Fantasy Football Matchup Upgrades and Downgrades: Week 7
I'm not here to tell you if and when Christian McCaffrey or DeAndre Hopkins have good or bad matchups because you're starting them every week. While it's good to know the strength of matchups for all of your players, it's much more valuable in relation to the fringe starters and high-end bench players than it is for your studs. Matchups should be one of the final components in making roster decisions, whether drafting for season-long strength of schedule or making a start/sit decision. It's a piece of the puzzle, but it should not be a primary consideration.
This series looks at borderline start/sit players and identifies particularly good or bad matchups that could influence those decisions. These are not specifically start/sit recommendations, as the alternative options are always relevant. This advice needs context, but it can be used to upgrade or downgrade players in your weekly rankings.
For Week 7, I will be using players near the start/sit cutoff in the FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings and comparing them to numberFire's weekly rankings (both half-PPR). The start/sit cutoffs assume 12 teams, starting 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 3 wide receivers, 1 tight end, and 1 flex. With that established, let's look at some borderline options with significant upgrades and downgrades.
Good matchup: Josh Allen (vs. MIA) - Allen has been spotty this year passing the ball to say the least. Allen's 43.75% Success Rate on pass plays ranks just 28th among quarterbacks with at least 50 drop backs, and he is actually hurting his offense on a per-drop back basis, with -0.02 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. The good news is that Allen runs the ball often and relatively well. His 57.14% Rushing Success Rate ranks him 12th among quarterbacks with 10 or more carries and 50 or more drop backs. Of the quarterbacks with a better Success Rate, only Lamar Jackson has more rushing attempts. If Allen were ever going to have a blow-up game throwing the ball, it would be against the 32nd-ranked schedule-adjusted pass defense of the Miami Dolphins. Allen is a priority streamer that should cover up for any passing issues with his legs.
Bad matchup: Kirk Cousins (at DET) - Cousins has been hot the last few games, which could be due to his wide receivers complaining about establishing the run too hard, softer pass defenses, or a combination. Regardless, Cousins has been on a tear, finishing as QB6 and QB9 in the last two weeks after failing to surpass QB24 in weekly scoring before then. However, the Detroit Lions have been strong against the pass, ranking fifth-best in the league thus far with -0.02 Passing NEP per play allowed. The Lions have given up ample fantasy points to opposing quaterbacks, but this game is likely to be very run-heavy on both sides and quite possibly low-scoring.
Good matchup: Tevin Coleman (at WAS) - Coleman is basically a must-start this week. He has firmly established himself as the red zone back for the San Francisco 49ers, and the matchup against the Washington Redskins is favorable. Washington is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and while they grade out better against the run than the pass defensively, the 49ers often target their running backs (23% of the team's targets in 2019). Coleman is firmly in the RB2 range this week and should be started on all but the most stacked fantasy teams.
Bad matchup: Adrian Peterson (vs. SF) - Peterson is the new centerpiece of the offense in Washington after the installation of Bill Callahan to replace Jay Gruden. After a previous high of 12 carries, Peterson saw a massive 23 rushing attempts in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins, which led to a strong outing for fantasy purposes, even in the absence of a touchdown. The downside is that Peterson is not active in the passing game (just seven targets in five games), and the San Francisco 49ers are excellent against the run. Only the New England Patriots are allowing fewer fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, and the 49ers are allowing just 87.2 rushing yards per game thus far in 2019 -- and they have only allowed one touchdown on the ground (a one-yard plunge from Chris Carson in Week 2). Peterson is likely to see a lot of low-value carries this week for an underwhelming stat line.
Good matchup: Mohamed Sanu (vs. LAR) - With shiny new toy Jalen Ramsey likely to spend a lot of time running around with Julio Jones, expect Sanu (and Calvin Ridley, who is in starting lineups anyway) to be open often in this game. Sanu would figure to see primary coverage from Nickell Robey, who has allowed a 104.2 passer rating in his coverage so far this season. The Atlanta Falcons have been fruitful in the passing game for fantasy purposes so far, with the second-most passing yards as a team and the most passing touchdowns. There is plenty of pie to go around so that everyone gets a piece in this week's matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. All three Falcons receivers can be used this week.
Bad matchup: Corey Davis (vs. LAC) - Fantasy gamers who have been disappointed this season may be surprised to learn that Davis is still being treated as the clear alpha by opposing defenses -- he drew primary coverage from Tre'Davious White and Chris Harris in the last two weeks. Davis figures to match up most of the day against Casey Hayward this week when the Tennessee Titans take on the Los Angeles Chargers. Hayward is operating at his usual elite levels in 2019, allowing just 0.69 (nice) yards of separation when targeted on average, but more importantly, he is only being thrown at 5.3 times per game. Unless Davis wins several contested catch situations, Week 7 will likely be another dud for him.
Good matchup: Jimmy Graham (vs. OAK) - Graham has been nothing special thus far in 2019, but he has had opportunities to deliver for fantasy purposes. With Davante Adams likely sidelined again for the game against the Oakland Raiders, Graham should see a slight boost in his target numbers from early in the season. The Raiders are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Believe it or not, Graham's 26 targets thus far rank him 14th at the position, and most importantly for tight ends, his three red zone catches rank seventh. Graham has better-than-normal odds to score in this game, and really, outside of the high-end starters, that's all you need.
Bad matchup: Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle (vs. HOU) - If you were using either of the Indianapolis Colts tight ends, this is a bad week for you most likely, and streaming is a good option to consider. The Houston Texans are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy point to opposing tight ends this season, and both Colts tight ends are tied with each other for 18th in target share among their positional cohort. Even worse, both players have just one reception in the red zone. If you need to use one, Ebron is getting targeted deeper down the field, but both are ugly options at an ugly position for Week 7. The Texans grade out just 31st against the run by numberFire's NEP model, so this sets up as a Marlon Mack game, and the passing attack could struggle as a whole.