There’s a short slate this week, so these matchups will be brief. I’m going to highlight two plus matchups and two minus matchups per position.
I have high confidence in these matchups and look at statistical data for the season, the last five weeks, the last three weeks and adjusted data, like Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which attempts to eliminate schedule bias and give us a true picture of how good or bad a defense is.
That said you can study every statistic on the planet and fail to predict that Ben Roethlisberger is going to throw back-to-back 6-TD games. Or predict a massive game from Isaiah Crowell in the opening round of the fantasy playoffs only to see him get 17 yards on 7 carries against the worst-rated run defense in the NFL.
Those are the breaks. All we can do is give ourselves the best chance to make the right call and matchup data is one of the tools that can help.
Top running back matchups
Dan Herron/Trent Richardson vs. Cincinnati — While the Bengals have been stingy against passing attacks, they’ve allowed backs to run free this season. They rank 28th in DVOA against the position and gave up the sixth-most PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the last five weeks, 27.2 points. Herron is a great value in DFS.
Joique Bell/Reggie Bush vs. Dallas — Bell is among the favorites across the industry this week for good reason. His season averages are good and Dallas’ defensive averages are not. The Cowboys rank 23rd in DVOA. They gave up 26.1 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in the last five weeks, the eighth-highest total in the NFL. Bush is an option too because if the game turns into a shootout or if the Lions are trailing by a lot Bush will have opportunities to catch passes out of the backfield.
Worst running back matchups
DeMarco Murray vs. Detroit — The Lions are the No. 1 team against running backs according to DVOA and over the last five weeks they allow the fifth-least average PPR points to running backs (16.9).
Josh Harris/Dri Archer vs. Baltimore — Le’Veon Bell probably would have been able to put up some respectable numbers this week, but Harris and Archer should really only be considered if you’re looking for lightning in a very cheap bottle at your favorite DFS site. The Ravens rank fifth in DVOA and have given up the fourth least PPR fantasy points (16.4 average) to running backs in the last five weeks. And they get Haloti Ngata back.