Fantasy Matchups

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Michael F. Florio's 2021 NFL season Week 4 fantasy football matchups

Three weeks are in the books already. Hopefully those fantasy teams are sitting there with a winning record, but even if not, there is still plenty of time for things to turn around. You cannot control what happened in the past, but, you can make decisions that help get you off the skid and back into the winner's circle.

Now that we have nearly a month's worth of data to use, I will no longer be using 2020 data to figure out the best and toughest matchups. We are still dealing with a small sample size, however, and some of the teams that have been tough or allowed a lot of points to a certain position could depend on who that team has played to open the season. I will highlight what I believe are those instances in the article.

Best QB matchups

Matt Ryan vs. Washington: Washington has faced Justin Herbert, Daniel Jones and Josh Allen to start the season, allowing an average of 26.69 fantasy PPG to them. Herbert didn't break 14 fantasy points, but he did manage to throw for 337 yards. Allen just shredded them for four passing TDs and 358 yards. I do think Washington is not a defense that you need to shy away form right now, but the issue is, Ryan has not been a QB you can trust as he has yet to reach 17 fantasy points in a game this season. This is a big week for Ryan. It's his first favorable matchup of the season after opening up against the Eagles, Bucs and Giants. He is purely in play in two QB formats.

Jalen Hurts vs. Chiefs: Hurts had a game to forget by his own standards in Week 3, yet he still scored over 20 fantasy points. He has done so in all three games this season, even in Week 2 when he threw for just 190 yards and zero touchdowns. He brings a safe floor due to his rushing numbers. He has rushed for over 60 yards in all of his full starts, except for last week against the Cowboys. This week he faces the Chiefs, who have allowed Lamar Jackson and Herbert to score over 30 fantasy points against them in two straight games. Those two QBs combined for seven touchdowns against Kansas City. The Chiefs defense has not looked like it did last season, meaning you can start Hurts with confidence this week.

Other favorable matchups: Taylor Heinicke at Falcons, Russell Wilson at 49ers, Baker Mayfield at Vikings.

Best RB matchups

Elijah Mitchell/Trey Sermon vs. Seahawks: The numbers against Seattle are a little inflated after Derrick Henry went off for nearly 50 fantasy points against them (237 yards, three TDs). But they have allowed the starting RB they faced to finish top 17 in fantasy points in each week. Jonathan Taylor scored nearly 18 against them, while Alexander Mattison put up 23. The status of Mitchell needs to be monitored, but if he suits up you can start him confidently as an RB2. If it ends up being Sermon leading the way, then he becomes more of a borderline RB2 or flex option. In the lead spot last week, Sermon played 60 percent of the snaps and had 10 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Jonathan Taylor/Nyheim Hines at Dolphins: Miami allowed 23 fantasy points to Peyton Barber last Sunday. The week prior the Bills' two RBs combined for over 32 fantasy points, and in Week 1 they allowed almost 25 fantasy points to the Damien Harris-James White duo. Facing Taylor and Hines is easily the Dolphins' hardest task yet. Miami is second in yards (518) and touchdowns (five) allowed to running backs this season. Hines played more snaps than Taylor did in Week 3 and has been used more in the passing game, but this is a matchup where the Colts could be playing with a lead and running out the clock with J,T. Taylor also leads the league in touches within the 5-yard line with six but hasn't converted any to touchdowns, that could change this week. Both of the Colts RBs are in play this week as an RB2.

Other favorable matchups: Derrick Henry at Jets, Miles Sanders vs. Chiefs, Melvin Gordon/Javonte Williams vs. Ravens.

Best WR matchups

Calvin Ridley vs Washington: Just like Washington has struggled against quarterbacks, they have struggled against receivers as well. They have allowed 53.53 fantasy PPG to the position, the second-most in the NFL. That includes league highs in catches per game (20.7) and yards per game (247) to the position. Washington has already allowed three receivers to top 20 fantasy points against them, with five topping 17 fantasy points. Ridley has been slow out the gate, but he has seen double-digit targets in two straight and at least eight targets in every game. The volume and the matchup together is enough to value him as a WR1 again this week.

Odell Beckham at Vikings: Beckham returned in a big way in Week 3. He caught five passes for 77 yards, which is good for nearly 13 fantasy points. Not enough to blow you away, I know. But the volume is what is key. He saw nine targets, which led the Browns. Kareem Hunt saw seven, no one else had more than three. Beckham had a 31 percent target share, in his first game back from an ACL tear. Now he faces the Vikings, who have allowed 47.23 fantasy PPG, the fourth-most in the NFL. Any receiver with seven targets against Minnesota has topped 20 fantasy points. It is a safe bet for Beckham to see that sort of volume in this one, meaning he should be in store for a nice fantasy day in Week 4!

Other favorable matchups: Jakobi Meyers vs. Buccaneers, Jets WRs vs. Titans, Davante Adams vs. Steelers, D.J. Moore/Robby Anderson at Cowboys.

Best TE matchups

Noah Fant vs. Ravens: The Ravens have allowed 21.33 fantasy PPG to tight ends this season, the most in the NFL. That includes a league-high 7.7 catches and 96.7 yards per game. They have also allowed two touchdowns to the position. The numbers are inflated because they have faced Travis Kelce and Darrell Waller, both of whom topped 20 fantasy points against them. Baltimore did keep T.J. Hockenson in check in Week 3. Still, Fant sees enough volume to warrant starting weekly at a thin tight end position. This will really put the Ravens vs. tight ends to the test this week.

Pat Freiermuth at Packers: The Packers have also faced top tight ends to start the year, allowing George Kittle and Hockenson to top 17 fantasy points against them. But they also allowed over 17 fantasy points to Juwan Johnson in Week 1. In every game this season, Green Bay has given up 17 fantasy points to a tight end. That includes three total touchdowns allowed to the position. Freiermuth is not in the same ballpark as the elite tight ends, but with the Steelers so banged up at receiver, they will need some pass catchers to step up. Freiermuth out targeted Eric Ebron five to three last week. If his usage in the preseason and early part of the season is any indication, he is a weapon they like to deploy in the red zone. He is a streaming option for tight end needy teams this week.

Other favorable matchups: Dawson Knox vs. Texans, Adam Trautman/Juwan Johnson vs. Giants, Jared Cook vs. Raiders.

Toughest QB matchups

Lamar Jackson at Broncos: This is one of those instances where the early season matchups likely has a lot to do with why the Broncos are the toughest tea against QBs. Look, nothing against Denver's defense, but playing Daniel Jones, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson to start the year will make your defense look really good. Jones went for over 21 fantasy points against Denver, while the two rookies combined for less than 10. Jackson has scored at least 18 fantasy points in every game and showcased his high ceiling when he scored 32 in Week 2. The matchup is enough to lower Jackson a little in rankings, but not enough to sit him.

Daniel Jones at Saints: The Saints defense has been up and down this season. In Week 1, they limited Aaron Rodgers to less than two fantasy points, but then gave up 19 to Sam Darnold and held Mac Jones to just under 12. Still, this is a tough unit that should not be taken lightly. Jones started the year off hot, going for 21 and 29 fantasy points before being held to just under 17 against the Falcons. His rushing ability gives him a safe floor, meaning he is still in play as a second QB in two QB formats. But for those in one QB leagues, you can get away from him this week.

Other tough matchups: Dak Prescott vs. Panthers, Ryan Tannehill at Jets, Davis Mills at Bills.

Toughest RB matchups

Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard vs. Panthers: The Panthers have been the stingiest team to running backs, just allowing 7.6 fantasy PPG to the position. That includes allowing just 148 scrimmage yards to the position in three games, the fewest in the NFL. They also have not allowed a touchdown to a running back. They have faced the Jets and Texans, which aren't scary backfields, but they did hold Alvin Kamara to just seven fantasy points in Week 2. Still, the Cowboys run game has been a strength of the team and Elliott sees too much weekly volume to bench. Pollard has had a consistent role and has looked explosive in it. Zeke is an RB1, while Pollard is more of an RB2 or flex option this week.

Ty'Son Williams/Latavius Murray at Broncos: Denver has allowed just 169 total yards to running backs and zero touchdowns. Their 8.63 fantasy PPG to the position is the second fewest allowed in the NFL. They have shut down James Robinson and Saquon Barkley already this season, and while the Ravens' run game is one of the toughest in the NFL, their RBs have been tough to trust in the opening weeks. It looked like Williams was the guy, but then last week he had just five touches. Murray had seven while Devonta Freeman finished with three. Williams is still the option to trust here, but even that is purely as a flex option in a tough matchup.

Other tough matchups: Dalvin Cook/ Alexander Mattison vs. Browns, Mark Ingram at Bills, Aaron Jones vs. Steelers.

Toughest WR matchups

Tyreek Hill at Eagles: The Eagles have been the toughest opponent for wide receivers in the first three weeks of the season. They are allowing an average of 22.03 fantasy PPG to receivers, the lowest in the NFL. That includes a league-low 98 yards per game to receivers and just two touchdowns on the year. And they have been battle tested, facing Calvin Ridley, CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper and keeping them all in check. Deebo Samuel is the only receiver to top 11 fantasy points against the Eagles this season. Hill is too good to ever sit in fantasy, but coming off of two down performances, there is the risk that streak gets to three.

Henry Ruggs/Bryan Edwards/Hunter Renfrow at Chargers: The Chargers have given up just 24.37 fantasy PPG to receivers, the second fewest in the NFL. That includes 110 yards per game to the position and just one touchdown on the season. All three Raiders receivers are averaging over 10 fantasy PPG, with Renfrow leading them in targets per game. Renfrow has a safe weekly floor, but the other two are the upside plays. If I went with any this week it would be Ruggs, but this is a week where if you can avoid these receivers, you should.

Other tough matchups: Brandin Cooks at Bills, Titans WRs at Jets, Buccaneers WRs at Patriots.

Toughest TE matchups

Rob Gronkowski at Patriots: Gronk is dealing with a ribs injury but said he will definitely be playing in a revenge game against the Patriots. Not sure if you heard, but Gronk and his QB used to play on the Patriots. You may have heard it mentioned this week. It is a tough matchup for Gronk as the Pats have allowed just 2.23 fantasy PPG to tight ends, including just 27 yards on the season and zero touchdowns. They have been tough against tight ends for the last couple of seasons as well. But Gronk has scored multiple touchdowns in three of his last four games, counting the Super Bowl. Also, Brady is the type of QB to make sure he doesn't just get into the club, he brings his friends with him. I would start Gronk in a game where I expect Brady to try to make sure Gronk finds the end zone.

Mark Andrews at Broncos: The Broncos have given up just 4.17 fantasy PPG to tight ends, including just 55 yards and zero touchdowns. Andrews though is one of the more reliable tight ends in football. His fantasy points have increased each week, and in Week 3 he had a season-high seven targets, catching five for 109 yards. He is simply too good to sit given the state of the tight end position.

Other tough matchups: Tyler Kroft/Ryan Griffin vs. Titans, Tyler Higbeevs. Cardinals, Dalton Schultz/Blake Jarwin vs. Panthers.

Notable Receivers with the Best WR/CB Matchups (per PFF):

  1. Allen Robinson
  2. Davante Adams
  3. Stefon Diggs
  4. DJ Moore
  5. Tyreek Hill
  6. Julio Jones
  7. Calvin Ridley
  8. Cooper Kupp
  9. Courtland Sutton
  10. Tyler Lockett
  11. Braxton Berrios
  12. Deebo Samuel
  13. Hunter Renfrow
  14. Terry McLaurin
  15. DK Metcalf
  16. Will Fuller V
  17. Cole Beasley
  18. Antonio Brown
  19. Keenan Allen
  20. Amari Cooper

21. Notable Receivers with the Toughest WR/CB Matchup (per PFF):

  1. Christian Kirk
  2. James Washington
  3. Parris Campbell
  4. Marquez Callaway
  5. Anthony Miller
  6. Michael Pittman Jr.
  7. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
  8. Sammy Watkins
  9. Dyami Brown
  10. Jaylen Waddle
  11. K.J. Osborn
  12. Cedric Wilson
  13. Nelson Agholor
  14. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
  15. Chris Godwin
  16. Jalen Reagor
  17. Terrace Marshall Jr.
  18. Mecole Hardman
  19. A.J. Green
  20. Henry Ruggs III

You can follow Michael F. Florio on Twitter and Instagram, @MichaelFFlorio.

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