Best / Worst RB & WR Matchups for Week 1

Week 1 is impending and we have a breakdown of some of the best and worst matchups at the skill positions, leveraging our Player Matchup dashboards to provide you with data-driven insights to attack player prop markets or make the right decisions for your fantasy football lineups.

RZ Target & Receptions data from Player Matchup Dashboard

Anytime TD Targets:

  • Austin Ekeler: Ekeler finished 2nd in the league in rushing TD’s in 2022 with 13 and added another 5 through the air. He also finished 3rd in the league in red zone receptions per game 11th in RZ targets, facing a Miami defense that ranked 23rd in the league in RZ TD %. He caught 8 balls on 8 targets for 59 yards and ran for a TD against Miami in 2022.
  • Keenan Allen: Allen missed time early in 2022, but when he was on the field, he ranked 6th in RZ receptions per game and 7th in RZ targets. He caught 12 balls on 14 targets for 92 yards against Miami in 2022, and this secondary is beat up already heading into Week 1.
  • Justin Jefferson: Jefferson performs regardless of the defense that’s on the field. He finished 3rd in the league in RZ targets in 2022 and 7th in RZ receptions. TB’s defense ranked 26th in the league in RZ TD %, while the Vikings ranked 3rd in RZ trips per game. Jefferson should have several opportunities to hit paydirt on Sunday.

Top RB Matchups:

  • Derrick Henry: The Saints ranked 24th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game in 2022, allowing opponents to pick up an average of 130+ yards per game on the ground. Eight opponents rushed for over 140 yards and three cleared the 200+ mark. Henry returns as the lead back in Tennessee’s run-first offense off a season in which he finished with 1,538 yards, good for 2nd in the NFL behind only Josh Jacobs.
  • Khalil Herbert / Justin Fields: Fields ran 6 times for 71 yards and 1 TD in December against once he let his legs loose in 2H of the season. Green Bay ranked 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game in 2022. Herbert averaged 5.7 YPC last season, good for 2nd in the NFL.
  • JK Dobbins: Dobbins has struggled to stay healthy over the past few seasons, but was activated from the PUP list a month ago and has been practicing since. Baltimore sounds like they’ll be looking to pass the ball more in 2023, but if they take a significant lead against Houston as a 10-point favorite, Dobbins will be in-place to take advantage of Houston’s 32nd ranked rushing defense from 2022 that allowed opponents to run for over 171 yards per game on average.

Worst RB Matchups:

  • Josh Jacobs: Jacobs won the rushing title in 2022 but will face a Denver defensive front that ranked 10th in the league in yards allowed per game in 2022. That said, Jacobs had success against Denver in 2022 – he rushed for 144 yards and 2 TD’s on 28 carries in Week 4, and followed with a 109-yard performance on 22 carries in Week 11 against Denver.
  • Dameon Pierce: Pierce will open the season against a Baltimore defense that ranked 3rd in rushing yards allowed per game and YPC and 2nd in explosive rushes of 10+ yards. If Baltimore jumps out to an early lead in this one, it doesn’t seem likely that the Houston RB will be getting a ton of touches playing catch-up on the road in Baltimore.
  • Christian McCaffrey: The 49ers place a significant emphasis on the run game in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme, but they’ll be facing a Pittsburgh defense that ranked 9th in rushing YPG allowed and 8th in both YPC and explosive rushing plays in 2022. Against top 10 rushing defenses in 2022 with the 49ers, McCaffrey averaged just 50 rushing YPG.
  • Breece Hall / Dalvin Cook: Buffalo finished 2022 ranked 5th in rushing YPG allowed and 10th in YPC. The Jets did rush for 174 yards on the ground against Buffalo in Week 9 of 2022, but that was with Zach Wilson at QB. If Buffalo’s defense remains stout against the run in Week 1 and Hall and Cook are platooning in the backfield, there’s no reason to expect huge days from either of these backs.
WR Player Matchup Dashboard – Receiving Yards and Corresponding Wk 1 Opponent Ranking

Top WR Matchups:

  • Keenan Allen: Allen is slated to play the X position in Kellen Moore’s offense and will be facing a banged up Miami secondary that’s missing Jalen Ramsey and Nik Needham and is going to be relying on Eli Apple in the slot. Even despite the Chargers’ tendency to check the ball down in 2022, they finished the year ranked 4th in passing YPG and 3rd in explosive pass plays (10+ yards). Allen has battled injuries the last few seasons, but if he’s healthy in Week 1, he should be in line for a big day against the Dolphins.
  • Terry McLaurin: The Cardinals are a complete mess on either side of the ball heading into 2023, off a season in which they ranked 25th in passing yards allowed per game and 29th in explosive passing plays allowed. Terry McLaurin has been a stud in his tenure with the Commanders despite the revolving door of quarterbacks – he is in-line for a big day against a suspect secondary with Sam Howell under center.
  • Chris Olave / Michael Thomas: Olave had a solid rookie season in 2022 with a new QB in Derek Carr under center in Week 1 and an excellent matchup against a Titans’ secondary that ranked 32nd in passing YPG allowed and 30th in explosive passing plays allowed. Thomas has been plagued by injuries and disputes with the team over the last few seasons, but both are going to benefit from Carr’s insertion into the offense. Both players should be in line for big days against a secondary that allowed 290+ passing yards per game in 2022.
  • AJ Brown / Devonta Smith: The Eagles ranked 8th in the league in passes of 10+ yards in 2022, largely due to the presence of AJ Brown and Devonta Smith. AJ Brown ranked 5th in the league in both receptions of 10+ yards and 20+ yards in 2022, while Devonta Smith ranked 10th and 11th in the same category. New England ranked 25th in passes of 20+ yards allowed, and now enters the 2023 season without Devon McCourty (retirement) and Jack Jones, their 3rd corner who will be out on Sunday. Belichick likes to make opponents play left-handed, and that gameplan will likely involve taking the run game away and making Jalen Hurts beat the Patriots with his arm. New England plays a lot of man coverage, so expect Hurts to give his top wideouts opportunities to make plays.

Worst WR Matchup:

  • Stefon Diggs: The Bills open on the road at Metlife against the 2nd ranked passing defense that allowed just 207 yards per game in 2022. Stefon Diggs caught only 3 balls for 37 yards in his last matchup against the Jets. Allen was constantly under pressure against the Jets in both matchups and turned in two of his four worst performances by passing yards against NYJ last season. Diggs and Allen should have a strong connection in 2023, but it may be difficult to establish on MNF.

Browse through our suite of Game and Player Matchup Analysis dashboards to get an edge ahead of Week 1 and all season long!