IDP Matchups - Week 16
by Dave Larkin
December 19th, 2012

Each week, this column will take a critical look at key statistical trends to highlight pass rushing and tackle matchups to exploit and avoid. We'll be heavily relying on another great feature at FBG this season, the IDP Matchup Spreadsheet that will be generated by Larry Thomas. That spreadsheet will contain a number of weekly and weekly average statistical measures to help identify those defensive teams who are facing the best and worst opportunity as the season progresses. While this column will include two large tables of tackle and pass rush opportunity and matchup data, it's only a fraction of the data available in the spreadsheet. We hope that the Matchup Spreadsheet and this column will join John Norton's weekly IDP projections, Doug Drinen's Matchup Analyzer Tool and our customizable MyFBG function as useful tools to assist in making weekly line-up and waiver wire decisions.

Before we get to the hard data and matchup analysis, a quick explanation of the metrics we're using will probably be helpful. This column will be broken up into two primary sections - pass rushing matchups to exploit/avoid and tackle matchups to exploit/avoid. Each text section is followed by a table listing the relevant statistics and metrics driving our matchup decisions.

The pass rushing matchup table will include weekly averages of sacks, adjusted averages of sacks and quarterback hits and pass attempts faced. It will also have a column titled Pressure Applied, a metric we're introducing to show how often a team defense is generating pressure on the opposing quarterback. We'll be calculating Pressure Applied by dividing each team defense's sacks and quarterback hits by its total pass attempts faced. The same set of data will be provided and Pressure Allowed calculated for each team offense, to show which offenses are allowing pressure on their quarterback most often.

The tackle matchup table will include weekly averages of both rush and pass attempts faced, total offensive snaps faced and the percentage of rush vs pass attempts faced. It will also have a column titled Tackle Opportunity, a metric we introduced in mid-2007 to show how many plays a defense faced that could have ended in a solo tackle. We'll be calculating each team's Tackle Opportunity by adding all rush attempts, pass completions and sacks - the three plays that can end in a solo tackle outside of special teams and turnover plays. The same set of data will be provided and Tackle Opportunity calculated for each team's offense, to show which offenses are allowing the most tackle opportunity to opposing defenses.

We'll be highlighting the Pressure Applied/Allowed and Tackle Opportunity metrics with color codes showing the best and worst pass rush and tackle matchups. Expect to see lots of "good" and "bad" matchups early, as a relatively low sample size will show a lot of teams outside the historical standard deviations we'll be using to focus on the key matchups. While sample size will be a confounding issue during the early weeks, we'll still make every effort to show where the data looks meaningful. Without getting into a long discussion of statistics, we recognize that these metrics and tables will not be as predictive and reliable early in the season. We also acknowledge the noise within a set of unofficial statistics like solo tackles and quarterback hits. As the season progresses and the standard deviations of the data fall in line with prior seasonal averages, we expect that the data tables will be increasingly more reliable and useful.

You are very welcome to the 16th edition of what will be a season-long look at the best and worst matchups in the IDP landscape based on detailed, accurate spreadsheet data generated by Larry Thomas on a weekly basis.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Dave Larkin. I am a veteran IDP player and what some would call a diehard fan of this game of football that we all love so much. Defense is my passion. Over the past few years, I have assimilated countless pages of data from various sources to improve my knowledge of the defensive side of the football. Each and every week I will study film from the previous week's games and provide you with nuggets of wisdom that will lead you to a championship.

Last week's one-sided affairs threw several fantasy owners for a loop as they scrambled furiously to their laptops and computers to see if their players had been affected.

If you've come through that mini-crisis unscathed and thirsty for more, you're in the right place. In every league I know, Week 16 is championship week. I want you to sit back and enjoy it if you've made it this far.

Think back to your draft and the selections you made, and the impact they are still having on your team.

Think back to your savvy free agent pick-ups that singlehandedly won you a game.

Your fingerprints are all over your team, and you should be proud that you made it this far. Some say this hobby of ours is luck; I like to think that we make our own luck.

I've trawled through all my resources this week to bring you my best match-up advice, so here we go.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Denver front seven vs. Cleveland
The Broncos stout front seven has been one of the severely underrated parts of their squad this season, lost in Peyton Manning's return to prominence. Well, this week could be the time for this front seven's party piece as Manning and the offense take their foot off the gas. The Browns have not been horrible in pass protection by any means (pressure allowed on 13.5% of drop backs), but the potential for a productive day is there for Denver if the game script goes as everyone expects it to.

What this adds up to is plentiful pass-rushing opportunities for the likes of Von Miller (3 QB hits, 5 QB hurries at Baltimore last week) and Elvis Dumervil. Even Derek Wolfe has upside as a throw-in option at DE/DT.

DENVER DEFENSE: Pressure on 14.2% of opponent drop backs; 3.0 sacks allowed per game.
CLEVELAND OFFENSE: Pressure allowed on 13.5% of drop backs.

New England front seven at Jacksonville
Jacksonville's offense line has tumbled down the charts in recent weeks; they now allow pressure on 17.2% of drop backs. This trend is directly linked to their subpar quarterback play and their inability to run the football, of course, but we won't turn our nose up at that.

New England can take a hold of this game early on and never look back. DE Chandler Jones (ankle), once touted as a DROTY candidate, could regain some confidence with a strong outing here. Rob Ninkovich (9 sacks this season) and the linebacker corps have good pass-rushing upside as well. The Patriots could easily put 50 points on the Jaguars, with the defense likely being the beneficiary of a few turnovers along the way.

NEW ENGLAND DEFENSE: Pressure on 10.8% of opponent drop backs; match-up too good to ignore.
JACKSONVILLE OFFENSE: Pressure allowed on 17.2% of drop backs, 3.0 sacks allowed per game.

Pass Rushing Matchup to Avoid

Carolina front four vs. Oakland
This one may surprise some, but the Oakland Raiders are not the most enticing pass-rushing match-up. Neither are the Panthers a very consistent option in the pass-rushing department, despite the outstanding play of their DE tandem Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy. The Panthers have pressured the passer on only 11.9% of drop backs this season, while the Raiders have given up pressure on only 10% of drop backs.

The take home message here is to avoid the Carolina front four this week, mainly due to their rollercoaster play. The one caveat is this: they could explode this week in what looks to be an excellent match-up on paper. The Panthers' sack percentage at home is only 3.1, while on the road it is 12. The discrepancy can be attributed to the teams they have faced, but it is still a compelling statistic.

CAROLINA DEFENSE: Pressure on 11.9% of opponent drop backs; 2.6 sacks per game.
OAKLAND OFFENSE: Pressure allowed on 10.0% of drop backs; 1.9 sacks allowed per game.

Team Defense
Team Offense
Stat
Pressure
QBSacks
QBHits
DropBacks
Pressure
QBSacks
QBHits
DropBacks
2007 Avg
11.3%
2.13
3.99
35.4
11.3%
2.13
3.99
35.4
2008 Avg
12.0%
2.02
4.13
34.3
12.0%
2.02
4.13
34.3
2009 Avg
13.3%
2.15
4.71
35.4
13.3%
2.15
4.71
35.4
2010 Avg
12.7%
2.21
4.59
35.9
12.7%
2.21
4.59
35.9
2011 Avg
13.1%
2.32
4.75
36.3
13.1%
2.32
4.75
36.3
2012 Avg
12.7%
2.28
4.71
37.2
12.7%
2.28
4.71
37.2
Stat
Pressure
QBSacks
QBHits
DropBacks
Pressure
QBSacks
QBHits
DropBacks
Ari
16.7%
2.6
5.7
34.1
15.3%
3.6
6.3
41.1
Atl
11.7%
2.1
4.1
34.9
12.4%
1.8
5.0
40.3
Bal
13.6%
2.3
5.2
38.2
12.0%
2.4
4.5
37.5
Buf
12.6%
2.4
4.6
36.4
13.6%
2.0
4.6
34.1
Car
11.9%
2.6
4.4
36.6
11.5%
2.4
3.8
32.9
Chi
10.6%
2.6
4.1
38.4
17.4%
3.0
5.9
33.6
Cin
15.1%
3.1
5.9
38.8
11.5%
2.7
4.2
36.6
Cle
11.4%
2.6
4.6
40.7
13.5%
1.9
5.1
37.4
Dal
14.9%
2.4
5.1
33.9
11.0%
2.3
4.8
43.6
Den
14.2%
3.0
5.6
39.2
7.9%
1.5
3.0
38.1
Det
16.0%
2.1
5.9
36.5
10.4%
2.0
5.0
47.9
GB
13.3%
2.8
5.2
39.2
14.5%
3.2
5.4
37.4
Hou
17.7%
3.1
7.1
40.4
11.9%
1.4
4.3
36.1
Ind
11.9%
1.9
4.3
36.0
17.0%
2.6
7.3
42.9
Jac
9.9%
1.1
3.5
35.3
17.2%
3.1
6.6
38.3
KC
12.2%
1.7
3.6
29.9
15.0%
2.5
5.1
33.7
Mia
15.1%
2.8
6.1
40.6
11.4%
2.1
3.9
33.8
Min
11.8%
2.5
4.9
41.0
12.6%
2.1
4.1
32.4
NE
10.8%
2.0
4.1
38.3
10.0%
1.6
4.2
42.0
NO
11.2%
1.9
4.4
39.4
10.9%
1.7
4.6
42.8
NYG
11.2%
2.3
3.9
35.2
8.5%
1.1
3.1
36.1
NYJ
12.1%
1.9
4.1
33.8
12.6%
2.5
4.2
33.4
Oak
14.6%
1.5
5.2
35.8
10.0%
1.9
4.2
42.2
Phi
11.1%
2.0
3.7
33.4
15.8%
3.0
6.5
41.1
Pit
12.2%
1.9
4.1
34.1
10.5%
2.2
4.1
39.6
SD
9.6%
1.9
3.7
38.8
12.2%
3.1
4.6
38.0
SF
11.7%
2.5
4.6
39.0
15.6%
2.8
4.6
29.3
Sea
14.0%
2.6
5.2
37.3
14.6%
1.9
4.1
27.9
StL
13.8%
2.9
5.1
36.8
13.2%
2.5
4.9
37.4
TB
8.4%
1.8
3.5
41.5
10.2%
1.5
3.6
35.6
Ten
13.2%
2.2
4.9
36.7
9.5%
2.1
3.6
37.5
Was
10.9%
1.8
4.5
41.1
18.4%
2.4
5.7
31.0

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

Tennessee defenders at Green Bay
Green Bay has been one of the premiere tackle match-ups all season; this week should be no different as the hapless Titans come to town. The Titans offense just hasn't been able to find its rhythm, and as a result their defense is seeing more snaps. In fact, the Titans offense ranks 28th in offensive snaps. Their defense averages 55.5 snaps per game, while the Packers' offense averages 53.2 snaps per game; need I go on? This is a Week 16 match-up made in heaven. Zach Brown, who has been playing well recently, should have a standout day in the box score; he has no fewer than five solo tackles in each of the last three games.

TENNESSEE DEFENSE: Average 55.5 snaps per game.
GREEN BAY OFFENSE: Average 53.2 snaps per game.

Minnesota defenders at Houston
The Vikings are playing to hold on to their precarious playoff position with teams like Dallas and Chicago breathing down their necks. Even if they rely on Adrian Peterson as they have been, Houston should be able to limit him enough to force Christian Ponder into difficult third down situations. Houston should maintain a hold on this game with their ball control offensive approach, giving the Minnesota IDP options plenty of opportunity. Chad Greenway and Antoine Winfield, in particular, should have solid outings against a Texans offense that leads the league in rush attempts.

MINNESOTA DEFENSE: 55.4 snaps per game.
HOUSTON OFFENSE: Lead league in rushing attempts and average 57.4 snaps per game.

Tackle Matchup to Avoid

Chicago defenders at Arizona
Arizona's demolition of Detroit aside, as impressive as it was, I see the Cardinals coming back to earth in a big way against Chicago. Granted, the Bears have had their share of problems, but Arizona will not be able to sustain offense against this front seven. As a unit, they average only 47 tackle opportunities allowed per game; that number is too low to take a risk on this week of all weeks. Players like Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman should go into your line-up, but I would consider another option if you have one at your disposal.

CHICAGO DEFENSE: Average 47.9 snaps per game.
ARIZONA OFFENSE: Average 47.0 snaps per game.

Team Defense
Team Offense
Stat
TklOpps
RshFaced
DrpBksFaced
SnpsFaced
Run%
TklOppAll
RushAtt
DrpBacks
Snaps
Run%
2007 Avg
49.8
27.3
35.4
62.7
43.5%
49.8
27.3
35.4
62.7
43.5%
2008 Avg
49.3
27.6
34.3
61.9
44.6%
49.3
27.6
34.3
61.9
44.6%
2009 Avg
49.9
27.4
33.3
62.9
43.6%
49.9
27.4
33.3
62.9
43.6%
2010 Avg
49.9
27.2
35.9
63.1
43.1%
49.9
27.2
35.9
63.1
43.1%
2011 Avg
50.0
27.3
36.3
63.6
54.5%
50.0
27.3
36.3
63.6
54.5%
2012 Avg
50.7
27.1
37.2
64.3
53.4%
50.7
27.1
37.2
64.3
53.4%
Stat
TklOpps
RshFaced
DrpBksFaced
SnpsFaced
Run%
TklOppAll
RushAtt
DrpBacks
Snaps
Run%
Ari
50.9
31.1
34.1
65.3
61.2%
47.0
22.6
41.1
63.8
48.2%
Atl
47.8
25.6
34.9
60.6
53.7%
52.4
24.3
40.3
64.6
46.3%
Bal
56.8
32.6
38.2
70.9
57.5%
48.4
25.2
37.5
62.7
52.1%
Buf
50.6
28.5
36.4
64.9
56.4%
49.2
27.4
34.1
61.6
55.7%
Car
52.4
26.9
36.6
63.4
51.2%
48.4
28.2
32.9
61.1
58.3%
Chi
47.9
24.9
38.4
63.3
52.0%
50.0
28.6
33.6
62.2
57.3%
Cin
50.2
24.7
38.8
63.5
49.2%
51.9
28.1
36.6
64.6
54.1%
Cle
55.1
28.4
40.7
69.1
51.5%
47.4
25.1
37.4
62.6
53.1%
Dal
47.7
25.6
33.9
59.6
53.7%
53.0
23.0
43.6
66.6
43.4%
Den
49.5
25.6
39.2
64.8
51.7%
55.3
29.0
38.1
67.1
52.5%
Det
49.9
26.1
36.5
62.6
52.3%
54.4
24.9
47.9
72.8
45.9%
GB
48.7
25.6
39.2
64.9
52.6%
53.2
27.3
37.4
64.6
51.3%
Hou
45.4
22.5
40.4
62.9
49.5%
57.4
33.7
36.1
69.8
58.7%
Ind
49.4
26.0
36.0
62.0
52.7%
51.9
27.2
42.9
70.1
52.5%
Jac
57.6
34.6
35.3
69.9
60.0%
44.9
22.3
38.3
60.6
49.7%
KC
48.1
29.5
29.9
59.4
61.3%
51.4
30.6
33.7
64.4
59.6%
Mia
51.1
26.1
40.6
66.7
51.1%
48.5
27.9
33.8
61.6
57.4%
Min
55.4
28.2
41.0
69.2
51.0%
50.4
29.1
32.4
61.6
57.9%
NE
51.9
27.0
38.3
65.3
52.1%
59.8
32.7
42.0
74.7
54.7%
NO
54.4
29.2
39.4
68.6
53.7%
49.6
22.4
42.8
65.2
45.2%
NYG
50.3
26.9
35.2
62.1
53.6%
47.9
25.7
36.1
61.8
53.7%
NYJ
50.2
31.0
33.8
64.8
61.7%
50.8
31.1
33.4
64.6
61.3%
Oak
51.6
27.5
35.8
63.3
53.3%
49.6
23.2
42.2
65.4
46.8%
Phi
50.5
29.7
33.4
63.1
58.8%
50.9
26.0
41.1
67.1
51.1%
Pit
43.5
23.5
34.1
57.6
54.0%
50.6
25.2
39.6
64.8
49.8%
SD
50.0
25.3
38.8
64.1
50.6%
49.1
23.6
38.0
61.6
48.0%
SF
49.2
25.1
39.0
64.1
50.9%
52.0
31.1
29.3
60.4
59.9%
Sea
46.3
23.5
37.3
60.8
50.8%
51.6
33.4
27.9
61.2
64.7%
StL
53.5
27.9
36.8
64.7
52.2%
49.6
26.1
37.4
63.4
52.6%
TB
51.9
23.8
41.5
65.3
45.8%
46.3
26.1
35.6
61.6
56.3%
Ten
55.5
30.4
36.7
67.1
54.7%
46.3
23.0
37.5
60.5
49.7%
Was
48.9
22.8
41.1
63.9
46.6%
53.3
31.9
31.0
62.9
59.8%

Best of luck with this most crucial of weeks, Week 16, and make sure to check back next week for your final dose of matchup analysis.

If you have any further questions or tricky lineup decisions you need advice with, please drop me a line at larkin@footballguys.com, or if you prefer you can tweet me @davlar87.

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