IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 9

Dave Larkin breaks down the key clashes to target and fade for IDP production

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 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 ninth edition of the IDP Matchup column here at Footballguys in 2019. I have been penning this defensive diary for the past several years and I am delighted to be able to share some tidbits to help you secure a league title come December.

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. Every week I will study film from the previous week’s games and provide you with nuggets of wisdom that will lead you to a championship.

The fantasy playoffs are fast approaching, and it is high time to take a stand with our line-ups. The sanctity of the match-ups is an excellent place to start your IDP preparation each week; rather than getting caught up in the week-to-week hotshots, we can stand back and look at the bigger picture. The numbers, after all, don’t often lie.

Changing situations can, of course, skew things, but that comes with the territory. Now is the time to home in on your line-up decisions, scrutinizing every one until you field the team capable of scoring the most points in a given week. It’s do-or-die time.

Without further ado, let’s kick off with this week’s matchups.

Season
Team Defense
Team Offense
Pressure
Applied
QB Sacks
QB Hits
Drop Backs
Faced
Pressure
Allowed
QB Sacks
Allowed
QB Hits
Allowed
Drop
Backs
2016 Average
14.2%
2.18
5.37
37.8
14.2%
2.18
5.37
37.8
2017 Average
15.1%
2.33
5.49
36.5
15%
2.33
5.49
36.5
2018 Average
15%
2.5
5.56
37
15%
2.5
5.56
37
2019 Average
14.3%
2.51
5.3
37.1
14.3%
2.51
5.3
37.1
Team
Team Defense
Team Offense
Pressure
Applied
QB Sacks
QB Hits
Drop Backs
Faced
Pressure
Allowed
QB Sacks
Allowed
QB Hits
Allowed
Drop
Backs
Arizona
14.5%
2.8
5.6
38.8
10.6%
3.4
4.3
40
Atlanta
10.9%
0.9
3.5
32.1
16.5%
2.6
7.5
45.5
Baltimore
17.1%
1.7
6.4
37.6
10.1%
2.4
3.4
34
Buffalo
14.3%
2.3
5.3
36.9
18.1%
2.9
6.7
37
Carolina
16.8%
4.3
7
41.6
13.2%
3.3
5.1
38.9
Chicago
13.7%
2.7
5.4
39.6
12.8%
2.7
5
39.1
Cincinnati
10.8%
1.1
3.4
31.3
12.5%
3.6
5.8
45.9
Cleveland
15%
3.1
5.3
35.3
12.6%
3
4.6
36.1
Dallas
14.2%
1.9
5.3
37.3
13.5%
2
4.9
36
Denver
13.4%
2.1
4.5
33.6
14.2%
3.4
5.1
36.1
Detroit
10.2%
1.9
4.3
42.1
12.4%
2.3
4.7
38
Green Bay
14.9%
2.5
5.5
37
14%
2.1
5.3
37.5
Houston
14.2%
2.1
5.8
40.5
15.7%
3
5.9
37.4
Indianapolis
14.3%
2.7
5.1
35.9
14.4%
1.6
5
34.7
Jacksonville
17.1%
3.6
6.6
38.8
11.9%
2.3
4.3
35.8
Kansas City
14.1%
3.1
5.5
38.9
12.3%
1.4
4.8
38.5
LA Chargers
14.7%
2.3
4.4
29.8
13.7%
1.8
5.5
40
LA Rams
13.1%
2.9
5.1
39.3
12.2%
1.5
5
40.9
Miami
11.7%
1.3
3.6
30.4
23.6%
4
9.3
39.4
Minnesota
15.2%
2.9
6
39.4
13%
1.9
3.8
28.8
New England
18.8%
3.9
7.1
38
11%
1.8
4.5
41
New Orleans
14.7%
3.5
5.8
39.1
9.5%
1
3.5
37
NY Giants
15.2%
2.8
5.1
33.8
17.7%
2.9
7.3
41
NY Jets
14.6%
1.3
5.7
39.1
23.8%
4.9
8.4
35.4
Oakland
10.2%
1.9
3.7
36.4
5.7%
1.1
1.9
32.9
Philadelphia
16.8%
2.6
6.5
38.6
14.7%
2
5.3
35.8
Pittsburgh
19.6%
3.4
7.6
38.7
8.6%
1
2.9
33.3
San Francisco
18.8%
3.9
6.1
32.7
13.9%
1.6
4
28.7
Seattle
8.3%
1.6
3.3
39.4
16.7%
2.4
5.6
33.6
Tampa Bay
13%
2.3
5.6
42.7
18.2%
4
7.6
41.6
Tennessee
13.5%
2.8
5.3
39
21%
4.3
7.1
34
Washington
13.1%
2.4
4.6
35.4
18.1%
2.8
5.9
32.4

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Pass Rushing Match-ups to Exploit

Philadelphia pass rushers vs. Chicago offensive line

It is not often that I advocate a match-up that isn’t rooted in the strict confines of the numbers, but this game feels like a viable exception. Quite frankly, the NFL world knows what they see in Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky: a player lost in his own head, lacking in confidence and being pampered by a head coach who has no idea how to handle him. If you look at the numbers, the Bears offensive line has allowed pressure on just 12.8% of dropbacks, but they have rarely been put in situations where a pass-heavy approach is the name of the game.

That could change this week in Philadelphia, an inhospitable environment for opposing quarterbacks at the best of times. For a shaken Trubisky, this could spell doom. The Eagles perform much better in sack percentage at home – 9.7% compared to 5.1% on the road – and can ride a balanced offense to establish a lead and put the Bears in a comeback spot. That will allow the Eagles pass rush, which has applied pressure on 16.8% of dropbacks, to hunt. And hunt they shall. Don’t be surprised if Trubisky is yanked by the end of this game.

Key stat: The Eagles average 9.3 quarterback hits per game at home and rank fifth overall in hits on the passer.

Carolina pass rushers vs. Tennessee offensive line

The Panthers defense was pulled in every direction except towards the ballcarrier last Sunday, as the 49ers bamboozled them to the tune of 51 points. This week, expect a renewed vigor and life from the prideful Panthers defense, a unit that ranks second in the league in sack percentage with 10.3%. Ryan Tannehill is not the most mobile of passers and took a beating against the Bucs last time out.

Tennessee’s offense has allowed pressure frequently this season, allowing 4.3 sacks per game and 7.1 hits. Much of the blame rests on the shoulders of Marcus Mariota, certainly, but the line is just as exploitable against a quality pass rush. That is exactly what Carolina will bring to the party. This is a fantastic spot for the Panthers to rebound, building a lead and forcing the Titans out of their comfort zone.

Key stat: Carolina averages 4.3 sacks per game (league average is 2.51) and Football Outsiders rank them as the fifth-best defense by DVOA.

Pass Rushing Match-ups to Avoid

Oakland pass rushers vs. Detroit offensive line

If there is one area on the Oakland roster that Jon Gruden will be gunning to improve this offseason, it is the pass rush. To this point, the Raiders have averaged pressure on just 10.2% of opponent dropbacks, a number that falls well short of the 14.2% league average. Detroit is skewing more pass-heavy with the question marks at running back, but the pattern here is clear: Oakland can’t get to the quarterback with any kind of regularity.

The Lions have been getting some excellent play out of Matthew Stafford, whose connection with his receivers has been quite something to behold this season. He rarely puts the offense in a bad spot by holding on to the football too long and will frustrate the Raiders defense with his quick release and sound decision-making. Detroit’s offensive line gives up just 2.3 sacks per game and only 4.7 hits. Fade your Raiders here.

Key stat: The Lions have given up pressure on just 12.4% of dropbacks (league average is 14.3%).

Season
Team Defense
Team Offense
Tackle
Opportunity
Rush Atts
Faced
Drop Backs
Faced
Offensive
Snaps Faced
Rush
Percentage
Tackle Opps
Allowed
Rush
Attempts
Drop
Backs
Offensive
Snaps
Rush
Percentage
2016 Average
50
25.3
37.8
63.1
40.1%
50
25.3
37.8
63.1
40.1%
2017 Average
49.6
26.1
36.5
62.6
41.9%
49.7
26.1
36.5
62.6
41.7%
2018 Average
50
25.1
37
62.2
40.5%
50.1
25.1
37
62.2
40.5%
2019 Average
50
25.2
37.1
62.3
40.4%
50.5
25.2
37.1
62.3
40.4%
Team
Team Defense
Team Offense
Tackle
Opportunity
Rush Atts
Faced
Drop Backs
Faced
Offensive
Snaps Faced
Rush
Percentage
Tackle Opps
Allowed
Rush
Attempts
Drop
Backs
Offensive
Snaps
Rush
Percentage
Arizona
55.4
27
38.8
65.8
41.1%
50.1
23.5
40
63.5
37%
Atlanta
52.6
30
32.1
62.1
48.3%
51.5
18
45.5
63.5
28.3%
Baltimore
41.9
18.9
37.6
56.4
33.4%
58
35.3
34
69.3
50.9%
Buffalo
48
25
36.9
61.9
40.4%
49.1
25.9
37
62.9
41.1%
Carolina
53.7
26
41.6
67.6
38.5%
49.3
24.7
38.9
63.6
38.9%
Chicago
51.4
23.4
39.6
63
37.2%
50.1
23.1
39.1
62.3
37.2%
Cincinnati
53.9
33.4
31.3
64.6
51.6%
47.9
18.8
45.9
64.6
29%
Cleveland
53
28.7
35.3
64
44.9%
44.4
22.4
36.1
58.6
38.3%
Dallas
47.3
22.1
37.3
59.4
37.3%
55.3
29.3
36
65.3
44.9%
Denver
48.4
26.1
33.6
59.8
43.7%
50.8
26
36.1
62.1
41.9%
Detroit
52.7
26.7
42.1
68.9
38.8%
51.3
26
38
64
40.6%
Green Bay
48.8
25.1
37
62.1
40.4%
49.1
23.9
37.5
61.4
38.9%
Houston
48.3
20.5
40.5
61
33.6%
54
27.3
37.4
64.6
42.2%
Indianapolis
48.3
22.9
35.9
58.7
38.9%
52.6
29.7
34.7
64.4
46.1%
Jacksonville
47.6
22.5
38.8
61.3
36.7%
50.3
27.5
35.8
63.3
43.5%
Kansas City
54.5
28.5
38.9
67.4
42.3%
45.9
20.4
38.5
58.9
34.6%
LA Chargers
50.8
28.4
29.8
58.1
48.8%
46.8
19.6
40
59.6
32.9%
LA Rams
52.6
26.5
39.3
65.8
40.3%
49.8
24.1
40.9
65
37.1%
Miami
52.9
32.1
30.4
62.6
51.4%
43.9
19.7
39.4
59.1
33.3%
Minnesota
50.3
22.6
39.4
62
36.5%
53
31.8
28.8
60.5
52.5%
New England
40
18.3
38
56.3
32.4%
55.4
28.3
41
69.3
40.8%
New Orleans
45.3
19.9
39.1
59
33.7%
52
25.6
37
62.6
40.9%
NY Giants
53.5
29
33.8
62.8
46.2%
48.1
21.4
41
62.4
34.3%
NY Jets
53.3
27.6
39.1
66.7
41.3%
43
19.1
35.4
54.6
35.1%
Oakland
49.3
24
36.4
60.4
39.7%
50.9
26.9
32.9
59.7
45%
Philadelphia
48.5
23
38.6
61.6
37.3%
51.3
28.4
35.8
64.1
44.2%
Pittsburgh
53.9
27
38.7
65.7
41.1%
43.7
22.1
33.3
55.4
39.9%
San Francisco
41.1
21.6
32.7
54.3
39.7%
57.6
37
28.7
65.7
56.3%
Seattle
46.8
20.8
39.4
60.1
34.5%
53.8
30
33.6
63.6
47.2%
Tampa Bay
50.3
22.3
42.7
65
34.3%
51.7
25.9
41.6
67.4
38.3%
Tennessee
49.8
24.1
39
63.1
38.2%
48.8
25.5
34
59.5
42.9%
Washington
57.3
30.9
35.4
66.3
46.6%
57.3
20.1
32.4
52.5
38.3%

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Tackle Match-ups to Exploit

Dallas and NY Giants defenders

Stadium TVO rank: 1st (1.255)

There is nothing quite like a juicy NFC East showdown to finish off a week of games. The Cowboys, fresh off a bye, will be keen to put a rocky start to the season behind them and start fresh with a playoff run in mind. The Giants, meanwhile, are floundering in the standings at 2-6 – and yet they are just two games back on their rivals (two and a half if you count the tiebreaker Dallas currently holds over the G-Men).

The promising thing about this clash is that both offenses are viable enough to produce tackle opportunities in a stadium that is unmatched as a tackle-awarding venue. With a TVO factor of 1.255, both sets of tacklers will see an uptick in production. Of the two teams, the Giants defenders have more appeal as they are more likely to be playing from behind and facing rushing attempts. But don’t sleep on Saquon Barkley, who looks nearly all the way back from his ankle sprain. The Giants defense faces 29 rush attempts per game, while Dallas averages 29.3 rush attempts per game – points will be plentiful here.

Key stat: The Cowboys offense allows 55.3 tackles opportunities allowed per game.

Tampa Bay defenders at Seattle

Stadium TVO rank: 3rd (1.241)

Another fruitful tackle opportunity game takes place in Seattle this week, where the inconsistent but undeniably entertaining Buccaneers take on the consistent but undeniably fragile Seahawks. Seattle’s offense is one of the most reliable when it comes to rushing attempts; it seems that no matter how talented Russell Wilson is, Pete Carroll simply won’t hand him the controls. The Bucs defense has defended the run effectively and has faced just 22.3 rushing attempts per game, well below the Seahawks’ average of 30. Something’s got to give.

As a 6.5-point home favorite, the likelihood is that Seattle will be able to establish a lead and stay on top of their visitors. Whether Seattle’s offensive line will be able to establish a consistent ground game may not be as important as their commitment to the run. Wilson’s efficiency as a passer will be enough to extend drives and keep the Bucs off balance. Plug in your Bucs players for this tasty clash.

Key stat: The Seahawks run the ball on 47.2% of their plays (league average stands at 40.4%).

Tackle Match-ups to Avoid

Green Bay defenders at LA Chargers

Stadium TVO rank: 17th (1.151)

The Chargers have been a pretty poor offense this season, ranking 16th according to DVOA at Football Outsiders. They don’t pass the eye test, either. Melvin Gordon III continues to get touches despite the clear evidence that Austin Ekeler is a more efficient player, while the offensive line is held together by duct tape and thread. The Packers defense, playing some of its best football in years, shouldn’t have too much to be concerned about this week.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense should be able to control this game from minute one, tilting the game script in their favor and forcing L.A. into a pass-first mode. The Chargers only run the football on 32.9% of their plays anyway; in front of a raucous home crowd of Packers fans, they will quickly be forced out of any token rush attempts. The Pack are ready to flex their muscles in the sunshine, so the best play here is to avoid your Green Bay defenders except in desperation circumstances.

Key stat: The Chargers average just 19.6 rushing attempts per game, a paltry total compared to the league average of 25.2.

NY Jets and Miami defenders

Stadium TVO rank: 15th (1.160)

Could the Dolphins pull off the upset here, or is it about time the Jets got back on track? Both could come true, as it turns out. It would be very Jets-esque to lose a 31-30 wild affair with their division rival. As far as tackle production goes, neither team has the trust factor for savvy IDP players to invest. The TVO factor here doesn’t jump out either.

The Jets offense allows just 43 tackle opportunities per game (league average is 50.5), while Miami’s offense is only slightly better at 43.9. There is an outside chance that the mutual ineptitude of these teams has a kind of canceling out effect, producing an unlikely back-and-forth clash that sees a respectable outing from some tacklers – but you’re better off not betting on that outcome. Fade this game and pivot to the better match-ups.

Key stat: Miami’s offense runs the ball on just 33.3% of plays, a direct result of negative game scripts.

Best of luck with Week 9 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.

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