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IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 15 - Footballguys

Dave Larkin breaks down the best and worst IDP match-ups for your playoff clashes.

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 15th 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.

Playoff time in fantasy football should be treated with that little extra bit of caution and care, but going over the top with your fastidiousness can actually hurt you. Trusting the process that has gotten you to this point is paramount; anything else and you could make ill-advised line-up decisions that could put your title hopes on ice.

The data we have gathered on match-ups is one part of the puzzle to a championship. Don’t squander it. On the contrary, embrace it – and sprinkle in a bit of your own ingenuity as well – and you will be in a position to fight for glory.

Without further ado, let’s break down the match-ups in Week 15.

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
14.9%
2.53
5.56
37.4
Team Defense
Pressure
QB
QB
Drop Backs
Applied
Sacks
Hits
Faced
ARIZONA Cardinals
15.7%
3.0
5.6
35.7
ATLANTA Falcons
10.5%
2.1
3.9
37.2
BALTIMORE Ravens
16.8%
2.9
6.6
39.3
BUFFALO Bills
15.6%
2.4
5.2
33.6
CAROLINA Panthers
13.0%
2.3
4.8
36.6
CHICAGO Bears
13.7%
3.1
5.7
41.7
CINCINNATI Bengals
13.1%
2.1
4.9
37.7
CLEVELAND Browns
12.7%
2.3
5.5
43.5
DALLAS Cowboys
17.6%
2.7
6.2
35.5
DENVER Broncos
16.1%
3.1
6.3
39.1
DETROIT Lions
15.0%
2.8
5.1
33.8
GREEN BAY Packers
14.4%
3.1
5.2
36.2
HOUSTON Texans
14.2%
2.8
5.6
39.5
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
13.9%
2.7
5.1
36.6
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
14.7%
1.9
5.0
34.0
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
13.2%
3.2
5.8
44.2
LOS ANGELES Chargers
14.7%
2.5
5.4
36.6
LOS ANGELES Rams
16.3%
2.6
5.9
36.3
MIAMI Dolphins
11.5%
1.7
4.1
35.3
MINNESOTA Vikings
16.3%
2.9
5.6
34.5
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
14.4%
1.8
5.8
40.5
NEW ORLEANS Saints
15.7%
3.2
6.1
38.8
NEW YORK Giants
13.8%
1.8
5.0
36.3
NEW YORK Jets
16.8%
2.2
6.4
38.0
OAKLAND Raiders
9.4%
0.8
2.8
30.3
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
19.5%
2.6
8.1
41.4
PITTSBURGH Steelers
17.6%
3.5
6.9
39.3
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
16.1%
2.5
6.0
37.3
SEATTLE Seahawks
16.8%
2.5
6.2
36.6
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
16.6%
2.6
6.1
36.5
TENNESSEE Titans
14.7%
2.5
5.2
35.7
WASHINGTON Redskins
14.7%
2.6
5.6
38.1

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit

Seattle pass rushers at San Francisco

Everything, it seems, is coming up Seahawks. Pete Carroll weathered the early-season storm expertly, guiding his young team to the brink of a playoff berth. That postseason ticket will be all but punched with a victory in San Francisco, where a feisty, if undermanned, 49ers squad awaits to spoil the party.

The Seahawks should have a favorable game script to put some pressure on Nick Mullens and an offensive line that has been porous, to say the least. It would be easy to be lulled into a false sense of dread by the 49ers’ win over the Broncos last week when Mullens looked like an All Pro at times. However, things are likely to get back to equilibrium this time around, even against a Seahawks pass rush that has a dichotomous home/road split. On the road, the Seattle pass rush averages pressure on just 13% of dropbacks, while at home that number shoots up to 20.8%.

Regardless, the Seahawks should have the horses up front to cause a lot of problems for an overmatched line.

Key stat: The 49ers have allowed pressure on 19.7% of dropbacks.

Baltimore pass rushers vs. Tampa Bay

The Bucs players might be gulping in fear this week as they watch what Baltimore did to Patrick Mahomes II. It is not news to say the Ravens defense is legitimate and worthy of their awe and fear, especially considering the Bucs offensive line allows pressure on 17.4% of dropbacks to go along with 7.4 quarterback hits per game.

The Ravens have every chance of overtaking the Steelers atop the AFC North if they can pull off a win and if Pittsburgh falls to New England, so motivation will be sky high for John Harbaugh’s men. The Ravens defense registers 6.6 quarterback hits per game, so expect Jameis Winston to be under fire.

Bottom line: shoehorn some Ravens into your line-ups this week in a plus matchup.

Key stat: At home, the Ravens have averaged marginally less pressure than on the road – 16% at home versus 17.5% on the road.

Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid

Carolina pass rushers vs. New Orleans

The Carolina front seven has gotten older and slower – and that has happened quickly. A vibrant front four has been replaced by one that is underperforming and relying on the likes of Julius Peppers to bring the heat. Ron Rivera and his staff have only been able to generate a consistent pass rush by calling plays that bring an extra rusher, something Drew Brees will be aware of.

Carolina has applied pressure on just 13% of dropbacks, so the Saints don’t have much to worry about in that department. The only thing that could be a factor is the outdoor element, as this game is being played in primetime on Monday night in front of a raucous crowd. Whatever type of intangible boost that provides the home team, however, will be quickly snuffed out by an efficient Saints offense.

In case you were thinking of trusting any Carolina pass rushers, think again.

Key stat: The Saints have allowed pressure on just 8.9% of dropbacks this season.

New England pass rushers at Pittsburgh

The Patriots have had their fair share of solid defensive games this season. Not spectacular, but solid. They will need more than that to keep this Pittsburgh offense at bay, though how healthy Ben Roethlisberger will be remains to be seen after he sustained a rib injury in Oakland. Roethlisberger’s playing style is such that, even if he is injured, he won’t exactly be breaking the pocket and putting himself at risk; his work will be done from the pocket.

The Steelers offensive line allows pressure on just 8.7% of dropbacks, as close to impenetrable as you get in the modern NFL. This is made more impressive by the fact they average 44.5 dropbacks per game (the average is 37.4). The Patriots will need a sterling display from their defense to pull this one out, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Key stat: The Patriots pass rush has averaged just 1.8 sacks per game, with the league average at 2.53.

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
50.3
25.1
37.4
62.4
40.2%
Team Defense
Tackle
Rush Attempts
Drop Backs
Offensive
Rush
Opportunity
Faced
Faced
Snaps Faced
Percentage
ARIZONA Cardinals
56.0
30.8
35.7
66.5
46.3%
ATLANTA Falcons
51.8
25.4
37.2
62.6
40.5%
BALTIMORE Ravens
47.1
22.8
39.3
62.1
36.7%
BUFFALO Bills
47.5
25.2
33.6
58.8
42.8%
CAROLINA Panthers
48.2
22.7
36.6
59.3
38.3%
CHICAGO Bears
49.2
22.3
41.7
64.0
34.9%
CINCINNATI Bengals
56.0
30.2
37.7
67.8
44.4%
CLEVELAND Browns
55.8
27.7
43.5
71.2
38.9%
DALLAS Cowboys
48.7
23.5
35.5
58.9
39.8%
DENVER Broncos
51.7
25.4
39.1
64.5
39.4%
DETROIT Lions
47.8
24.2
33.8
57.9
41.7%
GREEN BAY Packers
50.5
26.5
36.2
62.8
42.3%
HOUSTON Texans
50.6
23.9
39.5
63.5
37.7%
INDIANAPOLIS Colts
53.5
26.4
36.6
63.0
41.9%
JACKSONVILLE Jaguars
47.3
25.7
34.0
59.7
43.0%
KANSAS CITY Chiefs
54.1
24.8
44.2
69.0
36.0%
LOS ANGELES Chargers
48.5
24.2
36.6
60.8
39.7%
LOS ANGELES Rams
48.2
23.9
36.3
60.2
39.7%
MIAMI Dolphins
52.0
28.2
35.3
63.5
44.4%
MINNESOTA Vikings
50.2
27.1
34.5
61.5
44.0%
NEW ENGLAND Patriots
48.8
22.9
40.5
63.4
36.2%
NEW ORLEANS Saints
48.2
20.7
38.8
59.5
34.8%
NEW YORK Giants
51.2
26.9
36.3
63.2
42.6%
NEW YORK Jets
51.7
27.7
38.0
65.7
42.2%
OAKLAND Raiders
48.2
28.5
30.3
58.8
48.4%
PHILADELPHIA Eagles
50.1
21.3
41.4
62.7
34.0%
PITTSBURGH Steelers
49.8
23.4
39.3
62.7
37.3%
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
48.7
24.8
37.3
62.1
39.9%
SEATTLE Seahawks
47.5
22.4
36.6
59.0
37.9%
TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
51.0
23.7
36.5
60.2
39.3%
TENNESSEE Titans
49.7
25.7
35.7
61.4
41.9%
WASHINGTON Redskins
50.1
23.8
38.1
61.9
38.5%

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Tackle Matchups to Exploit

New York Jets defenders vs. Houston

TVO factor: 1.104 (19th in the league)

The Houston formula for success on that nine-game winning streak revolved around a punishing, persistent ground attack. Expect Bill O’Brien to get back to that against the Jets, a team vulnerable to folding like wet tissue paper against such a strategy. If Houston can control this game, they should exceed their 30.4 rushing attempts per game average and put the Jets, who face 27.7 rushing attempts per game, on notice.

The TVO factor doesn’t exactly scream ‘must-play’ for your Jets defenders, but the match-up is good enough to give them consideration as streamer options.

Key stat: Houston’s offense has allowed 54.6 tackle opportunities per game.

New York Giants and Tennessee defenders

TVO factor: 1.281 (1st in the league)

Neither of these teams boasts particularly high totals for tackle opportunity allowed, but they are solid enough to merit consideration. What really gives this clash an uptick is the TVO factor at the Meadowlands, which is the best mark in the league and, like a rising tide, lifts all boats. Or, in this case, IDP assets.

The expectation is that this will be a tight affair between two evenly matched teams. Vegas has the Giants as 2.5-point home favourites. One thing to watch here is how successfully the home team can get Saquon Barkley running against a stout Titans front. The important note here is not to overthink this one too much; simply play as many Giants and Titans players as you can to take advantage of this TVO factor.

Key stat: The Giants have seen a significant uptick in their offensive snap count the past two games – 68 and 62 – as Saquon Barkley has dominated.

Tackle Matchups to Avoid

Jacksonville and Washington defenders

TVO factor: 1.039 (32nd)

Has there ever been an NFL game you wanted to watch less than this one? Okay, perhaps one, but you would probably struggle to think of it, such was its lack of quality. The battle of Cody Kessler and Josh Johnson is one we didn’t think we would see this season, but injuries happen – and with that, teams’ seasons go down the toilet.

The offenses are unlikely to be the stars here, and with the TVO factor in Jacksonville ranking as the worst in the league, we shouldn’t be seeking any IDP value here either. Even if Kessler and Johnson can somehow put together some offense, their upside will be severely capped. Avoid at all costs.

Key stat: Washington’s offense has surprisingly allowed 56 and 49 tackle opportunities over the past two weeks despite an injury to Colt McCoy and a benching of Mark Sanchez.

Best of luck with Week 15 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.