P
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
P1
P2
P3
P4

IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid - Week 3

  Posted 9/18 by Jene Bramel and Larry Thomas, Exclusive to Footballguys.com


Each week, this column will take a critical look at a few key statistical trends to highlight the pass rushing and tackle matchups to exploit and avoid. We'll be heavily relying on another new 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 and Doug Drinen's Matchup Analyzer Tool and customizable MyFBG function as useful tools to assist in making weekly lineup 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.

Okay, enough of the disclaimers, let's look at our highlighted matchups for Week 3. To check any of this week's pass rush or tackle matchups, make sure to check out the Sack Opportunity Analyzer and the Tackle Opportunity Analyzer sheets within the IDP Matchup Analyzer.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Detroit front four Vs San Francisco (Matchup of the Week)

The Niners have allowed six sacks per game so far and have a bottom five Pressure Allowed percentage of nearly 19%. The Lions have yet to generate consistent pressure on their own, but this still has to be considered a top matchup for a streaky rusher like Dewayne White. The matchup also makes DT Cory Redding and DE Jared DeVries sneaky plays in a pinch.

Philadelphia front seven Vs Pittsburgh

Ben Roethlisberger has made a name for himself avoiding pass rushers, but still takes a well above-average number of hits. With the Eagles likely to bring pressure from everywhere at home this week, this looks like a nice time for Trent Cole to break out of his funk. Juqua Parker, Stewart Bradley and Quentin Mikell could be effective on blitzes as well.

Tennessee front four Vs Houston

Houston is allowing an above-average number of quarterback pressures so far and Tennessee continues to play well up front. Kyle Vanden Bosch, Albert Haynesworth and Tony Brown again look like solid pass rush plays.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

New Orleans front four Vs Denver (Matchup of the Week)

Both sides of this matchup are poor this week, with both offensive lines among the best in the league at protecting the pocket. We'll highlight the New Orleans side, which faces a very good offensive line, a offensive clicking on all cylinders and the thin air of Invesco Field. Will Smith and Charles Grant aren't likely to get sacks this week. The other side of the matchup is the easier call. The Broncos have been getting no pressure from their front four and Drew Brees and the New Orleans offensive line aren't likely to allow them to break that trend.

Cincinnati front four Vs New York Giants

Antwan Odom may be hitting his stride, but the flow of this game is likely to keep the Giants from needing to pass frequently. The rest of the Cincinnati defense has been extremely erratic in pass rush and aren't trustworthy against some of the best matchups. Should Odom break through again this week, there's an argument that he's become an every week DL2 option.

Green Bay front seven Vs Dallas

This game could be just as fun to watch as last Monday night's game against the Eagles. The Packers have home field advantage here, but Tony Romo and the Dallas offensive line held up well against Philadelphia this week. It's hard to bench Aaron Kampman under any circumstance, but if you're stacked with solid options, it should be on your mind this week. Don't expect A.J. Hawk to get past Marion Barber on linebacker blitzes as he did in Detroit last week.

Team
Pressure
QB
QB
Adj Pass
Applied
Sacks
Hits
Att Faced
2007 Lg Avg
11.3%
2.13
3.99
35.4
2008 Lg Avg
11.8%
2.27
3.85
32.7
Arizona
20.7%
3.00
6.00
29.0
Atlanta
11.6%
2.50
4.00
34.5
Baltimore
18.5%
2.00
5.00
27.0
Buffalo
17.1%
3.50
6.50
38.0
Carolina
4.9%
1.00
1.50
30.5
Chicago
10.7%
2.50
4.00
37.5
Cincinnati
5.9%
0.50
1.50
25.5
Cleveland
14.8%
1.50
4.00
27.0
Dallas
12.1%
2.50
4.00
33.0
Denver
8.1%
1.50
2.50
31.0
Detroit
5.7%
1.00
1.50
26.5
Green Bay
17.4%
3.00
7.50
43.0
Houston
5.0%
2.00
1.00
20.0
Indianapolis
14.0%
2.50
3.50
25.0
Jacksonville
9.4%
2.00
2.50
26.5
Kansas City
8.3%
1.00
2.00
24.0
Miami
9.4%
2.50
2.50
26.5
Minnesota
7.6%
1.00
2.50
33.0
New England
15.9%
3.00
5.00
31.5
New Orleans
13.6%
2.00
5.50
40.5
N. Y. Giants
12.1%
3.50
4.00
33.0
N. Y. Jets
15.1%
3.50
5.50
36.5
Oakland
7.4%
2.50
2.50
34.0
Philadelphia
6.7%
2.00
2.00
30.0
Pittsburgh
12.5%
3.50
4.50
36.0
St. Louis
4.3%
1.00
1.50
35.0
San Diego
4.3%
1.00
2.00
46.5
San Francisco
10.0%
2.00
3.50
35.0
Seattle
13.9%
4.50
5.00
36.0
Tampa Bay
28.6%
2.50
10.00
35.0
Tennessee
17.1%
4.00
6.00
35.0
Washington
9.7%
2.00
3.50
36.0

Strong Matchups in green. Weak Matchups in red.


Tackle Matchups to Exploit

Cincinnati defense Vs New York Giants (Matchup of the Week)

The Bengals defense continues to play just well enough to rack up tackles and the offense is helping by getting them back on the field as quickly as possible. The Bengals offense will face another tough defense this week on the road and easily the best offense they've seen this season. If the Ravens and Titans were able to provide well above-average tackle opportunity, the Giants should easily do the same. Dhani Jones, Keith Rivers, Chinedum Ndukwe and Marvin White are all good plays this week.

New Orleans defense Vs Denver

The New Orleans defense is getting a little healthier this week, but faces a strong offense on the road. Unless the Saint offense finds a way to control the clock, their defense should be on the field enough to give Jonathan Vilma and whomever lines up at safety a chance for a big box score line this week.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

San Francisco defense Vs Detroit (Matchup of the Week)

On our weekly podcast, John Norton noted the unthinkable - you should consider benching Patrick Willis this week if you're in a very shallow league and have another stud option. It's blasphemy, and nearly impossible to force yourself to consider, but this matchup is as bad as it gets for inside linebackers. Detroit has provided opposing defenses a near league worst 33 total tackle opportunities on rushing attempts (the Rams have provided 31) and aren't likely to do much better on the road this week. We're not advocating benching Willis in a standard league lineup this week, though you should definitely temper expectations. Michael Lewis should almost certainly be benched for better options.

New York Giants defense Vs Cincinnati

Don't look for any of the Giant back seven to have a huge week in the box scores against Cincinnati. The Bengals offense is struggling and their defense isn't likely to get off the field quickly. Expect the Giants to easily control the clock and limit their defensive tackle opportunities. It'll be another slim week in the tackle columns for Antonio Pierce and the OLB and safety rotations.

Team
Tackle
Rush Att
Pass Att
Offensive
Run
Ops
Faced
Faced
Snaps Faced
Percentage
2007 Lg Avg
49.8
27.3
35.4
62.7
43.6%
2008 Lg Avg
48.2
27.3
32.7
60.0
45.5%
Arizona
40.5
22.0
29.0
51.0
43.1%
Atlanta
48.0
24.5
34.5
59.0
41.5%
Baltimore
35.0
23.0
27.0
50.0
46.0%
Buffalo
44.5
24.0
38.0
62.0
38.7%
Carolina
47.0
28.0
30.5
58.5
47.9%
Chicago
46.5
23.0
37.5
60.5
38.0%
Cincinnati
58.5
43.5
25.5
69.0
63.0%
Cleveland
50.5
31.0
27.0
58.0
53.4%
Dallas
41.0
20.5
33.0
53.5
38.3%
Denver
45.0
24.5
31.0
55.5
44.1%
Detroit
53.5
36.0
26.5
62.5
57.6%
Green Bay
45.0
22.5
43.0
65.5
34.4%
Houston
54.0
39.0
20.0
59.0
66.1%
Indianapolis
53.0
37.0
25.0
62.0
59.7%
Jacksonville
48.0
29.0
26.5
55.5
52.3%
Kansas City
51.5
37.5
24.0
61.5
61.0%
Miami
51.0
31.0
26.5
57.5
53.9%
Minnesota
46.0
23.0
33.0
56.0
41.1%
New England
45.5
24.0
31.5
55.5
43.2%
New Orleans
51.5
25.5
40.5
66.0
38.6%
N. Y. Giants
41.0
20.0
33.0
53.0
37.7%
N. Y. Jets
49.5
25.0
36.5
61.5
40.7%
Oakland
45.5
26.5
34.0
60.5
43.8%
Philadelphia
39.0
19.5
30.0
49.5
39.4%
Pittsburgh
47.5
22.5
36.0
58.5
38.5%
St. Louis
55.5
31.5
35.0
66.5
47.4%
San Diego
57.0
26.5
46.5
73.0
36.3%
San Francisco
57.0
36.5
35.0
71.5
51.0%
Seattle
50.5
26.0
36.0
62.0
41.9%
Tampa Bay
48.0
27.5
35.0
62.5
44.0%
Tennessee
46.0
22.5
35.0
57.5
39.1%
Washington
48.0
25.5
36.0
61.5
41.5%

Strong Matchups in green. Weak Matchups in red.

This feature will be a work in progress all season long. We welcome all suggestions and feedback to bramel@footballguys.com.