IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 13

Dave Larkin analyzes the key match-ups in the IDP landscape this week. 

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 13th 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 final stretch is before us, with that brass ring of a championship tantalizingly out of our reach. First, it is paramount that we finish strong. Some of you may have fallen by the wayside, but often I have found it more satisfying to spoil the party for a bitter rival than to take the title. Don’t get me wrong, winning a championship is the ultimate goal, but it’s not a bad side platter if the main course has already been gobbled up.

Without further ado, let’s take a look through the match-ups in Week 13.

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
14.7%
2.53
5.50
37.5
Team Defense
Pressure
QB
QB
Drop Backs
Applied
Sacks
Hits
Faced
ARIZONA Cardinals
17.2%
3.4
6.1
35.4
ATLANTA Falcons
10.7%
1.9
4.1
38.2
BALTIMORE Ravens
15.1%
2.9
5.8
38.6
BUFFALO Bills
15.3%
2.5
5.4
35.0
CAROLINA Panthers
13.2%
2.3
5.0
38.0
CHICAGO Bears
13.4%
3.1
5.5
41.4
CINCINNATI Bengals
13.1%
2.1
5.2
39.6
CLEVELAND Browns
12.6%
2.3
5.5
44.2
DALLAS Cowboys
17.9%
2.8
6.5
36.1
DENVER Broncos
15.3%
3.0
6.0
39.2
DETROIT Lions
15.0%
2.9
4.9
32.7
GREEN BAY Packers
15.3%
3.3
5.5
36.3
HOUSTON Texans
15.7%
3.1
6.1
38.9
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
12.8%
2.5
4.7
36.9
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
15.2%
1.9
5.0
32.9
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
13.1%
3.3
6.0
45.8
LOS ANGELES Chargers
16.0%
2.5
5.8
36.4
LOS ANGELES Rams
15.9%
2.6
5.8
36.6
MIAMI Dolphins
11.3%
1.6
3.9
34.5
MINNESOTA Vikings
17.5%
3.3
6.3
35.8
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
13.4%
1.5
5.5
41.5
NEW ORLEANS Saints
14.5%
2.7
5.6
38.8
NEW YORK Giants
13.0%
1.3
4.6
35.6
NEW YORK Jets
15.9%
2.0
6.0
37.8
OAKLAND Raiders
9.1%
0.9
2.6
28.8
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
19.2%
2.5
7.9
41.2
PITTSBURGH Steelers
17.5%
3.5
6.9
39.5
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
14.7%
2.5
5.6
38.3
SEATTLE Seahawks
14.9%
2.5
5.3
35.5
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
16.9%
2.6
6.1
36.1
TENNESSEE Titans
13.8%
2.5
4.8
35.0
WASHINGTON Redskins
15.0%
2.9
5.8
38.8

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Green Bay pass rushers vs. Arizona offensive line

The Packers are in something of a funk right now, but even though they have just four wins their playoff hopes are still technically alive. A putrid Arizona offensive line coming to Lambeau Field should help their cause, at least for a week. Green Bay’s pass rush isn’t dominant by any means, but a favourable game script here featuring an amped-up Aaron Rodgers taking out his frustrations and Mike McCarthy fighting for his job could lead to a blowout.

The Cardinals offensive line allows pressure on 19.6% of dropbacks, so a long day for Josh Rosen is in store in a stadium that is difficult enough to play in for a seasoned veteran. Green Bay could see an uptick in their 3.3 average of sacks per game after this contest.

Key stat: The Cardinals offensive line has allowed 6.4 quarterback hits per game on average.

Philadelphia pass rushers vs. Washington offensive line

A pivotal game for the home team Eagles, who must beat Washington to have any realistic shot of winning the NFC East and sneaking into the postseason. The issues in the secondary have plagued Philadelphia for the past few weeks, but the pass rush remains the backbone of this defense – and it could spur them to a victory here.

Washington has given up pressure on 14.6% of dropbacks, but injuries on the offensive line – and the erratic style of Colt McCoy – will invite more pressure and should give the Eagles the encouragement they need to secure a home win. Trust your birds to deliver this week.

Key stat: The Eagles front four has averaged pressure on 19.2% of dropbacks.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Jacksonville pass rushers vs. Indianapolis offensive line

Would it be too much to call the Indianapolis offensive line impenetrable? Perhaps, but their run must be applauded simply for how tough a task it is. Andrew Luck, playing at an MVP level the past few weeks, deserves a lot of the credit for his assimilation of Frank Reich’s offense, of course.

The Jacksonville pass rush has lost its mojo this season, turning from a powerhouse into an also-ran, desperately trying to prop up a failing offense each week. The decision to insert Cody Kessler as the starting quarterback won’t exactly inspire these defensive players to put their best foot forward. The Colts line has allowed pressure on just 10.2% of dropbacks, so this could be a long day for the home team.

Key stat: The Colts have given up an average of one sack per game this season.

New York Giants pass rushers vs. Chicago offensive line

The G-Men looked to have somewhat revived the interest in their season with back-to-back wins, but that all came crashing down against the Eagles. This week they entertain the surging Bears, who will be keen to bury the Giants for good. In this match-up of storied franchises, however, the Giants can’t be trusted to generate a historically great pass rush.

In fact, this New York pass rush has generated pressure on only 13% of dropbacks and records just 1.3 sacks per game, numbers that will rile general manager Dave Gettleman, whose penchant for acquiring pass rushers is his calling card. The Bears should march on here, even if Mitchell Trubisky isn’t 100%.

Key stat: The Bears have had fewer dropbacks than average (34.3 per game) but still boast a pressure allowed figure of just 11.3%.

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
37.5
62.5
40.0%
Team Defense
Tackle
Rush Attempts
Drop Backs
Offensive
Rush
Opportunity
Faced
Faced
Snaps Faced
Percentage
ARIZONA Cardinals
56.9
31.5
35.4
66.8
47.1%
ATLANTA Falcons
50.9
23.5
38.2
61.7
38.1%
BALTIMORE Ravens
46.7
23.2
38.6
61.8
37.5%
BUFFALO Bills
48.6
25.5
35.0
60.5
42.1%
CAROLINA Panthers
49.0
22.8
38.0
60.8
37.5%
CHICAGO Bears
50.1
22.5
41.4
63.9
35.3%
CINCINNATI Bengals
57.7
30.4
39.6
70.0
43.4%
CLEVELAND Browns
55.3
27.0
44.2
71.2
37.9%
DALLAS Cowboys
50.5
24.7
36.1
60.8
40.7%
DENVER Broncos
51.9
25.5
39.2
64.7
39.5%
DETROIT Lions
47.7
24.2
32.7
56.9
42.5%
GREEN BAY Packers
51.0
26.6
36.3
62.9
42.3%
HOUSTON Texans
51.9
25.6
38.9
64.5
39.7%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
53.6
26.5
36.9
63.4
41.8%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
46.7
26.2
32.9
59.1
44.3%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
53.5
23.3
45.8
69.1
33.7%
LOS ANGELES Chargers
48.2
24.1
36.4
60.5
39.8%
LOS ANGELES Rams
47.9
22.9
36.6
59.5
38.5%
MIAMI Dolphins
51.5
27.8
34.5
62.3
44.7%
MINNESOTA Vikings
49.0
24.9
35.8
60.7
41.0%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
49.7
24.0
41.5
65.5
36.7%
NEW ORLEANS Saints
47.5
19.8
38.8
58.6
33.8%
NEW YORK Giants
50.6
26.9
35.6
62.5
43.0%
NEW YORK Jets
52.4
28.0
37.8
65.8
42.5%
OAKLAND Raiders
48.0
29.5
28.8
58.3
50.5%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
48.7
20.6
41.2
61.8
33.4%
PITTSBURGH Steelers
49.5
23.5
39.5
63.0
37.2%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
49.0
24.4
38.3
62.6
38.9%
SEATTLE Seahawks
47.3
22.5
35.5
58.0
38.9%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
50.9
23.8
36.1
59.9
39.8%
TENNESSEE Titans
49.6
25.6
35.0
60.6
42.3%
WASHINGTON Redskins
49.6
22.5
38.8
61.4
36.7%

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

Cincinnati defenders vs. Denver

TVO factor: 1.122 (15th in the league)

The Broncos have started to establish a little bit of a ground game in recent weeks, and that renewed dedication could serve them well in Cincinnati. The Bengals defense appears to be on its last legs, while the Broncos have a pulse in the playoff hunt that will only quicken if they can pull out a victory on the road.

The Bengals have averaged 57.7 tackle opportunities per game and their main defensive players represent a stellar investment this week against a run-heavy team in Denver, whose 38% rush percentage could go as high as 45% this week if they have their way. Trust the trends here; plug in some Bengals if you have space in your lineups.

Key stat: The Bengals defense faces an average of 30.4 rush attempts per game.

Cleveland defenders at Houston

TVO factor: 1.237 (2nd)

The Browns visit Houston seeking a second straight road win, something Cleveland doesn’t often achieve. A tricky task awaits, however, with a Houston team high on confidence off an eight-game winning streak. Cleveland faces an average of 27 rush attempts per game, and that will be music to the ears of Bill O’Brien, whose rededication to the run has been instrumental in the Texans turnaround.

The TVO factor is outstanding here, so depending on how you see this game playing out – it is entirely possible Baker Mayfield could turn it into a shootout – even Houston defenders could have good IDP value. The smart play here is to trust the long-standing trend that the Browns generally falter on the road, while Houston generally gets their business done at home.

Key stat: The Browns defense has averaged 57.8 tackle opportunities per game on the road this season.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Buffalo defenders at Miami

TVO factor: 1.211 (6th)

Trusting the Miami offense to deliver is like trusting a dog to recite mathematical tables; you could try it, but do you really want to invest that time for no return? Despite the positive TVO factor in Miami, there was little in the return of Ryan Tannehill last week to suggest that the Dolphins will be going anywhere this season.

Buffalo’s defense has been a pleasant surprise for their fans, who are presumably hoping for a strong finish with rookie Josh Allen back in play. Miami’s offense averages just 23.2 rush attempts per game, so the Bills could make this one dimensional before too long – and even, perhaps, secure a road victory. Fade your Bills defenders if you planned on starting them.

Key stat: The Dolphins allow just 45.5 tackle opportunities per game.

Best of luck with Week 13 and make sure to check back next week 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.