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IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 10

An in-depth look at the key games to target for IDP production.

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 tenth 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.

We’ve made it this far in the regular season. For some of you, the dying embers of your season are guttering out; for others, the fires are burning brightly and showing no signs of being quenched. Whichever side of the spectrum you find yourself, my advice would be never to give up. Teams can squeak into a playoff spot with a late season run and play spoiler for the big boys.

Remember, it’s all about getting into the tournament. Once you’re in, record doesn’t matter. The IDP landscape continues to morph into a new, untameable beast from one week to the next, but let’s see if we can be the David to its Goliath by dissecting these matchups.

So without further ado, let’s get to the best and worst matchups of Week 10.


Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Pressure Percentage is calculated as sacks plus quarterback hits per game divided by pass attempts faced by game
and expressed as a percentage.

Green Bay front seven vs. Detroit

Despite laying an egg in the sack department in Carolina, the Packers still boast one of the best per-snap pass rushes in the league. Through eight games, they rank fourth with 23 sacks; 15 of those have come in the cosy confines of Lambeau Field, where this week they host the reeling Lions. Expect a get well game from Aaron Rodgers and the offense, who should be able to put up points at will. This will allow the defense to hunt, boosting the value of pass rushers like Mike Neal, Mike Daniels and Clay Matthews. The Packers’ pressure percentage is an impressive 17.5%, while the Lions are surrendering pressure on 17.7% of dropbacks.

Arizona front seven at Seattle

The Cardinals defense doesn’t get to the quarterback as often as you would think when you consider the personnel at their disposal. They are averaging pressure on 15% of opponent dropbacks and hitting the quarterback 5.8 times per game, however. Off a bye, expect Arizona to be fresh and ready for the challenge posed by Russell Wilson in and out of the pocket. No team is giving up more pressure on a per-snap basis than the Seahawks (24.2%), with Wilson being sacked an average of 3.9 times per game. Behind a strong pass rush, the Cardinals could score a road win and their players could notch you a victory as well.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Minnesota front four at Oakland

In a classic battle of strength versus strength, the seemingly impenetrable Raiders offensive line takes on the stingy and powerful Vikings front four. If you enjoy battles in the trenches, this is the game for you. Minnesota’s front has averaged pressure on 19% of opponent dropbacks, with strong efforts from the likes of Linval Joseph, Eversen Griffen and Anthony Barr critical to their success. The Raiders, meanwhile, have allowed only 10 sacks all year and allow pressure on a league-low 7% of Derek Carr’s dropbacks. In these cases, I tend to side with the offense; Carr’s quick release and the design of the offense has allowed him to stay clean, and he is making good reads to boot. The emphasis for Oakland will be on protecting Carr, so expect the Vikings to be stymied somewhat.

Sack Opportunity Chart

Team Team Defense Team Offense
Pressure QB QB Drop Backs Pressure QB Sacks QB Hits Drop
Applied Sacks Hits Faced Allowed Allowed Allowed Backs
2008 NFL Average 12% 2 4.1 34.3 12% 2 4.1 34.3
2009 NFL Average 13.3% 2.2 4.7 35.4 13.3% 2.2 4.7 35.4
2010 NFL Average 12.7% 2.2 4.6 35.9 12.8% 2.2 4.6 35.9
2011 NFL Average 13.1% 2.3 4.8 36.3 13.1% 2.3 4.8 36.3
2012 NFL Average 12.8% 2.3 4.8 37 12.8% 2.3 4.8 37
2013 NFL Average 13.5% 2.5 5.1 38 13.5% 2.5 5.1 38
2014 NFL Average 13.7% 2.4 5.1 37.3 13.7% 2.4 5.1 37.3
2015 NFL Average 13.9% 2.2 5.3 38.2 13.9% 2.2 5.3 38.2
Team Team Defense Team Offense
Pressure QB QB Drop Backs Pressure QB Sacks QB Hits Drop
Applied Sacks Hits Faced Allowed Allowed Allowed Backs
ARIZONA Cardinals 15% 1.6 5.8 38.3 15.3% 1.4 5.3 34.4
ATLANTA Falcons 13% 1.1 5 38.4 12.6% 1.9 5.2 41.6
BALTIMORE Ravens 13.9% 2.6 5.4 38.6 8.8% 1.8 3.8 42.4
BUFFALO Bills 10.1% 1.6 4.3 42 15.2% 2.9 4.9 32.1
CAROLINA Panthers 13.9% 3.1 6.5 46.9 11.6% 1.6 3.8 32.4
CHICAGO Bears 14.6% 1.8 4.9 33.5 13% 1.8 4.9 37.6
CINCINNATI Bengals 15.2% 2.9 6.3 41.3 8.6% 1.4 2.9 33.6
CLEVELAND Browns 10.1% 1.7 3.6 35.2 15.5% 3.3 6.3 40.8
DALLAS Cowboys 13.2% 1.8 4.6 35.1 11.5% 2.1 4 34.8
DENVER Broncos 22.7% 3.6 8.8 38.5 12.7% 1.6 5 39.4
DETROIT Lions 18.5% 2.5 6.3 33.8 17.7% 2.8 8 45.1
GREEN BAY Packers 17.5% 2.9 6.8 38.6 15.9% 2.4 5.4 33.9
HOUSTON Texans 15.7% 2.5 5.6 35.8 10.3% 2.1 4.9 47.4
INDIANAPOLIS Colts 13% 1.4 5.1 39.3 17.6% 2 7.6 43
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars 12.8% 2.3 5 39.1 15.8% 3.1 6.6 42
KANSAS CITY Chiefs 9.8% 2.6 3.9 39.4 15.4% 3.5 5.8 37.3
MIAMI Dolphins 11.9% 2 4.1 34.8 15.4% 2.9 6.3 40.5
MINNESOTA Vikings 19% 2.4 7 36.8 17.4% 2.6 5.6 32.4
NEW ENGLAND Patriots 15.3% 3.4 6.5 42.5 10.7% 2.3 4.6 43.3
NEW ORLEANS Saints 10.5% 2.1 4 38 10.7% 2.4 4.8 44.8
NEW YORK Giants 11.7% 1 4.9 41.9 9.7% 1.3 3.8 39.1
NEW YORK Jets 18.1% 2.1 7.5 41.5 10% 1.1 3.8 37.5
OAKLAND Raiders 7.7% 1.9 3.6 47 7% 1.3 2.8 39.3
PHILADELPHIA Eagles 10.8% 2.4 4.5 41.8 13% 1.8 5.3 40.5
PITTSBURGH Steelers 11.9% 2.4 4.9 41.1 11.5% 2.4 4 34.8
SAN DIEGO Chargers 13.3% 1.8 4.4 33.3 14.1% 2.3 6.6 46.4
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 12.4% 1.8 4.7 37.6 17.8% 3.1 5.9 33
SEATTLE Seahawks 16.8% 2.5 5.5 32.8 24.2% 3.9 8 33.1
ST. LOUIS Rams 17.6% 3.4 6.8 38.3 20.5% 1.5 6 29.3
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers 15.9% 2.1 5.8 36.3 19.6% 1.8 6.4 32.5
TENNESSEE Titans 14.3% 2.8 4.6 32.4 18.2% 3.5 6.9 37.9
WASHINGTON 12% 1.6 4.1 34.4 12.3% 1.1 4.9 39.8

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

Stadium Tackle Factor (STF) is designed to recognize trends and identify favorable tackle matchups for IDP. STF
takes into account where game is played (Stat Crew) incorporating Stat Crew, Tackle Opportunity, and Tackle
Opportunity Allowed data, transforms it into a rating number/factor. The number/factor is separated into four
categories: Great, Good, Neutral, and Poor.

Washington defenders vs. New Orleans

The Redskins’ home stat crew ranks as one of the best in the league according to our STF statistic at 1.861. Considering the Saints offense is averaging a whopping 58 tackle opportunities allowed per game, it is safe to assume a big game is in store for your Redskins defensive players. The reason behind the Saints’ high snap counts is their being in comeback mode on a regular basis, and that could be the case here as well. Outdoors, as we know by now, this team is simply not the same.

Jacksonville defenders at Baltimore

A good matchup for Jacksonville according to STF (1.689), a rested Ravens team off a bye should give the visitors all they can handle. The Ravens have averaged 52.3 tackle opportunities allowed per game, while the Jaguars have had 54.3 per game; all this points to a good recipe for production. Behind a strong effort from Justin Forsett, the Ravens should be able to sustain enough offense to provide potential big outings for the likes of Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Philadelphia defenders vs. Miami

Has the magic of Dan Campbell worn off already? The interim head coach will not have been pleased by the effort put forth in Buffalo last week. An up-tempo Philadelphia offense will be nothing they haven’t seen before, however; the Dolphins run a similar scheme under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. However, it is still difficult to put faith in the Miami offense to sustain drives. Philadelphia can be exploited in certain areas defensively – and the loss of rookie sensation Jordan Hicks is a blow – but I can’t recommend your Eagles defenders. Miami is averaging just 47.5 tackle opportunities allowed per game.

Chicago defenders at St Louis

The Rams have been one of the poorest tackle matchups all season long, in large part due to the caveman style of football employed by head coach Jeff Fisher. The cagey coach will make no apologies for his preferred mode of attack, though, and with Nick Foles at quarterback who can blame him? What this means is that the Rams offense is allowing only 44.6 tackle opportunities per game. Your best play is to avoid Bears defenders at all costs; this is a trend unlikely to reverse itself.

Tackle Opportunity Chart

Team TEAM Defense TEAM Offense
Tackle Rush Attempts Drop Backs Offensive Rush Tackle Opps Rush Drop Offensive Rush
Opportunity Faced Faced Snaps Faced Percentage Allowed Attempts Backs Snaps Percentage
2008 NFL Average 49.3 27.6 34.3 61.9 54.8% 49.3 27.6 34.3 61.9 54.8%  
2009 NFL Average 49.9 27.4 33.3 62.9 55.1% 49.9 27.4 33.3 62.9 55.1%  
2010 NFL Average 49.9 27.2 35.9 63.1 54.5% 49.9 27.2 35.9 63.1 54.3%  
2011 NFL Average 50 27.3 36.3 63.6 54.5% 50 27.3 36.3 63.6 54.5%  
2012 NFL Average 50.6 27.2 37 64.2 53.7% 50.6 27.2 37 64.2 53.7%  
2013 NFL Average 51.3 27.1 38 65 52.8% 51.3 27.1 38 65 52.8%  
2014 NFL Average 51 26.7 37.3 64 52.5% 51 26.7 37.3 64 52.5%
2015 NFL Average 50.8 25.7 38.2 63.9 50.5% 50.8 25.7 38.2 63.9 50.5%
Team TEAM Defense TEAM Offense
Tackle Rush Attempts Drop Backs Offensive Rush Tackle Opps Rush Drop Offensive Rush
Opportunity Faced Faced Snaps Faced Percentage Allowed Attempts Backs Snaps Percentage
ARIZONA Cardinals 47.1 23.5 38.3 61.8 38.1% 48.4 25.9 34.4 60.3 42.9%
ATLANTA Falcons 49.1 23.8 38.4 62.2 38.2% 55.2 26.8 41.6 68.3 39.2%
BALTIMORE Ravens 52.5 25.8 38.6 64.4 40% 52.3 24.8 42.4 67.1 36.9%
BUFFALO Bills 48.1 22.3 42 64.3 34.6% 51.1 28.3 32.1 60.4 46.8%
CAROLINA Panthers 53.9 26 46.9 72.9 35.7% 50.8 32.6 32.4 65 50.2%
CHICAGO Bears 47.4 25.5 33.5 59 43.2% 52 28 37.6 65.6 42.7%
CINCINNATI Bengals 49.3 21.4 41.3 62.6 34.1% 51.9 28.8 33.6 62.4 46.1%
CLEVELAND Browns 52.2 30.2 35.2 65.4 46.2% 49.8 23.3 40.8 64.1 36.4%
DALLAS Cowboys 49.3 25.4 35.1 60.5 41.9% 52.5 27.9 34.8 62.6 44.5%
DENVER Broncos 51.4 26.1 38.5 64.6 40.4% 48.3 23.1 39.4 62.5 37%
DETROIT Lions 54.4 29 33.8 62.8 46.2% 48.3 18.6 45.1 63.8 29.2%
GREEN BAY Packers 51.3 27.8 38.6 66.4 41.8% 48.3 25.5 33.9 59.4 42.9%
HOUSTON Texans 50 26.9 35.8 62.6 42.9% 54.3 26.3 47.4 73.6 35.7%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts 52.4 27.6 39.3 66.9 41.2% 49.6 24.2 43 67.2 36%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars 54.3 27.9 39.1 67 41.6% 48.3 23.3 42 65.3 35.6%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs 49 24.5 39.4 63.9 38.4% 50 25 37.3 62.3 40.2%
MIAMI Dolphins 52.5 30.3 34.8 65 46.5% 47.5 20.4 40.5 60.9 33.5%
MINNESOTA Vikings 48.8 24.9 36.8 61.6 40.4% 50.8 29.3 32.4 61.6 47.5%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots 49.3 21.6 42.5 64.1 33.7% 52.6 22.3 43.3 65.5 34%
NEW ORLEANS Saints 51.6 25.9 38 63.9 40.5% 58 25.4 44.8 70.2 36.2%
NEW YORK Giants 54.9 26.4 41.9 68.3 38.7% 50.8 24.6 39.1 63.7 38.6%
NEW YORK Jets 45.3 20.9 41.5 62.4 33.5% 52.8 29 37.5 66.5 43.6%
OAKLAND Raiders 54.3 23.4 47 70.4 33.2% 48.6 22.8 39.3 62 36.7%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles 54.6 26.9 41.8 68.6 39.2% 53.6 27.5 40.5 68 40.4%
PITTSBURGH Steelers 52.4 24.4 41.1 65.6 37.3% 48.8 25.6 34.8 60.3 42.4%
SAN DIEGO Chargers 46.6 24.2 33.3 57.6 42.1% 55.9 23 46.4 69.4 33.1%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 53 26.6 37.6 64.1 41.4% 47.1 26.3 33 59.3 44.4%
SEATTLE Seahawks 47.3 25.8 32.8 58.5 44% 53.5 29.5 33.1 62.6 47.1%
ST. LOUIS Rams 54.1 26.6 38.3 64.9 41% 44.6 27 29.3 56.3 48%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers 53.9 27.9 36.3 64.1 43.5% 48.6 29.1 32.5 61.6 47.3%
TENNESSEE Titans 47.3 26 32.4 58.4 44.5% 50.5 24.5 37.9 62.4 39.3%
WASHINGTON 49.4 26.9 34.4 61.3 43.9 51.8 24.9 39.8 64.6 38.5%

Best of luck with Week 10 and make sure to check back next week for more matchup analysis.

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