Here’s an important fantasy football strategy: look at player matchup ratings.

Having good players on your team is only part of the battle. You have to know which players to start each week to be successful in fantasy football. No doubt, you will have players on your team that you will want to start every single week, regardless of the matchup. You’re not going to take Todd Gurley out of your lineup just because he’s facing the Jets on Sunday. If you do, you’ll be eating a bowl full of regret for breakfast on Monday morning.

But when you start looking at your second or third best running backs, you’ll have heavier decisions to weigh out. That’s when the decisions get tougher. It’s a natural reaction to want to start the guy who has been producing for you at a decent level, racking up decent yardage and touchdowns, over the guy who has been good but not great. This is when it is critical to look at the opponents of the players on your roster.

Whichever fantasy service you are using (ESPN, Yahoo,, CBS, etc.), they will normally have some kind of statistic that shows how good the opponent is against that position. For example, if you have Todd Gurley on your team, and the Rams are playing the Jets that week, it might show a “1st” in the “team rank” category, meaning that the Jets are the best in the NFL against the run, at least in terms of points allowed to opposing fantasy running backs. Doesn’t matter. You’re starting Gurley anyway.

But when you get down to deciding between two decent backs on okay teams, that category means a lot more. If you have Lamar Miller going against the 32nd ranked Raiders defense, you’re going to start him over Frank Gore, who is up against the 2nd ranked Cardinals defense. Look at patterns. See which kinds of running backs are successful against which kinds of defenses. Check out the fantasy experts’ opinions. Do your research, and you’ll be fine.