When you’re doing your first pass-through, looking at the options available to you that week, there is only so much on the page in front of you. You got a players name, his opponent, his price, and his opponent’s rank against that position… color coded. Green means go, red means stop. Gray-like off-white-ish means make up your own mind.
But of course, that’s always what you have to be doing. Any daily fantasy strategy you read will tell you that limiting the player pool you’re choosing from is never a good thing. You would think that limiting the player pool to only those players with “good matchups” might be an exception to that rule, but, well, it isn’t.
Of course, certain defenses are good enough that they will reduce the likelihood of a good game, but they still happen. You may very well decide that some of those players with “red” matchups aren’t worth the money that week, but not even considering the possibility is a mistake.
We’ve talked before about how even an entire NFL season can be a short sample size. A defense could go a whole year without facing the very best passing offenses, or rushing offenses. A defense could be so bad at stopping the pass that their run defense looks good (think Jets, or Ravens) or so bad at stopping the run their passing D looks better than it is (think Chiefs).
As you might say, so what? It is what it is. Maybe the only reason no one runs on the Ravens is that they’re too busy throwing touchdown passes, but the fact remains, no one bothers running on them. But then the face Houston, and Case Keenum, and Arian Foster ($8,600), and all of a sudden that #1 ranking against fantasy running backs doesn’t mean exactly what it has all season. Maybe the Texans don’t care that the weakness of the Ravens is in the secondary, and they decide to concentrate instead on their own strengths, which maybe don’t involve Mr. Keenum.
Antonio Brown ($8,800) is facing the Chiefs, who are middle of the road against fantasy WRs and have been getting gashed on the ground recently. Le’Veon Bell game, right? (Whoa, whoa, whoa you say. Bell’s matchup is red! Before Oakland last week, the Chiefs had given up a 100 yard rusher in five straight, including Kerwynn Williams. You’ve got to be able to see this far).
But looking even a little further, yes, you could save $1,100 and still start Jordy Nelson, and his matchup is green! No-brainer, right? Until you realize that Big Ben is still going to attempt some passes, and the effectiveness of the Chiefs passing D has improved with almost a direct correlation with the crumbling of their run stopping ability. In other words, there is still no one in that secondary who can cover Brown, who has earned with price tag to the tune of 32 more targets than Nelson so far on the year.
The same can be true when considering defenses, in both directions – dramatically so. Are the Bears still the 22nd worst matchup for a defense now that they’ve replaced their quarterback (and quit on their coach?)? Are the Cardinals still the 6th worst matchup for an opposing D after, well, after everything? The answer to these questions is a resounding “no,” for the record. And if you know that, and you wouldn’t let that red number next to them on your list discourage you when choosing your defense, why let it elsewhere?