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Week 8 Positional Matchups (POSAFPA)

@MoncalFF is back with the Week 8 Positional Matchup article to help you get the winning edge.

Welcome to the Positional Matchups Report, aka POSAFPA. I provide an easy-to-use positional matchup table in this article and highlight potentially exploitable matchups. If you’re curious about the process, you can find a full introduction at the link here, where I lay out the methodology.

Last Week’s Results

Once again, we will start by looking at last week’s results. First, I’ll highlight a few unexpected results to see if we can identify why they happened.

FOXBOROUGH, MA – JANUARY 02: New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) rolls from the pocket during a game between the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars on January 2, 2022, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

The most noticeable case is Mac Jones, who faced the Buffalo defense. Despite having a strongly negative matchup, Jones put up nearly 20 fantasy points this week. Unexpectedly, New England took a small lead early and maintained it throughout most of the game. This kept things more competitive than the 8.5 point spread favoring Buffalo implied. If you had to use him in a rough bye week, you can be thankful but don’t expect this kind of fantasy production moving forward. His matchups over the next few weeks are better, but his fantasy production has been far too volatile to depend on.

Perhaps the most unusual result was from the Chargers wide receivers. Not only did they far exceed expectations, but they did it in an unexpected manner. They put up 121% of their average despite a moderately negative matchup. If you started Keenan Allen, you may have been disappointed with his 10-point performance, as most of the productive receiving work was handled by Josh Palmer. On top of that, not a single wide receiver scored a touchdown Sunday. There’s no clear reason behind this outcome. The weather was fair, and the game stayed competitive until late into the 4th quarter.

Finally, I have to eat crow. Josh Downs put up a phenomenal performance against the top-rated Browns defense. I said not to expect a double-digit performance. He must have read that and decided to not only prove me wrong but to more than double my single-digit estimate and put up a 21 point performance. I’m sorry, Josh, it won’t happen again.

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 Brian Robinson (RB-WAS) and Drake London (WR-ATL). For Robinson, find WAS in the first column. Follow that row over to the RB column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is -49%. That’s an extremely negative matchup. Next, for London, find ATL in the first column. Follow that row over to the WR column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is 0%, which is a neutral matchup. Given both players are averaging between 13 and 14 PPR points per game, I would lean Drake London.

Offensive Booms and Fades

We are back from Bye Week Hades, and that means we can be pickier with our lineups, injuries withstanding.

AJ Dillon put up a respectable 10.5 PPR fantasy points last week, but it was still not what we hoped he’d produce alongside a limited Aaron Jones against the best running back positional matchup in the league. Next week, he faces the Vikings, who have allowed 33% fewer points to running backs than their average. While it’s expected to be a fierce division game, it’s a far cry from Week 7’s league-best matchup, so he should be relegated to your bench. This might be a small sell-high window for him, as his matchups for the rest of the season are not very desirable. I’m less concerned for Aaron Jones, as he gets a large receiving role even when limited on rush attempts.

Gibbs szn is here, and it’s everything fantasy managers dreamed of… for now. Jahmyr Gibbs gave a week-winning performance, putting up 23.10 PPR points. Even more impressive is that he did it on just 21 touches. It was an odd game script, with the Lions being shut out until a fourth-quarter touchdown by Gibbs. It’s good to know they trust him to carry the load when necessary, and while David Montgomery could return next week, they could keep him out as they have a bye Week 9. Things continue to look good for Gibbs, though, through Week 15, Lions RBs have positive matchups outside of a single neutral matchup in Week 13.

IDP Booms and Fades

Last week, news broke that Colts nose tackle Grover Stewart was suspended for six games for violating the league’s PED policy. Despite that, the Colts remaining linemen still performed well for fantasy. Now they face the Saints, who have allowed 31% more points than average to opposing defensive linemen. Samson Ebukam is a solid starter, and both Dayo Odeyingbo and DeForest Buckner should also be considered. 

It’s not surprising that Seahawks defensive backs are a top target this week, with Deshaun Watson sidelined yet again due to injury. Devon Witherspoon is coming off a slightly negative matchup and a down week. He would have had a more typical score, but an interception was called back by a penalty. He should continue his exciting rookie campaign this week with a league-best 20% positional matchup. Julian Love should also capitalize on the matchup; both are solid starters this week.

In an otherwise very productive year, TJ Edwards is coming off a down week that Tremaine Edmunds managed to capitalize on. Edwards can still be started, as can Edmunds, but they face the Rams, who have allowed 27% fewer points to linebackers in the last six weeks. Neither are terrible starts, but you may want to look elsewhere if you have other options.

Notable Matchup

Despite having a full slate of games this week, the highest under/over above is a paltry 47 points. Even then, that 47-point game between the Patriots and Dolphins currently has a solid chance to be a weather game. The next highest is shockingly, the Chargers versus Bears game, where Shephard University alum Tyson Bagent is expected to be under center for Chicago. So, for this week’s notable matchup, we look to the opposite end of the spectrum.

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 17: New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) looks for an open receiver during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets on September 17, 2023 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire)

Let me introduce you to the battle of New York. Where the home team with a questionable QB, top-talent RB, and tough defense faces… the exact same thing on the other side.

Daniel Jones is averaging just 177 yards per game this year, and Zach Wilson doesn’t fare much better at 183. Both teams have strong run games, but the Giants defense ranks 6th in fewest rushing yards allowed while the Jets rank 7th. The Giants rank 14th in passing yards allowed, while the Jets rank 15th. If you’re a fan of defensive meat grinder games, this one is for you. Look for high IDP floors on either team. I expect both sides will be slamming their running backs into opposing lines for most of the game.

Team Trends for Future Weeks

Notable Rush Funnel Teams: Las Vegas is the largest rush funnel in the league right now, giving up a whopping 71% more points than average to RBs while also giving up 15% fewer points to wide receivers. Denver could also be considered one, given they allow a whopping 77% more points to RBs despite being a neutral matchup for wide receivers.

Pass Funnel Teams: After last week’s unexpected game script, Detroit’s numbers look like less of a pass funnel, but it was a major outlier from their season-long trends. Miami continues to be a pass funnel as teams try to play catch-up. Philly stays the course as well, with a very stout run defense. 

IDP Targets: Once again, Washington and Cleveland are the top IDP targets. Sam Howell is on pace to set a record for sacks taken by a large margin. Opposing LBs and DLs have been capitalizing on that and continue to be targeted. Cleveland is a positive matchup all around, but particularly for defensive back. It might be worth stashing Garrett Williams if you have the space. He recently returned from the injured reserve and scored 12 points in a negative matchup last week. Although his upcoming matchup this week isn’t favorable, he faces the Browns in Week 9 and the Falcons in Week 10, both of which are positive matchups.

So there it is for Week 8. Full slate, no high-scoring affairs expected. Surely, this will be a mild and predictable week with no surprises or upsets. Surely.

Follow me on Twitter @MonCalFF and check out our other Start/Sit articles, which can be found here. Until next week, good luck!

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