Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn't be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you've got the right guys in -- and the wrong guys out.
It's too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don't know. This should lead to better decisions being made.
We'll go through every game and highlight the players who aren't obvious starts and sits (because you don't need to be told to start Christian McCaffrey). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.
It's also important to have a keen eye for matchups dictated by the remaining schedule. I am now updating my projected Strength of Schedule rankings broken down by position available on SportsLine. My objective is to break down how the schedule affects every Fantasy relevant player for the upcoming four weeks, the playoff stretch and the entire season. You'll also be able to find my key takeaways on which players you should buy low, sell high and more trade advice.
Editor's note: We've included the Black Friday game from our early-week look at tough lineup decisions, plus new content for all the Sunday and Monday games.
To me, pivoting to Tim Boyle isn't just an admission that the Jets made a mistake with Zach Wilson -- it's a white flag on the season. Boyle has thrown 120 passes over five seasons, completing 61% of them for 5.1 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. Worst of all he's 0-3 as a starter. The only good thing about Boyle is that he threw to Amon-Ra St. Brown in those three starts and connected for good games (over 20 PPR points) in two of them. Maybe that's hope for Garrett Wilson, but I'm skeptical against this defense. They've been bringing good pressure lately and have the secondary to lock in on Wilson -- something they may be focused on after letting up numbers to Davante Adams last week. Maybe the Jets defense does its part to keep things relatively close, but they were on the field a lot against Buffalo and ultimately let up 32 points. It wouldn't be surprising if the Dolphins also took a little while to get rolling, but roll nonetheless.
- STARTS: Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, Breece Hall, Tua Tagovailoa, Jaylen Waddle (low-end WR2), Dolphins DST
- SITS: Garrett Wilson (flex), Jets DST, Tim Boyle
- SLEEPERS: Tyler Conklin
Bank on the Steelers getting aggressive against Jake Browning to try and force some mistakes. While Browning does seem to have some mobility to keep plays alive with his legs, his lack of pass velocity and arm strength greatly challenges the Bengals' ability to do anything more than 15 yards downfield. The Steelers offense has their own changes to navigate -- play caller Matt Canada is out and a brain trust involving QB coach Mike Sullivan and RB coach Eddie Faulkner will take over. There's hope it brings stability to what was supposed to be a solid passing game, but I might expect Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren to remain the focal point of the offense. That goes double for this week -- the Bengals are giving up 4.6 yards per carry and at least one rushing touchdown to a RB in all but three of their 10 games.
- STARTS: Joe Mixon, Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Warren (flex in non-PPR), Steelers DST
- SITS: Najee Harris (low-end non-PPR flex), Diontae Johnson (low-end PPR flex), George Pickens, Tyler Boyd, both QBs, both TEs
- SLEEPERS: Bengals DST
Will Levis. Josh Dobbs. Kyler Murray. Atlanta's defense has helped make quarterbacks look really good this year. If the trend keeps up then the Saints can win with either Jameis Winston or Derek Carr under center. Carr has actually thrown downfield more than his fair share but he ranks in the bottom 10 among qualified passers in TD rate (3%) and yards per attempt (6.7). Winston is far more volatile, but the matchup helps him. With Ridder under center, the Falcons average 27.6 pass attempts per game, a number even lower than the 49ers' league-low 27.8 attempts per game. Even though the Falcons will take on the Saints without cornerback Marshon Lattimore, it would make sense for the Falcons to try and control the clock with their run game and keep pressure off of Ridder.
- STARTS: Alvin Kamara, Bijan Robinson, Chris Olave, Taysom Hill (low-end TE1 in PPR)
- SITS: Drake London (low-end PPR flex), Jonnu Smith, Kyle Pitts, Tyler Allgeier, Desmond Ridder, both DSTs
- SLEEPERS: Rashid Shaheed, Jameis Winston (if he starts)
Jacksonville had success last week because Trevor Lawrence had time to throw (and he still made some plays when he was pressured) and the Titans didn't press Calvin Ridley very often. Houston plays a lot of zone, doesn't press receivers very often and are much more selective with the blitz against good passers (they blitzed Trevor Lawrence less than 20% of his drop backs in Week 3). Defensively, the Jaguars gave up a deep touchdown on a trick play and a short-yardage score to a defensive tackle, both when they were up by 27 points. Expect them to stick with their zone coverage tendency in a matchup with a step-up in offensive talent. Then again, that plan didn't work much in their Week 3 matchup as Stroud had a huge game, as did Tank Dell.
- STARTS: C.J. Stroud, Trevor Lawrence, Tank Dell, Travis Etienne, Devin Singletary, Nico Collins, Christian Kirk, Dalton Schultz, Calvin Ridley (flex), Evan Engram (PPR)
- SITS: Both DSTs
- SLEEPERS: Zay Jones, Robert Woods
Since Grover Stewart was suspended, the Colts have ranked poorly in all the fancy run defense data metrics like defensive rush EPA, defensive rush success rate and opponents' third-down rush conversion rate (that one's at 75%). They'll now move forward without linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who wasn't as dominant as he once was but still was a prominent part of their run defense. The Buccaneers have rarely been efficient on the ground but Rachaad White's been given enough work -- at least 15 touches in five straight -- to pull through for another huge game. If he winds up doing a lot and the Buccaneers don't play at a quick pace, Baker Mayfield may not have to throw much more than 30 times, which in turn would minimize his effectiveness. A tricky matchup doesn't help -- Indy's seen 33 pass attempts per game since the Stewart suspension but has allowed just three passing touchdowns over four games against mediocre passing offenses.
- STARTS: Rachaad White, Jonathan Taylor, Mike Evans, Michael Pittman
- SITS: Gardner Minshew, Baker Mayfield, Chris Godwin, Josh Downs, Cade Otton, both DSTs
Tommy DeVito deserves credit for some of the big-time throws he made last week while playing behind a terrible offensive line. He's improving, but even the Patriots and their undermanned pass rush is a step up in competition from the Commanders unit. If Bill Belichick gets beat by DeVito then maybe it is time for him to retire. Expect both defenses to bring heavy blitzing to psych out both quarterbacks. Also expect a slow-paced, run-focused effort from both squads, which means a low-scoring game.
- STARTS: Saquon Barkley, Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots DST
- SITS: Hunter Henry, Wan'Dale Robinson, all QBs
- SLEEPERS: Demario Douglas (PPR flex), Giants DST
Tennessee desperately needs a matchup where they can get their run game going again. This should be it. Carolina's offense can't get going and its defense has been bullied for over 15 PPR points by nine different RBs over 10 games this season. Henry's been taken out of the Titans' plans because they've fallen behind, but that shouldn't happen here.
- STARTS: Derrick Henry, Adam Thielen
- SITS: DeAndre Hopkins (PPR flex), Will Levis, Bryce Young, both DSTs
The Rams barely blitzed in Week 6 against the Cardinals and it worked like a charm, still getting plenty of pressure (47.8% rate) on then-QB Joshua Dobbs. They might find themselves blitzing a little bit more since Murray has struggled with pass rush pressure so far this year (41.2% completion rate, 6.1 yards per attempt). L.A. has allowed just three quarterbacks to get more than 19 Fantasy points this year, and obviously, they have experience defending Murray, so they won't view his mobility as a surprise. Paired with the return of Kyren Williams and what may wind up being a big dose of the run (especially if Cooper Kupp is out), the Rams might win with slow pace and good defense.
- STARTS: Puka Nacua, Kyren Williams, Trey McBride, Marquise Brown (flex), James Conner (non-PPR)
- SITS: Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, both DSTs
Personnel changes have been at the heart of Denver's defense turning things around, but the one area they still struggle with is run defense. Even if we count just the games after their Week 3 debacle against the Dolphins, the Broncos are still giving up 5.7 yards per carry. With minimal fear of getting beat deep by Dorian Thompson-Robinson (who only attempted four throws of 10-plus Air Yards last week), we could see the Broncos drop the safety in the first half in an effort to slow down the Browns run game. On the other side of the ball, I am especially curious to see how Russell Wilson makes plays against this talented and aggressive defense. No one should expect a lot of points.
- STARTS: Courtland Sutton, Jerome Ford, Javonte Williams, David Njoku, Browns DST, Broncos DST
- SITS: Amari Cooper, Jerry Jeudy, both QBs
- SLEEPERS: Kareem Hunt
Honestly, the Chiefs offense was fine last week -- it was little mistakes (and big mistakes in the case of Marquez Valdes-Scantling's late-game drop) that cost them a shot at winning. Las Vegas' defense did just enough to keep the Dolphins in check last week and will be motivated to slow down Mahomes this week. I'd expect some fresh wrinkles in the Chiefs offense, including more runs given the matchup, to help them escape Vegas with a win. It helps that Kansas City's defense has been playing unbelievably well and should keep the Raiders' scores to a minimum.
- STARTS: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, Isiah Pacheco, Chiefs DST
- SITS: Jakobi Meyers, Aidan O'Connell, Raiders DST
- SLEEPERS: Rashee Rice, Kadarius Toney
This is a massive let-down spot for the Eagles -- they just beat the Chiefs in Kansas City and after Thanksgiving, they have back-to-back showdowns with the 49ers and the Cowboys. Can we say Philly's pass defense played great when Chiefs players fumbled once and dropped four passes against them last week including a game-winner? Maybe not. Can we say the Bills had a great passing game against the Jets last week even though their top receivers barely did anything? Maybe not. But I suspect the Bills will sink their hopes into Josh Allen as usual, and I don't mind his chances even though he's on the road and against Philly's tough pass rush.
- STARTS: Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, DeVonta Smith, D'Andre Swift, Dalton Kincaid, James Cook
- SITS: Gabe Davis, Khalil Shakir, both DSTs
The knee-jerk reaction is to assume Isaiah Likely takes Mark Andrews' target share moving forward, but this could be the time when the Ravens try to give more opportunities to Odell Beckham and Zay Flowers because they're more explosive. Beckham has flashed multiple times over the past three weeks and may be close to his 2021 form. The Ravens will still embrace their run game -- no team can slow it down -- but with Lamar Jackson likely having a little more time to throw against the Chargers with Joey Bosa out, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Beckham and Flowers lead the Ravens in receiving.
- STARTS: Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Zay Flowers, Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Ravens DST
- SITS: Quentin Johnston, Chargers DST
- SLEEPERS: Odell Beckham (PPR flex), Donald Parham, Keaton Mitchell
After a review of the game, Justin Fields was pretty dang good last week. He didn't hit every one of his deep throws but managed to have good accuracy on passes of 10-plus Air Yards and was on the money on his touchdown throw to D.J. Moore. More importantly, both he and the Bears seemed to be much more open to his rushing -- of his 18 runs, just four were scrambles off-schedule. That means it was part of the game plan for his first game back. It kept the Bears in the game, so I'd be surprised if the offense called fewer runs for him against a Vikings defense that's let up a near-league average 4.1 yards per tote to QBs this season. It's Fields who should keep this game close.