Through 12 weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool has solidified as a pretty good guide to help you find good matchups. It didn’t account for the Chargers lighting up the Chiefs for 41 points at Arrowhead, but what do you want – everything?
As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson, because you should always start Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson. Yes, you should still start Peyton Manning.
Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below is from FOXSports.com standard leagues, and always refer to the position being discussed.
Thursday games: Packers at Lions, Raiders at Cowboys, Steelers at Ravens
Stay away: Andrew Luck, Colts (vs. Titans)
The Titans don’t give up much to opposing quarterbacks, ranking fourth in fantasy defense (14.2 FPPG) and eighth in real-life defense (217.2 passing yards per game). The losses of Reggie Wayne, Ahmad Bradshaw and Dwayne Allen seem to have taken their toll on the Colts’ offense, with Luck mainly posting big numbers only when his team trails by a lot. Avoid him this week if you can.
Philip Rivers has probably made me look dumber than any other player here this season, but I still don’t like his matchup with the Bengals’ seventh-ranked fantasy defense (16.7 FPPG to opposing QBs), even if it’s been depleted by injuries.
Play, play, play: Josh McCown, Bears (at Vikings)
The Vikings rank 31st in fantasy defense (25.3 FPPG to opposing QBs), and have allowed more touchdowns through the air (24) than any team in the league. McCown might be handing his job back to Jay Cutler after this game, but it projects to be a friendly sendoff. Also, if he has a REALLY big game, it’ll give us the added bonus of seeing a media-fueled quarterback controversy in the Windy City.
– The inconsistent Andy Dalton has a matchup with the subpar Chargers’ 29th-ranked fantasy defense (23.3 FPPG to opposing QBs) this week. He’s QB7 on my board. A.J. Green might get 900 receiving yards in this game.
– Carson Palmer has thrown for 1,146 yards and eight touchdowns in his last four games, and Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said earlier this week that his players were making strides in picking up the offense. Against the 23rd-ranked Eagles’ fantasy defense (22 FPPG to opposing QBs), Palmer can be a solid spot starter if you need one. Not as good as Dalton or McCown, though.
Stay away: Lamar Miller, Dolphins (at Jets)
With Daniel Thomas out for at least a few weeks due to an ankle injury, Miller has the Dolphins’ backfield workload all to himself. His reward? A date with the snarling, nasty Jets’ defense, which ranks third against opposing fantasy backs (12.3 FPPG) and first by a wide margin in rushing yards per game (72.6) and yards per carry (2.9) allowed. Rex Ryan’s charges have given up more than 90 yards rushing ONCE all season, and you don’t want any part of Miller against them.
– Bobby Rainey had a nice first game as the Bucs’ lead back, and a pretty bad second game. This week’s matchup with the Panthers’ fifth-ranked fantasy defense (13.8 FPPG to opposing RBs) suggests another rough outing.
Play, play, play: Steven Jackson, Falcons (at Bills)
Jackson has been a fantasy disappointment this season, but he’s been OK over the last two weeks, carrying 27 times for 104 yards and a TD, and adding five receptions for 40 yards. This week, SJ39 and the Falcons visit Buffalo for a date with a Bills’ defense that ranks seventh against opposing fantasy running backs (15 FPPG) but tied for 23rd in rushing yards allowed (118.8). The Bills’ fantasy success has been touchdown-related – they’ve allowed just four TDs on the ground – and Jackson should rack up some yards against them.
– On the flip side of the Falcons-Bills game, the Falcons rank 24th with 20 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller project as low-end RB2s.
Stay away: Marques Colston, Saints (at Seahawks)
The Seahawks might be down two cornerbacks due to marijuana suspensions, but they still have Richard Sherman, and their defense ranks fourth with 16.7 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts. I’d try to avoid Colston in this matchup.
– Riley Cooper has had an excellent last half-dozen games (23 receptions, 499 yards, six TDs), but with an average of only six targets per game, his production figures to slow down. Cooper faces the Cardinals’ sixth-ranked fantasy defense (17.7 FPPG to opposing WRs) on Sunday, when he’ll be only a borderline start.
Play, play, play: Michael Floyd, Cardinals (at Eagles)
Don’t look now, kids, but Floyd is turning into a pretty darned good receiver. After exploding over his past two games, he’s up to 49 catches and 761 yards on the season. If you’re not convinced yet about Floyd, his matchup with the Eagles’ league-worst fantasy defense (31 FPPG to opposing WRs) should get your attention.
– Jarrett Boykin developed some nice chemistry with Scott Tolzien, but his rapport with Matt Flynn is less certain. However, against the Lions’ 31st-ranked fantasy defense (30.5 FPPG to opposing WRs), he’s worth a low-end WR2 ranking. Boykin has caught 19 passes for 263 yards over his last three games.
– Lots of Bills and Falcons here today, huh? Roddy White’s return hasn’t really affected Harry Douglas, who has 22 receptions for 262 yards and a touchdown in three games since White came back from his hamstring injury. The Bills rank 30th in fantasy defense (28.6 FPPG allowed to opposing WRs), so you’ll want to roll with Douglas if you own him.
Stay away: Jimmy Graham, Saints (at Seahawks)
Yes, I’m kidding. Just wanted to make sure you’re paying attention.
Stay away: Tony Gonzalez, Falcons (at Bills)
Gonzalez has caught just 14 passes for 135 yards over his last three games, and has a date with a Bills’ defense that ranks ninth with just 6.4 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. Gonzalez is a high-volume, low-upside tight end at this point, and this is a situation where you can consider streaming someone in his place.
– Arizona’s Rob Housler has been pretty good lately, but if the Eagles’ defense does anything well for fantasy purposes, it’s holding tight ends to a league-low 4.8 FPPG. Keep Housler on the bench for this one.
Play, play, play: Jordan Cameron, Browns (vs. Jaguars)
Been frustrated with Cameron lately? Join the club. After an explosive start to the season, Cameron has caught just 10 passes over his last three games. However, the Browns will have Brandon Weeden back under center this week, and Cameron has caught 26 passes for 312 yards and two scores in Weeden’s four starts. Against the Jaguars’ 31st-ranked fantasy defense (11 FPPG to opposing TEs), Cameron is a solid start.
– As noted earlier, the Vikings have trouble stopping … well, anyone. They rank 28th against opposing fantasy tight ends, allowing 10.2 FPPG. If you own Martellus Bennett, think about starting him against the Vikes.