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 wide receiver 1 matchups
Torrey Smith vs. Pittsburgh — The Steelers allowed 73.4 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers this season. The return of Troy Polamalu should help their defense, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith got in the end zone twice. He’s done that three times this season. The Steelers allowed 42.3 fantasy points per game to wide receivers in the last five weeks. That’s the second-highest toal in the NFL.
Antonio Brown vs. Baltimore — Brown doesn’t need a matchup to put up stellar numbers. He could have eone of those career-making games against a defense that allows No. 1 wideouts to gain 84.1 yards per game and has give up the 10th-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers in the last five weeks.
Worst wide receiver 1 matchups
T.Y. Hilton vs. Cincinnati — The Bengals rank first in DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers, allowing 63.7 yards per game. However, it’s worth noting Hilton had 7 catches for 104 yards against them in Week 7.
Mohamed Sanu vs. Indianapolis — The Colts rank 10th in DVOA and have given up just 59.4 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers. Sanu will likely get volume so he is startable. But there is a good chance his ceiling will be limited. The Colts have allowed 27.4 PPR fantasy points per game to wide receivers in the last five weeks, the third-lowest total in the NFL
NOTE: The Lions have a DVOA rank of two against WR1s, making Dez Bryant a potential name for the bust list. However the Lions have also given up the fifth-most PPR fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in the last five weeks and have allowed an average of 71.5 yards per game to them.