Join the Footballguys Daily Update
Start your morning with our roundup of the most important stories in football - with the fantasy insight you need to make league-winning decisions. Delivered straight to your inbox, 100% free.
The amount of information you need to sift through on a weekly basis to build some competitive lineups can seem overwhelming. You’re in the right place to get through all of that information in no time, and we have another item for you to add to your arsenal. Each week, we’ll break down the best and worst rushing and passing matchups for Sunday’s main slate of games.
This will allow you to quickly zero in on the top anchors for your lineups, and we’ll also point out which players you’ll want to avoid as you fill out the rest of your roster. There’s a ton of choices to examine on a weekly basis. The goal of this article is to help you narrow the field of targets down substantially.
Let’s get right to it, starting with the week’s top matchups.
Matchups to Exploit
Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense
A date with the San Francisco 49ers is an appealing prospect for opposing running backs, as the club has allowed some monstrous performances to the position this season. Back in Week 3, Todd Gurley gashed the 49ers for 149 total yards and three scores. Last week, Ezekiel Elliott fared even better, as he racked up 219 combined yards and three touchdowns. While the Philadelphia Eagles don’t have a back of that caliber at their disposal, signs point to a solid day for the running game. In addition to the matchup, the projected game script captures the imagination.
Current lines call the Eagles a 12.5-point favorite with a projected game total of 46 points. In short, the script calls for the Eagles to get up big and then pound the rock to drain the clock. One potential wrench comes in the form of injuries on the offensive line, but we’ll err to the side of an Eagles club that’s playing at a high level to be able to weather the storm. The other wrinkle to worry about is the workload split between LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood, but this looks like a game in which Blount should see plenty of opportunities.
Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense
Prior to dominating the San Francisco 49ers last week, the Dallas Cowboys had back-to-back weeks in which they seriously struggled to defend against the run. The game got out of hand in a hurry for the 49ers, or it very well could’ve been three in a row. We’ll put that performance aside and focus on the success that Todd Gurley and Aaron Jones found in successive weeks. The Washington Redskins could be in line to find similar success, as the offense has been clicking along quite well.
Chris Thompson has evolved into a solid receiving threat out of the backfield, and he’s no slouch on handoffs either. He’s turning into an intriguing salary saver option on a weekly basis for full-PPR sites, and you can even make a case for him on the others. We’re not as enthusiastic about the prospects of Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine, as the Cowboys did show some improvement last week with the return of Sean Lee. Thompson can make things happen in a number of different ways, so we’re not too worried about him being completely shut down. Keep him on the short list as you’re building out your lineups.
Carolina Panthers Passing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense
There hasn’t been a lot to write home about with the Carolina Panthers passing game, but the perfect elixir to cure those ills is on the docket in Week 8. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been quite fantasy friendly to opposing signal callers this season, as five of the six they have faced have been able to throw for 280 yards or more. Three of those quarterbacks were also able to toss multiple scores. Opposing wide receivers are thriving as well, but the Buccaneers have been relatively stingy to opposing tight ends in comparison.
While Cam Newton has struggled for the past two weeks, that came on the heels of two solid performances. He threw for 316 yards and three scores in Week 4 against the New England Patriots, and he followed that up by throwing for 355 yards and three scores against the Detroit Lions in Week 5. Add in the fact that he still brings rushing upside to the table, and Newton is in a good spot for a bounce back performance. For stacking purposes, Devin Funchess has the edge over Kelvin Benjamin in targets on a year-to-date basis, but the latter has produced more yardage. Red zone targets have been even, so we can lean towards salary on the respective sites as a tiebreaker.
Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense
The Indianapolis Colts have turned into one of those teams for which we automatically add their opposing signal caller of the week to the short list. Through seven games, six opposing quarterbacks have thrown for at least 290 yards, while three have thrown for multiple scores. We’re not talking about a murderer’s row of opponents either, as DeShone Kizer and Brian Hoyer are two of the names in the latter category. We would imagine that Andy Dalton and company are licking their chops, especially after a challenging Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s been a mixed bag for fantasy purposes for Dalton in 2017, as he’s offered up three solid performances and three poor ones. Signs point to him adding another entry to the positive side of the ledger, as current lines peg the Bengals as 10.5-point favorites with a projected game total of 42 points. While that’s not a huge total, Dalton should be able to do some damage before it’s time to call the dogs off. A.J. Green is an automatic add to the short list this week as well, and you can make a case for secondary targets such as Brandon LaFell and Tyler Kroft for GPP purposes.
Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense
After four tough losses to start the season, Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers have ripped off three straight wins. It’s going to be awfully tough to make it four in a row with a date against the New England Patriots on tap, but there’s plenty of value to glean for fantasy purposes either way. After being shredded by opposing quarterbacks for the first six games of the season, the Patriots finally put together a solid outing on that front and held Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7. While that makes us slightly hesitant that a turnaround may be in effect, we’ll hold off for another week.
Quite simply, the Falcons offense hasn’t been right this season, while Rivers and company are coming along nicely as the season moves along. The projected game flow sets up perfectly as well, as the Patriots are 7-point favorites with a projected total of 48.5 points. Rivers should be throwing a ton in a bid to play catch up, and we all know the damage he can do when he gets in a rhythm. Keenan Allen is the safest choice for stacking purposes, but home run threats Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams offer up GPP appeal. Hunter Henry is another option to consider, as Rivers looks his way in the red zone.
Matchups to Avoid
Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense
The Buffalo Bills have been stout against the run this season, and they’ll be facing off against an Oakland Raiders squad that has some question marks in the backfield. Marshawn Lynch is out for this one as he serves a one-game suspension, and that leaves backfield duties to be split amongst Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. While both players have shown some flashes, the fact that we don’t have pinpoint clarity on the distribution of touches makes this a less than appealing fantasy situation. The Bills have not allowed any big fantasy performances on the ground this season, and the Atlanta Falcons were the only team to find a decent amount of success thus far. We can look elsewhere for running back value in Week 8.
San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense
The San Franciso 49ers had a rough game against the Dallas Cowboys last week, and they’re staring at another one with a trip to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. This is a mismatch on paper anyway you slice it, and it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the 49ers are pounding the rock with any success. The Eagles have contained every opposing running back not named Kareem Hunt that they’ve faced in 2017, and we’re not optimistic that Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida will be the duo to break through. The Eagles are big favorites here, and that points to the 49ers playing catch-up. That’s not what we like to hear when considering running backs, so we have little trouble passing on the 49ers this week.
Chicago Bears Passing Offense at New Orleans Saints Passing Defense
The New Orleans Saints defense has been one of the pleasant surprises of 2017, and the days of plugging and playing opposing signal callers has become a thing of the past. The Saints have allowed a trio of big days to opposing quarterbacks, but they’ve also shut down the other three that they’ve faced. Two of the big outings came in the first two games of the season, while the third came in a wild Week 5 affair against the Detroit Lions in which the Saints were up big. There is nothing to suggest that Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears passing attack will become the fourth to pull the trick. Trubisky attempted a total of seven passes last week, and this modern day version of a three yards and a cloud of dust offense will not start clicking overnight.
Houston Texans Passing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense
We’ve all been waiting for the bubble to burst for Deshaun Watson, and this looks like a prime spot for that to happen. While the Houston Texans are coming in off of a bye, they couldn’t ask for a tougher trip to start the second half of the season. The Seattle Seahawks have shown some chinks in the armor here and there, but this remains one of the toughest places to play in the league. Add in the fact that the club’s passing defense remains stout - only five passing touchdowns allowed all year - and it shapes up to be a long day for the talented rookie signal caller and company. While the prospect of Watson heading to Seattle and delivering a lights-out performance makes for a fascinating storyline, it’s too risky of a narrative to chase for fantasy purposes.
Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense
Jacoby Brissett has done the best that he can in a nearly impossible spot. The Indianapolis Colts curiously waited until the eve of the season to come to terms with the fact that Andrew Luck simply wasn’t ready to go, and they were able to swing a deal with the New England Patriots to acquire Brissett’s services. It didn’t take him long to secure the starting gig, and he’s been holding down the fort ever since. Brissett has been serviceable but unspectacular, but that’s more of an indictment of the state of the Colts at the present time. He’s put together some nice days against the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, but he’s struggled against other opponents as the Colts have been outmatched. That looks to be the case again as they head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals, who have been pretty stingy against the pass in 2017. You can safely pass on Brissett and company this week.
Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime via email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.