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IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 6

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 sixth 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.

As creatures of routine, we tend to gravitate towards absolutes. We take solace in figures to help us flesh out scenarios and provide us with more clarity. At this stage of the season, fantasy owners should be safe in the knowledge that, for the most part, we know who and what these teams are.

We have five weeks’ worth of data in the books now and although the process of attrition will change the landscape between now and the fantasy playoffs, staying the course with the ‘old reliables’ of tackle opportunity and pass rush opportunity is the best course of action.

So without further ado, let’s get to the best and worst matchups of Week 6.


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.

Minnesota front seven vs. Kansas City

The Chiefs rank second in the league in sacks allowed (21), with 14 of those coming on the road. The loss of Jamaal Charles will mean Charcanderick West and Knile Davis will be asked to pass protect, along with an offensive line that has been nothing short of an abomination this season. This all adds up to an excellent spot for the Vikings, coming off a bye, to get their pass rush in high gear. Despite only registering eight sacks this season, Minnesota is nonetheless among the league’s better defenses in pressure percentage (16.9%). This one looks like a slam dunk for the home team.

Green Bay front seven vs. San Diego

In a similar vein to the previous match-up between the Vikings and Chiefs, this clash offers up a match-up almost too good to be true on paper. The Chargers offensive line looked positively overmatched last week against Pittsburgh and is giving up 2.8 sacks per game. Were it not for Philip Rivers’ quick release, they would have surrendered many more. Green Bay’s defense, meanwhile, has been one of the less heralded but most productive in the league as far as pass rush. Favorable game scripts have led to 20 sacks for this unit, good for second in the league behind Denver. Their pressure percentage is an impressive 19.8%. Don’t expect that trend to stop this week; all your Packers pass rushers should be in your line-up.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Buffalo front seven vs. Cincinnati

Andy Dalton continues to get outstanding protection behind this offensive line and so far the Bengals have given up a pressure percentage of only 7.8%. Rex Ryan is always capable of throwing things at quarterbacks that they are not familiar with, but with Tyrod Taylor due to miss multiple weeks, suddenly the task looks all the taller for the Bills. The insertion of EJ Manuel into the line-up will mean more snaps on the field for the defense and will tire them out faster. The Bengals’ quick-hitting passing attack should keep them off balance and, most importantly, off Dalton. Start your stud Buffalo front seven players, but be aware that this is a poor match-up for pass rush production.

Sack Opportunties 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 13.1% 2.3 5 37.9 13.1% 2.3 5 37.9
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 15.9% 1.6 6.4 40.2 15.1% 1.4 4.8 31.8
ATLANTA Falcons 11.7% 1.2 5 42.6 10.3% 1.8 4 38.8
BALTIMORE Ravens 12.4% 3 5.2 42 9.9% 1.6 4 40.6
BUFFALO Bills 11.2% 1.8 5.2 46.6 15.1% 2.8 4.6 30.4
CAROLINA Panthers 9% 2.3 4.3 47 11.7% 1.8 3.8 32
CHICAGO Bears 14.8% 1.8 4.4 29.8 12.5% 2.2 4.6 36.8
CINCINNATI Bengals 15.8% 3 6.4 40.4 7.8% 1.2 2.6 33.2
CLEVELAND Browns 10.2% 2 3.6 35.2 14.1% 3.6 5.8 41.2
DALLAS Cowboys 11.2% 2.2 4.2 37.6 9.4% 2.2 3.4 36.2
DENVER Broncos 21.7% 4.2 8.8 40.6 12.9% 2.4 5.2 40.2
DETROIT Lions 17.7% 2.4 5.6 31.6 14.6% 1.4 7 48
GREEN BAY Packers 19.8% 4 7.2 36.4 10.6% 1.6 3.4 32.2
HOUSTON Texans 11.3% 1.2 3.8 33.6 8% 1.8 4 50.2
INDIANAPOLIS Colts 9.3% 1.2 3.6 38.8 15.5% 1.6 6.2 40
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars 12.9% 2.2 5 38.8 14.8% 2.8 6 40.6
KANSAS CITY Chiefs 9.2% 2.2 3.8 41.4 16.5% 4.2 6.4 38.8
MIAMI Dolphins 8.1% 0.3 2.5 30.8 14.9% 2.5 6.8 45.3
MINNESOTA Vikings 16.9% 2 6.5 38.5 18.7% 3.3 6 32
NEW ENGLAND Patriots 14.7% 4 5.8 39 11.1% 2.8 4.8 42.8
NEW ORLEANS Saints 8% 1.4 2.6 32.4 9.4% 3 4.2 44.6
NEW YORK Giants 10.3% 1.4 4.6 44.8 9.5% 0.8 3.8 40.2
NEW YORK Jets 20.9% 1.8 7.8 37 8.2% 0.5 3 36.8
OAKLAND Raiders 7.4% 2 3.2 43.2 7.4% 1.8 3 40.4
PHILADELPHIA Eagles 9.7% 2.2 4.4 45.2 11.7% 1.4 4.6 39.4
PITTSBURGH Steelers 10.7% 3.2 4.4 41 14.8% 3 4.8 32.4
SAN DIEGO Chargers 15.5% 1.6 4.8 31 13.9% 2.8 5.8 41.8
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 12.4% 1.8 4.6 37.2 15.6% 3.2 5.2 33.4
SEATTLE Seahawks 15.1% 2 5 33.2 25.6% 4.4 8.8 34.4
ST. LOUIS Rams 17.1% 3.8 6.6 38.6 21.7% 1.8 6.6 30.4
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers 16% 3 5.2 32.6 17.8% 2.2 5.8 32.6
TENNESSEE Titans 17.4% 3.3 4.8 27.3 17.5% 3.5 6.3 35.8
WASHINGTON 12.2% 2.4 4.4 36 11% 1.2 4.2 38.2

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.

Carolina defenders at Seattle

The Seahawks offense has been a surprisingly good match-up for tackle producers despite their early struggles. The return of Marshawn Lynch should give them a boost and allow them to return to a more balanced attack. The Panthers have racked up 53.3 tackle opportunities per game and that trend could continue in Seattle; Carolina has lost to Seattle in their last four meetings dating back to 2012. Luke Kuechly has cleared the concussion protocol and will play, but coach Rivera has hinted that Kuechly may not take every snap. In a knockdown, drag-out type of game that these teams normally play, the STF (see above) makes this even more enticing. The Seahawks home stat crew is very generous as far as giving out tackles, so even marginal players should excel.

New York Giants defenders at Philadelphia

The Eagles offense isn’t fully back yet, but that victory last week will have given them a huge confidence boost. Old rivals New York come to town for Monday Night Football this week. The Giants have seen 53.4 tackle opportunities per game and their defense is exploitable, as the Niners showed. Philadelphia’s main issue is the play of Sam Bradford, who continues to limit the offense at times. Nevertheless, the smart play here is to insert your Giants into your line-up.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Chicago defenders at Detroit

Can things get any worse for the Lions? Well, as it turns out, yes they can. A loss to the Bears this week would have heads rolling, with Jim Caldwell’s likely first to go. The Lions offense has allowed a putrid 48 tackle opportunities per game, with only 17.2 rush attempts per game. These metrics should make you stay away from your Bears defenders this week, unless you play in leagues that reward extra points for sacks and big plays.

New England defenders at Indianapolis

This could be a long day for the Colts. This is pure speculation on my part, but it seems to me that Bill Belichick might put a little more effort in this week’s game plan against the team that blew the whistle on Deflategate. Even with Andrew Luck returning, I don’t expect this offense to suddenly burst into life. The Colts offense has allowed only 46.2 tackle opportunities per game, not good enough to consider trusting your Patriots players, apart from the studs.

Tackle Opportunties 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 50.7 25.6 37.9 63.4 50.4% 50.7 25.6 37.9 63.4 50.4%
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 49.2 24 40.2 64.2 37.4% 45.8 25 31.8 56.8 44%
ATLANTA Falcons 48.4 20.2 42.6 62.8 32.2% 55.8 30 38.8 68.8 43.6%
BALTIMORE Ravens 54.4 25.6 42 67.6 37.9% 53.2 27.2 40.6 67.8 40.1%
BUFFALO Bills 48.2 20.2 46.6 66.8 30.2% 50.6 28.4 30.4 58.8 48.3%
CAROLINA Panthers 53.3 24.5 47 71.5 34.3% 49.8 31.3 32 63.3 49.4%
CHICAGO Bears 45.6 25.6 29.8 55.4 46.2% 51.2 28.4 36.8 65.2 43.6%
CINCINNATI Bengals 51.2 22.4 40.4 62.8 35.7% 52.6 29.8 33.2 63 47.3%
CLEVELAND Browns 50.6 29 35.2 64.2 45.2% 51.4 23.4 41.2 64.6 36.2%
DALLAS Cowboys 49.8 23.6 37.6 61.2 38.6% 52 24.8 36.2 61 40.7%
DENVER Broncos 51.2 23.4 40.6 64 36.6% 47.2 20.8 40.2 61 34.1%
DETROIT Lions 52 27.2 31.6 58.8 46.3% 48 17.2 48 65.2 26.4%
GREEN BAY Packers 47.4 26.2 36.4 62.6 41.9% 52.8 29.6 32.2 61.8 47.9%
HOUSTON Texans 48.4 28.4 33.6 62 45.8% 56 26.8 50.2 77 34.8%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts 54.2 28.6 38.8 67.4 42.4% 46.2 22 40 62 35.5%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars 55 28 38.8 66.8 41.9% 48 23.6 40.6 64.2 36.8%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs 51.2 25.2 41.4 66.6 37.8% 50.8 24.8 38.8 63.6 39%
MIAMI Dolphins 54.3 35 30.8 65.8 53.2% 42.5 15.8 45.3 61 25.8%
MINNESOTA Vikings 50.8 25.8 38.5 64.3 40.1% 49.8 27.3 32 59.3 46%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots 50.8 23.8 39 62.8 37.8% 53 21.3 42.8 64 33.2%
NEW ORLEANS Saints 51.6 30 32.4 62.4 48.1% 54.8 23 44.6 67.6 34%
NEW YORK Giants 53.4 22.6 44.8 67.4 33.5% 52 25 40.2 65.2 38.3%
NEW YORK Jets 44.5 24.8 37 61.8 40.1% 51.8 29.3 36.8 66 44.3%
OAKLAND Raiders 52 23 43.2 66.2 34.7% 49 22 40.4 62.4 35.3%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles 56.4 26.2 45.2 71.4 36.7% 49.6 24.2 39.4 63.6 38.1%
PITTSBURGH Steelers 55.6 25.8 41 66.8 38.6% 48.8 25 32.4 57.4 43.6%
SAN DIEGO Chargers 45.6 25.4 31 56.4 45% 54.8 24 41.8 65.8 36.5%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 52.4 25.2 37.2 62.4 40.4% 50.6 28.4 33.4 61.8 46%
SEATTLE Seahawks 49.2 26 33.2 59.2 43.9% 53.8 28.2 34.4 62.6 45%
ST. LOUIS Rams 56.4 27 38.6 65.6 41.2% 41.8 23.6 30.4 54 43.7%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers 51.4 29.4 32.6 62 47.4% 49.2 29.8 32.6 62.4 47.8%
TENNESSEE Titans 41.5 25 27.3 52.3 47.8% 52.5 28.5 35.8 64.3 44.4%
WASHINGTON 44.8 22.2 36 58.2 38.1 56.2 29.8 38.2 68 43.8%

Best of luck with Week 6 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.