When it comes to making start/sit decisions in fantasy football, the advice is simple: Play the matchups, and you’ll win more often than you lose. Now that we’re in the thick of the bye weeks, knowing the matchups to avoid and exploit becomes even more important. Bellow you’ll find the key matchup stats to know from each of the 13 remaining games for Week 11 of the 2017 NFL season.
Keep going back to the well with Jordan Howard.
Okay, so last week didn’t work out so well, but there’s no reason to bench Howard in season-long leagues. The Bears continue to lean heavily on the run game to cover up rookie QB Mitch Trubisky. Better yet, this is a plus matchup for Howard. The Lions have allowed nine rushing scores to running backs this season with opposing backfields finding pay dirt in each of Detroit’s last four games.
Tough matchup for Leonard Fournette.
Believe it or not, the Browns have down a very good job against the run this season. Cleveland currently allows just 3.1 yards per carry to opposing running backs. That’s not a good thing for Fournette, and neither is has nagging ankle injury. Fournette has been limited in practice this week, so keep an eye on his status. If he manages to suit up, fantasy owners in season-long need to start him regardless of the matchup. But he should only be considered a GPP option in DFS this week.
Avoid Brett Hundley.
The young signal-caller has shown improvement since being thrown into the starting job following Aaron Rodgers’ injury, but this isn’t the week to stream Hundley. Baltimore has been extremely stingy on opposing quarterbacks with the second-fewest fantasy points per game allowed to the position.
Kenyan Drake offers sneaky upside.
The Dolphins plan to continue using a committee in their backfield, but Drake is clearly the better option for fantasy purposes. He’s ripped off long runs in each of his last two games – the latter going for a touchdown – and gets a very favorable matchup against the Bucs. Tampa Bay currently allows the fifth-most PPR points per game to opposing running backs. Drake isn’t the safest play on the board, but his upside warrants flex consideration in season-long and some exposure in GPPs.
Both quarterbacks come back to earth.
Jared Goff and Case Keenum were among the league’s best fantasy options last week, but don’t expect a repeat performance. Goff draws a rough matchup against a Vikings defense that hasn’t allowed more than one passing score since Week 3. Keenum’s matchup is arguably worse, as the Rams currently allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
The New Orleans duo is on fire and both players remain in the RB1 conversation this week. The Redskins aren’t a top matchup for running backs on the season, but Washington has allowed five rushing scores to running backs over the last five weeks with two backfields topping 100 rushing yards over that span.
The stars align for Alex Smith.
There’s an argument to be made for Alex Smith as the No. 1 fantasy quarterback this week. He gets an off-the-charts matchup against a Giants defense that has been leaking fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last two months. New York has surrendered two-or-more passing scores in five of their last six games and just allowed QB1 numbers to C.J. Beathard. All in on Smith this week.
Stream Blaine Gabbert?
Crazier plays could certainly be made this week. With Drew Stanton looking very iffy, Gabbert is the Cards’ likely starter. A former first-rounder, Gabbert has completed just 56 percent of his passes for an average of 6.0 yards per attempt during his pro career. Those numbers are rough, but Gabbert was actually pretty darn good in the preseason with 8.2 yards per attempt and a 61 percent completion rate. So there’s a chance he’s able to capitalize on a weak Texans secondary that currently surrenders the second-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
Don’t worry about Melvin Gordon.
Austin Ekeler’s two receiving scores last week have Gordon owners in a tizzy, but it’s wise to not read too much into one week of production. Gordon still had 21 touches last week, and remains the clear lead back. He’s an obvious start in season-long, but also deserves serious DFS consideration after what the Saints running backs were able to do to Buffalo last week.
Tough matchup for Joe Mixon.
Denver’s run defense has cooled off a little bit over the last two weeks, allowing four rushing scores to running backs, but that isn’t reason for optimism for Mixon. The Broncos are still holding opposing running backs to 3.5 yards per carry. That coupled with the Bengals inability to generate any space for their running backs along the offensive line bodes poorly for Mixon’s outlook. In season-long, owners will likely have to continue to rely on him as an RB2, but he’s only worth very minimal exposure in DFS.
While much of the attention has been on the New England pass game this week, don’t overlook their backfield. Oakland has done a poor job containing opposing backfields and currently allow the third-most PPR points per game to running backs. The Raiders have held running backs to just three rushing scores, but give up an average of 4.3 yards per carry. Oakland has also been susceptible to running backs in the pass game where they give up the second-most receiving yards per game to running backs.
Fade Alfred Morris.
With the Ezekiel Elliott suspension finally settled, Morris is locked in as the lead early-down back until Week 16. However, fantasy owners may want to look elsewhere this week. Morris gets a rough matchup against an Eagles defense that allows a league-low 2.8 yards per carry to opposing running backs.
Tevin Coleman is tricky.
No, I’m not quoting Run DMC. This is actually a tricky situation for fantasy purposes. It looks like Coleman will be in the feature role with Devonta Freeman in the concussion protocol for the second time this season. That means plenty of volume for Coleman. However, the matchup data isn’t in his favor. The Seahawks allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs with just an average of just 106 scrimmage yards surrendered to the position. At the same time, Seattle has yielded at least one rushing score to running backs in each of their last three games. While the matchup doesn’t check all of the boxes, Coleman is still a good bet to see enough volume to return borderline RB1 numbers.