The amount of information you need to sift through on a weekly basis to build some competitive lineups can seem overwhelming. You’re in the right place to get through all of that information in no time, and we have another item for you to add to your arsenal. Each week, we’ll break down the best and worst rushing and passing matchups for Sunday’s main slate of games.
This will allow you to quickly zero in on the top anchors for your lineups, and point out which players you’ll want to avoid as you fill out the rest of your roster. There’s a ton of choices to examine on a weekly basis. The goal of this article is to help you narrow the field of targets down substantially.
Let’s get right to it, starting with the week’s top matchups.
Matchups to Exploit
Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at New York Jets Rushing Defense
While it’s still early in the season, it’s becoming quite clear that we’ll be targeting players facing off against the Jets quite often in 2017. Through two games, the Jets have given up 66 points. The Bills took it relatively easy on them in Week 1 by dropping only 21 points, but the Raiders blew their doors off in Week 2 by posting a 45-spot. Drilling down even further, opposing running backs have been having a veritable field day against the Jets, who have allowed 411 combined yards and three scores to backs thus far this year.
Add all of that together, and it’s safe to say that we’re awfully high on Jay Ajayi this week. We all know the upside he brings to the table - see his three 200-yard outings in 2016 for reference - and this spot is simply too appealing to pass up. He will be heavily owned, but this is not one of those spots where you want to get cute and fade him. Take the free square, and you’ll have plenty of time to look for other places in which you can differentiate your lineups.
Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense
At halftime of the Chiefs game against the Eagles last week, it looked like Kareem Hunt was in for a disappointing outing as a follow-up to his electrifying debut against the Patriots. He put those worries to bed when he ripped off a 53-yard score, and he would follow that up with a short score later in the game. While it’s still too early to christen him as the ‘real deal,’ he certainly looks to be that guy. If he can make it three impressive performances in a row, we may not be able to resist the urge to bestow that label upon him.
Hunt and the Chiefs head to the friendly confines of the StubHub Center in Los Angeles to face off against the Chargers this week. Jay Ajayi was able to produce 122 yards against this unit in Week 2, but the defensive line can be pretty stout when it’s clicking on all cylinders. That hasn’t happened thus far in 2017, and we don’t anticipate the switch being flipped overnight. We should see some improvement from the Chargers defense as the season moves along, but we still have some time to target against them with a back that’s approaching ‘must-play’ territory.
Carolina Panthers Passing Offense vs. New Orleans Saints Passing Defense
The Panthers offense has not looked good to start the season, but the perfect wake-up call is coming to town in the form of the Saints defense. Through the first two games, Sam Bradford has torched them for 346 yards and three scores, and Tom Brady took his frustrations out to the tune of 447 yards and three touchdowns. If Cam Newton and company can’t achieve liftoff against this unit, it will officially be time to temper expectations on the Panthers offense for the 2017 season.
The injury to Greg Olsen opens up some additional opportunities for other Panthers pass catchers. We can obviously expect more targets to sail in the direction of Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, but rookie Christian McCaffrey may also see some additional looks. This is a great spot for all three, but we’ll give the nod to Benjamin as the safest option of the trio. He’ll have little trouble finding room to operate against this porous secondary, and he’s in line for a nice day at a reasonable price. Funchess would qualify as a contrarian selection to pivot away from Benjamin’s expected popularity for the week, while McCaffrey is an intriguing boom-bust running back at an affordable price.
Miami Dolphins Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense
We really don’t mean to pick on the Jets - except for fantasy purposes, that is. The club is clearly in rebuilding mode, and that becomes necessary from time to time in today’s NFL. That being said, we won’t hesitate to take advantage of it for DFS purposes. The Jets secondary looks abysmal thus far, and Derek Carr picked it apart at will last week. He could’ve easily racked up more than the 230 yards and three scores he threw for, but the Raiders somewhat called the dogs off in the blowout victory. Michael Crabtree hauled in all three of the scores last week, while Amari Cooper was held to a relatively quiet day.
Could we see the same thing out of the Dolphins this week in regards to Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker? It’s certainly possible, but we’re expecting a relatively equal distribution of targets this week. Against the Chargers in Week 2, Landry saw 15, while Parker saw 9. That was partially due to the fact that Jay Cutler displayed nice chemistry with Parker in the preseason. As a result, the Chargers were clearly focusing more of their efforts on holding him in check. Cutler is definitely in consideration as an affordable quarterback option, while he can be paired up with either of his top pass catchers for stacking purposes. For upside purposes, we’ll give the nod to Parker, but we definitely won’t talk you out of Landry.
Oakland Raiders Passing Offense at Washington Redskins Passing Defense
The Raiders had a big day offensively against the Jets in Week 2, but Derek Carr walked away with relatively modest numbers of 230 yards and three touchdowns. It could’ve easily been a whole lot more, but there was simply no need to run up the score. The Raiders obliterated the Jets, and they didn’t break much of a sweat while doing so. A tougher task is at hand this week, as the Raiders head to the Nation’s capital for a primetime date with the Redskins.
The game has the makings of a potential shootout, as the current line calls for a projected total of 54.5 points. Derek Carr makes a ton of sense as a quarterback option for this week, but a target to stack him with is less of a clear cut thing. Shutdown cornerback Josh Norman looms large for the Redskins defense, but he’s typically not one to shadow a receiver for an entire game. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will both see some attention from him, but the latter may see a little more due to his big game against the Jets. Jared Cook is in the conversation as a cheap option at tight end as well.
Matchups to Avoid
Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs. Denver Broncos Rushing Defense
We will want to avoid players facing off against the Broncos until further notice. The team completely shut down Ezekiel Elliott last week, which is no small feat considering the fact that the Cowboys have an elite offensive line. This was not just a one off performance either. The Broncos defense is an elite-level unit, and they appear likely to be ruining the days of opposing offensive coordinators for the foreseeable future. LeSean McCoy was completely bottled up last week against the Panthers, and he’s in line for another long day. He’s a clear avoid for Week 3.
Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense
When we have an uncertain backfield that’s facing off with a run defense that has been stour thus far, the latter wins out. After an impressive rookie season, Jordan Howard has failed to achieve liftoff this year. An injured shoulder isn’t helping matters, but Howard just doesn’t look right so far. Tarik Cohen became a fantasy darling after his explosive Week 1 performance, but he won’t be sneaking up on anyone anytime soon. There’s simply better options out there for your salary cap dollars this week. The Bears are big underdogs to the Steelers, and all signs point to a potential blowout.
New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense
In addition to having a whole host of problems on the defensive side of the ball, the Saints are banged up on the offensive line. Veteran quarterback Drew Brees has been able to work around that for the most part, but the same can’t be said for Saints running backs. To be fair, the Saints have been playing from behind in both games to start the season, but they simply can’t seem to get anything going on the ground. Add in the fact that the club seems to be confused about how to best distribute the workload amongst Mark Ingram II, Alvin Kamara, and Adrian Peterson, and we have a situation that we want to avoid. The Panthers were able to contain workhorse back LeSean McCoy last week, and they should have little trouble doing the same with the Saints triumvirate.
Houston Texans Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense
A rookie quarterback facing off against the Patriots is not a recipe for fantasy success. Deshaun Watson is about to receive a crash course on life in the NFL, courtesy of Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia. The Texans offense has had a challenging start to the season as it is, but we’re going to lean towards things getting worse before they get better. Watson has a ton of promise, but he needs time to get up to speed. The fact that the Texans are banged up at the skill positions and struggling to get things going on the ground is not helping matters. DeAndre Hopkins should be a busy man on Sunday as the Texans attempt to play catch up, but there’s not much else to like for the Texans passing attack in Week 3.
Buffalo Bills Passing Offense vs. Denver Broncos Passing Defense
Our inclination to pass on LeSean McCoy extends to the rest of the Bills as well. The Broncos secondary is stacked, and they will have little trouble holding Tyrod Taylor and company in check. Taylor has had anemic production through two games (349 total yards and two scores), but that’s partially because the club is committed to running McCoy until the wheels fall off. All of the Bills pass catchers can be safely avoided this week as well - even for contrarian purposes.
Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime via email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.