IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 12

Dave Larkin breaks down the best and worst IDP match-ups on the Week 12 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 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 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.

This week is all about family, food (and football) as Thanksgiving arrives, but it is also a shorter working week in fantasy circles. While many owners could be forgiven for taking their eye off the ball in this week of frivolity, the sharpest among us will have our line-ups tweaked and primed for action by Thursday. Get a leg up on your competition, who will be still recovering from a turkey-induced nap while you are fine-tuning things.

Let’s get right into the Week 12 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
14.5%
2.54
5.48
37.7
Team Defense
Pressure
QB
QB
Drop Backs
Applied
Sacks
Hits
Faced
ARIZONA Cardinals
17.0%
3.3
6.0
35.3
ATLANTA Falcons
10.6%
1.9
4.2
39.6
BALTIMORE Ravens
15.2%
2.9
5.9
38.8
BUFFALO Bills
14.2%
2.5
5.1
35.9
CAROLINA Panthers
13.0%
2.3
5.0
38.5
CHICAGO Bears
13.7%
3.2
5.7
41.5
CINCINNATI Bengals
13.7%
2.3
5.6
41.0
CLEVELAND Browns
13.2%
2.4
5.8
43.9
DALLAS Cowboys
17.7%
2.8
6.3
35.6
DENVER Broncos
16.2%
3.1
6.0
37.1
DETROIT Lions
13.8%
2.8
4.4
31.8
GREEN BAY Packers
15.9%
3.4
5.7
35.9
HOUSTON Texans
14.8%
2.8
5.9
39.9
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
11.8%
2.6
4.5
38.0
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
14.3%
2.1
4.9
34.3
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
13.1%
3.3
6.0
45.8
LOS ANGELES Chargers
16.4%
2.6
6.2
37.9
LOS ANGELES Rams
15.9%
2.6
5.8
36.6
MIAMI Dolphins
11.8%
1.7
4.0
34.0
MINNESOTA Vikings
17.7%
3.2
6.4
36.2
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
11.7%
1.5
4.8
40.9
NEW ORLEANS Saints
13.1%
2.4
4.9
37.4
NEW YORK Giants
12.5%
1.1
4.5
36.1
NEW YORK Jets
15.8%
2.2
6.1
38.5
OAKLAND Raiders
9.6%
0.9
2.8
29.1
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
19.8%
2.6
8.2
41.4
PITTSBURGH Steelers
17.5%
3.7
7.1
40.5
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
14.7%
2.6
5.6
38.2
SEATTLE Seahawks
15.8%
2.8
5.7
36.0
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
16.1%
2.5
5.8
36.1
TENNESSEE Titans
13.2%
2.3
4.7
35.7
WASHINGTON Redskins
14.3%
2.8
5.6
39.2

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Philadelphia pass rushers vs. New York Giants offensive line

On paper, this is a perfect rebound game for the Eagles, but has the trust factor waned slightly with the reigning champions? Certainly, there are reasons to be skeptical of Doug Petersen’s team, who have conspired to stumble and bumble their way to a sub-.500 record. Despite their struggles, however, the pass rush is averaging pressure on 19.2% of dropbacks, well above the league average, and welcoming the G-Men ought to cure what ails them.

As for the Giants, they are on an elusive (for them, anyway) two-game winning streak, fuelled by a more competent rushing attack and a bend-but-don’t-break defense. Still, one must remember their wins have come against San Francisco and Tampa Bay; Philadelphia will pose a different set of problems. When these NFC East rivals met in the Meadowlands earlier this season, Eli Manning was thrown around from pillar to post. Expect the same type of game script here, with the Eagles pass rush benefiting.

Key stat: The Eagles have accounted for an average of 8.2 quarterback hits per game, with the league average sitting at 5.48.

Minnesota pass rushers vs. Green Bay offensive line

Returning home after a chastening defeat to NFC North frontrunner Chicago, the Vikings will rightly feel that this week’s clash is a must-win. Playoff margins are tight, especially in the NFC, so burying a dagger in the heart of the Packers is the only way to keep those faint hopes alive. The Vikings will be aided by a fearsome pass rush that has averaged pressure on 17.7% of dropbacks while registering 3.2 sacks per game.

The Packers face a similar task; a loss would almost certainly doom them in the playoff hunt, making this head-to-head more exciting. Green Bay’s offensive line has allowed 3.4 sacks per game on the road, including five in the last outing against Seattle. There is a sense that Aaron Rodgers will try to do too much, and the Vikings have demonstrated how effective they can shut him down. Trust your Vikings to perform, even in this matchup.

Key stat: The Vikings rank fourth in total sack percentage (8.8%), but that number shoots up to 12% when they are at home.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Detroit pass rushers vs. Chicago offensive line

The Monsters of the Midway are well and truly on their way to a playoff spot if they keep this up. It is hard not to hearken back to those dominant Chicago defenses of the mid-2000s when you size up this group. While they may not possess the raw talent of that unit, the 2018 version is doing more than enough to make this team viable. Their offensive line hasn’t done too badly, either. In fact, Matt Nagy’s unit has all but nullified pass rush with scheme, quick releases and smart play-calling.

The Lions may have scored an upset victory over the Panthers, buoyed in part by some well-timed turnovers and sacks, but they were there for the taking last week. The Bears will not fall foul of the same mistake. Detroit’s pass rush will struggle to get to Mitchell Trubisky – the unit has averaged pressure on just 13.8% of dropbacks. Trust the trend here.

Key stat: The cohesive Bears offensive line has allowed pressure on just 9.7% of dropbacks (league average is 14.5%).

Miami pass rushers vs. Indianapolis offensive line

Two teams with similar records but vastly diverging fortunes will square off in Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, and it is not hard to guess who the smart money will be on. Frank Reich, the Colts’ new head coach, has really put his stamp on this offense, creating a timing-based attack that emphasizes the strengths of Andrew Luck – and doesn’t leave him out to dry. The result has been a pressure-allowed number of just 10.4% and an incredible run without giving up a sack.

The Dolphins, in other words, have their work cut out for them. The unfortunate news is that they simply don’t have the pass rush to trouble the Colts. Miami has averaged pressure on just 11.8% of dropbacks, with only 1.7 sacks per game. The home team should win at a canter here, with a balanced attack eliminating any chance of a pass rushing bonanza from the fish.

Key stat: The Indianapolis Colts offensive line has allowed zero sacks in the last six games.

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
50.4
25.0
37.7
62.7
39.8%
Team Defense
Tackle
Rush Attempts
Drop Backs
Offensive
Rush
Opportunity
Faced
Faced
Snaps Faced
Percentage
ARIZONA Cardinals
56.6
31.8
35.3
67.1
47.4%
ATLANTA Falcons
51.6
23.2
39.6
62.8
36.9%
BALTIMORE Ravens
47.8
23.8
38.8
62.6
38.0%
BUFFALO Bills
48.1
24.1
35.9
60.0
40.2%
CAROLINA Panthers
48.9
22.5
38.5
61.0
36.9%
CHICAGO Bears
49.7
22.4
41.5
63.9
35.1%
CINCINNATI Bengals
58.3
30.1
41.0
71.1
42.3%
CLEVELAND Browns
56.0
27.7
43.9
71.6
38.7%
DALLAS Cowboys
51.0
25.3
35.6
60.9
41.5%
DENVER Broncos
51.1
26.5
37.1
63.6
41.7%
DETROIT Lions
47.9
25.2
31.8
57.0
44.2%
GREEN BAY Packers
50.3
26.6
35.9
62.5
42.6%
HOUSTON Texans
52.0
25.9
39.9
65.8
39.4%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
54.8
26.7
38.0
64.7
41.3%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
47.3
25.5
34.3
59.8
42.6%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
53.5
23.3
45.8
69.1
33.7%
LOS ANGELES Chargers
49.3
24.2
37.9
62.1
39.0%
LOS ANGELES Rams
47.9
22.9
36.6
59.5
38.5%
MIAMI Dolphins
50.8
28.0
34.0
62.0
45.2%
MINNESOTA Vikings
49.9
25.5
36.2
61.7
41.3%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
50.4
24.9
40.9
65.8
37.8%
NEW ORLEANS Saints
46.5
20.2
37.4
57.6
35.1%
NEW YORK Giants
50.6
26.8
36.1
62.9
42.6%
NEW YORK Jets
52.1
27.3
38.5
65.8
41.5%
OAKLAND Raiders
47.2
28.3
29.1
57.4
49.3%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
49.0
20.9
41.4
62.3
33.5%
PITTSBURGH Steelers
50.7
23.8
40.5
64.3
37.0%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
48.0
23.9
38.2
62.1
38.5%
SEATTLE Seahawks
46.8
22.1
36.0
58.1
38.0%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
51.5
23.9
36.1
60.0
39.8%
TENNESSEE Titans
49.0
24.9
35.7
60.6
41.1%
WASHINGTON Redskins
48.8
21.6
39.2
60.8
35.5%

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

Oakland defenders at Baltimore

TVO factor: 1.094 (21st in the league)

Have the Ravens seen enough to keep Lamar Jackson in for the rest of the season? The rookie showed flashes not only as a runner (to the tune of 27 attempts) but as a passer as well. Raw, unpolished diamonds can sometimes be the most enticing for head coaches, and John Harbaugh looks smitten.

Jackson’s presence should translate to an excellent floor of tackle opportunity for the visiting Raiders. Last week, the Ravens allowed 66 tackle opportunities, a number that even the most prolific offenses struggle to hit. The expectation is that, despite the less than ideal TVO, Baltimore should have their way with Oakland. The visitors have faced rushing plays on 49.3% of their defensive snaps, so plug in as many Raiders as you can for a line-up boost.

Key stat: The Ravens are averaging 27.6 rush attempts per game, a number that accounts for only one Lamar Jackson game.

Atlanta defenders vs. New Orleans

TVO factor: 1.085 (24th)

The Falcons fly into New Orleans on Thanksgiving for what could be a barnburner against their division rival. Clashes between these teams tend to produce points, but the feeling is that Atlanta is dealing from a bum deck of cards and will struggle to match the Saints blow for blow. The Falcons have been slightly above average in terms of tackle opportunity, at 51.6 per game.

New Orleans’ offense, meanwhile, has been a juggernaut and lifts all IDPs that face it. The return of Deion Jones is probable, although plugging him right in may be risky. The Saints will keep most Atlanta defensive options viable with their 29.7 rush attempts per game, with the game script likely to favor a run-pass balanced skewed to the former. Plug in all your Falcons.

Key stat: The Saints rank first in tackle opportunity allowed with 56.6 per game.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Buffalo defenders vs. Jacksonville

TVO factor: 1.181 (9th)

The Bills welcome the Jaguars to western New York this week in a game that many will lie about watching, even if they did. Not exactly a marquee matchup, and one that should be avoided for tackle production purposes. Too much uncertainty reins with these two teams, but at least Buffalo’s defense is trustworthy.

The Jaguars offense allows just 49.3 tackle opportunities per game on the road, and there is a non-zero chance that we see Cody Kessler again if Blake Bortles implodes. The chances are that Jacksonville struggles to establish a ground game against a stubborn Bills unit, forcing a slugfest of epic proportions which you want no part of.

Key stat: The Bills defense has been the lone bright spot for the team, averaging just 48.1 tackle opportunities per game.

Best of luck with Week 12, a very Happy Thanksgiving to all 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.