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IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 13

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 thirteenth 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.

Hopefully by this point you have already secured a playoff berth, but if you haven’t then you have come to the right place. For teams on the cusp of getting to the dance, knowing the matchups and trends can be the difference in what are likely going to be tight games decided by only a few points.

So without further ado, let’s get to the best and worst matchups of Week 13.


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.

Cincinnati front four at Cleveland

The Bengals have been a highly functional pass-rushing team, averaging 6.5 QB hits per game and applying pressure on 15.7% of opponent dropbacks. Despite the trend suggesting they do not reproduce their lofty home sack totals on their travels, they should be able to remedy that in Cleveland. Coming off a heartbreaking defeat as time expired to the Ravens, the Browns will start Austin Davis who, while being a classic ‘try hard’ player, has his warts. The Bengals should be able to take advantage of hesitancy by Davis, whose team is allowing 3.5 sacks per game.

New England front seven vs. Philadelphia

Amid all the talk about the referees handing the Broncos the game on Sunday night against New England, one has to remember that the Patriots defense let them down at the end. I expect to see a major bounce-back game for the home team here, facing a defense that has given up 45+ points in consecutive weeks. The Patriots have an underrated front seven capable of wreaking havoc, and Bill Belichick will feel he can scheme up pressure to get Sam Bradford, who is expected to start, out of his rhythm. The Eagles have given up pressure on 15.2% of dropbacks; if the game script gets ugly fast, expect that to translate into a lot of pressure for the Patriots.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Kansas City front seven at Oakland

The Chiefs defense has a reputation for being one of the finest pass-rushing units in the league, but their pressure percentage is a disappointing 11.2 and well below league average. With Justin Houston (knee) expected to miss a few weeks, this pass rush just took another significant hit. Their division rival Oakland, conversely, has protected the passer better than any other team, giving up pressure on only 7.8% of dropbacks. This could be a classic stalemate, so the best play from a fantasy perspective might be to sit your Chiefs.

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 14.2% 2.3 5.4 38.3 14.2% 2.3 5.4 38.3
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 15.4% 1.9 5.9 38.3 17.2% 1.5 6.3 36.4
ATLANTA Falcons 13.7% 1.1 5.1 37.1 12.3% 1.8 5.1 41.3
BALTIMORE Ravens 14.7% 2.5 5.8 39.5 8.2% 1.5 3.5 42.2
BUFFALO Bills 10.9% 1.5 4.4 40.2 14.8% 2.7 4.9 33.2
CAROLINA Panthers 14.5% 3 6.3 43.4 11.9% 1.9 3.8 32.2
CHICAGO Bears 15.9% 2 5.5 34.8 14% 1.7 5 35.7
CINCINNATI Bengals 15.7% 2.6 6.5 41.2 8.9% 1.6 3.1 34.6
CLEVELAND Browns 9% 1.5 3.2 35.4 15.8% 3.5 6.7 42.5
DALLAS Cowboys 14.3% 1.8 4.9 34.3 12% 2.2 4.2 34.7
DENVER Broncos 22.4% 3.3 8.5 38.2 14.3% 2.4 5.7 40.1
DETROIT Lions 17.6% 2.7 6.3 35.7 15.7% 2.5 6.8 43.5
GREEN BAY Packers 16.8% 2.7 6.5 38.5 14.7% 2.4 5.5 37.8
HOUSTON Texans 15.7% 2.5 5.9 37.7 10.9% 2 4.7 43.5
INDIANAPOLIS Colts 14.3% 1.7 5.7 40.2 18.7% 2.1 7.9 42.4
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars 10.8% 2.3 4.4 40.3 14.3% 3.1 6.1 42.7
KANSAS CITY Chiefs 11.2% 2.7 4.5 39.6 14.6% 3.1 5.2 35.5
MIAMI Dolphins 14.1% 2.1 5.1 36.2 16.2% 3 6.6 41.1
MINNESOTA Vikings 17.2% 2.3 6.4 37.1 18.2% 2.8 5.9 32.5
NEW ENGLAND Patriots 14.3% 3.2 6.1 42.7 13.7% 2.3 5.9 43.3
NEW ORLEANS Saints 12.1% 2.1 4.4 36.2 11.7% 2.4 5.1 43.5
NEW YORK Giants 11.5% 1.1 4.7 41 10.2% 1.6 4.2 41.2
NEW YORK Jets 17.6% 2.3 7.4 41.8 10.8% 1.3 4.1 37.7
OAKLAND Raiders 9.2% 2.3 4 43.6 7.8% 1.3 3 38.5
PHILADELPHIA Eagles 11.9% 2.4 4.8 40.4 15.2% 2.5 6.3 41.2
PITTSBURGH Steelers 11.9% 2.7 4.9 41.2 10.2% 2.3 3.8 37.5
SAN DIEGO Chargers 12.1% 1.9 4.2 34.5 13.5% 2.4 6.1 45.1
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 14.1% 1.7 5.3 37.3 17.3% 2.9 5.8 33.7
SEATTLE Seahawks 16.6% 2.5 6.2 37.3 23.2% 3.4 7.6 32.9
ST. LOUIS Rams 16.5% 2.7 6.1 36.8 21% 1.4 6.7 32.1
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers 16.1% 2.4 6 37.4 20.7% 2 7 33.8
TENNESSEE Titans 14.6% 2.9 4.8 33.1 16.3% 3.2 6 36.9
WASHINGTON 12.4% 1.8 4.5 35.9 14.1% 1.5 5.3 37.3

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.

Dallas defenders at Washington

After the loss of Tony Romo for a second time this season, it is tough to see the Cowboys – who are basically eliminated from playoff contention – to get up for this game. Washington got back to a ground-and-pound approach last week in their victory over the Giants; expect to see a similar strategy this week. The Redskins have been a good tackle matchup, averaging 51.2 opportunities allowed per game. Their Stadium Tackle Factor (STF) is one of the best in the league at 1.796, so Cowboys defenders should get an additional bump.

Carolina defenders at New Orleans

Ranking as a good matchup as far as STF, this is a huge litmus test game for the faltering Saints regime. Although the results have been poor, the Saints offense has remained a viable option for our tackle-producing IDPs, allowing 55 tackle opportunities per game and averaging a ridiculous 67.5 offensive snaps per game. This can be attributed to the Saints frequently playing from behind, which they could well be doing in this contest. Expect the Panthers defenders to see plenty of clean-up action late, or early and often if the Saints keep it close.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Baltimore defenders at Miami

The firing of Bill Lazor was not exactly unexpected. The Dolphins offense has been a poor unit this year, especially for IDP purposes. They have averaged only 19.1 rushing attempts per game and 45.8 tackle opportunities allowed. Ryan Tannehill is regressing as a quarterback and needs someone to hit the reset button. It is possible we could see a reversal of the trend here and a bounce-back game from Miami, but it is hard to trust that happening. Unless Miami get back to running the ball, the Ravens defenders have very little appeal in this dead rubber matchup.

Chicago defenders vs. San Francisco

The 49ers are averaging 46.2 tackle opportunities allowed per game on offense. Even though Blaine Gabbert has injected some much-needed life into this stagnant offense, they remain a dicey proposition to trust for our tackle -producing IDPs. The Bears, meanwhile, are surging defensively and have entered the territory of limiting their own opportunity with their play. The smart play here is to avoid your Bears defenders if you have better options.

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 50.5 25.5 38.3 63.9 50.5% 50.5 25.5 38.3 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 46.3 22.8 38.3 61.1 37.4% 49.7 26.2 36.4 62.5 41.9%
ATLANTA Falcons 50 25.2 37.1 62.3 40.4% 54 26.2 41.3 67.5 38.8%
BALTIMORE Ravens 50.6 25 39.5 64.5 38.8% 52.1 24.5 42.2 66.7 36.8%
BUFFALO Bills 46.7 22.7 40.2 62.9 36.1% 51.2 28.6 33.2 61.8 46.3%
CAROLINA Panthers 49.8 23.2 43.4 66.5 34.8% 52.6 33.5 32.2 65.6 51%
CHICAGO Bears 48.2 26.2 34.8 61 42.9% 51.6 28.6 35.7 64.4 44.5%
CINCINNATI Bengals 48.8 21.4 41.2 62.5 34.2% 51.5 28.1 34.6 62.7 44.8%
CLEVELAND Browns 50.7 28.5 35.4 63.9 44.7% 49.9 22 42.5 64.5 34.1%
DALLAS Cowboys 47.8 25.3 34.3 59.5 42.4% 50.9 26.8 34.7 61.5 43.6%
DENVER Broncos 49.7 25.5 38.2 63.6 40% 49.5 24.4 40.1 64.5 37.8%
DETROIT Lions 52.2 26.7 35.7 62.5 42.8% 50 21.3 43.5 64.7 32.9%
GREEN BAY Packers 50.9 27 38.5 65.5 41.2% 49.4 25.5 37.8 63.4 40.3%
HOUSTON Texans 47.7 24.2 37.7 61.9 39.1% 53.3 27.5 43.5 71 38.7%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts 51.6 26.6 40.2 66.8 39.9% 50 24.4 42.4 66.7 36.5%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars 54.3 26.7 40.3 67 39.9% 48.4 22.7 42.7 65.5 34.7%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs 48 24 39.6 63.6 37.7% 49.9 26.1 35.5 61.5 42.4%
MIAMI Dolphins 55.1 31.6 36.2 67.8 46.6% 45.8 19.1 41.1 60.2 31.7%
MINNESOTA Vikings 48.8 24.8 37.1 61.9 40.1% 51.1 29.2 32.5 61.6 47.3%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots 50.3 23.4 42.7 66.1 35.4% 50.6 21.6 43.3 64.9 33.3%
NEW ORLEANS Saints 52.3 27.2 36.2 63.4 42.9% 55 24 43.5 67.5 35.5%
NEW YORK Giants 54.6 26.9 41 67.9 39.6% 49.9 23.4 41.2 64.5 36.2%
NEW YORK Jets 46.5 22 41.8 63.8 34.5% 50.9 28.1 37.7 65.8 42.7%
OAKLAND Raiders 52.5 24.3 43.6 67.9 35.7% 48 22.8 38.5 61.4 37.2%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles 54.9 28 40.4 68.4 41% 55.3 28 41.2 69.2 40.5%
PITTSBURGH Steelers 52.3 23.7 41.2 64.9 36.6% 48.8 23.9 37.5 61.4 39%
SAN DIEGO Chargers 47.6 24.4 34.5 58.8 41.4% 54.9 23.2 45.1 68.3 34%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 54.1 27.8 37.3 65.1 42.7% 46.2 24.5 33.7 58.3 42.1%
SEATTLE Seahawks 48.5 24.2 37.3 61.5 39.3% 52.5 29.2 32.9 62.1 47%
ST. LOUIS Rams 54.2 27.8 36.8 64.6 43% 44.7 25.7 32.1 57.8 44.5%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers 53 26.8 37.4 64.2 41.8% 49.4 28.9 33.8 62.7 46.1%
TENNESSEE Titans 48.9 26.5 33.1 59.6 44.5% 48.3 23.7 36.9 60.6 39.1%
WASHINGTON 49.5 26.5 35.9 62.5 42.5 51.2 25.3 37.3 62.5 40.4%

Best of luck with Week 13 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.