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IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 6 - Footballguys

Dave Larkin analyzes the key match-ups to target and avoid from an IDP perspective.

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 Aaron Rudnicki. That spreadsheet will contain a few 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 analysis 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.

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 Aaron Rudnicki 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 hone my knowledge of the defensive side of the football. Each week I will study film from the previous week’s games and provide you with nuggets of wisdom that will put you on the right track to the playoffs, and hopefully a championship.

The popular phrase ‘it’s getting late early’ may apply to some readers as we step into Week 6, but many of you may be on the other side of things, reveling in your success. The best advice as we embark on a journey through the meaty center of the schedule is to stay humble and stay hungry. Resting on laurels will not cut it.

The IDP landscape morphs seemingly every week into a new form, throwing previously trusted axioms into the garbage and forcing us to remain nimble in our analysis. This week is no different, but fortunately, there is always safety in numbers – specifically, the IDP Matchup Sheet.

So, let’s dive into the Week 6 slate to see what matchups to target and avoid.

Team Defense
Pressure
QB
QB
Drop Backs
Applied
Sacks
Hits
Faced
2015 NFL Average
14.2%
2.31
5.41
38.1
2016 NFL Average
14.2%
2.18
5.37
37.8
2017 NFL Average
15.1%
2.33
5.49
36.5
2018 NFL Average
14.5%
2.47
5.65
39.0
Team Defense
Pressure
QB
QB
Drop Backs
Applied
Sacks
Hits
Faced
ARIZONA Cardinals
14.1%
2.8
5.4
38.2
ATLANTA Falcons
9.2%
1.6
3.8
41.4
BALTIMORE Ravens
15.0%
3.0
6.4
42.8
BUFFALO Bills
11.1%
2.4
4.4
39.6
CAROLINA Panthers
12.1%
2.3
4.5
37.3
CHICAGO Bears
18.7%
4.5
7.3
38.8
CINCINNATI Bengals
16.0%
2.6
7.0
43.8
CLEVELAND Browns
13.6%
2.8
6.4
47.2
DALLAS Cowboys
17.3%
3.0
6.4
37.0
DENVER Broncos
14.8%
2.2
5.4
36.6
DETROIT Lions
16.0%
3.4
5.4
33.8
GREEN BAY Packers
15.7%
3.2
5.6
35.6
HOUSTON Texans
13.9%
2.6
5.4
38.8
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
14.0%
3.4
6.0
42.8
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
12.5%
2.2
4.4
35.2
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
12.8%
3.0
6.4
50.0
LOS ANGELES Chargers
17.5%
2.2
6.2
35.4
LOS ANGELES Rams
12.4%
2.0
4.4
35.6
MIAMI Dolphins
12.0%
1.6
4.6
38.2
MINNESOTA Vikings
18.3%
2.8
6.6
36.0
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
13.6%
1.4
5.6
41.2
NEW ORLEANS Saints
10.8%
2.4
4.0
37.0
NEW YORK Giants
12.7%
1.2
4.4
34.6
NEW YORK Jets
15.8%
2.8
6.8
43.0
OAKLAND Raiders
9.0%
1.2
3.0
33.2
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
20.6%
2.4
8.6
41.8
PITTSBURGH Steelers
18.8%
3.8
8.4
44.8
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
12.5%
1.8
5.0
40.0
SEATTLE Seahawks
14.8%
2.0
5.2
35.2
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
17.6%
2.0
7.3
41.3
TENNESSEE Titans
15.8%
2.6
5.6
35.4
WASHINGTON Redskins
14.9%
2.3
5.5
37.0

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Minnesota pass rushers vs. Arizona offensive line

The Cardinals offense has sputtered its way into a semblance of life since Josh Rosen took the reins. The rhythm and timing of the operation has improved immeasurably, despite some rookie errors thrown in here and there. Travelling to face a fearsome Minnesota pass rush – a unit that averages pressure on 18.3% of dropbacks – may be an ask too much for young Mr. Rosen, however.

On paper, this is a mismatch of epic proportions in favor of a Minnesota team that, despite a tumultuous start, has performed well in all but the Buffalo game. That affair, also a home game, was a blemish that this team will be eager to wash away – and that starts with a shellacking of the NFC’s whipping boys, Arizona. Err on the side of playing your Vikings at all levels of the defense; this could be a bonanza.

Key stat: The Cardinals offensive line has allowed pressure on 20.3% of dropbacks, despite recording an average of just 29.6 per game, with the league average dropback number standing at 39.

Los Angeles Chargers pass rushers at Cleveland

The Chargers pass rush, as highlighted in the key stat below, has been more productive than expected without star edge man Joey Bosa. The unit has averaged 2.2 sacks and 6.2 hits on quarterbacks, all this despite facing a below average number of dropbacks per game (35.4).

The Browns offense has blossomed before our eyes in the opening weeks, but this unit still has its warts – many of them, in fact. The offensive line is the one we will focus on, a unit that has allowed pressure on 18.4% of dropbacks, 4.2 sacks per game and 7.8 hits per game. This doesn’t make encouraging reading for Baker Mayfield, who has borne the brunt of the punishment. A competent Chargers front seven should be able to get this game on their terms, barring some Mayfield magic.

Key stat: Even without the menace and guile of Joey Bosa, the Chargers have averaged pressure on 17.5% of opponent dropbacks.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Oakland pass rushers vs. Seattle (in London)

Seattle’s offensive line has been a perennial problem for this team’s viability over the course of a season, and this year has seen that trend continue. This unit surrenders pressure on 19.4% of dropbacks and 3.6 sacks per game, a veritable swinging gate to Russell Wilson in the offensive backfield.

Fortunately for Seattle, however, they face the hapless Raiders pass rush this week – if you can even call it that. The Khalil Mack talk is well-worn and cliched at this point, but it bears mentioning just how toothless his absence has rendered this group. The sample size is only five games, but that is enough to know not to trust this unit.

The chances are most IDP owners don’t roster Raiders defenders, but if you do, this would be an excellent week to sit them.

Key stat: The Raiders have averaged pressure on just 9% of dropbacks and have recorded just 1.2 sacks per game.

Team Defense
Tackle
Rush Attempts
Drop Backs
Offensive
Rush
Opportunity
Faced
Faced
Snaps Faced
Percentage
2015 NFL Average
50.4
25.5
38.1
63.6
40.2%
2016 NFL Average
50
25.3
37.8
63.1
40.1%
2017 NFL Average
49.6
26.1
36.5
62.6
41.9%
2018 NFL Average
50.9
24.6
39
63.7
38.7%
Team Defense
Tackle
Rush Attempts
Drop Backs
Offensive
Rush
Opportunity
Faced
Faced
Snaps Faced
Percentage
ARIZONA Cardinals
61.8
34.6
38.2
72.8
47.5%
ATLANTA Falcons
53.6
24.2
41.4
65.6
36.9%
BALTIMORE Ravens
47.2
22.4
42.8
65.2
34.4%
BUFFALO Bills
51.8
24.4
39.6
64.0
38.1%
CAROLINA Panthers
46.3
20.5
37.3
57.8
35.5%
CHICAGO Bears
45.5
19.0
38.8
57.8
32.9%
CINCINNATI Bengals
55.6
26.0
43.8
69.8
37.2%
CLEVELAND Browns
56.6
27.8
47.2
75.0
37.1%
DALLAS Cowboys
54.6
27.0
37.0
64.0
42.2%
DENVER Broncos
50.4
26.0
36.6
62.6
41.5%
DETROIT Lions
48.8
26.0
33.8
59.8
43.5%
GREEN BAY Packers
47.4
24.2
35.6
59.8
40.5%
HOUSTON Texans
54.6
27.2
38.8
66.0
41.2%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
58.8
27.0
42.8
69.8
38.7%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
46.6
24.6
35.2
59.8
41.1%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
53.0
20.6
50.0
70.6
29.2%
LOS ANGELES Chargers
47.2
23.2
35.4
58.6
39.6%
LOS ANGELES Rams
46.0
21.4
35.6
57.0
37.5%
MIAMI Dolphins
52.6
28.0
38.2
66.2
42.3%
MINNESOTA Vikings
49.4
24.6
36.0
60.6
40.6%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
52.2
25.6
41.2
66.8
38.3%
NEW ORLEANS Saints
49.0
22.0
37.0
59.0
37.3%
NEW YORK Giants
46.2
25.4
34.6
60.0
42.3%
NEW YORK Jets
53.8
24.8
43.0
67.8
36.6%
OAKLAND Raiders
45.6
24.8
33.2
58.0
42.8%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
48.0
19.0
41.8
60.8
31.3%
PITTSBURGH Steelers
53.8
24.6
44.8
69.4
35.4%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
48.4
24.0
40.0
64.0
37.5%
SEATTLE Seahawks
50.0
26.6
35.2
61.8
43.0%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
53.5
21.3
41.3
62.5
34.0%
TENNESSEE Titans
51.2
27.4
35.4
62.8
43.6%
WASHINGTON Redskins
47.0
21.3
37.0
58.3
36.5%

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

New York Jets defenders vs. Indianapolis

TVO factor: 1.075 (ranked 24th in the league)

Although the Jets’ stadium statistics crew is nowhere near as generous as their blue counterpart, the 24th-ranked TVO factor may not be much of an issue this week. The Colts are proving to be a great matchup for tackle producers, despite the fact they have a rush percentage of 27.9%. Their offense averages 54.4 tackle opportunities allowed per game, and a lot of it may come down to one thing: pace.

My Footballguys colleague John Lee pointed this important point out in one of his articles last week, citing a Football Outsiders resource that tracks the average seconds per play of offenses. The Colts are the top team in this regard and this important factor increases the viability of key defenders on the other side.

As it happens, the Jets defense averages a healthy 53.8 tackle opportunities per game and should be able to thrive against an up-tempo unit like Andrew Luck’s offense. The TVO should be noted and could cap this matchup’s upside, but pace could be the trick at the end of the game.

Key stat: According to Football Outsiders’ pace statistics, which measures the average seconds per play of offenses, the Indianapolis Colts run the fastest offense in the league at 23.14 seconds per play.

Tennessee defenders vs. Baltimore

TVO factor: 1.153 (14th)

Baltimore’s offense has been reinvigorated this season and suddenly ranks as one of the premiere tackle matchups for IDPs. A mid-table TVO factor isn’t much of a deterrent for production, especially when we factor in the fast pace of the Ravens offense.

Tennessee’s defense has averaged 51.2 tackle opportunities per game, and significantly they have faced a rush percentage of 43.6%, well above the league average. The sense here is that Baltimore could control this matchup with a heavy dose of the ground game – as long as Alex Collins doesn’t fumble – so there figures to be a big day in store for Tennessee’s many IDP options.

Key stat: The Ravens offense has been averaging 57.2 tackle opportunities allowed per game to opposing defenses. According to Football Outsiders, the AFC North team also runs the second fastest offense in the league in terms of pace (seconds per play).

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Dallas and Jacksonville defenders

TVO factor: 1.112 (20th)

Try as they might, the Dallas Cowboys just can’t get this offense into gear. Just when they thought things couldn’t get any worse, here comes the Jacksonville defense. Unsurprisingly, the statistics show Dallas has been a completely worthless bet for tackle production, while the Jacksonville offense has been average (52 tackle opportunities allowed per game).

To use a bit of gambling lingo, this one is a stone-cold stay away, with the poor TVO factor putting a further dent in its appeal. We could see a meltdown of the Dallas offense on national television in the late afternoon this Sunday; I just hope you are not counting on a lot of tackle production in the process.

Key stat: The Dallas offense has allowed just 46 tackle opportunities per game despite having an above average rush percentage of 43.6.

Chicago defenders at Miami

TVO factor: 1.286 (3rd in the league)

The TVO factor is very strong in Miami, but even that might not be enough to salvage this matchup, pitting two quarterbacks of questionable ability against one another. As the key stat shows, Miami’s offense has been horrendous for tackle opportunity; the Bears have been much more reliable at 53.5 tackle opportunities allowed, so there is some upside in Miami’s defenders.

If you are fading any side of this matchup, make it Chicago’s defenders, who pack plenty of upside in terms of pass rush but may fall far short in the tackle columns. The clock continues to tick on Ryan Tannehill’s time in Miami, and one wonders if the Bears defense can hammer in a decisive nail to the coffin this week.

Key stat: Miami’s offense has allowed a paltry 41.8 tackle opportunities per game to opposing defenses, a bad recipe for tackle production. This mark is by far the worst in the NFL.

Best of luck with Week 6 and make sure to check back next season 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.

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