One of the easiest ways you can win a matchup that you’re projected to lose is by using defensive trends to look into the favorability of matchups for guys on your team or on the waiver wire. Confidently benching a fringe starter before a dud week or starting someone who consistently rides your bench before their first blow-up game can be the difference between a win and loss for your team. Luckily, something like this isn’t total luck and I’m here today to identify some of these trends that can be used to trick your league mates into thinking you can see the future.
Chiefs Pass Defense
The Chiefs are one of the best teams in the league, however that shouldn’t scare you into benching your quarterbacks in matchups against them. In fact, the Chiefs have given up the most passing touchdowns, 6th most passing yards, and tied-least interceptions to opposing quarterbacks this season. Fantasy wise, three of the six quarterbacks the Chiefs have faced this year had their best scoring game vs. Kansas City, five of the six have hit the 22 point mark and the only not to have accomplished that was Matt Ryan who still had a decent game, turning in 200+ yards and 2 TDs. In addition to the Chiefs secondary underperforming so far this season, the fact that Kansas City’s offense seemingly scores for fun, only strengthens the appeal of opposing quarterbacks in fantasy. Teams will be having to play catch up, which means more volume and more points. The matchup against Chiefs presents a unique mixture of ceiling and floor, something you should take advantage of for the foreseeable future. Looking ahead, Jimmy Garoppolo, especially with the newly acquired Christian McCaffrey, should be a good streaming option next week. So should Trevor Lawrence in week 10 and you’re obviously starting Herbert in the following week.
Seahawks Run Defense
Geno Smith and the Seahawks have had an impressive start to the season, coming out of the first six weeks with a record of 3-3. Geno has played out of his skin and so has rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen. Despite this, one thing Seattle doesn’t do well is stop the run. Currently they have given up the single most rushing yards in the league, the tied-fifth highest YPC and the tied-third most rushing touchdowns. When looking at fantasy performances, four of the six starting running backs Seattle has faced have had their highest scoring game against them, five of the six have hit 100 scrimmage yards and they haven’t even had a particularly hard running back schedule, with Jamaal Williams, Jeff Wilson and Eno Benjamin being part of the six referenced above. Another reason the Seahawks have given up so many points to running backs is due to their offense performing better than expected, meaning they have been able to keep themselves in games, allowing opposing running backs to not get game-scripted out very often. Glancing into the future, you are obviously starting Ekeler, Fournette and Barkley in this matchup, but in the other weeks coming up, Darrell Henderson (assuming Akers is done with the Rams), Josh Jacobs and whoever is starting for the Cardinals should be great starts.
Bills Run Defense
We went over the Bills pass defense in the last installment of this series, and we’re back again for their run defense this week. The Bills are just a pretty good football team. This year, on the ground, they’ve allowed the second lowest YPC to running backs and the least amount of rushing yards by a 50+ margin. They have been a stifling unit and not one you want one of players in your starting lineup coming up against. Every single starting running back that has faced this formidable Buffalo defense this year has failed either to put up more than 40 yards on the ground or register more than 4 YPC. The fact that opposing offenses are almost forced into a pass-heavy game script doesn’t help either. The Bills have some tough RB matchups coming up, playing against Aaron Jones/AJ Dillon, Breece Hall, Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb and while I wouldn’t necessarily sit those last three guys, I would temper your expectations. With the right bench, Jones and Dillon can definitely be sat in a tough matchup against Buffalo as can Raheem Mostert and Rhamondre Stevenson down the line.