IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 11 - Footballguys

Dave Larkin analyzes the best and worst IDP matchups on the Week 11 slate.

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 11th 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 time is now to make your move, but it is important to remain focused and pick your spots. Overreacting to one week can spell disaster in fantasy football, so don’t be too quick to pick up the hot waiver wire player without first asking why. The playoffs are fast approaching, so without further ado let’s dissect the matchups for Week 11.

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
14.6%
2.53
5.55
37.9
Team Defense
Pressure
QB
QB
Drop Backs
Applied
Sacks
Hits
Faced
ARIZONA Cardinals
16.7%
3.2
5.9
35.3
ATLANTA Falcons
9.9%
1.9
4.0
40.2
BALTIMORE Ravens
15.4%
3.1
6.0
38.9
BUFFALO Bills
14.2%
2.5
5.1
35.9
CAROLINA Panthers
14.1%
2.4
5.4
38.6
CHICAGO Bears
14.4%
3.3
5.9
40.8
CINCINNATI Bengals
13.4%
2.3
5.8
43.2
CLEVELAND Browns
13.2%
2.4
5.8
43.9
DALLAS Cowboys
16.9%
2.8
6.0
35.4
DENVER Broncos
16.6%
3.1
6.0
36.1
DETROIT Lions
14.4%
2.8
4.4
30.8
GREEN BAY Packers
16.0%
3.4
5.8
36.1
HOUSTON Texans
14.6%
2.6
5.8
39.4
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
11.0%
2.3
4.2
38.4
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
14.6%
2.1
4.8
32.7
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
13.1%
3.1
5.9
45.0
LOS ANGELES Chargers
16.8%
2.9
6.4
38.4
LOS ANGELES Rams
16.7%
2.6
5.9
35.4
MIAMI Dolphins
11.8%
1.7
4.0
34.0
MINNESOTA Vikings
18.8%
3.4
6.9
36.7
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
11.7%
1.5
4.8
40.9
NEW ORLEANS Saints
13.0%
2.3
4.9
37.6
NEW YORK Giants
12.4%
1.1
4.4
35.9
NEW YORK Jets
15.8%
2.2
6.1
38.5
OAKLAND Raiders
10.0%
0.9
3.0
30.0
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
21.2%
2.9
9.0
42.4
PITTSBURGH Steelers
17.3%
3.4
7.3
42.3
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
14.7%
2.6
5.6
38.2
SEATTLE Seahawks
15.4%
2.6
5.6
36.1
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
15.6%
2.3
5.9
37.7
TENNESSEE Titans
14.5%
2.6
5.2
36.1
WASHINGTON Redskins
14.2%
2.8
5.8
40.6

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Los Angeles Chargers pass rushers vs. Denver offensive line

The Chargers will hope to continue their march towards the postseason with a division win against a team going the opposite direction. Los Angeles’ roster is well balanced and their defense – even sans Joey Bosa – has shown its mettle on many occasions this season.

Denver, meanwhile, has been all at sea and has asked Case Keenum to drop back an average of 39.4 times per game – not the recipe for success. This one might remain competitive, but the Chargers are the much better team and have the horses on defense to bring a world of hurt to the Broncos, who may, even at this early stage, be sneaking a sideways glance at their January tee times.

Key stat: The Chargers average pressure on 16.8% of opponent dropbacks, hitting the quarterback 6.4 times per game.

Pittsburgh pass rushers at Jacksonville

The narrative among Steelers diehards this week will be: how can we mess this one up? You can hardly blame their neuroticism; I feel we have seen this script before. Pittsburgh travels to face an opponent they should defeat handily, only to find a way to lose. If the Steelers learned anything from their drubbing of the Panthers, it should be that a fearsome pass rush needs to be the engine of this team’s success, along with a killer passing game.

The Jaguars have allowed pressure on just 13.6% of dropbacks, a respectable number by all accounts. It is this matchup, however, that must sow some doubts in the minds of the fantasy community. Pittsburgh can build a lead against a Jacksonville defense that is letting its previously impenetrable guard down. If the script turns black and yellow quickly, watch this pass rush come to life.

Key stat: The Steelers pass rush averages pressure on 17.3% of dropbacks, registering 3.4 sacks per game.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Atlanta pass rushers vs. Dallas offensive line

The level of decimation in Atlanta’s defensive reserves this season has been almost beyond belief. Dan Quinn’s team is being forced to rub two sticks together to field a unit capable of resisting an opponent’s onslaught. This matchup is not too bad, however, with Dallas’ offensive line giving up pressure on 20.6% of dropbacks.

The Dallas defense, however, should keep this close and can prevent a Dak Prescott frantic comeback. The Cowboys have undoubtedly been prone to sacks, but most of this has been down to Prescott’s carelessness and lack of awareness. A steady dose of Zeke Elliott will keep Atlanta’s pass rushers out of favorable situations. Fade the home team here.

Key stat: Atlanta’s pass rush has applied pressure on just 9.9% of dropbacks, one of the worst marks in the league.

Philadelphia pass rushers at New Orleans

How can a team that averages pressure on 21.2% of dropbacks and nine quarterback hits per game be considered a fade? It all comes down to the matchup in this case, as an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. However, the Eagles pass rush has yet to come up against such a formidable and stifling offensive line this season. The Saints boast a ridiculous chemistry up front, giving up just one sack and three hits per game on average.

The Eagles could muster a decent fight here; after all, their NFC East title chances may hang in the balance. They can approach this contest with a devil-may-care type of attitude at the same time. Nobody expects the visitors to pull off the upset. The smart play here has to be a fade of Eagles defenders, as in all likelihood it will be yet another Saints stroll in the Superdome.

Key stat: The Saints are allowing a league-low pressure percentage of 8.5%.

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
50.5
24.9
37.9
62.8
39.7%
Team Defense
Tackle
Rush Attempts
Drop Backs
Offensive
Rush
Opportunity
Faced
Faced
Snaps Faced
Percentage
ARIZONA Cardinals
56.7
31.7
35.3
67.0
47.3%
ATLANTA Falcons
51.4
22.6
40.2
62.8
35.9%
BALTIMORE Ravens
49.1
24.7
38.9
63.6
38.8%
BUFFALO Bills
48.1
24.1
35.9
60.0
40.2%
CAROLINA Panthers
49.0
22.3
38.6
60.9
36.7%
CHICAGO Bears
50.1
23.3
40.8
64.1
36.4%
CINCINNATI Bengals
57.4
27.8
43.2
71.0
39.1%
CLEVELAND Browns
56.0
27.7
43.9
71.6
38.7%
DALLAS Cowboys
51.7
26.1
35.4
61.6
42.4%
DENVER Broncos
50.4
26.6
36.1
62.7
42.4%
DETROIT Lions
48.3
26.2
30.8
57.0
46.0%
GREEN BAY Packers
49.7
26.0
36.1
62.1
41.9%
HOUSTON Texans
52.0
25.6
39.4
65.0
39.3%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
55.2
26.9
38.4
65.3
41.2%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
48.1
27.1
32.7
59.8
45.4%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
53.3
23.7
45.0
68.7
34.5%
LOS ANGELES Chargers
50.4
24.8
38.4
63.2
39.2%
LOS ANGELES Rams
47.1
23.2
35.4
58.6
39.6%
MIAMI Dolphins
50.8
28.0
34.0
62.0
45.2%
MINNESOTA Vikings
49.1
24.3
36.7
61.0
39.9%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
50.4
24.9
40.9
65.8
37.8%
NEW ORLEANS Saints
47.9
21.1
37.6
58.7
36.0%
NEW YORK Giants
50.0
26.4
35.9
62.3
42.4%
NEW YORK Jets
52.1
27.3
38.5
65.8
41.5%
OAKLAND Raiders
47.9
28.0
30.0
58.0
48.3%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
47.9
19.2
42.4
61.7
31.2%
PITTSBURGH Steelers
49.8
21.7
42.3
64.0
33.9%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
48.0
23.9
38.2
62.1
38.5%
SEATTLE Seahawks
47.7
23.1
36.1
59.2
39.0%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
51.6
23.2
37.7
60.9
38.1%
TENNESSEE Titans
49.0
24.9
36.1
61.0
40.8%
WASHINGTON Redskins
48.8
20.7
40.6
61.2
33.8%

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

Washington defenders vs. Houston

TVO factor: 1.184 (8th in the league)

One of the truly bizarre statistics this season is that the Redskins have yet to see a lead change in one of their games. They either lead the whole way with their run-heavy approach or falter early and never claw their way back into things. It is difficult to project this inter-conference matchup, but the expectation must be for Houston to continue their hot streak.

The Texans offer a balanced approach offensively and run the football on 46% of plays, behind only Seattle and Tennessee, so this could be a fruitful outing for Washington defensive options. The TVO factor makes it even more enticing. If things go to script, Houston should be able to control things and keep Washington off balance with a balance of their own: a run-pass variety.

Key stat: Houston’s offense allows 53.8 tackle opportunities per game, one of the best matchups in the league.

Cincinnati defenders at Baltimore

TVO factor: 1.100 (20th)

The TVO factor is not ideal, but the matchup should more than make up for it. Quite simply, the Bengals defense has been abysmal in recent games, and not even coaching mastermind Hue Jackson – who has just signed on – can remedy their ills. The sense here is that Baltimore, fresh off a drubbing of their own prior to their bye, will come out swinging. Will the Bengals be able to profit defensively?

The smart thinking here says they absolutely will, and that could mean a productive outing for the Cincinnati defenders. Over the past three games, the Bengals defense has totaled 59, 62, and 66 tackle opportunities, respectively. Expect a similar script this week as the Ravens run up the score.

Key stat: Baltimore’s offense, despite its recent struggles, has allowed 53.4 tackle opportunities per game.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Oakland defenders at Arizona

TVO factor: 1.097 (21st)

Things have been dour for the Cardinals this season overall, but last week’s defeat at the hands of red-hot Kansas City may inspire them for the stretch run. Certainly, one could argue Josh Rosen is beginning to hit his stride, replacing iffy throws and decisions with more mature reads and releases. Then again, he is still a rookie quarterback, prone to all the mistakes that status carries with it.

Byron Leftwich has certainly made his mark as Cardinals offensive coordinator. In just two games, the unit looks transformed, with David Johnson carrying a sizable load. The Raiders present a less than formidable opposition, and the trend suggests that Arizona’s tackle opportunities allowed are on the increase, but it is still difficult to trust their ability to truly sustain. Therefore, the best play here is fade your Raiders.

Key stat: Arizona’s offense has only allowed 41.6 tackle opportunities per game, the lowest mark in the league.

Best of luck with Week 11 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.