Welcome to the Positional Matchups Report, aka POSAFPA. In this article, I provide an easy-to-use positional matchups table and highlight potentially exploitable matchups. If you’re curious about the process, here is a full introduction where I lay out the methodology.
Last Week’s Results
If there was a theme last week, it was backup quarterbacks plummeting back down to earth. Raider’s Aidan O’Connell and company managed to squeak out a win from the Chiefs, but O’Connell did nothing for your fantasy team with just 2.1 points. Sam Howell and Tommy DeVito were both benched during their respective games, likely killing your playoff run if you chose to start them.
On the flip side, Green Bay’s defense made Bryce Young look like the quarterback we wanted him to be. He put up a season-high 312 passing yards and two touchdowns, achieving a QB rating of 110. Young netted 22.2 points for fantasy, but this is more of an indictment of Green Bay’s defense than an endorsement of Young. He has a lovely 27% matchup against Jacksonville this week, so you could do worse.
As for the Green Bay matchup? Nick Mullens gets them this week. While he put up 20.5 points against the Lions last week, he also threw four picks and lost T.J. Hockenson and possibly Jordan Addison. That said, the Packers have only six interceptions on the season. Mullens can be started in 2QB leagues with moderate confidence.
I brought up the Bengals’ wide receivers last week and mentioned that while a bad matchup on paper, Tyler Boyd’s use out of the slot made him a solid play. He did okay, getting 10.9 PPR points, but Tee Higgens blew away expectations. Despite an unfavorable matchup, he took home 25 PPR points via five catches on eight targets for 140 yards and a touchdown. I wouldn’t expect this kind of efficiency week after week, but he’s a must-start in the championships.
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: Suppose you’re deciding between Javonte Williams (RB-DEN) and Brandin Cooks (WR-DAL). For Williams, find DEN in the first column. Follow that row over to the RB column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is -11%. That’s a moderately negative matchup. Next, for Cooks, find DAL in the first column. Follow that row over to the WR column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is 23%, which is a very positive matchup. Given both players are averaging about 10 PPR points per game, I would lean Cooks.
Offensive Boons and Fades
T.J. Hockenson, Jaylen Waddle, Jordan Addison, and D.J. Moore have likely affected you in some way if you’re in the playoffs. Hockenson is the only one officially out for the remainder of the year, but the other three are dealing with ankle injuries which typically take several weeks for WRs to recover from. Given it’s Week 17, let’s find some replacements.
Unfortunately, the best wide receiver matchup this week is the Giants, who have been unpredictable at best for fantasy. Darius Slayton has averaged a solid 10.7 PPR points over the last six weeks. Wan’Dale Robinson follows behind with 8.4 PPR points. Right now, the starting quarterback for the Giants remains undecided, but neither option will move the needle.
Courtland Sutton, unfortunately, suffered a concussion on Sunday. Few players have cleared concussion protocol before the following week, so expect him to sit out. That should give a value bump to Jerry Jeudy this week, though he’s likely a low-end WR2. Russell Wilson spread the ball out quite a bit after Sutton’s exit, with five players each getting five targets. Marvin Mims is worth mentioning, given his big-play upside, though he’s a flex play at best.
Finding a replacement for TJ Hockenson is going to be tough. Tyler Higbee has been pretty mediocre of late but has an excellent matchup this week. Josh Oliver has a good matchup and could backfill Hockenson’s role, but the real diamond in the rough is Logan Thomas.
Thomas has been averaging a 19% target share over the last six weeks, which is very good for tight ends. On top of that, the game’s over/under is a nice high of 48.5 points. The Commanders are expected to lose by 14, which means we can expect a pass-heavy outing from Sam Howell/Jacoby Brissett.
IDP Boons and Fades
As previously mentioned, Nick Mullens threw four interceptions last week. It’s unclear if he will start this week, but neither of Minnesota’s other options would prevent me from targetting DBs against them. Rudy Ford has been up and down this season, but based on positional matchups, this is more likely to be an up week. He did have a back injury pop up late last week, though, so keep an eye on practice reports. Jonathan Owens is startable regardless of whether Ford plays or not. Anthony Johnson is someone worth keeping an eye on, but more as a potential riser in the offseason or a super deep start if Ford sits.
Defensive linemen on both sides of the Titans versus Texans game have good matchups this week. Harold Landry of the Titans is likely the best play on either side. Texans DL’s Jonathan Greenard and Will Anderson are both dealing with ankle injuries, making them suspect starts. Jerry Hughes is an interesting high upside, abysmal floor but if Anderson or Greenard misses time, he would likely see the field enough to make him viable.
It’s worth mentioning that Aaron Donald has been dealing with a minor groin injury which seems to have limited his fantasy upside. He has a great matchup on paper, but it’s difficult to trust him at the moment.
Fred Warner could very well be an IDP league winner this year, given he’s been putting up about 20 points on average this year. Now he gets a great matchup against the Commanders. If you’re facing him, look to slot upside players into your lineup. Don’t sleep on Dre Greenlaw; while his output isn’t as consistent, the matchup could see him putting up points in that 20 range.
This matchup of the week is an easy one. The two teams are both locked for the playoffs but with something to fight for. Baltimore currently sits 12-3 at the head of the AFC North. Miami is at 11-4, topping the AFC East. The Ravens are the current AFC favorites for the Super Bowl, and the Dolphins are behind only the 49ers. This could very well be a Super Bowl preview.
At 47 points, with Baltimore favored by three, you wouldn’t expect this to be a defensive showdown. The positional matchups say otherwise.
One thing is certain, I’m expecting big games from Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen. They have been a powerhouse duo all year, flourishing in even tough matchups, and now they have a positive one before them. They lead the league in sacks with 54 at the moment but don’t sleep on the Dolphins. Miami is second with 52. Despite having just a neutral to slightly negative matchup, I’d expect Bradley Chubb and Andrew Van Ginkel to have great weeks.
With Jaylen Waddle likely to miss this week, you could look to Cedrick Wilson as a deeper desperation play. He took 14% of the team’s targets last week, which is good enough, and the matchup is alright. On the Ravens’ side, Zay Flowers is proving his worth. Odell Beckham could certainly be used in a pinch, but he hasn’t been consistent enough to trust beyond a flex option, and both Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor just aren’t seeing enough volume to be trusted. Isaiah Likely is almost certainly rostered, but he’s a good tight end starter this week, even with a mildly negative matchup.
Team Trends for Future Weeks
Notable Rush Funnel Teams: The Colts, Giants, 49ers, and to a lesser extent, the Chiefs have all been directing fantasy points to opposition RBs.
Pass Funnel Teams: The Lions, Texans, Chargers, Rams, Raiders, Eagles, and Titans have all been giving up points through the air more than on the ground.
IDP Targets: The Titans are the top matchup for opposing defensive linemen, followed closely by the Texans and Giants. DB targets are the Vikings, Bengals, Browns, and Chargers, but the Jaguars and Rams can also be targeted. Teams favorable for LBs are the Jets, Bengals, Bears, Colts, and Dolphins.
Best of luck in what should be the final week of the year. And you know what that means? It’s prospecting time. I will be putting out this article for Week 18, so don’t worry if your league runs late. After that, I’ll be doing an audit on POSAFPA and detailing how accurate it was in 2023. I’ll also be exploring how to improve the process, potential position breakdowns, and a whole lot more once we get into the draft season.
Follow me on Twitter @MonCalFF and check out our other Start-Sit articles, which can be found here. Until next week, good luck!