian Foster at JAC, Le'Veon Bell at CIN, Isaiah Crowell vs. IND

WR

Stedman Bailey has only emerged as a valuable fantasy receiver over the last two weeks, so why should you consider him for your fantasy lineups in this crucial first week of the fantasy playoffs? It's all about the matchup. The Rams have been featuring Bailey for the last few games and he has produced well with his chances. His real value this week is due to his matchup against the Redskins. Last week, the Redskins secondary gave up four touchdown passes of 30 yards or more and missed giving up a fifth on a dropped pass. The Redskins secondary personnel just are not on the same page, even this late in the season. This confusion has led to an average of 16.4 yards per completion over the last three games for teams facing Washington, leading the NFL by a wide margin. Bailey has performed recently against two "bad" rated matchups. This week he gets the best possible matchup that a fantasy receiver could get. Bailey will line up against Redskins' cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who has been the Redskin's "best" remaining corner, but Breeland still gives up an average of 13 fantasy points to the receivers he covers. If you like a risky play with tons of upside Bailey's numbers have his arrow pointing sky-high this week. Forecast: Although Bailey's matchup next week is "better" rated on the season, use caution since the Cardinals defense has actually been the fifth-toughest rated matchup for opposing fantasy receivers over the last five weeks. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

Jarvis Landry lands in this section specifically for PPR scoring formats. Landry has seen 10 or more targets in three of his last four games and has become Tannehill's favorite safety valve. Landry and Mike Wallace each saw a team-high 11 targets last week while nobody else on the Dolphins was targeted more than four times. This week, Landry gets his second-easiest matchup of the season as the Dolphins host the Ravens, the fourth-easiest rated matchup for fantasy receivers this season. The Ravens have been trending even easier as they have been the second-easiest algorithm-rated opponent for receivers over the last five games. Landry actually does just as well against bad matchups as he does against good ones. One consideration is that Landry's fantasy point production is tied to his ability to score touchdowns. Landry didn't find the end zone last week, but has four touchdowns over his last five games. He has a strong chance to hit paydirt again this week since the Ravens have allowed the fourth-most receiving touchdowns per game (2.3) over the last three games. Forecast: The Ravens are by far Landry's best remaining matchup of the fantasy playoffs. As a matchup-based play, none of his remaining three opponents are easy enough to warrant starting consideration after this week. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

Other good WR matchups:Julio Jones at GB, DeAndre Hopkins at JAC

TE

Antonio Gates is coming off a decent game last week where he was able to run wide open over the middle of the field for an entire half against the Ravens. Gates' seven catches last week tied a season-high and his 83 yards were his most since Week 2. Gates has not scored a touchdown since Week 8, but also has not had an "easy" matchup since then either. This week, he gets a "better" rated Patriots defense that has given up the third-most yards (219) to tight ends over the last five weeks. During that span, the Patriots have been a top-five easy rated matchup for opposing tight ends. Gates averages 13 fantasy points against "easy" rated matchups this season as opposed to just four against tough ones. With a Patriots defense on the schedule that has been trending easy against his position, you should feel confident starting Gates this week in a matchup that could see a lot of passing. Forecast: Gates has one of the better fantasy playoff schedules of any tight end. He faces nothing but top-15 easy-rated matchups from here on out. Even though the 49ers have been tough on the season against tight ends, they are the third-easiest rated matchup since losing Patrick Willis. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]

Other good TE matchups:Coby Fleener/Dwayne Allen at CLE

D/ST

HOU at JAC: The Texans defense has been starting to find its groove with four strong defensive outings in the last five weeks. The Jaguars offense, on the other hand, is just getting worse. The Jaguars lead the NFL in interceptions per game (1.3) and just gave up seven sacks to a weak Giants defense last week. Just imagine what J.J. Watt can do with this opportunity. The Texans have the third-most takeaways per game over the last three games. If your league plays a Week 17 playoff, hold on to the Texans for another matchup against the Jags.

MIN vs. NYJ: The Vikings defense had a solid outing last week against the Panthers even if you do not count the two blocked punts for touchdowns. They still had 4 sacks and held the Panthers to 13 points and less than 350 total yards. This week, they host a Jets offense that will be starting Geno Smith and that has given up 3.2 sacks and 1.1 interceptions per game this season.

NO vs. CAR: The Saints defense has not been shutting any teams out this season, but last time they faced the Panthers they had their best game of the year and that game was in Carolina. The Saints should easily be able to get to Cam Newton since his offensive line is giving up 3.1 sacks per game and Newton has averaged two interceptions per game over the last three weeks. The Panthers average only score 19 points per game and even the Saints should be able to hold them below that mark in this divisional home game.

Expect Less:

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

QB

Russell Wilson has been a top-five rated fantasy quarterback this season and he faces an Eagles defense this week that is a top-five easy matchup according to fantasy points against rankings. So why does Wilson land in the "expect less" column this week? It's the numbers. Wilson has bolstered his fantasy production this season with rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. His streak of 70-plus rushing yard games ended at three last week. When facing some of the best rushing quarterbacks in the league (Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers) the Eagles gave up an average of just 29 rushing yards to them. More importantly, the Eagles have given up zero rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this season. Even though Wilson leads the NFL in yards per carry (7.5) on 91 attempts, the Eagles have held opposing rushing quarterbacks to just 4.7 yards per carry over the last five games. All of Wilson's above average scoring games this season have come when he compiles more than 30 yards rushing and the Eagles have not allowed any of the best rushing quarterbacks in the league to surpass that mark yet this season. Add to that the Eagles top-five tough matchup rating against quarterbacks over the last five games and the numbers point to a down week for your fantasy playoff quarterback. Forecast: If you look at the defense ratings over just the last five games (colors above represent season long ratings), then Russell Wilson has one of the toughest fantasy playoff schedules of any quarterback. A rematch against the 49ers is looming in Week 15 and with no easy matchups at all left to look forward to. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]

Other bad QB matchups:Andrew Luck at CLE, Matt Ryan at GB, Joe Flacco at MIA

RB

The good news on Fred Jackson is that he put an end to the Bills' running-back committee last week, out-touching Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown 24-9. The bad news is that he averaged a paltry 3.3 yards per touch. Even worse news for Jackson is that he has a road game against the Broncos who are the sixth-worst rated matchup for fantasy running backs. The Broncos have been giving up the second-fewest rushing yards per game all season and are not the kind of defense that running backs can "get well" against. If you add Jackson to a list of the 27 running backs that have already faced the Broncos this season, Jackson's player rating would be the 11th-highest of the group and the player rated 12th (Branden Oliver) scored just 6.3 fantasy points against them in Week 8. If you have a better option than Jackson, you should consider him this week. Forecast: The next startable matchup that Jackson has in the fantasy playoffs is a Week 16 date against the Raiders "best" rated defense. That may be the next time you want to rely on Jackson as even a flex option.  [Recommended Usage: RB4]

Lamar Miller has been getting the majority of the work out of the Dolphins' backfield in recent weeks and even out-touched Daniel Thomas 15-2 in Week 13. Miller is averaging 14 touches and 83 total yards over his last two games. He had a solid outing against what is normally a tough matchup in the Jets last week. But keep in mind that the Jets were without their top run stuffer, Muhammad Wilkerson, for that matchup and 47 percent of Millers' fantasy production came from one touchdown. This week, Miller faces one of his toughest matchups of the season as the Dolphins host the Ravens No. 1 toughest rated defense for fantasy running backs. The Ravens give up the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game on the season. The Ravens' have also been tough over the last five weeks, with a top-five tough rating over that span. Miller has scored 35 percent of his fantasy points on rushing touchdowns this season but the Ravens have allowed only four rushing touchdowns all season and only one in the last five weeks. Forecast: Although next week's matchup against the Patriots is rated as a "better" matchup on the season, you should note that they have been the third "worst" rated matchup for fantasy running backs over the last five weeks.  [Recommended Usage: RB3]

Other bad RB matchups:C.J. Anderson vs. BUF, Jamaal Charles at ARI

WR

Anquan Boldin's three double digit fantasy games over the last five weeks will likely have fantasy owners contemplating starting him in this first week of the fantasy playoffs. Boldin briefly left last week's game with an undisclosed injury in the fourth quarter, but he returned for the final drive. If you own Boldin you should be playing the matchups with him. He averages 11 fantasy points against easy matchups this season scoring a touchdown in four of seven of those matchups. However, Boldin only scores five fantasy points when facing either "bad" or "worst" rated opponents. Believe it or not, the Raiders are actually a "bad" rated matchup. Oakland is the eighth-toughest matchup for fantasy receivers this season. Hard to believe since the Raiders get such a bad rap, but you need to consider sitting matchup-dependent players like Boldin against them. Boldin has yet to score a touchdown or score double digit fantasy points against similarly rated defenses all season, so temper your expectations this week if you expect the 49ers to exploit the Raiders through the air. Forecast: Next week's matchup against the Seahawks will give you plenty of reason to keep Boldin on your bench for another week. Seattle is the second-toughest matchup for fantasy receivers this season and they have been getting hotter over recent weeks. Boldin only scored one fantasy point against them in Week 13.  [Recommended Usage: WR3]

Jordan Matthews has been a fantasy stud since emerging in Week 9. He has likely been a big part of getting you to your fantasy playoffs if you are looking at starting him this week. Matthews' best production this season has come against his easiest matchups. He has averaged 14 fantasy points per game against easy matchups this season and only four against tough ones. He has only faced a "worst" rated matchup just once this season, back in Week 2 when he was only playing about 50% of the offensive snaps. Yet, this week he goes against his toughest rated matchup of the season as the Eagles host the Seahawks in a huge NFC showdown. On the season, the Seahawks have been the second-toughest matchup for fantasy receivers and their rating lowers only slightly over their last five games. Seattle hasn't allowed a passing touchdown and only 116 passing yards per game over their last three games and have been looking like the old "Legion of Boom," just in time for the Eagles. Matthews has averaged an amazing 2.06 fantasy points per touch (FPPT) this season, but the Seahawks have allowed the fifth-fewest FPPT of any defense all year. This matchup could lead to a disappointing game for Matthews' owners who have relied on him to get them into the postseason. Forecast: The color codes shown in the graphic above represent the defense ratings over the season for Matthew's upcoming matchups. But if you adjust for just the last five weeks, Matthews has one of the easiest remaining schedules of any fantasy wide receiver between Week 15 and Week 17. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

Other bad WR matchups:Donte Moncrief at CLE, Antonio Brown at CIN, Jeremy Maclin vs. SEA

TE

If you are hurting at tight end going into the fantasy playoffs, then Heath Miller may have looked like an attractive waiver pickup. After all, Miller was targeted on a team-high 14 of Ben Roethlisberger's 58 passes last week. However, that barrage of garbage time production was out of the norm for both Miller and Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger averages only 41 attempts a game and Miller has had more than 10 targets only one other time all season and averages only five per game. You are chasing points if you grabbed Miller for a Week 14 start, especially if you consider his matchup this week. The Bengals have been the 15th "easiest" matchup on the season but have been the fifth-toughest matchup over the last five games. This is a much tougher matchup than the Saints were last week. Miller has only had two good fantasy games all season and both required a touchdown, yet the Bengals have not allowed a single touchdown to a tight end since October. The matchup leaves Miller with a low percentage shot of being a valuable start for your fantasy team this week. Forecast: You can feel comfortable dropping Miller and looking elsewhere for a fantasy tight end. If you adjust his remaining matchup ratings for just performance over the last five weeks, then Miller does not face a defense that is rated out of the top-five toughest for the rest of the season. [Recommended Usage: TE2]

Other bad TE matchups:Rob Gronkowski at SD, Greg Olsen at NO

D/ST

BUF at DEN: The Bills have been such a dominant fantasy defense this season that it is likely that you have not had to have another defense on your roster. This is the week that you should look elsewhere because Peyton Manning and Co. score more than 30 points per game and are averaging over 400 yards per game on the season. There will be very few mistakes to capitalize on in this matchup.

MIA vs. BAL: The Dolphins fantasy defense has performed very well against the right matchup this season. However, when they play teams that score over 25 points per game (like the Ravens), they have had their least productive games. The Ravens offense has been clicking in recent weeks, allowing only three sacks and one giveaway since Week 10.

-- 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!

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.