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Week 15 fantasy football matchups for NFL 2021 season

EDITOR'S NOTE: Following the publication of this article, the NFL announced that Saturday's Raiders-Browns game had been postponed to Monday, while Sunday's Washington-Eagles and Seahawks-Rams games now are scheduled for Tuesday.

This is not hyperbole, but this might be the hardest week of fantasy football ever. Forget the matchups, forget the tough lineup decisions, it's tough just fielding a healthy lineup that can actually compete. A record number of players have landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, which means you will have to constantly check your lineup and should do your best to have a contingency plan in place. And no sleeping in on Sunday morning and missing lineup lock -- you need to make sure your lineup is good Sunday right before kickoff. I mean this is the fantasy playoffs, like you could sleep in anyway! But, hopefully this article, paired with the Week 15 rankings, can help you set a winning lineup this week.

Best QB matchups

Jalen Hurts at Football Team: The Washington Football Team has played better as of late, but on the season they still allow the most fantasy PPG to QBs at 21.41 per game. They give up an average of 270 passing yards per game and 2.1 passing touchdowns per game -- the latter the most in the NFL. Hurts has been a bit up and down as of late -- but he still has one of the best shots of topping 20 fantasy points each week because what he can give you with his legs. Hurts is a QB1 in this matchup if he suits up, but he his status is in doubt and he has been splitting reps with Gardner Minshew this week. If Minshew starts, he becomes a deeper streaming option for those teams in need of a QB play. Those in two QB formats should add him just in case. 

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Falcons: The Falcons have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to QBs (20.55) and are one of three teams to allow an average of multiple passing TDs per week. That bodes well for Jimmy G, who has thrown multiple passing TDs in five of his past six games. He doesn't bring the highest ceiling, but he brings a safe floor and is in a great matchup. If you are in need of a streaming QB and miss out on the three names listed below, Jimmy G is the man for you!

Other favorable QB matchups: Kirk Cousins at Bears, Justin Fields vs. Vikings, Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jets.

Best RB matchups

Myles Gaskin vs. Jets: Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Phillip Lindsay all tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and left this backfield completely up in the air. But Gaskin and Ahmed have been clear to play against the Jets, meaning you should be starting Gaskin. The Jets give up 35.06 fantasy PPG to RBs, including 180 yards per game and a league-high 23 touchdowns to the position. Gaskin should definitely be started in this great matchup.

Darrell Henderson/Sony Michel vs. Seahawks: The Seahawks have struggled against the run all season long. They currently give up an average of 30.25 fantasy PPG, which includes 168 yards per game. They particularly struggle against RBs in the passing game giving up a league-high 7.5 catches and 69.5 receiving yards per game to the position. The Rams backfield is up in the air as Henderson is on the COVID-19 list, but Michel has done a good job in his absence. If Henderson plays, I think there will be a split with Henderson being the preferred option as he likely gets more targets -- but both would be more RB2 or flex options. If Henderson sits, you start Michel.

Other favorable RB matchups: Nick Chubb vs. Raiders, James Conner at Lions, James Robinson vs. Texans.

Best WR matchups

Darnell Mooney vs. Vikings: With Allen Robinson now on the COVID-19 list, Mooney should be back to seeing big volume for the Bears. That volume could lead to a big day against the Vikings who give up 43.15 fantasy PPG to receivers, which includes 196 yards per game and 16 touchdowns to the position. Mooney is a top-30 option this week, who can be trusted in this matchup. Just monitor his availability, and with this game being on Monday night, it would be smart to stash say a Jakeem Grant just in case anything happens (we already have a Bears receiver on the COVID list).

Diontae Johnson/Chase Claypool vs. Titans: The Titans have struggled against receivers all season long. Currently, they are giving up 42.71 fantasy PPG, while allowing an average of 198 yards per game and 16 total touchdowns. Johnson is a must-start option as he is basically a lock for both double-digit targets and fantasy points every week with an even higher ceiling. Claypool brings a lot of upside but not the safest floor. It also doesn't help that Claypool was celebrating as the game clock wound down for the Steelers last week. He is a volatile WR3 or flex option. Ray-Ray McCloud is a deeper option here.

Other favorable WR matchups: DeVonta Smith vs. Football Team, CeeDee Lamb/Amari Cooper/Michael Gallup at Giants, Deebo Samuel/Brandon Aiyuk vs. Falcons.

Best TE matchups

Ricky Seals-Jones at Eagles: The Eagles are the best possible matchups for tight ends. They have allowed the most fantasy PPG (18.72), catches (6.8) and yards (67.2) per game and the most touchdowns (11) to the position this season. RSJ did split snaps with Jonathan Bates, but he led with four targets last week and has been the top pass-catching tight end option for Washington. That makes him a strong streaming option due to the matchup alone.

David Njoku vs. Raiders: Njoku is looking like the lead Browns tight end, on an offense that is missing a bunch of key regulars, both the QBs and pass catchers. We could see a lot of short safe throws to the big tight end, plus he is a good athlete, who is dangerous after the catch. Volume is what we care about, especially in this matchup as the Raiders have allowed 16.79 fantasy PPG to tight ends, the second-most in the NFL. Njoku is a streaming option for those in need of a tight end this week.

Other favorable TE matchups: Hunter Henry at Colts, Marcedes Lewis/Josiah Deguara at Ravens, Juwan Johnson at Buccaneers.

Toughest QB Matchups

Carson Wentz vs. Patriots: The Patriots have been a tough matchup for QBs all season long. They have allowed the fewest fantasy PPG to QBs all year giving up just 11.30 fantasy PPG. They have not allowed a top-15 fantasy QB in seven straight games. There are a lot of good streaming QB options this week, meaning you should get away from Wentz in this tough matchup.

Cam Newton at Bills: The Bills have allowed just 11.31 fantasy PPG to QBs this season, the second-fewest in the NFL. Plus, the Panthers have been operating a strange QB committee that hasn't benefited anyone in Carolina. Plus, they was to establish the run. What does all of this mean? Get away from Cam and your Panthers this week.

Other tough QB matchups: Jared Goff vs. Cardinals, Joe Burrow at Broncos, Josh Allen vs. Panthers.

Toughest RB matchups

Leonard Fournette/Ronald Jones vs Saints: New Orleans has been tough against the run all season allowing just 68.2 rushing yards per game, the third-fewest in the NFL. They also allow the fewest fantasy PPG to backs at just 18.41 per game. Look, Fournette has been so effective that you still start him even in this tough matchup. But he has missed some practice and looks questionable heading into this week. If he sits, Jones might seem like a strong pivot, but he would purely be a flex option in this tough matchup.

Najee Harris vs. Titans: The Titans have been good against the run giving up just 19.3 fantasy PPG to running backs this season. However, Harris is not your average running back. He basically never leaves the field and is a safe bet to get a ton of volume each week. Harris is a must-start back each week so continue to start him despite the matchup.

Other tough RB matchups: Devin Singletary vs. Panthers, Saquon Barkley vs. Cowboys, Damien Harris/Rhamondre Stevenson/Brandon Bolden at Colts.

Toughest WR matchups

D.J. Moore/Robby Anderson at Bills: The Bills have been very tough against receivers all season long. Currently they have allowed 26.12 fantasy PPG to receivers, by far the fewest in the NFL this season. They have allowed just 122 yards per game and five touchdowns all year to the position, all of which is the least allowed in the league. Moore is a volume dependent WR, who does not bring a very high ceiling in this offense. Plus, with Carolina wanting to run more and using multiple QBs, just avoid this situation. Anderson is coming off a good game, but I would not trust him in the fantasy playoffs.

Michael Pittman vs. Patriots: The Patriots always try to take away a team's best weapon, but they likely will not be able to stop the beast that is Jonathan Taylor. That means they could game plan Pittman out. The Pats have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy PPG to receivers (28.89) this year. Pittman is the WR36 since Week 10 averaging just over 10 fantasy PPG and does not have a TD in that span. The Patriots also have not allowed a top-25 WR in the past five games. Get away from Pittman if possible this week.

Other tough WR matchups: Washington WRs vs PHI, Stefon Diggs/Cole Beasley/Gabriel Davis vs. Panthers, Browns WRs vs. Raiders.

Toughest TE matchups

Jack Doyle/Mo Alie-Cox vs. Patriots: The Patriots have been very tough against tight ends this season giving up a league-low 7.85 fantasy PPG to the position. That includes just giving up an average of 28 yards per game to the position. The Colts tight ends have been tough to trust this season and in the toughest matchup for the position they should be avoided.

Kyle Pitts at 49ers: Pitts has been a disappointment considering the huge expectations we all had for him this season. Is that on Pitts or is that more our fault? Either way, Pitts has been especially struggling as of late. From Week 8, he is averaging just 7.56 fantasy PPG with only two games over 10 and his high in that stretch is just 11. He does not have a safe floor and has shown little upside as of late as he continues to struggle to find the end zone. This week he faces the Niners, who allow the third-fewest fantasy PPG to tight ends this season, which includes just 31 yards per game and four touchdowns all year to the position. Pitts is someone who you might have to start, but there are streaming options (listed above in favorable matchups) that I would take a shot on over him this week.

Other tough matchups: C.J. Uzomah at Broncos, Pat Freiermuth vs. Titans, Tyler Conklin at Bears.

Notable Receivers with the Best WR/CB Matchups (per PFF):

  1. Davante Adams
  2. Justin Jefferson
  3. Cooper Kupp
  4. Tyreek Hill
  5. Adam Thielen (if he plays)
  6. Stefon Diggs
  7. Tee Higgins
  8. A.J. Green
  9. K.J. Osborn
  10. Julio Jones
  11. Chris Godwin
  12. DeVante Parker
  13. Marvin Jones Jr.
  14. Laquon Treadwell
  15. Courtland Sutton
  16. Tyler Boyd
  17. Hunter Renfrow
  18. Darnell Mooney
  19. Russell Gage
  20. Amari Cooper

Notable Receivers with the Toughest WR/CB Matchup (per PFF)

  1. Zach Pascal
  2. Ray-Ray McLoud
  3. Tre'Quan Smith
  4. Laviska Shenault Jr.
  5. Darius Slayton
  6. Jerry Jeudy
  7. Robby Anderson
  8. Van Jefferson
  9. Amon-Ra St. Brown
  10. Michael Pittman Jr.
  11. Josh Reynolds
  12. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
  13. Gabriel Davis
  14. Brandin Cooks
  15. Rondale Moore
  16. Sterling Shepard
  17. T.Y. Hilton
  18. Jakobi Meyers
  19. Chase Claypool
  20. Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Make sure to follow Michael F. Florio on Twitter and Instagram.

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