In my first post for Fake Teams, I’m going to dive into some of my favorite match ups from the week ahead, utilizing my own set of statistical metrics I’ve developed over the last few years to help you make the best decisions for your fantasy team and win your match ups. I will reference each of my metrics throughout the piece, so as a ready reckoner, here are what the referenced metrics are for and links to how they are derived:
RODS – Team efficiency rankings for offense, defense, special teams and each team overall.
ROPE – Quarterback efficiency rankings.
ROPED – Pass defense efficiency rankings
RORO – Rushing offenses efficiency rankings
RORD – Rushing defense efficiency rankings
Below are the season to date RODS rankings that i’m using as the base point for my match up analysis:
Onto the week 8 match ups and though they may not be all the sexiest ones out there, here are my favorites and the fantasy implications:
Minnesota Vikings (5-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-7) - Playing in London
I have the ‘pleasure’ of being attendance at this game and having already witnessed three blow outs in the last five weeks in London, I’m not anticipating a closely contested game. This game pits the Vikings who are my 4th ranked team against the Browns, who despite their abysmal 0-7 record, are somehow my 27th ranked team.
In terms of offense and defensive match ups for the Browns, DeShone Kizer (32nd of 32 quarterbacks per my ROPE Index) has somehow retained the starting job and faces into the 2nd ranked pass defense over the last 4 weeks. If that wasn’t scary enough, the Vikings are just as strong against the run and rank third overall in 2017, compared to the Browns’ 18th ranked rushing attack. The Browns’ offense goes into the game severely weakened after losing starting left tackle Joe Thomas to a season ending triceps injury. This could get ugly.
For the Vikings offense (ranked 10th) they are up against the Browns’ 22nd ranked defense, even though they just held the Titans to just 12 points last week with no touchdowns. The Vikings look to welcome back number one receiver Stefon Diggs, who was a full participant in practice on Thursday and this where they could make their hay. Case Keenum is my 11th rated quarterback through seven weeks, and is up against the 27th ranked Browns pass defense who are missing their top pass rusher Myles Garrett (concussion protocol). The run defense for the Browns has been strong and they currently tie the Vikings for the 3rd best run defense in the league, though the Vikings are no slouches on the ground, boasting the 8th ranked rushing attack, even without star rookie Dalvin Cook.
Must Starts: If he’s good to go, Stefon Diggs. Also Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, Jerick McKinnon, Vikings D/ST.
Solid Options: Case Keenum, Latavius Murray
Deeper Leagues: Laquon Treadwell
Must Starts: Err, none spring to mind
Solid Options: Duke Johnson (as a receiver)
Deeper Leagues: Isaiah Crowell, David Ndjoku
Avoid: DeShone Kizer (at all costs)
Carolina Panthers (4-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
This matchup interests me as we’ve hardly seen the best from either of these teams so far this year. These teams need to get healthy quickly as the Saints are starting to roll and another setback could see them struggling in the division.
The key matchup in this game is the Bucs’ 6th rated offense against the Panthers’ 3rd rated defense. The Panthers are on course to welcome back Luke Kuechly who has practiced full for two straight day as he looks to clear the concussion protocol. Jameis Winston is having a solid season (my 7th ranked quarterback) and is up against a Panthers pass defense ranked 22nd and is coming off the back of his highest ROPE rating of 2017 against the Bills so could be poised for another strong outing. Winston may be forced to take on a heavy workload as the Bucs’ rushing offense has struggled so far this year, ranking 26th and are facing the Panthers’ 5th rated rush defense.
The Panthers offense has misfired for most of this season with Cam Newton ranking 21st in the quarterback standings, despite leading the league in ROPE rating in both weeks 4 and 5. Newton could get healthy against the Bucs’ 30th rated pass defense that has the league’s worst adjusted sack rate (3.1%). Their run game has stuttered to 20th in the league, with the Buccaneers run defense ranking 13th.
Must Starts: Cam Newton (too much upside in the matchup), Kelvin Benjamin, Christian McCaffrey
Solid Options: Devin Funchess
Deeper Leagues: Jonathan Stewart, Panthers D/ST
Must Starts: Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Cameron Brate
Solid Options: Doug Martin, DeSean Jackson
Deeper Leagues: O.J. Howard, Adam Humphries
Avoid: Buccs D/ST
Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) @ New England Patriots (5-2)
Another interesting matchup where the Chargers, currently below .500, could easily be 5-2 and leading the AFC and the Patriots, with their poor defense could easily have a losing record. Given the road travel for the Chargers, I don’t envisage an upset in the cards but that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant fantasy points up for grabs.
The Chargers’ offense has the chance that every team has had rolling into Foxborough this year: put up yards and points on the (by my standards and everybody else’s) worst ranked defense in the NFL. The Patriots have allowed at least 340 yards and 2 touchdowns to every team at home this year and the Chargers are averaging more touchdowns (2.7 vs 2.3) and total points (21.7 vs 18) on the road than they are at home. Philip Rivers (my 14th ranked QB) is facing the 31st ranked pass defense. I don’t really know what to expect from a Chargers rushing attack ranked 27th in the league, but up against the 28th ranked rush defense, Melvin Gordon is poised to recover from a tough week 7 matchup and post solid numbers both running and catching the ball.
The Patriots offense continues to be potent and could put up some more top fantasy numbers in week 8. Tom Brady is my second ranked quarterback and continues to defy father time as he leads the league in passing yards (2208, the only passer above 2000 for the season) and faces a league average pass defense in the Chargers. Essentially, if the Patriots line can keep Brady clean enough from the pass rushes menaces, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, Brady could have a field day. On the ground, the Patriots run game is improving and they rank 11th in rushing offense, up against the second worst rush defenses in the league. Dion Lewis has posted solid fantasy numbers over the last 4 weeks (avg 8.5pts, standard scoring) and looks to be the number one back at the moment.
Must Starts: Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon
Solid Options: Hunter Henry
Deeper Leagues: Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams
Must Starts: Tom Brady (duh), Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Dion Lewis
Solid Options: Danny Amendola, James White, Mike Gillislee
Deeper Leagues: —
Avoid: Patriots D/ST (run away and hide in a safe place)