Welcome to the Positional Matchups Report, aka POSAFPA. In this article, I provide an easy-to-use positional matchup table and highlight potentially exploitable matchups. If you’re curious about the process, you can find a full introduction HERE, where I lay out the methodology.
Last Week’s Results
Keaton Mitchell came back down to earth despite an excellent positional matchup, but that isn’t completely unexpected, as his volume has been low.
Chargers wide receivers had a slightly negative positional matchup but outperformed expectations by a mile. That can be attributed to Keenan Allen having one heck of a day, going 10/16 for 116 yards and a touchdown.
The biggest letdown of the week is anybody on the Jets not named Breece Hall. Breece put up a very nice 18.3 PPR points in week 11. The Jets’ offense outside of Breece scored just under 20 points altogether. Zach Wilson scored a paltry 6.7 points and has notably been benched, but it’s unlikely that next-man-up Tim Boyle will perform significantly better as he netted -.6 points on 19 snaps under center.
Perhaps the biggest benefactors from the heartbreaking/awe-inspiring Bears/Lions game were the Detroit defensive linemen. Over the previous six weeks, the Lions defensive linemen have averaged just 29.5 points as a group. Last week, they nearly doubled that, putting up 56 altogether. What’s more impressive is that there was no single standout in the game. Aidan Hutchinson put up a respectable 18 points, Alim McNeill put up 14, and Josh Pascal didn’t sink you for the week with 9.
The biggest takeaway from their history this season is that they are getting everyone involved. Aiden Hutchinson, Alim McNeill, John Cominsky, and Isaiah Buggs have all been the top Lions DL at one point this season. That makes the group a bit more volatile for fantasy if you’re looking for an every-week starter, but a solid option when the matchup is favorable.
How to Use the Table
First, find YOUR PLAYER’S TEAM in the first column. Next, follow that line to THEIR POSITION’S column. That percentage is how much better or worse you can expect them to do compared to what they typically score.
Example: Let’s say you’re deciding between David Montgomery (RB-DET) and DK Metcalf (WR-SEA). For Montgomery, find DET in the first column. Follow that row over to the RB column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is -15%. That’s a moderately negative matchup. Next, for Metcalf, find SEA in the first column. Follow that row over to the WR column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is 21%, which is a very positive matchup. Given both players are averaging about 13 PPR points per game over the last six weeks, and are both coming off a big performance, I would lean Metcalf.
Aaron Jones was unfortunately hurt last week, as were fellow running backs AJ Dillon and Emanuel Wilson. Emanual Wilson and Luke Musgrave were subsequently placed on IR. Aaron Jones has already been ruled out for the Thanksgiving game against the Lions. AJ Dillon is dealing with a groin injury but has a chance to play. He has been able to practice in a limited fashion throughout the short week. Behind him are practice squad regular Patrick Taylor and 2020 league winner James Robinson. Unfortunately, they face the Lions, who have been a moderately tough positional matchup for RBs. None of the three share the receiving profile of Aaron Jones making them risky plays at best. AJ Dillon is currently in that RB2/Flex range of players that I’m okay starting but not thrilled about. This is more likely a game for Jayden Reed and Christian Watson. Tucker Kraft might be worth a stash in deeper leagues. Hold off playing him this week, though, as Detroit allows 28% fewer points than average to tight ends.
I’ll be honest. I’m afraid to recommend Josh Downs for two reasons. The first is that the last time I mentioned him I faded him. He then put up his biggest week of the season. The second is because the last time I recommended a receiver against the Buccaneers it was DeAndre Hopkins. He absolutely flopped that week. That said, those are narratives and that’s not why you’re here, so we need to trust the numbers. Michael Pittman has been the more consistent receiver in this corps. Chances are he’s been slotting into your weekly lineups more often than not. Downs is more of a flex play with upside this week but should have ample opportunity for a nice fantasy performance.
Fun fact, both Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith are listed as team tight end one on the Falcons website. Okay, maybe that is not as much fun if you drafted Kyle Pitts, but there is some positive outlook. Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith have an excellent matchup this week against the Saints, who have allowed 47% more fantasy points to tight ends than average over the last six weeks. Over the last six weeks, Pitts has averaged 8.8 PPR points, while Smith has averaged 8.7 PPR points per game. Atlanta runs, by far, the fewest 3-receiver sets in the league at just 18%. The league average is 55%. That’s also why we see Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson both getting a sizeable amount of snaps.
IDP Boons and Fades
Cardinals DBs have a good matchup this week. Budda Baker is a starter, but don’t overlook Jalen Thompson, who’s coming off a stellar Week 11 performance. Antonio Hamilton is dealing with a groin injury. If he can’t go, third-round rookie Garrett Williams makes for an interesting deep play. Williams has been steadily increasing his defensive snap share over the last five weeks and is next in line behind Hamilton.
While New England hasn’t produced any IDP studs at DL this year, there have been some usable pieces. They have an ideal matchup against the Giants, and we could see some value from them. Christian Barmore is the best option, he’s been putting up 13.2 IDP123 points per game over the last six weeks. Next up is Davon Godchaux, who’s been averaging 9.2 points per game. While neither are amazing averages the Giants have been allowing a whopping 46% more points than average to opposing linemen. Both players could see DL2 upside this week.
This week, I’m highlighting a peculiarity in positional matchups. The Vikings host the Bears for Monday Night Football this week in a game with a respectable 45-point over/under with a 3.5-point spread favoring the Vikings. Both teams are coming off of heartbreaking razor-thin losses.
What is interesting about these matchups is that neither team has had very good positional matchups on offense. They have, however, been spectacular matchups for linebackers. In fact, they are the two best positional matchups for linebackers league-wide. With recent changes at QB from both teams, this data may begin to shift, but it’s unlikely to swing too far from what we’ve been seeing.
I had Danielle Hunter tagged as a comeback player this year, and so far, he’s done well to prove me right. Ivan Pace was another IDP favorite of mine, and he’s also coming off a big week. On the flip side, TJ Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds also put up big numbers last week. Jack Sanborn could be in the mix, as he’s been regularly contributing. I expect we will see a lot of big hits on both sides of this game.
Team Trends for Future Weeks
Notable Rush Funnel Teams: Arizona, Buffalo, Carolina, Denver, Seattle, and the New York Jets have all been funneling fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Pass Funnel Teams: Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Tennesee, and, to a lesser extent, San Francisco have all been better matchups for wide receivers than for running backs.
IDP Targets: Chicago and Minnesota are the top 2 matchups for linebackers, as noted above. Carolina and Miami continue to be great matchups for DBs. Carolina due to playing catchup. Miami due to never letting off the gas (or at least that’s my going theory). Washington is still a solid team to target for literally all positions. They have improved at giving up points to opposing IDP players, which is something worth keeping an eye on.
There you have it. I hope that all of you stateside have a wonderful Turkey and Football Day. For Canadians reading this, maybe pull some of those Thanksgiving leftovers out of the freezer and join us Thursday. For everyone abroad, I’m sure it’s an extra inconvenience having multiple games at odd times on a Thursday, but I promise if you message me on Twitter, I’ll give you a recipe for corn souffle that will more than make up for it.
Follow me on Twitter @MonCalFF and check out our other Start-Sit articles, which can be found below. Until next week, good luck!