IDP Matchups - Week 12
by Dave Larkin
November 21st, 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 12th 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.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Whoops, wrong holiday. Let me start off by saying that despite the fact I live in Ireland and we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope all of you, my loyal readers, have a day filled with fun, turkey and football. Not necessarily in that order.

What better way to accentuate the glow that comes with the holidays than by beating your opponent senseless this week in fantasy football? With no more byes and the playoffs (hopefully) in your crosshairs, you should have a good line-up to choose from.

Let's dig in to a juicy, basted Week 12 slate with the match-ups to exploit and avoid.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

St Louis front four at Arizona
John Skelton played so poorly last week that even with a 10-0 lead, he was sent to the bench. In his stead comes rookie Ryan Lindley, a rookie who is, to say the least, wet behind the ears. In what will likely be Lindley's first start, the Rams should be able to take advantage defensively against an Arizona offensive line that is still playing poorly (pressure allowed on 16.5% of drop backs). The Jets surprised the Rams last week; the Cardinals will not. If this one goes to script, we could see a huge performance from the likes of Robert Quinn and Chris Long.

Philadelphia front four vs. Carolina
This Eagles front has been beyond disappointing; some may call their displays abject at times. This team is circling the drain, and they are joined in that same drain by the dejected Panthers. I recommended the Eagles last week to come to life and they failed to deliver. However, in prime time against a Panthers team that has offensive line issues to combat, the Eagles could strike. Call it a hunch that this could be the Haley's comet week for Philly.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

New Orleans front four vs. San Francisco
Having seen the Saints slightly improve defensively over the past couple of weeks, you could definitely construct a feasible narrative in your mind to make yourself trust this unit. I'm not quite on board yet. Regardless of who starts at quarterback for San Francisco, this team will be able to pound New Orleans' front four, thereby offsetting any viable pass rushing threats. Look elsewhere for upside pass rushers.

Atlanta front four at Tampa Bay
Atlanta is getting great production from John Abraham, Kroy Biermann and company up front, but Tampa Bay despite the reconstructed offensive line has done an excellent job of protecting Josh Freeman. The Bucs have given up pressure on only 8.7% of drop backs, and allow a little over a sack per game. A steady dose of Doug Martin and some clever play-calling has helped this line out; I expect the same this week.

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
12.4%
2.27
4.65
37.4
12.4%
2.27
4.65
37.4
Stat
Pressure
QBSacks
QBHits
DropBacks
Pressure
QBSacks
QBHits
DropBacks
Ari
17.3%
2.8
6.1
35.2
16.5%
4.3
7.0
42.5
Atl
12.2%
2.4
4.2
34.3
12.7%
2.0
5.3
41.7
Bal
12.2%
1.9
4.8
39.3
10.7%
2.1
3.9
36.6
Buf
11.5%
2.3
4.1
35.8
12.6%
1.8
4.3
34.2
Car
11.7%
2.6
4.5
38.6
11.2%
2.6
3.7
33.0
Chi
10.9%
2.8
4.3
39.6
19.3%
3.4
6.4
33.1
Cin
15.3%
3.1
5.7
37.2
10.8%
2.4
4.0
36.9
Cle
12.0%
2.7
5.0
41.5
12.7%
1.6
4.9
38.7
Dal
14.4%
2.0
4.7
32.6
9.6%
2.4
4.1
42.8
Den
14.5%
3.5
5.9
40.7
7.0%
1.4
2.7
38.7
Det
14.9%
2.2
5.3
35.6
10.4%
2.2
4.8
46.2
GB
14.7%
3.3
6.2
42.2
14.4%
3.2
5.6
38.8
Hou
18.1%
2.8
6.9
38.2
11.8%
1.3
4.1
34.8
Ind
12.5%
2.1
4.4
35.3
14.5%
2.2
6.3
43.4
Jac
10.9%
1.2
4.2
38.6
14.9%
2.7
5.6
37.6
KC
12.5%
1.7
3.6
28.8
12.6%
2.2
4.5
35.7
Mia
14.6%
2.7
6.3
43.2
12.6%
2.2
4.4
34.9
Min
12.0%
2.6
4.7
39.1
13.2%
2.4
4.5
34.0
NE
10.2%
2.0
4.1
40.2
9.2%
1.5
3.8
41.1
NO
10.4%
2.4
4.2
40.2
11.0%
1.6
4.6
41.8
NYG
11.4%
2.5
4.2
36.7
9.2%
1.3
3.5
37.9
NYJ
10.9%
1.7
3.7
34.0
12.1%
2.5
4.2
34.6
Oak
12.9%
1.1
4.6
35.7
11.0%
2.0
4.8
43.7
Phi
9.1%
1.6
3.1
33.9
16.6%
3.3
7.1
42.7
Pit
13.0%
1.8
4.2
32.4
9.9%
2.2
3.9
39.2
SD
9.2%
1.7
3.4
36.8
11.7%
2.6
4.3
36.6
SF
12.1%
2.3
4.3
35.6
16.8%
3.1
5.0
29.7
Sea
15.3%
2.8
5.8
38.0
16.1%
1.9
4.4
27.4
StL
13.8%
2.9
5.0
36.2
14.3%
2.6
5.2
36.3
TB
6.8%
1.7
2.8
41.3
8.7%
1.4
2.9
33.3
Ten
10.7%
1.6
4.0
37.5
8.6%
1.8
3.2
37.1
Was
10.8%
1.8
4.5
41.8
18.6%
2.4
5.8
31.1

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

Cleveland defenders vs. Pittsburgh
It looks as though Charlie Batch will get the starting nod for Pittsburgh, so expect a heavy reliance on the bruising back Jonathan Dwyer with contributions from Rashard Mendenhall. The Browns are serviceable in run defense, so this should be a fascinating tilt. The tackle opportunity based on the Steelers' rushing attack alone should be enough to make the Browns' primary tacklers highly productive, but if this turns into a comeback effort by Pittsburgh, the Browns can benefit from mop-up tackles. Unless, of course, you think Charlie Batch will challenge the defense anything more than 15 yards downfield. Throw in the fact that the Browns average 57.4 tackle opportunities per game and you have a good formula for fantasy points.

NY Jets defenders vs. New England
New England's fast-break offense is quite a spectacle when it clicks. It should continue to do so against a game Jets team this Thanksgiving night. The Patriots, even without Rob Gronkowski, average 60 tackle opportunities allowed per game owing to their short, controlled passing attack. This squad may be the best in the AFC right now. FS LaRon Landry had 12 tackles the last time these teams met, with David Harris producing 9 solo tackles. Get your Jets in flight this week.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Chicago defenders vs. Minnesota
We could see an angry Bears team this week after their loss to San Francisco. The Vikings are in their way and could pay the price. As it is, Chicago's defense averages only 46 snaps per game. I am not of the opinion that Minnesota will be able to control this one as they might like heavy dose of Peterson, short passing attack so I would hesitate to recommend any Bears defenders except the most consistent ones this week.

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
50.9
27.0
37.4
64.4
53.0%
50.9
27.0
37.4
64.4
53.0%
Stat
TklOpps
RshFaced
DrpBksFaced
SnpsFaced
Run%
TklOppAll
RushAtt
DrpBacks
Snaps
Run%
Ari
50.5
29.5
35.2
64.7
58.4%
48.7
22.8
42.5
65.3
46.8%
Atl
48.3
26.2
34.3
60.5
54.2%
53.2
24.4
41.7
66.1
45.9%
Bal
57.1
32.8
39.3
72.1
57.4%
47.2
24.3
36.6
60.9
51.5%
Buf
52.0
29.3
35.8
65.1
56.3%
49.4
27.4
34.2
61.6
55.5%
Car
54.3
28.0
38.6
66.6
51.6%
46.7
26.7
33.0
59.7
57.2%
Chi
46.2
22.7
39.6
62.3
49.1%
50.0
28.9
33.1
62.0
57.8%
Cin
52.7
26.9
37.2
64.1
51.0%
51.2
26.6
36.9
63.5
52.0%
Cle
57.4
29.9
41.5
71.4
52.1%
45.9
23.8
38.7
62.5
51.9%
Dal
47.5
26.6
32.6
59.2
56.0%
53.1
23.3
42.8
66.1
43.9%
Den
52.9
27.1
40.7
67.8
51.2%
53.8
26.9
38.7
65.6
50.0%
Det
50.9
26.5
35.6
62.1
52.1%
54.0
24.3
46.2
70.5
45.0%
GB
49.5
24.5
42.2
66.7
49.5%
53.4
26.3
38.8
65.1
49.3%
Hou
43.7
21.7
38.2
59.9
49.7%
58.1
35.0
34.8
69.8
60.2%
Ind
48.8
25.6
35.3
60.9
52.5%
53.6
27.9
43.4
71.3
52.1%
Jac
58.5
33.1
38.6
71.7
56.6%
44.8
22.2
37.6
59.8
49.6%
KC
46.9
28.7
28.8
57.5
61.2%
53.7
31.9
35.7
67.6
59.4%
Mia
51.5
25.8
43.2
69.0
50.1%
48.9
27.7
34.9
62.6
56.6%
Min
54.2
28.4
39.1
67.5
52.4%
51.9
28.9
34.0
62.9
55.7%
NE
52.2
25.6
40.2
65.8
49.0%
60.2
33.0
41.1
74.1
54.8%
NO
57.6
31.2
40.2
71.4
54.2%
48.8
22.1
41.8
63.9
45.3%
NYG
50.1
25.8
36.7
62.5
51.5%
48.9
25.2
37.9
63.1
51.5%
NYJ
51.8
32.0
34.0
66.0
61.8%
49.1
29.2
34.6
63.8
59.5%
Oak
51.4
27.2
35.7
62.9
52.9%
49.7
22.4
43.7
66.1
45.1%
Phi
48.7
27.5
33.9
61.4
56.5%
53.1
27.7
42.7
70.4
52.2%
Pit
42.4
23.7
32.4
56.1
55.9%
52.9
27.3
39.2
66.5
51.6%
SD
47.1
23.1
36.8
59.9
49.0%
51.8
26.4
36.6
63.0
51.0%
SF
47.8
25.7
35.6
61.3
53.8%
51.7
30.2
29.7
59.9
58.4%
Sea
46.5
23.2
38.0
61.2
49.9%
51.2
33.4
27.4
60.8
65.2%
StL
53.1
27.9
36.2
64.1
52.5%
49.1
25.9
36.3
62.2
52.7%
TB
51.4
23.9
41.3
65.2
46.5%
46.9
27.5
33.3
60.8
58.6%
Ten
57.3
30.3
37.5
67.8
52.9%
45.7
22.2
37.1
59.3
48.6%
Was
49.4
22.9
41.8
64.7
46.4%
53.0
31.5
31.1
62.6
59.4%

Best of luck with Week 12 and make sure to check back next week for more 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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