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Week 9 Positional Matchups (POSAFPA)

Brad Custer dives into the positional matchups to get you the edge for Week 9.

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 where I lay out the methodology here.

Last Week’s Results

As always, we start by looking at last week’s results and trying to identify outlier performances and their potential causes. The most notable one of the week is Patrick Mahomes, who put up a measly 5.6 points. Don’t fret. He simply had the flu and failed to channel that ‘97 Michael Jordan playoff energy. He’ll look to bounce back with Travis Kelce and crew as they travel abroad to Germany this week.

AJ Dillon’s rushing performance was underwhelming, as expected, but he saw a season-high 5 targets and managed to catch all of them for a total of 41 yards. If Green Bay continues to use him this way he may have upside in PPR formats moving forward.

Sam Howell showed up in a big way, passing a career-high 52 times for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Eagles’ defense only managed to get one sack in this game, which is just as shocking. Hasaan Reddick managed to save his day with that single sack. Nakobe Dean returned to full snaps for the first time since returning from IR and recorded 12 tackles.

DeAndre Hopkins had a comeback game, but don’t be too excited. He saw three touchdowns on just six targets in Will Levis’ first career start. If someone is inquiring, consider selling high, as the chances of Hopkins getting another 3 touchdown game this year are slim. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see him continue to get targets in the red zone moving forward. 

Finally, I’m going to take a victory lap on the battle of New York. Not only was it the defensive grind I expected, but they truly outdid themselves by having more punts than points during that game.

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 Jerome Ford (RB-CLE) and Marquise Brown (WR-ARI). For Ford, find CLE in the first column. Follow that row over to the RB column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is 40%. That’s a very positive matchup. Next, for Brown, find ARI in the first column. Follow that row over to the WR column, and you’ll see his positional matchup is 05%, which is a slightly negative matchup. Given both players are averaging between 12 and 14 PPR points per game, and they face off against one another in what should be a favorable game script for both, I would lean Jerome Ford.

Offensive Boons and Fades

Chuba Hubbard now has two games in a row with over a 70% rush share. While his fantasy production wasn’t great last week, the volume was there. He was also up against well-documented pass funnel Miami. This week, he’s up against Indianapolis, who’s on the other end of the spectrum, allowing 28% more points than average to running backs. Hopefully, he’s able to capitalize on his newfound usage. Also, in deeper leagues, consider adding Raheem Blackshear, as he’s seen increased participation in opposition to Miles Sanders’ shrinking role. Blackshear has handcuff upside and could continue to see his role grow.

Quarterbacks have had a rough year, and with the loss of perennial top-12 fantasy producer Kirk Cousins this week, there’s a fair chance you’re grasping to find a startable option this week. Will Levis made a phenomenal debut, and while his matchup this week is nowhere near as good as last, PIT is only a slightly negative matchup, which shouldn’t scare you away. If more desperate, both Zach Wilson and Mac Jones have positive matchups. Don’t consider either as anything more than a deeper play QB2.

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)

Luke Musgrave played despite an ankle injury limiting his practices last week. While he underperformed for fantasy, this week’s matchup is more favorable. Despite having a lower over/under, the Rams are the best matchup for tight ends over the last six weeks. You can confidently start him over any non-tier 1 TEs.

Despite an amazing performance from Trey McBride last week, temper expectations as he goes up against the league’s most difficult matchup in the Browns. He’s still worth a pickup and stash, but maybe try to hold onto your current guy for now.

IDP Boons and Fades

Kirk Cousins is done for the season with a torn Achilles. Fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall will be the starter under center for Minnesota in Week 9, but newly acquired Joshua Dobbs will push for the job. That bodes well for Atlanta’s defensive backs, so you can feel confident starting Jessie Bates and Richie Grant

Saints DB Marcus Maye should be in consideration for streaming after backup QB Tyson Bagent threw two interceptions and had several other close calls. Justin Fields is still considered week-to-week, but his return is unlikely for Week 9.

Be wary of Minnesota defensive backs this week. While Atlanta has allowed 11% more points than average to opposing DBs, they benched Desmond Ridder for Taylor Heinicke last week. As of right now, Heinicke’s expected to be the starter in Week 9. 

Notable Matchup

How could I choose anything but the Chiefs-Dolphins game in Germany for this week’s notable matchup? It currently sits at the highest over/under on the week by far, with less than a field goal’s spread. NFL fans in Germany are some of the most passionate folks in the fandom. Any time a game makes it to Deutschland, they come out in full force.

Both Patrick Mahomes and his wide receivers have moderately positive positional matchups for this game. Rashee Rice has been the best wide receiver for the Chiefs lately, but even he has only seen a 13% target share over the last six weeks. His 9.6 PPR point average makes him a good flex option this week. All other receivers in KC should be treated as desperation plays at best. Kansas City defensive backs have a good positional matchup as well, so L’Jarius SneedJustin Reid, and even Trent McDuffie can be considered streaming options, given this game’s expected high volume.

On the flip side, the Dolphins offense has entirely negative positional matchups this week. None are tough, though, so all the starters can remain in your lineups. The most interesting matchup will be Miami’s linebackers. On the season, Miami’s linebackers are averaging a whopping 69.3 points per game, well above the league average of 51.8. They get a positive matchup this week, so upside plays include Jerome BakerJaelan Phillips, and Bradley Chubb

Team Trends for Future Weeks

Notable Rush Funnel Teams: Despite the Chiefs unexpectedly trailing last week, the Broncos are still giving up far more points on average to RBs than to WRs. Vegas, New Jersey, and the Colts are all solid matchups for RBs at the moment.

Pass Funnel Teams: The Eagles and the Dolphins are the two largest pass funnels, which should come as no surprise as they lead the league in scoring right now. Teams are forced to play catch-up, so early down running backs without strong receiving profiles against these two should be avoided.

IDP Targets: Despite Sam Howell’s phenomenal turnaround game, WAS remains the best matchup for IPD across the board. Taylor Heinicke is no stranger to interceptions or sacks. That said, it would be wise to keep an eye on Cleveland’s IDP players this week to see how things look moving forward. Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami, and Cincinnati are all solid targets for DB streaming.

Final Word

So there you have it for Week 8. We’re officially halfway to playoffs. Now is the prime time for win-now transactions, and feel free to link this chart/article when pitching a sale. If you’re still holding onto Alvin Kamara but aren’t in line for playoffs, his 26% matchup should provide a strong week. Brandin Cooks is coming off two solid performances and has a great matchup this week. Maybe see if anyone bites on Quentin Johnston before a far tougher matchup this week.

Follow me on Twitter @MonCalFF and check out our other Start-Sit articles here. Until next week, good luck!

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