Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn't be determined by the order you picked your players in. You need to check who your players play and make sure you've got the right guys in -- and the wrong guys out.
It's too early to be absolutely sure on which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough, but we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don't know. This should lead to better decisions being made.
We'll go through every game and highlight the players who aren't obvious starts and sits (because you don't need to be told to start Justin Jefferson). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook.
NE New England • #7
Age: 26 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Smith-Schuster's playing time dipped from the 80% range in Weeks 14 through 16 to 65% in Week 17. He's also started to see slot work on close to half of his snaps, including 56% of his snaps on third downs last week. And of his 24 receptions in his past four games, only three have gone for 14-plus yards -- and 12 have gone for 7 or fewer yards. Tack on the ultra-low target volume over his past two games and he's become extremely difficult to trust.
Playoff scenario: Chiefs clinch a top-two seed with a win.
Start: Patrick Mahomes, Jerick McKinnon, Travis Kelce, Chiefs DST; Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, Darren Waller
Flex: Isiah Pacheco, Kadarius Toney; Jarrett Stidham is a streamer
Sit: Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman if he plays; Hunter Renfrow, Mack Hollins, Raiders DST
JAC Jacksonville • #13
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Kirk remains the primary slot receiver for the Jaguars, but his workload has lightened considerably. In his past four games he's seen seven-plus targets twice, caught five-plus passes twice, gone over 50 yards once and scored zero touchdowns. His target share has dipped to 20% or worse and his ADOT has shriveled to under 6.0 yards in three of those last four. What's changed? Jacksonville got a big game out of Travis Etienne last week, Evan Engram two weeks ago and Engram and Zay Jones three weeks ago. So even though the Titans gave up an 82.6% catch rate and 11.2 yards per grab to slot receivers in Weeks 14 through 16 (throw out Week 17 given their absences), Kirk's role isn't a lock. He's OK as a flex but the hunch is that Engram and Jones have a better chance to outperform Kirk, which was the case against the Titans in Week 14.
Playoff scenarios: Titans clinch the No. 4 seed with a win. Jaguars clinch the No. 4 seed with a win or a tie. Jaguars can also lose and still clinch a playoff spot if the Dolphins, Patriots and Steelers all lose.
Start: Derrick Henry; Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Evan Engram
Flex: Treylon Burks, Zay Jones, Christian Kirk
Sit: Josh Dobbs, Robert Woods, Chigoziem Okonkwo
TB Tampa Bay • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
One of the most obvious Bucs to earn some extra rest in a meaningless Week 17 game is Leonard Fournette. He and White effectively split reps last week, and White handled a slight majority on third and fourth downs, but Fournette remained the preferred back inside the 10 (one snap out of seven for White). In a meaningless matchup, the rookie White could end up logging the most work of any Bucs running back, and the Falcons have given up 5.1 yards per carry and 8.0 yards per catch over their past five games. He's got 12-point PPR upside.
Playoff scenario: Buccaneers are locked into the No. 4 seed and may opt to rest certain players.
Start: Tyler Allgeier
Flex: Cordarrelle Patterson, Drake London
Sit: All other Buccaneers (we don't know how much playing time the starters will have), Desmond Ridder, MyCole Pruitt
NE New England • #38
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Stevenson erupted for 168 total yards and a touchdown against the Raiders in Week 15 and has otherwise been a pretty big disappointment in his other four matchups since Week 13. And in Damien Harris' first game back since Week 12, Stevenson had a 57% snap share and saw only two snaps out of five inside the 10. With Harris back and the matchup mattering for the Patriots, there's no reason to believe Stevenson will suddenly pick up north of 15 carries. He also has two receptions in four straight and isn't a threat for a big receiving role anymore. Before Week 17, the Bills allowed 4.4 yards per rush and three rushing touchdowns to opposing RBs in their past five. It suggests a good matchup, but with 12-touch potential and no certainty of goal-line work, Stevenson isn't anything better than a low-end starter/high-end flex.
Playoff scenario: Patriots clinch a spot with a win or with losses by the Dolphins and Steelers AND a Jaguars win. Bills already have a top-three seed clinched and have a path to the No. 1 seed that includes them winning this game.
Start: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Dawson Knox, Bills DST
Flex: Stevenson, Damien Harris, Jakobi Meyers in PPR, Hunter Henry is a PPR streamer; Gabe Davis
Sit: Mac Jones, Devin Singletary, Patriots DST
Cole Kmet TE
CHI Chicago • #85
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
It looked as if Kmet was on his way to a great game last week with a touchdown catch on the Bears' first drive. He had one more catch and two more targets the rest of the game because he couldn't separate from Lions linebackers and defensive backs frequently enough. It didn't help that Justin Fields hasn't progressed enough in reading defenses and making good, consistent decisions, and the Vikings have held 8 of the past 12 tight ends they've faced to under 8.5 half-PPR points. Kmet carries redeemable value in full-PPR formats, but you should consider other tight ends in half- and non-PPR leagues.
Playoff scenario: Vikings clinch the No. 2 seed with a win and a 49ers loss or tie, or with a tie and a 49ers loss. Otherwise they're the No. 3 seed.
Start: Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson; Justin Fields, David Montgomery
Flex: Kmet is a low-end starting TE in PPR; Vikings DST is a low-end streamer
Sit: Adam Thielen, K.J. Osborn; Khalil Herbert, Chase Claypool, Bears DST
Zack Moss RB
IND Indianapolis • #21
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The appeal in starting Moss has everything to do with the matchup and his expected workload. The Texans have been a consistently bad run defense on the season (5.2 yards per carry, 21 rush touchdowns allowed) and even as recently as last week allowed over 5.5 yards per carry and a touchdown to three different Jaguars running backs! Moss has played at least 59% of the Colts' snaps in each of his past three and touched the ball at least 13 times in each. He's also averaged 5.15 yards per carry in his past two against equally inept run defenses in the Chargers and the Giants. Moss makes the cut as a low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 RB who the Colts can play out the string with.
Start: Brandin Cooks; Zack Moss, Michael Pittman
Flex: Davis Mills is a desperation QB streamer
Sit: all Texans RBs, Chris Moore, Jordan Akins, Texans DST; Sam Ehlinger
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #83
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
In three games with Joe Flacco, Conklin has seen 7, 9 and 8 targets and has scored 11, 10 and 16 PPR points. That's pretty good. Flacco's tendency to throw a ton should serve Conklin (and perhaps all Jets WRs) well. It doesn't hurt that the Jets' run game isn't effective. The matchup is actually phenomenal -- nine of the past 11 tight ends against the Dolphins have posted at least 10 PPR points including Hunter Henry hitting double digits last week. Conklin should be able to get to that.
Playoff scenario: Dolphins clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Patriots loss.
Start: Garrett Wilson, Conklin, Jets DST; Tyreek Hill
Flex: Joe Flacco is a low, low-end QB streamer, Corey Davis in PPR; Jaylen Waddle, both Dolphins RBs
Sit: all Jets RBs, Elijah Moore; all Dolphins QBs, Mike Gesicki, Dolphins DST
NO New Orleans • #22
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If Shaheed were getting more targets he'd be a must-start receiver. As things stand, the speedy Shaheed is yet to see more than six targets during his four-game hot streak (11-plus PPR in three of them), so his upside is a little capped. But anyone who saw the Panthers' highlights last week knows the Carolina secondary is a massive liability. Of the 19 targets Shaheed's seen in his past four, 17 have been caught and six have gone for 16-plus yards with three topping 40 yards. It should also be mentioned that Shaheed has out-produced Olave by 89 yards despite one fewer target in their past three games together. You can bet your beak Shaheed will get at least two deep-ball opportunities and may also catch and run for a large gain against this suspect defense.
Start: D.J. Moore; Alvin Kamara, Olave, Taysom Hill, Saints DST
Flex: Sam Darnold is a low-end QB streamer, Chuba Hubbard, D'Onta Foreman in non-PPR; Andy Dalton is a high-end QB streamer, Rashid Shaheed, Juwan Johnson
Sit: Panthers DST
PIT Pittsburgh • #14
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
PIT Pittsburgh • #18
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
The Browns pass defense has been excellent in terms of efficiency all season long -- they just held Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson to 62 scoreless yards combined and have let only Chris Godwin (on 13 targets) and Ja'Marr Chase (on 15 targets) to get more than 70 yards in their past 11 games. Touchdowns? Those are a different story -- the Browns have allowed 14 on the season to wideouts, but none in their past three games against inferior quarterbacks. Kenny Pickett has thrown six touchdowns all season -- three to Pickens, zero to his other wide receivers. That's particularly crazy since Johnson has a team-high eight end-zone targets from Pickett. This should be a great game for Najee Harris and another tepid one for the Steelers' pass-catchers.
Start: Deshaun Watson as a low-end QB, Nick Chubb, David Njoku; Najee Harris
Flex: Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones in PPR; Pat Freiermuth is a low-end TE starter
Sit: Kareem Hunt, Browns DST; Kenny Pickett, Jaylen Warren, George Pickens, Diontae Johnson
J.K. Dobbins RB
BAL Baltimore • #27
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Last week Dobbins set a season-high in carries with 17 and tied his season-high snap share at 50% in a close game against the Steelers. Getting the chance to do that again would hinge on how close the Ravens stay with the Bengals on the scoreboard. That figures to be problematic -- since Lamar Jackson got hurt, the Ravens haven't scored more than 17 points in a game. In fact, with Tyler Huntley under center for most of their past five games the Ravens have totaled four touchdowns. Four. All the while, Cincinnati's run defense has whipped into shape with D.J. Reader back, holding rushers to 3.6 yards per rush and three rushing scores in its past six games (excluding Week 17). Included in those six games are Derrick Henry (38 rush yards, no touchdown), Nick Chubb (34 rush yards, no touchdown), Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White (both under 45 rush yards, no touchdowns) and Rhamondre Stevenson (30 rush yards, no touchdown). I'd try to avoid starting Dobbins outside of non-PPR flex spots.
Playoff scenario: Both teams have playoff spots clinched. Bengals clinch a top-three seed with a win.
Start: Mark Andrews; Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Bengals DST
Flex: Dobbins; Tyler Boyd in PPR
Sit: Tyler Huntley, Gus Edwards, all Ravens WRs, Isaiah Likely, Ravens DST; Samaje Perine, Hayden Hurst
LAC L.A. Chargers • #81
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Williams has scored 10-plus PPR in each of his past four games and had a 7-94-0 stat line on 10 targets last week in a runaway win over the Rams. He has the potential to match that number in Week 18, but the Broncos have consistently been among the best pass defenses in the league. Denver ranks in the top-10 in catch rate allowed to outside receivers like Williams over its past six games with a league-best 9.46 yards per catch allowed. Only seven wide receivers have scored on them all season, and only four have had over 100 yards (none since Week 12). Williams fell prey to Denver in L.A. in Week 6, scoring three PPR points on six targets. Between the Broncos improving-but-still-shaky offense and the Chargers powerful combo of Austin Ekeler and a shining defense, there's room for Williams to get the short end of the stick in terms of opportunities. I'd try to sit him in non- and half-PPR.
Playoff scenario: The Chargers lock up the No. 5 seed with a win or a Ravens loss.
Start: Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Williams in PPR, Chargers DST; Jerry Jeudy
Flex: Williams in non/half-PPR; Courtland Sutton in PPR
Sit: Gerald Everett; Russell Wilson, Latavius Murray, Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos DST
CAR Carolina • #6
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
In two games with Gardner Minshew against Dallas and New Orleans, Sanders totaled between 61 and 71 yards in each with just one target. He had two rushes from inside the 10 (none from inside the 5) while Kenneth Gainwell had three and Minshew had two. Clearly, Sanders' role did not expand beyond what it was with Jalen Hurts just because Hurts was hurt. So why be optimistic? The Giants have allowed 5.2 yards per carry and four touchdowns to running backs in their past six games. If Sanders sees a typical workload against this defense, he should have a shot at close to 100 yards and might even score. It helps that the Giants have only pride to play for while the Eagles need a win to clinch the No. 1 seed.
Playoff scenario: Giants are locked into the No. 6 seed and may opt to rest certain players. Eagles will be the No. 1 seed with a win and could fall to as far as the No. 5 seed with a loss.
Start: Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Eagles DST
Sit: all Giants due to playing time uncertainty
Brock Purdy QB
SF San Francisco • #13
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Aside from a few misfires, particularly on throws past 10 Air Yards, Purdy has been a wonderful find for the 49ers. He's been solid for Fantasy also, notching at least 18 points per game and 20-plus in three of his past four. The Cardinals defense has stepped up to hold four straight passers to under 15 Fantasy points each. Those quarterbacks: Mac Jones, Brett Rypien, Tom Brady and Desmond Ridder. The game against Brady was the Cardinals' Super Bowl; the rest were against inferior passers. I'd give Purdy the benefit of the doubt, especially in a week where there aren't as many stellar quarterbacks to choose from.
Playoff scenario: 49ers clinch the No. 1 seed with a win and an Eagles loss. 49ers clinch the No. 2 seed with a win or a loss and a Vikings loss. 49ers will otherwise be the No. 3 seed.
Start: James Conner (if he plays); Purdy, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, 49ers DST
Flex: Greg Dortch in PPR, Trey McBride in half- and full-PPR is a high-end streaming TE; Jordan Mason is a desperation RB
Sit: David Blough, all other Cardinals RBs, Marquise Brown, DeAndre Hopkins has been ruled out, Cardinals DST
Geno Smith QB
SEA Seattle • #7
Age: 32 • Experience: 11 year
Smith redeemed himself for his two-week skid with an efficient two-score game against a tough Jets defense in Week 17. Now he'll attempt to put the finishing touches on his Comeback Player of the Year campaign against the Rams. Smith went off for three touchdowns against L.A. back in a feisty Week 13 showdown. The Rams haven't mailed in a game since getting Baker Mayfield at quarterback and should keep it competitive, which is important since Smith needs to get north of 30 attempts to have a shot at 20-plus Fantasy points. Smith is the last quarterback the Rams gave up over 20 Fantasy points to this season, and he'll be in position to do it again at home.
Playoff scenario: Seahawks clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Packers loss.
Start: Cam Akers, Tyler Higbee in PPR; Smith, Kenneth Walker, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Seahawks DST is a low-end starter
Sit: Baker Mayfield, Van Jefferson, Rams DST; Noah Fant
HOU Houston • #83
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
With Tony Pollard out, Schultz re-emerged as a fantastic all-around threat for Dak Prescott. He also continued as a key target in the red zone, coming through in a major way. With Pollard back there's a case to be made that Schultz's targets will shrink, but his red-zone role won't. The Commanders have been outstanding against tight ends but George Kittle found a way to crush them in Week 16. The opportunity for Schultz to finish the year strong keeps him in the fold as a top-12 tight end.
Playoff scenario: Cowboys clinch the NFC East with a win and an Eagles loss. If that happens AND the 49ers lose/tie, they'll have the No. 1 seed. If the 49ers win, they'll have the No. 2 seed. Otherwise they'll have the No. 5 seed.
Start: Dak Prescott, Tony Pollard, Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, Cowboys DST
Flex: Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas is a low-end streaming TE
Sit: Sam Howell, all Commanders RBs, Commanders DST
NO New Orleans • #30
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The Packers looked like a terrific defense last week after the Vikings lost two offensive linemen to injury and couldn't get any traction on the field. The truth? In six games since losing front-seven beast Rashan Gary, they've given up 4.9 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns. The Lions' O-line is beefy and did an amazing job creating space for their backs last week. They'll be in for a tougher fight, but the game should be competitive enough to keep both backs involved. Williams is a touchdown-dependent running back who could be penciled in for 10 Fantasy points regardless of format, while Swift's receiving profile makes him the better start in PPR.
Playoff scenario: Lions clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Seahawks loss. Packers clinch a playoff spot with a win.
Start: D'Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown; Aaron Rodgers, A.J. Dillon, Aaron Jones, Christian Watson, Packers DST
Flex: Allen Lazard
Sit: Jared Goff, DJ Chark, Brock Wright, Lions DST; Romeo Doubs, Robert Tonyan