Every week this article will look at the best and toughest matchups for each position in fantasy football. It also will give you five players whose fantasy value is on the rise.
Best QB Matchups
Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Seahawks: At this point, it looks like you can stream whichever QB is facing the Seahawks. On the year, they have given up 26.42 fantasy PPG to the position, the most in the NFL. But it isn't like a couple big games inflate that number. They have given up at least 21 fantasy points to every QB they faced, not named Kirk Cousins. Jimmy G is also coming off his two highest passing yard totals of the season, going for 268 and 277 in his last two starts. Jimmy G is a strong streaming option that you can grab off the waiver wire to replace Kyler Murray or Deshaun Watson. I'd also play him over Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford.
Baker Mayfield vs. Raiders: Mayfield is coming off the best game of his career, where he threw five touchdowns and scored just under 30 fantasy points. He has a nice matchup to try and build off of that going up against the Raiders, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to QBs (22.97). But the Raiders secondary started the year off strong, but in recent weeks have given up a ton of fantasy points to QBs. Vegas has allowed 25 or more fantasy points to a QB in three straight games, with Tom Brady putting up 36.86 against them last week. Will Mayfield score that much? No, but he has shown to have a reliable floor scoring over 15 fantasy points in three of the last four and comes with more upside than normal this week. If you miss out on Jimmy G, he is the next streaming QB and I would use him over the same options listed for Garoppolo.
Other favorable QB Matchups: Drew Lock vs. LAC, Nick Foles vs. NO, Aaron Rodgers vs. MIN
Best RB Matchups
Dalvin Cook vs. Packers: Cook is expected to play this week, but that still must be monitored. If he sits, it will be Alexander Mattison who gets the great matchup against Green Bay. On the season, the Packers have allowed 33.47 fantasy PPG to RBs, the most in the NFL. That includes 158 yards per game and a league-high 10 touchdowns. This matchup literally could not be better and whoever starts for the Vikings is an RB1 this week. If it's Cook, he is the RB1 (top-ranked RB).
Kareem Hunt vs. Raiders: The Raiders are a strong matchup for QBs, but an even better one for running backs. On the season, they have allowed the second most fantasy points to the position at 32.4 per game. That includes seven catches per game, so expect more pass game usage for Hunt. He has a safe floor every week, but this is an opportunity for him to showcase his ceiling.
Other Favorable RB Matchups: Jonathan Taylor vs. DET, Clyde Edwards-Helaire/Le'Veon Bell vs. NYJ, Darrell Henderson vs. MIA
Best WR Matchups
Brandon Aiyuk vs. Seahawks: The Seahawks are the top matchup for QBs, so it should be no surprise they are a strong matchup for receivers, as well. On the season, Seattle is allowing 60.15 fantasy PPG and 280 receiving yards per game to WRs, by far the most in the NFL. They've allowed a WR to top 20 fantasy points 10 times already in just six games. With Deebo Samuel injured, it could lead to more work for Aiyuk, who is coming off a game with six catches for 115 yards. He is a WR2 with a lot of upside for me in this matchup.
Nelson Agholor/Henry Ruggs III vs. Browns: The Browns have allowed 48.71 fantasy PPG to WRs this season, the second-most in the NFL. But the matchup is not the only reason to get excited. Derek Carr has been passing well this season, throwing for over 260 yards and multiple passing TDs in five straight games. Both Agholor and Ruggs are great field stretchers, so they both come with high upside in this matchup. Agholor is a WR3 (more on why you should be excited about him below) and Ruggs is a boom-or-bust flex option.
Other Favorable WR Matchups: Packers WRs vs. MIN, Bengals WRs vs. TEN, Eagles WRs vs. DAL
Best TE Matchups
Jimmy Graham vs. Saints: Graham doesn't come with the highest of ceilings, but he has scored over eight fantasy points in three straight games. That is not much, but given the state of tight ends, it could be worse. He also has 10 red zone targets this season, including at least one in three straight games. He could find paydirt this week against the Saints who have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends this season. They've also given up 18.97 fantasy PPG to the position, the most in the NFL. Graham is a low-end TE1 this week.
Jonnu Smith vs. Bengals: One bad game and people are worried about Smith. Do not forget that Ryan Tannehill still attempts 10.2 passes per game to tight ends, the third-most in the NFL. That opportunity could lead to plenty of fantasy production as the Bengals have given up 18.59 fantasy PPG to TEs this season, the third-most in the NFL. Start Jonnu.
Other Favorable TE Matchups: Dalton Schultz vs. PHI, Richard Rodgers vs. DAL
Fastest Rising Players:
- Antonio Brown: It was a little over a week ago I had the thought "so, Antonio Brown is like done, done?" and now he is the top rising player in fantasy football. Brown will be out there for the Bucs as soon as Week 9. He will join a group with Chris Godwin, Mike Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski, so he will have to earn his work. Do not expect the Brown of old, but if he is any where close that is a player that will be fantasy relevant. Don't forget he had a six year stretch where he was good for over 100 catches, 1,200 yards and eight or more touchdowns.
- Diontae Johnson: Johnson returned in Week 7 and saw a team-high 15 targets. Johnson has battled injuries all year, but in the three games he finished, he saw double-digit targets in each. He is clearly looking like the top pass catching option for the Steelers. His health will need to be monitored weekly, as he is now dealing with a toe injury, but from now on if he is active, he should be started.
- Brandon Aiyuk: Aiyuk is coming off one of his best games in the NFL where he caught six balls for 115 yards en route to scoring 17.5 fantasy points. His teammate, Deebo Samuel, left with a hamstring injury and has already been ruled out for Week 8, with his Week 9 also being in question. His absence should lead to more targets for Aiyuk and it could not come at a better time for the rookie, as he faces the Seahawks this week who have allowed the most fantasy points and yards to wideouts this season.
- Leonard Fournette: Fournette was back in Week 7 and was the more productive of the Bucs backs. He finished with nearly 16 fantasy points to Ronald Jones' 11. Jones had two more carries, 13 to 11, but Fournette was the pass-catching specialist for the Bucs, racking up six catches on seven targets. He will continue to man this role, replacing LeSean McCoy moving forward. That role is extremely valuable playing with Brady. Remember all the dump offs to James White in New England? Well, Brady brought that tendency with him to Tampa Bay, averaging 9.1 passes per game to RBs, the second-most in the NFL.
- Rashard Higgins: Odell Beckham suffered a torn ACL last week and is done for the season. In his absence, Higgins stepped up, leading the Browns with six catches for 110 yards. Higgins hasn't been shy, telling reporters this week that he will be in the starting lineup opposite of Jarvis Landry moving forward. The Browns are still a run-first team, so do not expect Odell type production, but Higgins should be added if he hasn't been already. He has the opportunity to be a weekly WR3 or flex option from here on out.
Toughest QB Matchups
Matthew Stafford vs. Colts: Stafford goes up against the Colts this week who have allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to QBs this season at just 11.7 per game. And this is a week after Stafford failed to have a big day against the Falcons, who were routinely giving up over 20 fantasy points to QBs heading into that game. I am avoiding him this week.
Drew Brees vs. Bears: Home and road splits can be overblown, but they are stark with Brees. He has averaged just 15 fantasy points on the road compared to just under 21 fantasy PPG at home. This is also his first outdoor game of the season. On top of all that, the Bears are issuing just 12.43 fantasy PPG to QBs this season, the second-fewest in the NFL.
Other Tough QB Matchups: Daniel Jones vs. TB, Josh Allen vs. NE, Lamar Jackson vs. PIT
Toughest RB Matchups
J.K. Dobbins/Gus Edwards vs. Steelers: This backfield would get a boost if Mark Ingram officially sits, as it's been a three-headed mess all year for fantasy. But it couldn't come in a worse matchup as the Steelers give up the fewest fantasy PPG to RBs (16.35). Given that we don't know how the work will be distributed and the tough matchup, these two are just upside flex plays.
Chris Carson/Carlos Hyde/Travis Homer/DeeJay Dallas vs. 49ers: The fact that I had to list four different backs shows you the state of this backfield. They are all banged up besides Dallas, so you will have to monitor who is active and starting this week. It's also a tough matchup against a Niners team that is giving up 16.74 fantasy PPG to RBs, the second-fewest in the NFL. Given the state of RBs, you may have to start someone here, but you certainly don't have to like it.
Other Tough RB Matchups: Justin Jackson/Joshua Kelley vs. DEN, D'Andre Swift vs. IND (still start him), James Conner vs. BAL
Toughest WR Matchups
DeVante Parker/Preston Williams vs. Rams: This is such a tough spot for the Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa will be making his first NFL start and he gets the gift of going up against Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and this dangerous Rams defense. Additionally, with it being his first start, we do not know who his preferred receiver will be or really any of his passing tendencies. Add in that the Rams give up the second-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs this season (28.09) and it makes this a tough week to trust Parker. Williams can just be benched.
Tre'Quan Smith/Marquez Callaway/Deonte Harris vs. Bears: The Bears have been a tough defense all around, but especially against the pass. This season they have given up the fourth fewest fantasy PPG to receivers at 29.63 per game. With Michael Thomas set to miss a sixth consecutive game, it's best to stay away from these receivers.
Other Tough WR Matchups: Jets WRs vs. KC, Seahawks WRs vs. SF (start them), Patriots WRs vs. BUF
Toughest TE Matchups
T.J. Hockenson vs. Colts: Something's gotta give in this matchup. The Colts have not allowed a touchdown to a tight end all season, but Hockenson has scored in three straight games. The Colts have also allowed just 5.07 fantasy PPG to tight ends, the fewest in the NFL. With TE being a tough streaming position, I would still start Hockenson, but do not be surprised if you do not get his typical production. Go in another direction in DFS.
Trey Burton vs. Lions: The second tight end from this game! The Lions have allowed the second-fewest fantasy PPG to TEs at 7.4 per game. Burton is coming off his best game of the season where he scored two touchdowns, but he was held in single digits in his previous two games. Burton is more of a boom-or-bust TE2 in this matchup.
Other Tough TE Matchups: Gerald Everett/Tyler Higbee (questionable) vs. MIA, George Kittle vs. SEA (start him always), Greg Olsen vs. SF
More Matchup Stats to Know:
BAL: Allowed 3 rec TD to WRs this season (T-2nd fewest in NFL)
CIN: Allowed 8 pass TD in last 2 games
CIN: Allowed Top-7 fantasy QB in 2 straight games
CIN: Allowed Top-20 fantasy WR in 5 of last 6 games
CLE: Allowing 2nd-most fantasy PPG to WRs this season (48.71)
CLE: Allowing 3rd-most rec YPG to WRs this season (210.3)
CHI: Allowed 2 rec TD to WRs this season (fewest in NFL)
DAL: Allowing 9.14 fantasy PPG to D/STs this season (5th-most in NFL)
DAL: Allowed Top-5 fantasy D/ST in 3 straight games
DAL: Allowed 10th-most fantasy PPG to QB this season (20.71)
DEN: Allowed Top-12 fantasy QB in 3 of last 4 games
DET allowing 4th-most rush YPG to RBs this season (114.2)
GB: Allowing 1.7 total TD/gm to RB this season (most in NFL)
GB: Allowing most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (33.47)
GB: Allowed Top-12 fantasy RB in 5 of 6 games this season
IND: Allowed Top-15 fantasy RB in 2 straight games
LAR: Allowing 2nd-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs this season (28.09)
LAR: Allowed 1 Top-25 fantasy WR in last 5 games combined
LAR: Allowed 2 Top-12 fantasy QBs in 7 games this season (Josh Allen, Jimmy Garoppolo)
LV: Allowed Top-2 fantasy TE in 2 straight games
MIN: Allowing 7th-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (21.86)
MIN: Allowing most rec TD/gm to WR this season (2.0)
NYG: Allowed 8th-most pass YPG this season (269.9)
NYG: Allowed Top-10 fantasy TE in 2 straight games
NYG: Allowed Top-25 fantasy WR in 4 of last 5 games
NE: Allowed Top-20 fantasy WR in 4 of last 5 games
NE: Allowing 14.25 fantasy PPG this season (4th-fewest in NFL)
NE: Have held 3 of 6 QBs faced out of Top 20
PHI: Allowed 7th-fewest fantasy PPG to RBs this season (20.44)
PHI: Allowed 0 rush TD to RBs in 4 of last 5 games
PHI: Allowed Top-12 fantasy QB in 5 of last 6 games
SEA: Allowing 2nd-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (26.42)
SEA: Allowing most passing YPG to QBs this season (373.8)
SEA: Allowed Top-12 fantasy QB in 5 of 6 games this season
SEA: Allowing 4th-fewest fantasy PPG to TEs this season (7.85)
SEA: Have not allowed Top-10 fantasy TE this season
SEA: Allowing most fantasy PPG to WRs in NFL history (60.15)
SEA: Allowed Top-15 fantasy WR in every game this season
SF: Allowing 8th-fewest fantasy PPG to QBs this season (16.13)
SF: Allowed 1 Top-10 fantasy QB in last 6 games combined
SF: Allowed fewer than 15 fantasy pts to QBs in 2 straight games
SF: Allowing 6th-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs this season (31.03)
SF: Allowed 1 Top-20 fantasy WR in last 5 games
TB: Allowing fewest rush YPG to RBs this season (48.7)
TB: Have not allowed 60 rush yds to any RB this season
TEN: Allowing 7th-most pass YPG to QBs this season (282.3)
TEN allowing 4th-most fantasy PPG to WR this season (46.0)
TEN allowing 5th-most rec YPG to WR this season (194.8)