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IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 8

Dave Larkin analyzes the best and worst IDP matchups on the Week 8 schedule. 

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 eighth 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.

By this point in the season, conventional wisdom has grappled the collective hive mind of fantasy owners, separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of players and matchups. It is tempting to believe that this is an immutable state, never to change for the remainder of the regular season, but that would be lazy analysis.

If anything, as we see teams vying for playoff glory, while others wrestle to avoid the ignominy of being the holder of the number one draft pick, there will be a shift in the fantasy landscape. Amid the gauntlet of bye weeks, we must be cognizant of such shifts and attack them appropriately so that we can stay the course to championship glory.

With that in mind, let’s dig into the matchups on the Week 8 slate.

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
14.4%
2.52
5.54
38.4
Team Defense
Pressure
QB
QB
Drop Backs
Applied
Sacks
Hits
Faced
ARIZONA Cardinals
15.0%
2.9
5.4
36.1
ATLANTA Falcons
10.6%
2.0
4.4
41.7
BALTIMORE Ravens
16.2%
3.9
6.3
38.7
BUFFALO Bills
14.2%
2.7
5.1
36.3
CAROLINA Panthers
12.7%
2.7
4.8
38.2
CHICAGO Bears
15.3%
3.2
6.0
39.3
CINCINNATI Bengals
13.4%
2.1
5.9
43.7
CLEVELAND Browns
14.6%
2.7
6.6
44.9
DALLAS Cowboys
17.5%
2.7
6.0
34.3
DENVER Broncos
16.9%
3.1
6.3
37.3
DETROIT Lions
15.7%
3.5
5.3
34.0
GREEN BAY Packers
15.8%
3.0
5.3
33.8
HOUSTON Texans
14.8%
2.7
5.7
38.7
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
12.9%
3.0
5.1
39.9
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
13.9%
2.1
4.6
33.0
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
11.2%
2.7
5.1
46.0
LOS ANGELES Chargers
16.4%
2.6
6.1
37.4
LOS ANGELES Rams
14.9%
2.7
5.4
36.4
MIAMI Dolphins
11.3%
1.6
4.0
35.3
MINNESOTA Vikings
16.5%
3.0
6.1
37.1
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
11.6%
1.3
4.9
42.0
NEW ORLEANS Saints
10.2%
2.2
3.8
37.7
NEW YORK Giants
12.7%
1.4
4.6
36.0
NEW YORK Jets
14.7%
2.1
6.3
42.7
OAKLAND Raiders
9.5%
1.2
3.0
31.7
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
20.9%
2.6
8.9
42.4
PITTSBURGH Steelers
17.1%
3.7
7.7
44.8
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
13.1%
2.0
5.1
39.3
SEATTLE Seahawks
16.9%
2.7
6.0
35.5
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
16.3%
2.3
6.7
41.0
TENNESSEE Titans
14.5%
2.1
5.0
34.6
WASHINGTON Redskins
14%
2.3
5.3
38.0

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Philadelphia pass rushers vs. Jacksonville (in London)

The last-gasp defeat to the Carolina Panthers must be gnawing at the minds of the Eagles players this week as they prepare to fly to London. A game that appeared to be sewn up was suddenly wrestled away unceremoniously, forcing tough questions to be asked. The spot is excellent here for Philadelphia’s defense especially, who face a rudderless Jaguars offense that can’t seem to get out of its own way.

Jacksonville’s offensive line has given up pressure on 14.1% of dropbacks – not a terrible mark by any means – but the sense here is that the Eagles will overpower the Jaguars up front. With a superior offense dictating terms and a stifling defense, expect this one to get away from Jacksonville and (insert quarterback here) quickly. Load up on your Eagles and expect a big performance.

Key stat: The Eagles pass rush boasts the highest pressure applied figure in the league at 20.9%.

Arizona pass rushers vs. San Francisco

Recommending the Cardinals this season seems on the surface a suicidal move but bear with me on this one. Arizona, despite all the flaws on the roster, has managed to excel defensively – at times, at least. Coming to town this week is the 49ers, incidentally the only team Arizona has defeated this season. If that doesn’t get the positive juices flowing for Chandler Jones and company, what will?

Arizona’s pass rush has averaged pressure on an average 15% of dropbacks, but it should be noted they have faced only 36.1 dropbacks per game, in large part due to their game scripts. If the home team can keep this one close, expect Arizona’s underrated pass rush to get into gear in a favorable matchup.

Key stat: The Cardinals haven’t done much effectively this season, but their pass rush has been a bright spot at times. The 49ers have allowed pressure on 19.1% of dropbacks, well above the league average.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Baltimore pass rushers at Carolina

Watch Justin Tucker waltz on to the Bank of America Stadium grass this week and nail a 57-yarder. It’s hard to keep a good kicker down, my friends. Baltimore will be raw after a cruel loss to the Saints, but this week they get to face another NFC South team to possibly take out frustration. Baltimore’s pass rush has averaged pressure on 16.2% of dropbacks this season; not elite, but certainly not insignificant.

What is significant is how stingy a matchup the Panthers – the same team that is starting journeyman Chris Clark at left tackle – have been this season. Credit must go to offensive line guru John Matsko, who consistently gets the best out of a unit that wouldn’t be among the best on paper. This unit has given up just 1.7 sacks and 3.5 hits per game, so this might be a good time to think twice about whether to trust your Ravens.

Key stat: The Panthers offensive line is patchwork on paper, but it has been one of the better units in pass protection this year, giving up pressure on just 9.6% of dropbacks.

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
50.0
25.3
37.8
63.1
40.1%
2017 NFL Average
49.6
26.1
36.5
62.6
41.9%
2018 NFL Average
50.7
24.8
38.4
63.3
39.3%
Team Defense
Tackle
Rush Attempts
Drop Backs
Offensive
Rush
Opportunity
Faced
Faced
Snaps Faced
Percentage
ARIZONA Cardinals
59.0
33.1
36.1
69.3
47.8%
ATLANTA Falcons
53.0
23.0
41.7
64.7
35.5%
BALTIMORE Ravens
47.4
23.4
38.7
62.1
37.7%
BUFFALO Bills
50.6
25.4
36.3
61.7
41.2%
CAROLINA Panthers
49.0
22.2
38.2
60.3
36.7%
CHICAGO Bears
49.0
22.3
39.3
61.7
36.2%
CINCINNATI Bengals
55.6
25.6
43.7
69.3
36.9%
CLEVELAND Browns
56.7
29.1
44.9
74.0
39.4%
DALLAS Cowboys
50.9
26.4
34.3
60.7
43.5%
DENVER Broncos
50.9
26.9
37.3
64.1
41.9%
DETROIT Lions
48.2
24.8
34.0
58.8
42.2%
GREEN BAY Packers
47.5
25.2
33.8
59.0
42.7%
HOUSTON Texans
53.0
26.4
38.7
65.1
40.6%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
56.7
27.1
39.9
67.0
40.5%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
49.0
28.6
33.0
61.6
46.4%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
52.4
22.6
46.0
68.6
32.9%
LOS ANGELES Chargers
49.0
24.3
37.4
61.7
39.4%
LOS ANGELES Rams
45.6
21.0
36.4
57.4
36.6%
MIAMI Dolphins
52.7
29.0
35.3
64.3
45.1%
MINNESOTA Vikings
48.0
23.9
37.1
61.0
39.1%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
50.6
24.3
42.0
66.3
36.6%
NEW ORLEANS Saints
48.8
22.2
37.7
59.8
37.0%
NEW YORK Giants
48.9
25.3
36.0
61.3
41.3%
NEW YORK Jets
52.0
24.3
42.7
67.0
36.2%
OAKLAND Raiders
46.8
26.5
31.7
58.2
45.6%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
46.9
18.3
42.4
60.7
30.1%
PITTSBURGH Steelers
51.8
22.7
44.8
67.5
33.6%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
49.0
24.7
39.3
64.0
38.6%
SEATTLE Seahawks
49.7
25.3
35.5
60.8
41.6%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
53.2
21.7
4.01
62.7
34.6%
TENNESSEE Titans
50.1
26.6
34.6
61.1
43.5%
WASHINGTON Redskins
46.8
20.7
38.0
58.7
35.2%

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

New York Giants and Washington defenders

TVO factor: 1.311 (1st)

IDP enthusiasts rejoice! The most favourable statistics crew returns this week, making this matchup between two teams who have a propensity to run the ball a huge opportunity for fantasy points. The Redskins rank fourth in the league in rush attempts (28.8 per game), while the Giants rank at the very bottom (19.0 per game). This lack of success for the G-Men is mainly down to an inconsistent offense that cannot stay on the field.

If you must choose a side to target defensive players here, make it New York. Adrian Peterson has shown the ability to run through and around defenders perhaps as well as he ever has. Washington will stick with him. If the Giants stick to the plan and give Barkley plenty of touches, it could be a goldmine for Washington’s defensive line and linebackers.

The TVO factor puts this one into the upper echelon of matchups for this week. Shoehorn as many Redskins and Giants into your line-up as possible.

Key stat: The Giants have the best TVO factor in the league, with their stat crew doling out more tackles per opportunity than any other.

Miami defenders at Houston (Thursday Night Football)

TVO factor: 1.220 (4th)

Miami’s defense has seen the field often this season, averaging 52.7 tackle opportunities per game. The value of their defensive players has seen a further uptick due to their inability to stop the run; teams run against them on 45.1% of snaps. Both these factors should contribute to a productive outing for Miami’s key players this week.

This is without even mentioning Houston’s offense and its ability to produce tackle opportunity like it is going out of fashion. The offensive line remains a concern for the Texans – and that could spoil the party – but the smart play here is to trust your Dolphins to be on the field early and often for what could be a blowout.

Key stat: Houston’s favorable TVO factor is buttressed by the fact their offense has allowed 54.3 tackle opportunities per game to opposing defenses.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Chicago and New York Jets defenders

TVO factor: 0.984 (32nd excluding London)

No venue in the league is more uninspiring for tackle production than Soldier Field, where you could be forgiven for avoiding any IDPs. This matchup could be such an example, with the game script likely to see Sam Darnold in comeback mode, thus reducing rushing attempts.

The Bears could salvage things – they rank sixth in rushing attempts – but the likelihood is that the TVO factor will simply turn what should be solo tackles into assists, or perhaps nothing at all. Do the right thing here and avoid this matchup if possible.

Key stat: The Jets offense has provided a relatively poor tackle opportunity average (46.9 per game).

Denver defenders at Kansas City

TVO factor: 1.048 (28th)

The Broncos defense is averaging 50.9 tackle opportunities per game and the unit has clearly lost its edge from those of a few years ago. Suddenly not so menacing against the pass, the Chiefs will undoubtedly fancy their chances to slice and dice Denver through the air.

Funnily enough, despite their domination, the Chiefs haven’t been the best tackle matchup out there. The game script here should allow for a heavy dose of Kareem Hunt, whose consistency in moving the chains could provide some tackle opportunity upside for Denver’s tacklers. However, the TVO factor is likely to drag down such opportunities in a cesspool of zero points. Avoid this one if you have the luxury.

Key stat: The Chiefs offense allows 49.4 tackle opportunities per game, surprisingly below the league average (50.5) considering how prolific they have been.

Best of luck with Week 8 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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