Fantasy Football Matchup Upgrades and Downgrades: Week 11

I'm not here to tell you if and when Christian McCaffrey and Michael Thomas 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 11, 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: Derek Carr (vs. CIN) - Carr has posted just two QB1 performances in weekly scoring this season, but he has faced a tough schedule with only one really soft pass defense -- that being the Houston Texans, who allowed him to finish as QB6 in Week 8. This week, Carr gets a nice boost since he's facing the Cincinnati Bengals, who are closing in on the number one draft pick. The Bengals are middle-of-the-pack in raw yardage allowed but lead the league with 9.0 yards per attempt allowed and are top-10 in touchdown percentage allowed. Carr won't need 40 pass attempts to pay off this week, which is good news since the Raiders are double-digit favorites.

Bad matchup: Kirk Cousins (vs. DEN) - Cousins has finished as a QB1 in weekly scoring in five of his last six games, but this week looks like a bad spot for the passing attack of the Minnesota Vikings. The Denver Broncos are allowing just a hair over 200 passing yards per game (fourth-lowest in the league), which is bad news for a pocket passer. Cousins has 25 carries on the year for just 49 yards, so he won't be making up for it with his legs. Even though his supporting cast has been strong, Cousins gets a big downgrade in a matchup with Denver. There are plenty of streaming options worth considering over him, like the guy above.

Running Back

Good matchup: Frank Gore (at MIA) - The Miami Dolphins are allowing the third-most rushing yards per game at almost 150 yards, which is good news for Gore, who is not active in the passing game. Despite passing the torch to Devin Singletary in the past few weeks, Gore has still seen some touches and has played over 30% of the snaps. These are far from great numbers, but this is one of the few weeks remaining that Gore can be used as even a desperation RB3/Flex option. The Bills are favored by 5.5 points in the game, so at the very least, they should be running out the clock late in the game. It's far from sexy, but Gore could provide one last usable week before becoming waiver wire fodder.

Bad matchup: Sony Michel (at PHI) - The Philadelphia Eagles have been excellent against the run this year, which is bad news for Michel, because that's about all he does. Michel has just 11 targets on the season, which is... let's call it not great. So, he's going to have to earn his keep on the ground against a team that is allowing just 87.3 rushing yards per game (fourth-lowest in the league) and 3.8 yards per carry (fifth-lowest). The good news is that the Eagles have allowed nine touchdowns on the ground this season, which puts them above average. The bad news is that relying on a touchdown from Michel has been fruitful in just four games this season. This is a much better setup for James White than for Michel.

Wide Receiver

Good matchup: Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers (at OAK) - Both Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate can very much find their way into lineups for this week as WR3 or Flex options, as the Oakland Raiders have such a bad secondary that even Ryan Finley should be able to support an offense. The Bengals will likely lose this game (10.5-point underdogs), but that generally means more throwing, which benefits wide receivers more than quarterbacks, who risk interceptions. The Raiders are allowing the third-most passing yards per game and the highest touchdown percentage in the league, which bodes well for the duo of Boyd and Tate. Tate especially may be able to get back on track this week with a score.

Bad matchup: DeVante Parker (vs. BUF) - After holding Odell Beckham to an underwhelming performance (5 catches for 57 yards on 12 targets), Buffalo Bills top cornerback Tre'Davious White will spend much of the day following Parker, who is basically the last man standing at wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. White is being targeted just seven times per game this season, which is a solid number, but he is allowing just 6.2 yards per target in his coverage (13th-best among cornerbacks). White has also not allowed a single touchdown on the season, which is bad news for Parker, who has scored just four times on the season. Parker should find his way to the bench on most rosters unless bye weeks are hitting hard.

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 TE23 are separated by just over 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 Gerald Everett (27.06% of receiving yards are going to tight ends against the Chicago Bears), Kyle Rudolph (24.3% of targets are going to tight ends against the Denver Broncos), and T.J. Hockenson (26.40% of receiving yards and five touchdowns have gone to tight ends against the Dallas Cowboys). Otherwise, don't overthink it, as there are not enough reliable options at the position.