Lineup decisions can give you anxiety. Do I start the better player or the one with the good matchup? Do I trust my gut, or go with what the “expert” says? These are struggles that fantasy owners have on a weekly basis. What we are going to try and do is highlight some lineup decisions each week, and have featured TFA writers explain to you why you should start one player over the other. This is similar to our #TFAthrowdown pieces we were doing this pre-season, but this time around we are only debating players for their upcoming game. In this edition, TFA’s Ben Howell will explain to you why Ryan Mathews should get the start over Jeremy Langford while TFA’s Zack Marmer will argue the exact opposite. Who do you agree with? Let us know by reaching out to us on Twitter @FF_Authority
Ryan Mathews vs. Chicago
Ben Howell Follow @shadowfire71
Heading into Week 2, Ryan Mathews and Jeremy Langford are both fine plays. Facing off against each other however, I prefer to play the higher upside back. Both Mathews and Langford saw similar workloads in Week 1. Mathews saw 22 and Langford got 19 touches. Each back should see similar opportunities again on Sunday. Currently, Mathews is healthy and carries immense upside as one of the most talented RBs in the NFL when he is on the field.
In Week 1 against the Bears, the Texans controlled the ball for 36:19 while rushing 35 times. Against the Browns, the Eagles employed a similar tactic holding the ball for 35:14 and rushing 34 times. Once again, the Eagles should employ this strategy of relying on Ryan Mathews as they seek to ease first-year QB Carson Wentz into the NFL. Mathews should see upwards of 20 carries against a unit that allowed 129 yards on the ground to the Texans.
Langford was more involved in the passing game last week, catching 2 of his 4 targets for 6 yards. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Eagles lost Zach Ertz to a rib injury. Ertz was a major part of the Eagles offense in Week 1, catching 6 of 7 targets for 58 yards. The injury to Ertz opens the door for Mathews to see more receptions against the Bears as a safe check down option for Wentz. Mathews is a very good play in both standard and PPR leagues due to the volume he should receive and what he can do with those touches.
Jeremy Langford vs. Philadelphia
Zack Marmer Follow @leagueedge
I actually think that both players face fairly difficult matchups this week. Chicago has a much-improved run defense with the additions of linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. Despite giving up over 100 yards to Lamar Miller, the Bears only allowed 3.7 yards per carry to Houston ball carriers. This could mean a stingy matchup for Ryan Mathews. Owners will have to depend on volume and hope for a touchdown with Mathews as he was not targeted once in the passing game. With a rookie quarterback and only Jordan Matthews garnering attention from the secondary, Chicago will likely have 6 men in the box minimum at all times to make sure Ryan Matthews doesn’t wear down their unit.
On the other hand, the Eagles rush defense gave up 5.7 yards per carry to Cleveland rushers. This was not totally indicative of their potential, but the wide-9 scheme that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz employs focuses on giving defensive ends better angles at the quarterback. This does, however, leave the middle of the field vulnerable to rushers. The Eagles cornerbacks will struggle to handle Alshon Jeffery and Kevin white, which will likely mean that safety help will be needed. When you factor all of that in, I don’t see Langford facing nearly as many 7 or 8 man boxes as Matthews will.
In addition to these points, Langford does see some receiving work that Mathews will cede to Darren Sproles. Langford was the only back in Chicago last week to receive any targets, and he got just as many (4) as starting tight end Zach Miller. If you play in a PPR format, Langford is the clear choice based on his receiving attention alone. In standard formats, they should have similar days, but I may lean towards starting Langford because of his home-run ability.