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
Aidan O’Connell did the unthinkable. He sunk the unsinkable. He delivered the crushing final blow to the Brandon Staley empire of LA, and he made it look easy.
O’Connell marched down last Thursday like it was a leisurely stroll threw the park. Drive after drive, he moved the chains methodically. Altogether he racked up 248 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. He sustained three top-20 receivers. That’s right, Davante Adams, Tre Tucker, and Jakobi Meyers all finished as top 20 wide receivers in PPR scoring. The Raiders got an early lead and never let off the gas.
The Chargers, on the other hand, couldn’t get anything going until a long touchdown on a blown coverage by Joshua Palmer in the third and then two touchdowns late in the fourth when the game was well out of hand. The offensive struggles were expected with Justin Herbert out for the remainder of the year, but the defense was unable to stop anything the Raiders brought and to be honest, nothing they brought was particularly unusual. Now the Chargers become a key team to target for the finals.
The Ravens’ passing attack went into the game against Jacksonville in an okay spot. Lamar Jackson had a very positive matchup and did well enough, but the majority of his fantasy production came from his 97 rushing yards. The three wide receivers to even register points came home with 5.5, 1.9, and 1.2 points despite a neutral matchup. Lamar only completed 14 of 24 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown through the air. Given this week is a tough matchup for the passing game it’s going to be hard to trust Zay Flowers, Odell Beckham, or Rashod Bateman the rest of the year.
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 Amari Cooper (WR-CLE) and Jerick McKinnon (RB-KC). For Cooper, find CLE in the first column. Follow that row over to the WR column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is 29%. That’s a very positive matchup. Next, for McKinnon, find KC in the first column. Follow that row over to the RB column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is -12%, which is a moderately negative matchup. Given both players are averaging about 11 PPR points per game, I would lean Cooper.
Yet another week of QB injuries has things looking dire. Trevor Lawrence suffered a concussion on Sunday night, Will Levis incurred an ankle sprain, and Zach Wilson, in a dramatic-as-ever fashion, received one, if not two, concussions. Nick Mullens could very well be the QB savior of the playoffs.
Mullens put up a very solid 17-point performance in a good matchup against the Bengals. This week, he gets the Lions, who have been serving up buckets of fantasy points to opposing QBs. You shouldn’t feel confident in him, but given the amount of injuries at the position you could do worse. If you’re even more desperate than that, Mason Rudolph has a good positional matchup, but that’s a tough one to sell.
One quarterback I’m more confident in is Justin Fields. Fields is coming off a poor outing, giving you a single-digit performance against a tough Browns defense. If you survived the week, though, you will be rewarded with a far better matchup. Over the last six weeks, Fields has been averaging over 11 rush attempts per game. He now gets a mildly positive matchup against the Cardinals, but the biggest thing to note is that Arizona is giving up many points to opposing runners. This could be one of Fields’ huge games like we saw late in the season last year.
Ja’Marr Chase suffered a shoulder injury last week and is expected to miss time. Typically that would lead to Tee Higgins and even Tyler Boyd getting a sizeable upgrade for fantasy outlooks. Unfortunately, they face Pittsburgh, who is allowing 24% fewer points to opposing wide receivers. If you’re desperate, Higgins can be considered but don’t count on him being more than a WR2 in most formats.
The Steelers give up big points to slot receivers, and Boyd primarily operates out of the slot, but he wasn’t the go-to option last week. That role went to Chase Brown, who secured a 32% target share last week. Unfortunately, Brown popped up on the injury report with a sternum injury. Keep an eye on his practice reports, as this could be a veteran rest day excuse, but if he doesn’t go, then Boyd is in play for this week.
While the Eagles have an amazing matchup for wide receivers, their game is expected to get out of hand quickly. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are both must-starts due to matchup and use, but the game script is concerning.
IDP Boons and Fades
I almost selected the Cardinals Bears before recognizing that there are probably only a dozen or so non-Bears/Cardinals fans that will enjoy this game. Sure, it has historic significance in that these are the only remaining teams from the initial founding of the NFL. Yes, there’s a fun Chicago vs. formerly Chicago team. And, of course, they both have excellent linebacker matchups. That doesn’t make it exciting unless you’re a pretty big NFL nerd, though, so I reserved the mention of this section.
Both sides have a position matchup above 20% but unfortunately, the Cardinals don’t have many players that are likely to exploit this matchup. Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards are must-starts. After them, the Bears’ Jack Sanborn and the Cardinals’ Josh Woods can both be considered flex upside plays.
Giants DBs face the same concern as the Eagles WRs, game script. While they have a good positional matchup on paper, the spread is 10.5 points in favor of the Eagles. Should they get ahead, we could see a lot of carries from the Eagles backfield committee. Regardless Bobby Okereke and Micah McFadden should both be on your radar and probably in your starting lineups.
At a 51-point over/under with just a 1.5-point spread, the Cowboys @ Dolphins game looks to be a shootout going by the Vegas boards. However, the positional matchups tell a different story.
Neither team has a single good positional matchup on offense. QB and RB matchups on either side are moderately negative, and wide receivers are neutral. Dallas’ tight-end matchup is also moderately negative, while Miami’s is neutral. Miami is dead last in team TE points scored over the last six weeks. Jake Ferguson doesn’t have a great matchup but is still a far better option than any tight end you’ll find on waivers at this point.
Tyreek Hill is likely to return from an ankle injury for week 16, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from starting Jaylen Waddle. While Hill could be used as a decoy, if Hill is playing, you start him.
The Cowboys lead the league in both QB and WR fantasy points scored over the last six weeks. Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb should be started without hesitation, while Brandin Cooks is more of a flex play.
On the defensive side, Cowboys DBs are set to feast. We will see if DaRon Bland can break his three-week dry spell and get a pick-six. Stephon Gilmore and Markquese Bell are the two other DBs with nice upside potential. As mentioned a few weeks ago, Bell is transitioning from DB to LB but has dual eligibility in Sleeper.
If, by some miracle, Antoine Winfield is still on waivers, he needs to be picked up and started. Both Ryan Neal and Carlton Davis missed last week against the Packers. If Davis returns this week, he can be started, and if he doesn’t, you can look to Ryan Neal as an option.
Team Trends for Future Weeks
Notable Rush Funnel Teams: Pittsburgh, Seattle, and San Francisco are the three current rush funnel teams.
Pass Funnel Teams: Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and the Los Angeles Rams are the current pass funnel teams of the league.
IDP Targets: Minnesota has been a good target for IDP across the board, which should be no surprise given their QB situation. Jacksonville, Cleveland, Miami, and both LA teams are good DB targets. The Giants are far and away the best matchup for defensive linemen.
Follow me on Twitter @MonCalFF and check out our other Start-Sit articles, which can be found below. Until next week, good luck!
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