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 we’ll also 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
Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense
Heading into the season, it was pretty clear that the Buffalo Bills intended to feed LeSean McCoy as many touches as he could handle. Nine weeks into the season, and that still holds true. McCoy has toted the rock 149 times, and he’s been targeted 47 times in the passing game. A dual threat back in a run-heavy attack is always an appealing prospect for fantasy purposes, and McCoy has delivered the goods several times this season. However, he has had some rough games as well. Unsurprisingly, those games have come against clubs that are strong against the run. At this juncture, it makes sense to consider McCoy a clear matchup-based play, but he has an appealing one on the docket this week.
The New Orleans Saints have made tremendous strides on the defensive side of the ball this season. After looking like the Saints of old through the first two weeks of the season, the club quickly changed course and became a club that’s actually known for playing strong defense. Despite that, the Saints are not shutting down opposing running games by any means. If we look at the past three games, we find that both Aaron Jones and Jordan Howard found a healthy amount of success against the Saints. The former was able to pile up 138 combined yards while finding the end zone, while the latter finished up with 121 total yards on the day. Vegas calls for a closely contested game, as the Saints are favored by three points with a projected total of 46.5-points. Both the game script and the matchup point to this being a positive matchup for McCoy, and he should be on your short list of running back selections as a result.
Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense
Leonard Fournette had an appealing matchup ahead last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, and then the bottom unexpectedly fell out on Sunday morning. He as a surprise scratch for a team violation, and DFSers that were banking on Fournette were left scrambling to adjust. That little bit of internal housekeeping appears to be in the past, and Fournette will see his first game action since Week 6. In short, we can expect the dynamic rookie to be raring to go on Sunday when the Los Angeles Chargers come to town.
For the season, the Chargers have struggled against the run to to the tune of 120 yards rushing yards allowed per game. Digging deeper on a week-by-week basis, they’ve shown some improvement as the season has moved along, but this is a unit that’s still ripe for the picking. In the early part of the season, Jay Ajayi, Kareem Hunt, and LeGarrette Blount gashed the Chargers, while the RBBC approach worked just fine for both the New York Giants and the New England Patriots in more recent weeks. A completely rested Fournette should see all the volume that he can handle, and he makes for one of the week’s top running back selections.
Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense vs Houston Texans Passing Defense
What a difference a year - and a head coach - can make. Entering the season, there was a school of thought that suggested that Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams would show some improvement under Sean McVay. We can safely say that school of thought was right on the money. The Rams are 6-2, and the offense is averaging more than 30 points per game. While Todd Gurley has clearly been the engine that’s making the offense go, Goff has made some impressive strides in his second season. Goff has only thrown for 300 yards or more twice so far this season, but he’s tossed 13 scores versus four picks.
The Rams offense has been quite efficient, and Goff has another stat-padding date on the docket when the Houston Texans come to town this week. The secondary remains a weakness for the Texans, and it’s been picked apart in three of the last four weeks. Alex Smith, Russell Wilson, and Jacoby Brissett all threw for 300+ yards and multiple scores, and Goff could very well do the same if the game script cooperates. For a stacking option, things get a little tricky as a case can be made for Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, or Cooper Kupp. Woods has a slight edge over Kupp in targets over the last three weeks, but Watkins remains a home run threat that can break out in a heartbeat. It’s safe to call it a tossup, but Woods has been the most productive of the trio in recent weeks.
New York Jets Passing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense
Don’t look now but the New York Jets have finally found a quarterback - at least for this season, that is. Josh McCown has exceeded expectations, while the surprising Jets are coming to play each and every week. Apparently, someone forgot to tell head coach Todd Bowles that this was a throwaway year for the Jets. The passing attack that looked to be devoid of weapons has been surprisingly productive, as McCown has tossed for multiple scores in five of eight games - including four of the team’s last five games. He has a good shot at making it five out of six when the Jets take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Quite simply, the Buccaneers pass defense has been quite poor, but the damage has been slightly mitigated due to game flow. The Buccaneers have no pass rush to speak of, and there has been poor play from both the safeties and cornerbacks. That’s a recipe for a club that can be picked apart in a hurry, and McCown can certainly pull that off if the game script cooperates. Vegas projects the Jets as a 2.5-point favorite with a projected total of 43.5 points, so we could see a relatively tight back and forth affair. For stacking purposes, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse have seen a similar amount of targets in recent weeks, while both players have found the endzone four times this season. A case can also be made for Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has three scores so far this year. Regardless of which option you stack him with, McCown is an intriguing quarterback selection in Week 10.
Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense
The Indianapolis Colts pass defense is one of the units that we’ve grown to love targeting this season. The club has allowed multiple touchdown passes in four of nine games, while five of nine quarterbacks have thrown for 300 or more yards, The damage could be even worse, but the Colts have been on the wrong end of three blowouts so far this year. While the club did a nice job last week against a Houston Texans team that was forced to give the keys back to Tom Savage, don’t let that fool you. Quality teams can pick the Colts apart, and one is coming to town this week.
While this hasn’t been the greatest season statistically for Ben Roethlisberger, we all know the damage he can do against defensively-challenged squads. So far this year, Roethlisberger has only thrown for multiple scores three times, while he’s managed only a pair of 300+ yard passing games. The stars align this week for Roethlisberger to have one of his vintage performances, as the Steelers come into this one as 10-point favorites. Game script calls for the Steelers to get up big, but Roethlisberger can do more than enough damage before the Steelers call the dogs off. Antonio Brown is the obvious top stacking choice, but those that prefer to mix things up can look towards intriguing rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, who already has four scores on just 24 receptions.
Matchups to Avoid
Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Detroit Lions Rushing Defense
While there’s talent to be found in the Cleveland Browns backfield, that hasn’t translated into fantasy production in 2017. Part of the problem stems from the fact that the Browns are coming from behind more often than not, but the biggest problem remains that the Browns are just woeful on offense. Browns backs are going to have a hard time finding success against a Detroit Lions squad that has been stout against the run, and this looks like another game in which the club will be coming from behind. We can safely pass on the Browns rushing attack in Week 10.
Detroit Lions Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense
While the Browns are poor overall, there is a bright spot for the club to build upon. The Browns run defense has been surprisingly strong this season, as they have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. In fact, the Browns have only allowed three rushing scores for the entire season, which is pretty remarkable when you consider the club has an 0-8 record. The run game is not a strength for the Lions to begin with, and we can fully expect them to lean on their strength in the form of Matthew Stafford and company. Stafford should find plenty of success against the Browns secondary, but we can’t say the same for Ameer Abdullah and company against the Browns front seven.
Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense
When talking about stout run defenses in 2017, no discussion is complete without including the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have also yet to allow a 100-yard rusher, and only two backs have managed to find pay dirt against them. The Washington Redskins have been struggling on the ground, and that can mainly be tied back to the injury bug that has plagued the clubs offensive line. Chris Thompson has evolved into a solid passing game threat from behind the line, but Rob Kelley is only managing 3.2 yards per attempt. We can pass on the Redskins backs this week, but be sure to keep Thompson in mind for future weeks when the stars align better.
Green Bay Packers Passing Offense at Chicago Bears Passing Defense
While we all knew there would be a drop off for the Green Bay Packers passing attack when Aaron Rodgers went down with a season-ending injury, there was a small sliver of optimism that suggested Brett Hundley may be up to the task. Through two games, it doesn’t look that way. While he’s managed to find the end zone twice on the ground, he has yet to throw a passing touchdown since taking over the reins. Expecting improvement in his third week at the helm may also be too optimistic, as the Chicago Bears have been quite impressive on the defensive end of late. The club has not allowed a passing score for three consecutive games, and they should have little trouble shutting down the disjointed Packers passing game.
Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense
Regardless of record, facing off with Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers offense is never an appealing prospect for opposing defensive coordinators. The Chargers have a wealth of weapons at the skill positions, and Rivers can do considerable damage when he gets in the zone. However, Rivers can be contained and forced into picks when facing off against an elite-level unit, which is a moniker we can bestow on the Jacksonville Jaguars pass defense. Opposing quarterbacks are not finding success against the Jaguars, and there’s nothing to suggest that will be changing. Shutdown cornerbacks A.J. Buoye and Jalen Ramsey are essentially cutting the field in half, and the Jaguars improving pass rush is right there to rattle opponents even further. We’ll take a hard pass on Rivers and company this season.
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.