Playing matchups in fantasy football is perhaps the most important week-to-week strategical move that an owner can make. While wisely using waiver claims, making trades and other personnel decisions can be key, there’s no better way to guarantee a win than to identify and exploit the best matchups.
Let’s take a look at the five main fantasy football positions and pick out a player that we believe will have the most impressive stat line when Week 11 is all said and done.
QB: Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders (vs. New Orleans Saints)
While the Raiders are absolutely atrocious in 2012, their signal-caller has been racking up points and helping his fantasy owners win.
Because NOLA has such a prolific offense (behind the arm of Drew Brees), we fully expect Oakland to fall in a large hole and be forced to rely on the passing game to dig itself out.
Palmer should put up big numbers worthy of a No. 1 fantasy QB in the process.
RB: Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (vs. Buffalo Bills)
Bush had just four carries for 21 yards and a single reception for eight yards in Week 10 versus the Tennessee Titans. He coughed up his second fumble in three weeks, and coach Joe Philbin saw enough to bench the former USC superstar.
Now, Bush is primed for redemption against an AFC East foe that he simply dominates. In Week 15 of the 2011 season, Bush went off for a career-high 203 yards and a TD on 25 carries—in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Expect similarly high stats when the ‘Phins travel to Buffalo for Thursday Night Football.
WR: Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Because the Buccaneers rushing defense is so stout, teams are forced to air it out against their leaky secondary. While this strategy didn’t earn Carolina a victory in Week 1, Smith did haul in seven catches for 106 yards.
Cam Newton and the Panthers offense is once again going to have to rely on the vertical-passing game if they want a chance to pull off the upset here. Expect Smith to improve upon his pitiful, one-catch performance versus Denver last week.
TE: Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers (vs. Denver Broncos)
With the Denver defense giving up over 12 points per game to TEs—in a standard Yahoo! format—it would be imprudent not to play Gates in this contest.
The Bolts offense may be sputtering, and Gates is showing signs of decline at age 32, but he still has a big game in him every now and then—especially against AFC West opponents.
In fact, last time Gates met up with the Broncos, he recorded six catches (on nine targets) for 81 yards and two touchdowns. It was his best performance of the season, and he’ll be looking to repeat that on Sunday.
DEF: Atlanta Falcons (vs. Arizona Cardinals)
The pitiful Cardinals offensive line is a major reason why the team is giving up a ton of sacks and fantasy points (via turnovers and low scores) to opposing defenses.
Because Atlanta is an elite NFL team coming off a disappointing first loss of the season, we expect a complete thrashing in the Georgia Dome in Week 11.
We almost feel bad for John Skelton, as there is a great chance that he takes an absolute battering this Sunday as the ATL defense scores sky-high points for fantasy owners.