Fantasy Football Matchup Upgrades and Downgrades: Week 10

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 10, 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: Philip Rivers (at OAK) - Rivers has not been a fantasy mainstay this season as he has been in years past, but this week he is more than usable as a strong streaming option. Even on the road, Rivers gets the pleasure of facing an Oakland Raiders team that is allowing the most passing yardage, at just shy of 300 yards per game, and the most passing touchdowns, as well, with almost three per game surrendered. Only the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants are allowing a higher yards per attempt rate than Oakland (8.8 Y/A) this season. The Raiders have been surprisingly stout against the run, which could be making them a pass-funnel defense, but capitalize regardless of the cause and cash in with Rivers this week.

Bad matchup: Matthew Stafford (at CHI) - While the Chicago Bears haven't been the defensive force most fans expected for this year, they have still been good, and that holds against the pass. Da Bears are allowing just 231 passing yards per game and only eight touchdowns across eight contests in 2019. Their rate of 6.8 yards per attempt allowed is seventh-best in the league, and they have actually been very good at stopping the run, as well. While they haven't racked up turnovers as they did in 2018, they have still been among the league's best units at limiting opposing offensive production. For a pocket passer in Stafford, this does not bode well this week.

Running Back

Good matchup: Jamaal Williams (vs. CAR) - The Carolina Panthers have benefited against the pass thanks to their strong secondary this season, but they have not been able to stop the run up front. Teams run a near-average amount against the Panthers, so their raw counting stats surrendered don't appear that bad. However, they are leading the league in yards per carry allowed (5.1) and also lead the league with 14 rushing scores allowed (and they have already had their bye week), which is more exciting for fantasy football. Williams has now scored in four straight games despite a limited workload. Expect the Packers to lead in this game (as 5.5-point favorites), meaning he could get more work, so Williams can be used as an RB3/flex option if needed.

Bad matchup: Kenyan Drake (at TB) - After saying this last week and face-planting, we're going back to the well because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been excellent against the run. The Cardinals are 4.5-point underdogs, so owners would be banking on Drake catching a handful of passes -- of which he caught four (on four targets) in his big game last week. The Bucs have allowed the fewest rushing yards this season, the second-lowest rate of yards per carry in the league, and six touchdowns (lower than average but above expectation). Even assuming Drake is the lead back, this will be a tough week for him.

Wide Receiver

Good matchup: New York Wide Receivers (vs. NYG/at NYJ)) - Both sides of the ball in the New York showdown between the New York Giants and New York Jets should have a field day in passing. The teams are allowing 264 and 263 passing yards per game, respectively, both high rates. The Jets have allowed 1.5 touchdowns per game while the Giants are giving up 1.78 per contest, both also higher than average. Both squads also rank worse than average in yards allowed per attempt. The Giants are worse off than the Jets, so Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder should be started with confidence, but Demaryius Thomas is also a viable flex play. Don't be afraid to run it back with Darius Slayton, as well (and Golden Tate is a must-start, especially given the recent injury news on Evan Engram). There could be a lot of passing fantasy points to go around in this game.

Bad matchup: Cleveland Browns Wide Receivers (vs. BUF) - It will be tough to actually sit either Odell Beckham or Jarvis Landry, but both are in a tough spot this week against the Buffalo Bills, who have been stifling against the pass this year, allowing just 6.1 yards per pass attempt, the third-lowest mark in the league. The Bills have also allowed just five passing scores on the season and 10 yards per completion. The red zone and the long ball, both specialties of Beckham, are the strength of the Bills' D. Beckham would figure to see the most of Tre'Davious White in coverage, while Landry should see a lot of Levi Wallace, who is top 12 in yards allowed per target this season at 6.1, though he is being heavily targeted. Both Browns receivers could well post duds this week, so owners should weigh their alternatives before relying on the Browns.

Tight End

The tight end position remains brutal, so if you have a reliable option, start him. Outside of the top five this week, there is a precipitous drop in projected output this week by numberFire's weekly projections, and TE6 through TE24 are separated by just two points. If you start any of the streaming options, just hope he falls into the end zone. Some guys I would advise rolling out this week for streaming teams include T.J. Hockenson (27% of the receiving yards against the Chicago Bears comes via the tight end), O.J. Howard (hold your nose but the Arizona Cardinals are the worst at defending tight ends in all regards), and Delanie Walker or Jonnu Smith (depends who is active, but tight ends are being targeted on nearly 28% of pass attempts against the Kansas City Chiefs, the highest rate in the league). Otherwise, don't overthink it, as there are not enough reliable options at the position.