Number Crunch: Best, worst Week 4 fantasy matchups

The winning formula in fantasy football is simple: Play the matchups.

Yet, accurately determining the difficulty of a matchup and the true value of a player can be challenging if you use the same old dusty stats that every fantasy site has been using for the last decade.

Fantasy football is a game of numbers, so why not use the next generation of fantasy analytics to do the number crunching for you?

That's why my weekly column 'Number Crunch' uses a proprietary system called "FantasyoMatic," which uses an algorithm to provide the actual strength of an opponent and actual player capabilities with accuracy levels that you cannot find anywhere else. This system takes all the emotion and guesswork out of winning in fantasy football, and has proven to be up to 46 percent more accurate than the metrics that everyone else in your league is using.

Sound complicated? Don't worry -- it's simple to understand. All you need to know is that the player or matchup with the higher rating is the better option. Positive numbers mean positive matchups, negative numbers mean negative matchups. That's it.

Let the system do all the number crunching. All you need to do is find a spot for that fantasy league trophy.

Weekly Matchup Ranges

Below are the EASIEST and TOUGHEST defensive matchups against each fantasy position. The higher the number, the better the matchup for players who are facing them.

Want ALL the Defense Ratings? Find them here.

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 exceed expectations this week based on their ability to outplay their matchups combined with the weakness of their opponent.

QB

Joe Flacco got off to an ugly start in last week's game against Cincinnati with poor throws and bad decision making. He saved his fantasy day by eventually locking in on Steve Smith Sr. and peppering him with 17 targets in the second half. Flacco might not be a weekly fantasy starter, but when the matchup is right he can be very productive. He averages twice as many fantasy points against positive matchups as he does against negative ones. This week, Flacco faces a Steelers defense that is fantasyomatic's easiest rated matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. The Steelers have already given up 27 fantasy points to the poorly-rated Colin Kaepernick, and Flacco has a better player rating than Kapernick. Flacco threw for four touchdowns and only one interception against Pittsburgh over two games in 2014.

Forecast: Flacco could cool off a bit next week in a "worst" rated matchup against the Browns defense. He should get back to scoring against a positive matchup in Week 6 against a 49ers secondary that gives up a ton of passing yards. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]

You may be desperately trying to fill a roster spot if Tom Brady's bye week snuck up on you or Big Ben was your only quarterback. The numbers say that your "fantasy game manager" option this week could be Brandon Weeden. If you watched the Cowboys game last week you saw what appeared to be a very low-risk game plan for Weeden with check-down passes to Lance Dunbar and Jason Witten. You might be shocked to find out that Weeden is currently among the top five of all quarterbacks in yards per attempt. Weeden faces a New Orleans defense this week that gives up a league-leading 9.7 yards per pass attempt. The Saints' .74 "Fantasy Points Per Attempt" (FPPA) is the most allowed by any defense and is double Weeden's average FPPA after two games this season. New Orleans handed a lesser rated Jameis Winston his best game of the season in Week 2. The Saints defense should provide just enough opportunity to allow Weeden to not sink your roster.

Forecast: Weeden has one more startable game in Week 7 when he faces a "great" rated matchup against the Giants defense. You can then forget about Weeden as he faces nothing but negative matchups until Romo returns. [Recommended Usage: LOW QB1]

DFS Bonus Start:Sam Bradford at WAS

RB

Frustrated Stewart owners would like to see more out of him than just four yards per carry and six fantasy points per game. Stewart should be able to improve upon his 0.35 "Fantasy Points Per Touch" (FPPT) since the Buccaneers give up the third highest FPPT in the NFL with an 0.81 average. Stewart could be looking at his first double-digit scoring game of the season if he maintains his 14-to-18 rush attempts and can double his FPPT average this week against the Bucs. Stewart is the highest rated running back to face the Buccaneers so far this season. Three of the lower rated backs that have already faced Tampa Bay have scored double digit fantasy points including 20-plus point performances from Alfred Blue and Bishop Sankey.

Forecast: Four of Stewart's next five matchups are rated "good," but he does hit a bit of a rough patch after his bye week with two negative matchups against the Seahawks and Eagles. If he heats up, he could be a good buy low candidate since he will only have only one negative matchup for the rest of the season starting in Week 8. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Eddie Lacy owners who spent a first-round draft pick on him are likely nervous about his early season production. He was injured in Week 2, but was out-carried by James Starks 17-10 on 31 snaps after coming back last week. Health is certainly a factor, but his lack of production can also be attributed to his extreme matchup dependency. In 2015, Lacy averaged six fantasy points against negative matchups, but averaged an outstanding 18 fantasy points a game against positive ones. Lacy's lone double digit game this season came against his only positive rated matchup back in Week 1. Lacy should be able to get to double digit fantasy points this week as he faces his second easiest matchup of the season on the road in San Francisco. The 49ers give up the second most rushing touchdowns per game (1.7) and have already allowed lesser-rated running backs like Chris Johnson and DeAngello Williams score 27 fantasy points against them this season.

Forecast: Lacy owners will have to wait until later in the season to feast on positive matchups. The upcoming games against the Rams, Chargers and Broncos will provide his last stretch of negative matchups before he finishes the season with five positive matchups in his eight final games. If the Lacy owner in your league is panicking, buy Lacy now. [Recommended Usage: RB1]

DFS Bonus Start:Melvin Gordon vs. CLE

WR

Jordan Matthews has six-plus catches in each of Philadelphia's first three games and has turned those into a 9.7 fantasy point per game average. Matthews has remained part of the Eagles offensive game plan with an average of 10 targets per game, leading all Eagles receivers. Mathews has scored only one touchdown so far this season but this week he faces a matchup against the Redskins defense that allows more than one receiving touchdown per game on average. The Redskins are a "great" rated matchup for receivers, but they are an even better matchup for opposing slot receivers like Matthews. Now that they put cornerback Justin Rogers on IR, Matthews will be matched up in the slot against a practice squad player this week.

Forecast: The next two weeks represent two of Matthews four remaining "great" rated matchups this season. After Week 5 he will see a string of four "bad" rated matchups through Week 10. [Recommended Usage: WR3/FLEX]

Marvin Jones has surpassed Mohamed Sanu as the No. 2 receiver in Cincinnati. Jones' snaps have increased from 63 percent in Week 1 to 87 percent in Week 3. Jones has also steadily increased his "Fantasy Points Per Snap" from 0.04 to 0.23 over those three games. Jones was able to take advantage of a "great" rated matchup against the Ravens last week, with only 39 percent of his fantasy points coming from his touchdown. He has another "great" rated matchup this week as the Bengals host the Chiefs. Kansas City's badly beaten up secondary has given up a league-leading 3.3 passing touchdowns per game to opposing receivers. Jones is ninth in the NFL in "Fantasy Points Per Target" (FPPT) and is facing a Chiefs defense that gives up the sixth most FPPT to opposing receivers.

Forecast: Last week's big game for Jones came against his best rated matchup of the season. After this week, the matchups get tougher with only three remaining positive matchups. Worse yet, he has five of the algorithm's toughest rated "worst" matchups still to come this season. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

DFS Bonus Start:Ted Ginn Jr. at TB

TE

Martellus Bennett has not scored a touchdown since Week 1. That will likely change this week as Bennett faces a Raiders defense that has given up more yards and touchdowns to tight ends than any unit in the league. Chicago will need to get into the red zone to take advantage of Bennett's matchup. Currently Chicago's offense is last in the NFL in red zone scoring attempts per game (1.7), but Oakland's defense has allowed the second most red zone scoring attempts per game (5) to opposing offenses. This increase in red zone attempts directly correlates to Bennett's probability of scoring.

Forecast: The majority of Bennett's remaining games are "bad" rated matchups, yet he should see another spike in production in a "great" rated matchup against the Lions in Week 6. [Recommended Usage: TE1]

DFS Bonus Start:Charles Clay vs. NYG

D/ST

SD vs. CLE: D/ST streaming is all about finding defenses that are favored to win while playing at home that are projected to be in a low scoring game. The Chargers will enjoy all three of these this week. The Chargers play host to a Browns offense that has given up over three sacks, 1.7 fumbles and scores just 10 points per game. If your waivers are thin on defenses, give the Chargers a whirl.

IND vs. JAC: The Colts defense is a deep league D/ST flier in Week 4. They are coming off a three sack and two interception performance against the Titans last week and this week have everyone's favorite matchup against the Jaguars. The Jaguars are playing on the road and are an underdog in a game that is already a must-win for Indianapolis. The Colts should keep their sack and interception streak going since the Jaguars give up 2.3 sacks and one interception per game.

Expect Less:

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

QB

Ryan Tannehill is coming off a Week 3 fantasy performance that was padded mostly by garbage time completions. He spent most of his day trying to evade a pass rush while playing behind an offensive line that was missing Branden Albert. Tannehill faces a Jets defense this week that fantasyomatic rates as the fifth toughest matchup for fantasy quarterbacks. Tannehill has a 0.38 "Fantasy Points Per Attempt" (FPPA) that lands him middle of the pack for starting quarterbacks. The Jets have allowed the second lowest FPPA to opposing quarterbacks so far this season. If you add Tannehill to a list of the four quarterbacks that have already faced the Jets this season, his player rating would be the lowest of the group and the Jets held each of those quarterbacks under 10 fantasy points.

Forecast: After his Week 5 bye, Tannehill will face four negative matchups over his next five games, including another game against a Bills defense that already intercepted him three times. [Recommended Usage: QB2]

RB

Ryan Mathews had what could be perceived as a breakout game in Week 3. Mathews provided a spark for the Eagles' ground game with 108 yards on 25 carries after entering the contest with just four carries on the season. Of the three running backs in Philadelphia, the fantasyomatic algorithm awards Mathews with the highest player rating. Mathews was much more effective than DeMarco Murray was in previous weeks. Another week of Murray being inactive could provide another opportunity for Mathews to shine. However, the Eagles' Week 4 matchup against the Redskins should concern Mathews owners whether Murray sits or not. Washington is the eighth toughest rated matchup for fantasy running backs. The Redskins give up only 75 rushing yards a game, the third fewest in the NFL. The Redskins have yet to allow a running back to score more than nine fantasy points against them.

Forecast: It will be hard to tell what role Mathews will have in coming weeks. And even if he is still getting touches next week, he could be tough to start against a Saints defense that the algorithm rates as a "worst" matchup. [Recommended Usage: FLEX]

Many speculate that we finally saw our Dallas running back breakout game last week. A closer look at the numbers tells a different story about Randle's Week 3 performance. After three carries that averaged 28 yards, Randle was shut down in the second half. Some will make the case that the Cowboys went to a pass-heavy approach featuring Lance Dunbar and that is why Randle stopped scoring. In reality, Randle received 13 more touches after his first three and four of his final eleven carries went for zero or negative yards. If a player scores 81 percent of his fantasy points on three touches and then has trouble even breaking the line of scrimmage for the rest of the game, you might want to hold off on calling it a breakout. Randle's player rating is only marginally better than McFadden's or Dunbar's. This week Randle faces a "bad" rated matchup against the Saints who have held all but one running back to less than double digit fantasy points. Doug Martin has almost an identical player rating to Randle (-1.89) and Martin was only able to score eight fantasy points against the Saints.

Forecast: Randle is heating up, but after four straight positive matchups his best matchups are already behind him. He still has two algorithm rated "worst" matchups waiting for him as well as eight of his last eleven games against negative matchups. Sell. [Recommended Usage: RB2]

WR

Travis Benjamin leads the NFL with an outstanding 4.7 Fantasy Points Per Touch if you include special teams touches. Benjamin has accounted for five all-purpose touchdowns through three games with 64 percent of his fantasy points coming from his five touchdowns. The question with Benjamin is whether he can sustain this scoring pace as a receiver. He leads the Browns' receivers with 17 targets and has converted 10 of them for receptions. This week he faces a Chargers defense that has given up the third fewest passing yards per game (189) and the second fewest to opposing receivers. Benjamin has scored 73 percent of his standard fantasy points on THREE long 50-plus yard touchdowns. However, the Chargers have given up only three plays over 30 yards to receivers and only one 40-plus yard reception for a touchdown in three games.

Forecast: Benjamin should have a chance to pay dividends next week with a "great" rated matchup against the Ravens. Two of his three games after Baltimore are "worst" rated matchups against the Broncos and the Cardinals. [Recommended Usage: WR3]

TE

A healthy Jordan Reed has proven to be a consistent fantasy producer over his first three games. In Week 4 he faces his first "worst" rated matchup of the season against an Eagles defense that has yet to allow a touchdown to a tight end. Only 20 percent of Reed's fantasy points this season have come from touchdowns, but the Eagles have also only given up 105 total receiving yards to tight ends. Reed would be the first tight end to exceed six fantasy points against Philadelphia if he somehow manages to be the first to score a touchdown against them.

Forecast:This week is Reed's last "worst" rated matchup until Week 13. He has five positive matchups between now and then and only two negative ones all over the next three weeks. [Recommended Usage: LOW TE1]

D/ST

STL at ARI: The Rams defense finally showed signs of life for fantasy owners last week, sacking the Steelers five times. They will have a much tougher time getting to the quarterback this week in Arizona. The Cardinals allowed their first sack of the season last week and have only thrown two interceptions. Arizona simply does not make enough mistakes to be a good fantasy D/ST matchup.

BUF vs. NYG: The Bills defense has scored double digit fantasy points in two of their three games this season and appear to have another plus matchup against the Giants at home this week. However, if you look closer at the Giants offense you might be shocked to find that Eli has yet to throw an interception and the Giants are only giving up one sack per game. The Bills should give New York their best competition of the season, but double digit fantasy scoring might be more difficult than it appears this week for Buffalo.

Week 5 Forecast:

Do you have holes to fill in your roster? 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:Sam Bradford vs. NO, Michael Vick at SD
RB:Matt Jones at ATL, Ronnie Hillman at OAK
WR:Roddy White vs. WAS, Kenny Britt at GB
TE:Vernon Davis at NYG, Richard Rodgers vs. STL
D/ST: HOU vs. IND, NYG vs. SF

In the latest episode of the NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast the gang recaps the high-scoring Week 3 fantasy slate, discusses whether or not to panic with struggling RBs, and highlights the top Week 4 waiver targets. Don't forget to subscribe and listen in HERE!

-- 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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