Best and worst matchups at each position for NFL Week 18

Making tough lineup decisions, week over week, can be the most challenging part of the fantasy football process. When you’re torn between two similar players, and simply don’t know which to start, start the player with the superior matchup.

Ah, but exactly how does one determine the best (and worst) weekly matchups?

The “Matchups Map” each week provides a schedule-independent method to evaluate positional matchups, ranking all 32 opposing defenses in order of most to least favorable for opposing players at all four skill positions (quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end). Instead of relying upon seasonal totals, in this space we calibrate points-allowed data to show how each defense fared relative to the difficulty of the schedule that it has faced. This provides a fairer approach to judging the quality of individual matchups.

“Adj. FPA,” or adjusted fantasy points allowed, reflects how far above or below players’ weekly PPR fantasy point averages that defense held opponents at that position. A positive number means that the matchup is favorable; a negative number means it is unfavorable. Additionally, remember that teams often use multiple running backs and wide receivers in a game, and these plus/minus averages cover all of a team’s personnel at that position.

All data is from the past five weeks’ NFL action.

Finally, a caveat: Matchups are only one ingredient in my rankings formula. Not every favorable matchup should be exploited, nor unfavorable matchup avoided. If you want my — and the ESPN fantasy staff’s — most complete source for whom to start and sit each week, consult our weekly rankings.

Quarterbacks

Matchup highlight

Jarrett Stidham, Raiders (against Chiefs)

Despite it being a fantasy championship week, Week 18 isn’t an outrageous time to consider streaming options at quarterback. Injuries have depleted the position, two playoff-bound teams are locked into their specific seeding (Buccaneers, Giants), another two have only minimal-benefit seeding gains to make.

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