Fantasy Football Matchup Upgrades and Downgrades: Week 8
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 each and 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 8, 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: Kyler Murray (vs. NO) - Murray has been a solid fantasy option for most of 2019 thus far -- despite being a rookie on a questionable offense -- thanks in large part to his ability to run the ball. Murray has still been successful throwing as well, ranking 12th in passing yards and throwing just four interceptions through seven games. Murray's biggest downfall to date has been his lack of touchdown passes, as he has thrown just seven on the season. Murray is just 29th in touchdowns-per-attempts percentage, but that figure is likely to normalize in the coming weeks. Murray gets to face a New Orleans Saints defense that has been average at defending the pass in most regards, though they have gotten pressure and sacks at a high rate. Expect Murray to be moving around in this game, meaning plenty of rushing yards. A Drew Brees return would be even better, as it would force the Cardinals to be more aggressive offensively. Murray comes in at QB5 this week on numberFire, well ahead of consensus.
Bad matchup: Carson Wentz (at BUF) - Wentz has been disappointing so far in 2019 after being seemingly set up for success this offseason with the return of DeSean Jackson, the emergence of tight end Dallas Goedert, and another year with his primary weapons under his belt -- all with a strong offensive coaching mind. However, Wentz ranks just 17th in the league in passing yards despite being 9th in pass attempts. His completion percentage and efficiency numbers are well below ideal levels, but a high touchdown rate has buoyed him. Wentz's outlook is not rosy against a Buffalo Bills defense that ranks third-best in passing yards allowed with just four passing touchdowns surrendered in six games. Without a rushing score, Wentz will likely be in for a tough day. Wentz is down at QB19 this week per numberFire's rankings, well below the consensus.
Good matchup: LeSean McCoy (vs. GB) - The Green Bay Packers have been an impressive defense for most of 2019, but they are allowing plenty of production on the ground. With Patrick Mahomes sidelined, the Kansas City Chiefs would figure to operate a safer offense -- i.e., more run plays or shorter passes, including dump-offs -- which benefits players operating near the line of scrimmage. McCoy ranks in the RB2 range in terms of rushing yardage alone but has been limited to only a pair of touchdowns on the ground in 2019. His 5.4 yards per attempt are a very high mark, trailing only six other backs. Meanwhile, the Packers are allowing the eighth-most rushing yards and touchdowns this season, with a hearty 4.9 yards per rush allowed. In a pinch, Damien Williams could be used as well -- his four targets per game could expand in a healthy way if the Chiefs get down in this contest.
Bad matchup: Frank Gore and Devin Singletary (vs. PHI) - The duo of Buffalo Bills running backs are in for a tough day against the ultimate pass-funnel defense in the Philadelphia Eagles. Teams are surprisingly running on the Eagles at about an average rate, and Philadelphia has already allowed seven rushing scores. The Eagles' 3.7 yards per carry allowed has been a top-six mark through Week 7, and that is bad news for both Gore and Singletary, who are seeing just 1.3 and 2.0 targets per game, respectively. Gore and Singletary are both struggling to break tackles and create yards on their own, so expect a lot of empty-calorie runs in this game. A medium-volume, low-efficiency game is the best bet if either player can't reach the end zone.
Good matchup: Corey Davis and A.J. Brown (vs. TB) - Somehow, it seems like a dose of Ryan Tannehill was just the medicine for the ailing Tennessee Titans offense. If that alone wasn't enough, a matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should cure them for good as a passing offense. Davis played a season-low in snaps and ran just 22 routes, but was targeted seven times and caught six balls, both season-high marks. His 80 receiving yards was topped only by a 91-yard game against the Atlanta Falcons, which should come as no surprise. While Brown's snaps and routes were a drop-off from the previous two weeks, his season-high marks were blown away with his eight targets and six catches. The Bucs are allowing the sixth-most passing yards and 11 touchdowns despite already having their bye week, so both Davis and Brown could eat in Week 8 with the Titans passing game is now consolidating around them.
Side note: Kenny Stills has become a must-start for this week with the injury to Will Fuller. The Oakland Raiders boast an underwhelming pass defense, and Stills will now be a full-time starter with an effective deep-ball thrower in Deshaun Watson delivering passes downfield.
Bad matchup: Auden Tate (at LAR) - Simply copy and paste A.J. Green if he happens to be active for this game, but whichever outside receiver is going to be covered by Jalen Ramsey is a tough play in Week 8. Neither Green playing in his first game of 2019 nor Tate with his 4.65 "wheels" are likely to pose problems for Ramsey (who runs a 4.41, by the way). Ramsey shadowed Julio Jones last week, so he figures to do the same in Week 8 with whichever receiver is lined up on the outside for the Cincinnati Bengals. Ramsey has allowed just 7.7 yards per target this season, and just over 5 catches per game in his coverage. Either Bengals receiver should be shut down without much of a problem in this contest.
Honestly, the tight end position outside the top handful is just so brutal that I can't add much value here. The weekly TE8 and TE17 are separated by just 1.25 fantasy points in numberFire's projections this week. If you need a streamer, some good options, if available, include Gerald Everett, Jimmy Graham, and Benjamin Watson, in that order. None of the "weekly starter" options are being benched even in bad matchups, so I prefer not to do a disservice by painting them in a bad light here. Hopefully, this is more useful, even if not more informative.