Fantasy Matchups

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2021 NFL season: Michael F. Florio's Week 2 fantasy football matchups

With Week 1 in the books, it is more important than ever to state: do not overreact to one week! We spend months leading up to the season analyzing and studying and then are ready to throw it all out the window after one game. I'm not saying nothing we saw in Week 1 mattered, but if you drafted a player in the early rounds and they disappointed, do not think about sitting them! Unless that player was Brandon Aiyuk … you can bench him this week. 

But for those non-star players in your lineups, the matchups greatly come into play. Matchups were the reason I had Sam Darnold over Justin Herbert last week (humble brag!). Let's look at the toughest and best matchups at each position. To do so, I will be looking at the fantasy points given up to each position from last year plus Week 1. It is not a perfect science, but it is better than using just Week 1, which is purely dependent on who the teams played. 

Best QB matchups

Tom Brady vs. Falcons: The Falcons have allowed 23.64 fantasy PPG to QBs since the start of the 2020 season, the most in the NFL. That includes allowing a league-high 304.8 passing yards per game and 37 passing touchdowns, the third most in that span. Last year against the Falcons, Brady had 390-plus yards in both games, with multiple passing TDs in each, including four in one game. He posted 23 and 30 fantasy points in those starts, too. He is coming off of a great Week 1 and has a plethora of playmakers at his disposal. Start him with confidence this week. 

Aaron Rodgers vs Lions: Rodgers disappointed in a big way in Week 1, but he gets the ultimate get right opportunity against the Lions this week. The Lions have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG (23.56) to QBs, along with the most passing touchdowns and second most passing yards allowed. Plus, Rodgers has always feasted against the Lions. In his full starts against them since 2016, he has averaged 25.25 fantasy PPG, with multiple passing touchdowns in every game and three or more in half of those. This might sound obvious to you grizzled veteran players, but do not sit Rodgers. 

Other favorable QB matchups: Russell Wilson vs. Titans, Mac Jones at Jets, Teddy Bridgewater at Jaguars, Tyrod Taylor at Browns, Baker Mayfield vs. Texans.

Best RB matchups

Aaron Jones vs. Lions: Just like the Lions are a favorable matchup for Rodgers, they are for Jones as well. The Lions have allowed the most fantasy PPG (32.26) to RBs since 2020, including a league-high 31 touchdowns allowed to the position -- no one else even allowed 25 in that span. Jones had one big and one not so big game against the Lions last year. But that good game was huge, going off for 45.6 fantasy points. His ceiling is very high this week. His teammate, A.J. Dillon is a sleeper in a favorable matchup. 

Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt vs. Texans: The Texans have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG (30.92) to RBs since the start of the 2020 season, including a league-high 186.2 scrimmage yards per game. They allowed 12 different backs to top 100-yards against them last season. Chubb was one of them, rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown, while scoring 18.6 fantasy points. Hunt in that same game put up 132 scrimmage yards and 16.2 fantasy points. Both should be started this week.

Other favorable RB matchups: Melvin Gordon/Javonte Williams at Jaguars, Najee Harris vs. Raiders, D'Andre Swift/Jamaal Williams at Packers, Chase Edmonds/James Conner vs. Vikings.

Best WR matchups

DK Metcalf/Tyler Lockett vs. Titans: The Titans have allowed the most fantasy PPG to WRs (46.03) including the second-most touchdowns (26) and fourth-most yards per game (198.2). That bodes well for Seattle's big two receivers, who showed us last week they do not need a ton of volume to have nice fantasy days, as both scored touchdowns and double-digit fantasy points with just five targets each. But Seattle could have to throw more if the Titans offense looks like itself. These two are must starts weekly, but especially this week.

Chris Godwin/Mike Evans/Antonio Brown vs. Falcons: There might be enough offense to go around to have all three receivers have a nice day in Week 2. The Falcons have given up the second most fantasy PPG (44.97) to WRs, including 205.5 yards per game and 22 touchdowns, both of which were in the top-five allowed. Three times last year a Bucs WR topped 20 fantasy points against the Falcons, twice it was Brown, including a 36.8-point performance. Godwin and A.B. each scored three touchdowns against them. All three should be valued as a top-30 WR in Week 2.

Other favorable WR matchups: Davante Adams vs. Lions, A.J. Brown/Julio Jones at Seahawks, Keenan Allen/Mike Williams vs. Cowboys, Calvin Ridley at Buccaneers, DeAndre Hopkins/Christian Kirk/Rondale Moore/A.J. Green vs. Vikings.

Best TE matchups

Jonnu Smith/Hunter Henry at Jets: The Jets have allowed the most fantasy PPG to tight ends (17.11) with a league-high allowed in yards per game (66.4) and touchdowns (14). Last week Smith saw five targets, catching all five for 42 yards, while Henry caught all three of his targets for 31 yards. The two taking away targets from one another is what many fantasy players feared when they both signed, but both have upside in this matchup. Smith is the preferred option.

Pharaoh Brown at Browns: The Browns have given up an average of 16.11 fantasy PPG to tight ends, the second-most in the NFL. That includes a league-high 5.7 catches per game with 58 yards per game and 12 total touchdowns. Brown was second on the Texans with five targets and 67 yards in Week 1. He is more of a deeper league option, but he has sneaky upside this week.

Other favorable TE matchups: Rob Gronkowski vs. Falcons, Mark Andrews vs. Chiefs, Mike Gesicki vs. Bills, Cole Kmet vs. Bengals, Juwan Johnson/Adam Trautman at Panthers.

Toughest QB matchups

Carson Wentz vs. Rams: The Rams defense has been dominant against QBs since the start of the 2020 season. They have given up 13.44 fantasy PPG, the fewest in that span, and they have allowed just 17 passing touchdowns, along with 15 interceptions in this 17-game span. They've also allowed a league-low 212.8 passing yards per game. Wentz is an option to get away from this week.

Derek Carr at Steelers: Carr surprised against a tough, but banged up, Ravens defense on Monday Night Football in Week 1. Now he has a tougher test against a Steelers defense that limited Josh Allen to just 17.2 fantasy points (21st among QBs). Pittsburgh has allowed 14.35 fantasy PPG to QBs since 2020, the second fewest in the NFL. They've given up just 221.4 passing yards and just 23 passing touchdowns in 17 games. This is a week to get away from Carr.

Other tough QB matchups: Sam Darnold vs. Saints, Zach Wilson vs. Patriots, Jared Goff at Packers, Jalen Hurts vs. 49ers.

Toughest RB matchups

Christian McCaffrey vs. Saints: What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? That is what this matchup feels like every time we get it. The Saints' run defense has been one of the very best in the NFL for some time now. They've allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to RBs (17.41) with just 97 scrimmage yards per game and 11 touchdowns allowed since 2020 both the fewest in the league. While CMC missed both games against the Saints last year, he did average 28.55 fantasy PPG against them in 2019. He is as matchup proof as they come and is still ranked as the RB1 heading into Week 2.

Josh Jacobs/Kenyan Drake vs Steelers: Pittsburgh has allowed 18.3 fantasy PPG to RBs since 2020, the third fewest in the NFL. That includes just 105.4 scrimmage yards per game and 13 touchdowns in 17 games. Add in that Jacobs is banged up and missing practice. If he suits up the touches could be limited, which would make a tough matchup even worse. If he sits, Drake would move into the flex range. (Editor's note: Jacobs (toe/ankle) has been ruled out for Week 2).

Other tough RB matchups: Mark Ingram vs. Browns, Mike Davis at Buccaneers, Miles Sanders at Rams, Joe Mixon at Bears.

Toughest WR matchups

Michael Pittman/Zach Pascal/Parris Campbell vs. Rams: Just like the Rams are tough on QBs, they are stingy to receivers, too. They have allowed just 28.31 fantasy PPG to WRs in the last 17 games, by far the lowest in the NFL. That includes a league-low 129.4 receiving yards per game and just seven touchdowns -- there are only two other teams that haven't allowed double that number in this span. Pittman had some sleeper appeal heading into the season, but after a down Week 1, get him out of your lineup. Avoid this Colts passing game.

Marquise Brown/Sammy Watkins vs. Chiefs: The Chiefs are known for their offense, but their defense has actually allowed the second-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs (30.55) since 2020. That includes just 135.7 yards per game, second fewest to only the Rams. Brown had a strong game in Week 1, but he saw just six targets and now has missed practice. He is a boom-or-bust WR4. The Watkins in Week 1 myth grew, but this is not a week to start him.

Other tough WR matchups: Amari Cooper/CeeDee Lamb vs. Chargers, Lions WRs at Packers, Jaylen Waddle/DeVante Parker vs. Bills, Corey Davis/Elijah Moore vs. Patriots.

Toughest TE matchups

Darren Waller at Steelers: The Steelers have allowed 9.05 fantasy PPG to tight ends, the fewest in the NFL since 2020. That includes the second-fewest yards per game (39.9) and a league-low three touchdowns allowed to the position. That might be enough to scare you away from an ordinary tight end, but Waller is not an ordinary tight end. Last week along he had 19 targets, 10 catches, 105 yards and a touchdown. You might not get that in this matchup, but Waller is a must start every single week.

Dallas Goedert/Zach Ertz vs. 49ers: The Niners have allowed a league-low 34.1 yards per game to tight ends and the second-fewest fantasy PPG (9.14) to the position. But last week we did see T.J. Hockenson go for eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. Goedert saw more usage in Week 1, with five targets, four catches, 42 yards and a score. Ertz added two catches for 34 yards on two targets. Goedert is the top option, but with both taking away from each other, in a tough matchup, they are both more TE2s. Ertz can fully be avoided this week.

Other tough TE matchups: Tyler Kroft/Ryan Griffin vs. Patriots, T.J. Hockenson at Packers, Tyler Higbee at Colts.

Notable receivers with the best WR/CB Matchups (per PFF):

  1. Davante Adams
  2. DeAndre Hopkins
  3. Allen Robinson II
  4. Julio Jones
  5. Chris Godwin
  6. Antonio Brown
  7. Tyreek Hill
  8. Keenan Allen
  9. Mike Evans
  10. Tyler Lockett
  11. Cole Beasley
  12. Adam Thielen
  13. Stefon Diggs
  14. Tyler Boyd
  15. Jarvis Landry
  16. A.J. Brown
  17. Tee Higgins
  18. Mike Williams
  19. Amari Cooper
  20. A.J. Green

Notable receivers with the toughest WR/CB Matchups (per PFF):

  1. Laviska Shenault.
  2. Michael Pittman
  3. Zach Pascal
  4. Parris Campbell
  5. Christian Kirk
  6. Henry Ruggs III
  7. Trent Sherfield
  8. Elijah Moore
  9. Amon-Ra St. Brown
  10. Terrace Marshall Jr.
  11. Jamison Crowder
  12. Cedrick Wilson
  13. K.J. Hamler
  14. Russell Gage
  15. Darnell Mooney
  16. Bryan Edwards
  17. K.J. Osborn
  18. Jalen Reagor
  19. Tyrell Williams
  20. Anthony Schwartz

You can follow Michael F. Florio onTwitterandInstagram, @MichaelFFlorio.

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