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 fantastic tool for you to add to your arsenal. Each week, we’ll break down the rushing and passing matchups for all of the teams on Sunday’s main slate of games.
For both categories, we’ll break the matchups down into the following three tiers to help you really zero in on the matchups you want to key in on.
Top of the Heap: These are the top projected matchups for the week. Players in this tier serve as excellent anchors for your lineups.
Worthy of Consideration: Players in this category may produce a nice return, but you need to be mindful of the risks inherent in their matchup for the week.
Not This Week: Players in this category have some serious red flags for this week’s games. They’re best avoided outside of the occasional flier or contrarian candidate for GPP lineups.
Let’s get started with the rushing offenses.
This Week’s Rushing Matchups
Top of the Heap
Arizona Cardinals: David Johnson is worthy of short-list consideration virtually every week, and Week 1 is no exception. The Cardinals offense runs through Johnson, and he’ll be facing off against a mediocre Lions rushing defense. He’s going to cost you a pretty penny, but Johnson is one of this week’s top running back selections.
Atlanta Falcons: Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both deserve consideration for your lineups, but we’ll lean towards the former being the more productive of the pair against a porous Bears rushing defense. The Falcons are one of the biggest favorites on the board for opening week. That should bode well for the rushing game, as projections point to the Falcons playing with the lead.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers rushing offense has a fantastic matchup at hand against the 49ers, a team that had the worst rushing defense in 2016. There’s new coordinators on hand in San Francisco to help straighten things out, but it’s clearly a work in progress. Rookie Christian McCaffrey could not ask for a better opponent for his debut game, and he checks in with an affordable price tag to boot.
Los Angeles Rams: Changes were afoot in Los Angeles during the offseason as well, and there are actually some signs that the offense may come to life this year. While it may take awhile to achieve full liftoff, we can expect Todd Gurley to hit the ground running in a fantastic matchup against a defensively-challenged Colts squad. Gurley burned many fantasy players last season, but it’s time to let bygones be bygones and take advantage of a great value opportunity.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers open up the season against a Browns squad that could show some improvement on the defensive side of the ball as the season moves along, but we don’t expect that to materialize right away. Le'Veon Bell is neck-and-neck with David Johnson for the top running back selection of the week, and he carries the price tag that goes along with that distinction. There’s moderate concern since Bell missed the preseason, but he has historically demonstrated that he performs well after a lengthy layoff.
Tennessee Titans: The fantasy community is buzzing about Marcus Mariota’s fantasy prospects for 2017, but the Titans won’t be straying too far from the club’s ground-and-pound roots. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry both deserve consideration for what projects to be a high-scoring game against the Raiders. Murray is the more reliable choice of the pair due to his consistent production, but an argument could be made for Henry for GPP purposes due to his upside potential.
Worthy of Consideration
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens rushing offense has an appealing matchup against a Bengals team that struggled against the run this year. Enthusiasm is slightly tempered due to the fact that backs will be playing behind an offensive line that hasn’t played a snap together all preseason. Danny Woodhead offers some upside as the pass-catching back, but we’ll pass on Terrance West.
Buffalo Bills: LeSean McCoy could easily be one of the top running back plays of the week against a poor Jets team. The only caveat to that is that the Jets defensive line remains a strength of the team. Regardless, McCoy will see an incredibly hefty workload, and he should have little trouble retuning nice value this week.
Chicago Bears: Jordan Howard has a solid matchup on paper against a Falcons team that has troubles with the run, but game script causes us to be slightly skittish. There’s a very real possibility that the Bears will playing from behind in this one, and that may mitigate Howard’s upside. He’s not an avoid by any means, but we’re more sold on the top rushing matchups of the week.
Cleveland Browns: While the Steelers defense remains solid, the unit has shown some weakness against the run. That leads to us pegging both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr as interesting Week 1 possibilities, but the game script for this one is also tempering our enthusiasm. The Steelers should have their way with the Browns, who in turn will be left with little choice but to air it out.
Dallas Cowboys: This may be your last opportunity to roster Ezekiel Elliott for some time due to ongoing off-the-field drama. That being said, expectations need to be tempered against a Giants team that boasts a strong defensive unit. Elliott could certainly make some noise in his version of a statement game, but there are safer choices out there to consider.
Houston Texans: Lamar Miller is another candidate for one of the week’s top performers at running back, but starting left tackle Duane Brown appears likely to miss this week’s game as his contract holdout continues. That causes us to have a little hesitancy, but we’re still intrigued by his upside in what should be an emotion-filled game in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Miller could also be in line for a monster workload, as both D’Onta Foreman and Alfred Blue are questionable. If they miss the game, our offensive line concerns become less of an issue.
New York Giants: The Giants have a good matchup on paper against the Cowboys, but the lack of clarity in the backfield gives us pause. Paul Perkins has yet to show that he’s capable of being the lead back. Shane Vereen has some potential upside as the pass-catching back, but the Giants are loaded with weapons. Our interest is piqued because the Cowboys defense looks to be on a downward trajectory, but we can’t completely recommend pulling the trigger on a Giants back this week.
New York Jets: As we’re all well aware by now, the Jets are in tank mode. They appear certain to lean on the run game heavily until games get out of hand, and that makes Bilal Powell and Matt Forte at least worthy of consideration. Of the pair, Powell is the top choice for this week as Forte is dealing with a hamstring injury. Powell can contribute in the passing game as well, so he’ll still see some work even if the score gets lopsided against the Bills. The Bills had problems stopping the run last year, but the scheme has shifted under the new coaching staff. Keep your expectations in check, but Powell is an option to consider for salary cap relief.
Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles running backs have a nice matchup ahead against a Washington team that’s poor against the run, but the lack of clarity in the Eagles backfield amounts to a red flag. LeGarrette Blount had a poor preseason for his new club, but he’s slightly intriguing due to his big game upside. Behind Blount is a bunch of question marks, so we may want to take a pass on the Eagles this week to see how the workload gets distributed.
Washington Redskins: Washington is another club with an interesting matchup on the docket for rushing purposes, but we can’t be fully sold due to concerns about how the carries will shake out. Rob Kelley remains the lead back, but Chris Thompson and rookie Samaje Perine will be in the mix as well. The Eagles were pretty solid against the run for fantasy purposes last year, but the club did struggle when matching up with Washington. We’ll add this one to the ‘intriguing but not sold’ pile.
Not This Week
Cincinnati Bengals: The Ravens are tough against the run, and the Bengals backfield is too crowded for our tastes. Joe Mixon and company will have their share of appealing moments this year, but Week 1 is not one of them.
Detroit Lions: Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick both offer up salary relief this week, but that’s offset by the fact that they’ll be facing one of the top defenses in the league in the form of the Cardinals. We can expect the Lions to take it to the air in this one as well, so we’ll look elsewhere for our value plays.
Green Bay Packers: The matchup against the Seahawks makes this a clear avoid for Packers running backs. Ty Montgomery showed plenty of flashes last year, but there’s too much risk involved to roster him with confidence.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts begin the regular season with a backup quarterback at the helm, and a banged up offensive line. That’s not a recipe for fantasy success. Scratch the Colts off your list, as they’ll be facing off with a tough Rams defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette is an incredibly intriguing pro prospect, but we’ll take a pass on him this week. The Jaguars are heading into a potential buzzsaw when they face off against the Texans, and we can safely find more bang for our buck elsewhere.
Oakland Raiders: The Titans were solid against the run last season, and there’s no signs that will not be the case in 2017 as well. Marshawn Lynch’s first game back after a season on the shelf also leads us to take a wait and see approach with the Raiders rushing offense.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers could show some signs of life on offense this season with Kyle Shanahan manning the sidelines, but we want to see how that plays out first. Add in the fact that the Panthers boasted a stout run defense last season, and we’ll take a pass on Carlos Hyde for Week 1.
Seattle Seahawks: The Packers were solid against the run last season, and there’s a ton of question marks in the Seahawks backfield. Thomas Rawls is questionable, and that could point to heavy doses of Eddie Lacy and Chris Carson. While Lacy returning to Green Bay opens up the exit to narrative street, we’re not going to bite.
This Week’s Passing Matchups
Top Of The Heap
Arizona Cardinals: The game between the Cardinals and Lions has the makings of a potential shootout. While the Cardinals offense will primarily run through David Johnson, Carson Palmer will still be afforded plenty of opportunities to make things happen through the air. For stacking purposes, Larry Fitzgerald is by far the safest selection. He has an excellent matchup against a team that struggles against slot receivers, and he’s reasonably priced across the industry. John Brown has boom-bust upside on the outside, but he’ll likely be shadowed by Darius Slay for the majority of the game.
Atlanta Falcons: A stack of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones could be one of the more fruitful combinations for Week 1. Our projections love both players for this week’s matchup against the Bears, and Jones appears to be in a particularly good spot against this secondary. This could be a case in which Ryan and Jones do their damage early before giving way to the running game, but there’s plenty of points to be had before that happens. Other Falcons pass-catching targets can be avoided for this one, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on how the targets break down for future research.
Oakland Raiders: There could be a shootout brewing when the Raiders face off against the Titans, and we’ll be snagging some shares of Derek Carr and his top targets in anticipation of reaping the rewards. The Titans had a porous secondary last season. The club has made some moves to shore things up, but it may take some time for things to gel. Amari Cooper has breakout potential this season, and he’s the top stacking choice with Carr. However, be sure to monitor the news as game time approaches, as he did miss practice this week with a knee injury. Michael Crabtree deserves consideration as a pivot off Cooper, and he becomes a potential PPR monster if Cooper ends up missing the game.
Philadelphia Eagles: There were plenty of changes for the Eagles in the offseason, and second-year pro Carson Wentz has some intriguing weapons at his disposal. The Eagles have a nice matchup at hand against what could be a shaky Washington defense. Alshon Jeffrey will likely see plenty of attention from Josh Norman, but that could open things up for both Torrey Smith and Zach Ertz. For stacking purposes, Ertz is an excellent value choice this week, as the salary makers haven’t caught up to his potential 2017 output.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have a mouth-watering matchup against the Browns on their plate. Ben Roethlisberger should have his way with this secondary, and Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant will be the biggest beneficiaries. The Steelers are big favorites for this one, so that opens up some risk that the dogs could be called off after halftime. However, Roethlisberger and company have multiple-touchdown upside, and this looks to be one of the safest stacks to build around for opening week.
Seattle Seahawks: The Packers secondary had plenty of struggle in 2016, and there wasn’t much done in the offseason to shore that up. Russell Wilson looked solid throughout the preseason, and he’ll be looking to wipe the taste out of his mouth from a poor performance against the Packers last year. Doug Baldwin remains the top stacking option to pair up with Wilson, but we won’t talk you out of rostering Jimmy Graham either.
Worthy of Consideration
Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco has found success against the Bengals in the past, and he could very well do the same in Week 1. The Bengals remain susceptible to the deep ball, and that bodes well for Mike Wallace’s prospects of finding paydirt. Jeremy Maclin can also be considered for stacking purposes, but we’d like to see how the targets shake out before enthusiastically recommending him.
Carolina Panthers: Changes are afoot for the 49ers defense, as last year pointed to the need for some serious improvement. Cam Newton should be able to pick apart a secondary that’s in flux, and Kelvin Benjamin could prove to be a matchup nightmare for the 49ers secondary. When Newton’s on the field, Greg Olsen is always a viable choice to stack with him as well. Devin Funchess is the other name to keep in mind, but he’s a GPP-only selection until he demonstrates some consistency.
Chicago Bears: The Falcons had some serious problems against the pass in 2016, and they didn’t too much to improve in that regard during the offseason. While we can’t in good conscience recommend Mike Glennon as anything more than a dart throw, there’s plenty of value to be found with Bears pass catchers. Kevin White, Kendall Wright, and Zach Miller all deserve consideration, but Miller has the best matchup on paper as the Falcons struggled mightily with tight ends last season.
Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green has had some real solid outings against the Ravens in recent years, and he could be in line for another one this week. The Ravens are relatively strong defensively, but Green has proven to be a matchup nightmare for them. A stack of Green and Andy Dalton makes plenty of sense. Tyler Eifert is also in the mix as one of the more intriguing tight end selections for Week 1.
Detroit Lions: This is a bad matchup on paper for the Lions as they face off against a tough Cardinals defense, but we have to at least give it some consideration due to the shootout potential for the game itself. Matthew Stafford is a risky selection at quarterback, but the fact that he’ll be slinging the rock a ton helps to offset that. Golden Tate remains his top target, but he could be in for a long day of dealing with Patrick Peterson. Marvin Jones Jr would be the second option, but intriguing rookie Kenny Golladay is in the mix as well for GPP purposes.
Los Angeles Rams: Don’t look now, but there are signs of life emerging from the Rams passing offense. New head coach Sean McVay could work the same magic with Jared Goff that he did with Kirk Cousins during his days in Washington. The Rams have added Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods to the passing attack, and rookie Cooper Kupp had an impressive preseason. For Week 1, Goff is an intriguing contrarian selection, and Watkins makes the most sense to pair with him for stacking purposes.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers at home is generally a set it and forget it option, but we’ll temper enthusiasm due to the matchup with the Seahawks. Our projections still call for him to have a solid day, but his upside may be capped while facing off with an elite defense. Rodgers has plenty of weapons at his disposal, but Jordy Nelson remains the preferred option for stacking purposes. Behind Nelson, it’s a tossup between Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Martellus Bennett for pivot purposes.
New York Giants: This shapes up to be a good matchup for the Giants against a leaky Cowboys secondary, but we’ll have to closely monitor the news for updates on Odell Beckham Jr Jr. He’s the primary stacking option if he takes the field, but a ton of value opens up if he’s out. A case can be made for any of Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram, but we’ll lean towards Marshall as the top choice if Beckham is out.
San Francisco 49ers: Kyle Shanahan should be able to do some nice things with the 49ers passing offense. There were some intriguing signs out of camp, and Brian Hoyer displayed some impressive chemistry with both Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. The Panthers struggled against the pass last year, and the game script calls for the 49ers to play from behind. While there’s too much risk to consider the 49ers as an anchor for your lineups, there is some intriguing GPP upside to be found.
Tennessee Titans: The game between the Titans and Raiders could quickly devolve into a shootout. Combine that with the fact the Raiders pass defense was mediocre last year, and we have an intriguing spot to employ the services of Marcus Mariota. Stacking options are a little tricky for this one, as Eric Decker, Rishard Matthews, and Corey Davis will all be in the mix for targets. Delanie Walker will see his share as well, and he appears to be the safest bet to pair up with Mariota.
Washington Redskins: While signs point to the Eagles pass defense continuing its upward ascent, Kirk Cousins still projects to have a solid day against his divisional foes. For stacking purposes, the Eagles clamped down on opposing tight ends in 2016, so Jordan Reed is a risky and pricey option for Week 1. Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder are the top options to pair with Cousins, but we’ll lean towards Crowder. Pryor and Cousins showed shaky chemistry in the preseason, so this may be a work in progress situation.
Not This Week
Buffalo Bills: The Jets can be had in the secondary, but we’d be more optimistic on Tyrod Taylor’s prospects if there weren’t so many changes going on in Buffalo. The team will clearly be running LeSean McCoy until the wheels fall of. There are better options for your fantasy dollars in Week 1, but you can consider Charles Clay for an extreme salary saver option at tight end.
Cleveland Browns: DeShone Kizer makes his debut this Sunday, and optimism is high that Cleveland may finally have its signal caller of the future. Unfortunately, he faces off with a tough Steelers squad that may not be so welcoming. Kizer frees up a ton of salary if you’re looking to save money at quarterback, but there are safer options out there. One caveat for future weeks: Kizer and Corey Coleman have shown some nice chemistry together.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys open up the regular season with a date with a tough Giants squad that appears set to improve defensively. Considering that the club was strong in that department last season as well, and it doesn’t look too promising for the Cowboys passing game in Week 1. The Giants cornerbacks have shutdown capabilities, and the ferocious pass rush will not leave Dak Prescott with much room to operate.
Houston Texans: Tom Savage takes the reins for the Texans offense to start the regular season, and he’ll be facing off with the tough secondary of the Jaguars. The Texans passing attack doesn’t offer up a ton to get excited in general, so we have little trouble scratching Savage off the list. DeAndre Hopkins could be considered for contrarian purposes, but there’s plenty of other value to be found at wide receiver this week.
Indianapolis Colts: Scott Tolzien will be at the helm as the Colts take on a tough Rams defense, and the outlook isn’t pretty. We can downgrade the Colts pass catchers until Andrew Luck returns, but this matchup looks to be particularly brutal. The Rams defense was on the rise last season, and the club has added Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. It could be a long day for Tolzien and company.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars travel to Houston to take on the Texans with uncertainty at the quarterback position, and that’s not a situation you want to be in against one of the top defenses in the league. Blake Bortles showed a ton of promise in 2015, but that has failed to materialize into marked progress. He suffered through a rough preseason, and he’ll be on a short leash in 2017. We can avoid Bortles in Week 1, and the Jaguars pass catchers by extension.
New York Jets: Josh McCown gets the starting nod for the Jets in Week 1 of what should be a long season for the team. There has been a mass exodus of talent on both sides of the ball, and there are serious questions about how competitive the Jets will be able to be in 2017. Using the assumption that they’ll be playing from behind more often than not, there could be some value to be found with Jets pass catchers. Despite that, this is a tough matchup against the Bills, and we can’t consider any member of the Jets not named Bilal Powell for anything other than a dart throw.
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.
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