Key #2: Match-ups and How to View Them

The 2nd of my 5 keys to winning your fantasy football league is limiting your expectations of match-ups.  Fantasy football is a direct correlation of who and which teams are successful in the NFL, but they do paint an accurate picture of tendencies pertaining to certain players and defenses.  And when someone thinks about the NFL, what do you think of first?  Parody.

Predicting NFL games on a week-to-week basis is hard enough as it is, let alone trying to project which players will have a better matchup in playoff weeks (weeks 14-17, typically) before the season starts.  I will tell you this if you have been using this strategy when drafting player: stop it.  The NFL, combined with its unpredictably of injuries and the parody, is impossible to foreshadow.  

Most people will not go that into depth about playoff match-ups so early in a season, but if you are one of those people, take this into account…

ESPN predicted the Texans, Falcons, Buccaneers, and Redskins to all have at least 9 wins this season.  None of those teams will come close, and they all have a shot at the #1 overall pick this upcoming draft.

Now, what I want to focus on is the week-to-week match-up decisions that I hope everyone takes into account to a certain extent when dealing with players.  Match-up are certainly important and every owner should check each week on who their players are playing for that week, but it’s important to not get get.  Let me tell you why…

A match-up should be taken lightly most of the time.  Do not bench a star player just because he is going up against a top 3 defense.  Also, don’t get too cute about starting a mediocre player who would usually ride your bench just because you love the matchup for that given week.  I don’t care how bad the Bills defense has been against the run, and yeah, Bobby Rainey DID bounce back after a couple poor performances the weeks before with a great game, but if you had Jamal Charles and Knowshon Moreno and decided to bench one of them for him, you are getting too risky.  Ultimately, you are starting the players that have been producing for you all season, assuming they are healthy.

Accumulating statistics for all of the players for each given week after considering their matchup then seeing how it played out would take too much time for a student trying to finish the semester strong, so I decided to just take a small sample of this given information from ESPN’s weekly projections for fantasy football players after considering their talent and their match-ups for that week.  I took the projected points leaders for the QB, RB, WR, and TE position for each week, and then took the difference for that players project and actual score for the week.  When considering a tie in projected statistics, I used every player that was projected for that total amount of points.  Here’s what I came up with…

Quarterbacks- Out of the 14 players, only 3 of them exceeded their projections, while 10 failed to reach their projected number.  1 met it perfectly.  On average, the top projected QB missed his projection by -4.14 points.

Running backs- Out of the 22 players, only 3 exceeded their projections, while 18 failed to reach their projections.  1 met perfectly.  On average, the top projected RB missed his projection by   -7 points.

Wide receivers- Out of the 23 players, 7 of them exceeded their projections, while 15 failed to meet their projected numbers.  1 met perfectly, and on average the top projected WR missed his projected numbers by -4.56.

Tight Ends-  Out of the 17 players, 7 players exceeded their projections, while 9 of them fell under their projections.  1 met perfectly, and the top TE only missed their projections on average of -2.09 points.

What these statistics show me is that predicting the production of players is extremely difficult, and counting players to be stars is never a good idea.  This information does not back up my analysis directly, but what it does tell me is that an owner is going to need almost every one of his players in the starting lineup to produce if he or she is going to feel confident about winning that week.  Even though all of these projections on average fall short of expectations, every position except running back is still relatively close to their projected outcomes.

So perhaps you take flyers on running backs but not any other positions.  Feel free.  But fantasy football is about consistent production from players on a weekly basis, and unless you are a magician, you cannot accurately predict how a NFL game will play out.  Getting cute and benching players that have been producing or have a history of producing should not be benched.

1.Take into account match-ups when you are looking for a tiebreaker between two players.

2. Don’t look ahead about upcoming match-ups.  And if you do, take it with a grain of salt.  Things can change drastically any given week in this league, so don’t get too far ahead of yourself.

Ryan Jackson

About Ryan Jackson

My name is Ryan Jackson and I love fantasy sports. I graduated from the University of Maine in 2014 with a degree in Journalism, and I am now a graduate student at Quinnipiac University working on a sports journalism degree.