If you are a fantasy football fanatic, then you have most likely already started or will be starting your fantasy football playoffs very soon.
Though you should feel great about making it to the playoffs in your league, the ultimate goal should always be winning your league.
More likely than not, especially if you are in the playoffs, you have quite a few players that have had very good fantasy numbers this year. While that is always something to be proud of and happy about heading into the playoffs, there are quite a few NFL matchups in this upcoming week that will definitely have some fantasy owners stressing about whether or not they will receive the same productive numbers from players that they have the whole season.
Here are the top 10 fantasy matchups that should have playoff owners stressing as they head into the crucial portion of fantasy football.
If you have Ryan Mathews on your fantasy team, you have probably been jumping for joy as of late. He has compiled 943 yards on the ground while also accounting for four TDs. On the receiving side of the game, Matthews has also impressed with 45 receptions for 420 yards.
Though he has lost two fumbles this season, Mathews is quickly becoming one of the premier backs in the game and has had his most impressive games in the past three regular-season games for the Chargers. In each of those games he has rushed for over 110 yards and even dealt out a 137-yard performance against the Denver Broncos.
Yet, don't be so quick to be too high on Ryan Mathews this next week because he will face the tough test of the Baltimore Ravens who account for the second-best rushing defense in the league, only allowing 85.8 yards per game.
Expect the Ravens to key in on the running game against Mathews this next week and halt his upward progression as they will try to put the game in Philip Rivers' hands.
Mathews will be a great back eventually, but expect his numbers to take a hit against a stout Ravens defense.
Just as Ryan Mathews will have a lackluster performance against Baltimore, so will his quarterback Philip Rivers.
Though the Charges are not having the season they had hoped for, Rivers has still put up fairly good fantasy numbers. He has thrown for 3,745 yards and accounted for 17 touchdowns through the air. Rivers has played decently throughout the season but will face his toughest defensive test against the Ravens this next week.
Just like their run defense, the Ravens pass defense is equally impressive. They rank fifth in the league in passing defense and have only allowed an average of 192.3 yards per game through the air.
If you have Philip Rivers on your team, you should definitely be worried about the production that you may receive from your quarterback during a crucial period in fantasy football.
You had to know this slide was on its way.
The Ravens defense is the most intimidating defense in the NFL and has the potential to shut down just about any offensive weapon that lines up against them.
Any manager that has a player facing the Baltimore defense knows that they will probably have some of their production drop off and should be trying to find other offensive options.
On the flip side, if you do have the Ravens defense, you are probably quite the happy camper.
Marshawn Lynch, aka "Beast Mode," has had quite the resurgence in Seattle as of late. He has elevated his play back to the expected level of an NFL running back and is arguably the best back in the NFL right now.
In five of his last six games, Lynch has rushed for over 100 yards and the one time he did not, he performed admirably with an 88-yard game. A 135-yard performance against Dallas and 148-yard effort against Philadelphia made him an even greater fantasy threat.
Expect those numbers to dwindle in the coming weeks, however, as he faces his toughest test in the San Francisco 49ers defense after a stout matchup against the Chicago Bears as well.
While Chicago may give Lynch a run for his money (pun not intended), expect him to have a near 100-yard performance against the Bears.
The real question for Lynch will be whether or not he can continue this production against San Francisco after the Bears. The 49ers have one of the best defenses in the league that includes the top run defense in the NFL as well.
San Francisco is allowing only 70.5 yards per game on the ground, and fantasy owners will find themselves biting their nails as Lynch tries to power past an outstanding 49er defense.
Yes, the Vikings are having an awful year but that does not mean that every aspect of their team is bad. Along with Adrian Peterson, their defense has performed pretty good at times.
Don't expect this week to be one of those times, because in come Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
Brees and the Saints accumulate an average of 325.2 yards per game and are first in the NFL in this category. The Vikings pass defense, on the other hand, is ranked 26th in the league and allows an average of 248.8 yards per game through the air.
Things are not looking good for owners that rely on the Vikings defense as their primary defense for fantasy points, and expect them to struggle against the air attack of Drew Brees and the Saints.
Without a doubt, Cam Newton has been the most impressive rookie so far. He is one of the better fantasy quarterbacks this year and has done everything and then some for a Carolina Panthers team that needed a better quarterback presence.
Unfortunately for this rookie phenom, he will face the tough challenge of a very good Houston Texan defense. Critical for Newton's fantasy numbers dropping off this week is the fact that the Houston defense is great at both stopping the run and the pass, something Newton relies on heavily.
Houston ranks third against the pass and fourth against the run and will limit the production of Newton, thus causing added stress for fantasy owners heading into the playoffs.
Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, but the Jacksonville defense is surprisingly better than expected and should be able to limit the production of Ryan and his receivers this week.
Jacksonville ranks fourth against the pass, only allowing 190.8 yards per game through the air, and the Falcons will likely rely on their ground game this next week against the Jaguars.
While Ryan will have opportunities to dissect the Jacksonville defense, expect his numbers to be lower than his season average against a rather impressive Jaguar pass defense.
LeSean McCoy going against the stout New York Jets defense should have many fantasy owners worrying about the production they will receive out of this running back in the upcoming week.
Sure, McCoy provides the option for somewhat of a dual-threat presence out of the backfield in terms of both rushing and receiving, but expect the Jets to engineer a game plan towards halting McCoy's production.
The Jets are ranked 14th in the NFL against the run and sixth against the pass and will likely be able to affect McCoy's production in a way that it has not been tested so far this year. Whether the Eagles incorporate McCoy on the ground or through the air more against the Jets, New York can be assured to have a defensive strategy that is geared towards limiting how effective McCoy will be in this game.
Steve Smith has had somewhat of a return to glory year in 2011 and his production numbers are some of the best in his career. He is the primary receiver for Cam Newton and receives quite a lot of attention in the passing game week in and week out, resulting in very good fantasy numbers for the owners that have this talented receiver.
This week's test against the Houston Texans will definitely be straining on many fantasy owners as Smith and Newton go up against a very stout Texan defense. As mentioned previously, the Texans are ranked third against the pass and will definitely have a huge impact on Smith's numbers this week.
If he is not able to find a momentum with Newton early on in this game, expect Smith to have one of his worst performances of 2011 against the Texans and hurt the playoff dreams of many fantasy owners.
If you haven't heard, Maurice Jones-Drew is good, and he has been receiving a lot of attention from the Jaguar offense this year due to an unstable and young quarterback situation. This has resulted in a lot of carries which has led to quite a few yards and fantasy points for Jones-Drew this year.
He will face one of his toughest challenges, however, in an Atlanta Falcons defense that ranks fifth against the run, only allowing 95.2 yards per game on the ground.
Expect Atlanta's defensive strategy to be engineered towards stopping Jones-Drew and loading the line, forcing Jacksonville to rely on their passing game.
While Jones-Drew will receive the same amount of carries against Atlanta, expect his numbers to be affected negatively by the rush-stopping defense of the Falcons.